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Novice wanting better guitar shopped in London last weekend

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Rich_Halford
(@rich_halford)
Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 225
Topic starter  

Had an absolute blast, learned a lot and bought....nothing.

Went to Denmark Street. Most people seemed helpful enough, Hanks was quite busy though and I didn't really feel confident enough to pick anything up. A place with a rickety staircase to the acoustics upstairs was quieter and the guy in there was great. I strummed a few guitars and liked a strange (to me) looking all Mahogany Parlour guitar most.

Went to a place on Charing Cross road (I think). The acoustics were in the basement and the sales guy was a cowboy comedian. He was a top bloke and kept handing me different guitars to try and my favourite in there was a Martin, something like a 0001x or something. Anyway, it just didn't quite convince me, and as it was £150 over my budget I gave it a miss. I would have liked to buy a guitar from the guy though, seeing as he was so helpful.

On Sunday we went to SoundControl in the Basement of a Virgin Megastore on Oxford St (14-16). Really good selection of Martin, Taylor, Yamaha, Takamine, S&P, Tanglewood and possibly others. The place has a coffee shop so my wife had a cuppa while I entertained myself. Again, the sales guy was really helpful. He started by asking what I was after and when I said I didn't really know he gave me a Taylor Big Baby. It was okay but I said I wanted to try a few so he said "pull up a chair and work your way through them". Luxury.

I played (well, strummed selected chords and quietly fingerpicked Yankee Doodle Dandy...) loads. Loved it. I found that if I strummed d du udu an 'Am' and a 'D' chord then I could tell pretty early if I was going to like the guitar or not. Strangley I didn't like the Yamaha DW15 and S&P6 cedar or spruce as much as I thought I would. I really liked a Yamaha LL16 and kept going back to it. And then I foolishly picked up a Taylor 110e that was £200 above my price range. I tried it more to convince myself that I didn't need to spend that much. Whoops. Anyway, loved it and kept going back to it.

The sales guy asked how I was doing and I told him I loved the 110e but couldn't afford it. So he asked me to face the other direction so I couldn't see which one he was playing and he played the Big Baby and the 110e and asked me to listen and pick the sound I liked best. Oddly enough I actually could tell a difference, I really had a preference for the 110e and so did my wife. It was just a tiny tad less trebly, for want of a better description. Really hardly anything in it, but just enough to stop me buying the Big Baby. Just.

It was odd, playing them myself one after the other I couldn't tell you why I preferred one over the other, but a blind/sound test confirmed my beliefs. They also had a 110 (no electrics) but I just didn't like it. I was possibly smitten/overly fussy at this point....Unfortunately, even with the discount I still couldn't afford it, although I did walk very slowly out of the store....And again I felt bad I didn't buy after the sales guy had been so helpful, even if the most helpful thing he did was to just let me get on with it.

So, I learned what I can do to 'test' a guitar as a quick check to see if I like it. I learned not to pick up guitars out of my price range. I learned that you HAVE to play them yourself, no magazine/web/friend can pick a guitar for you. One model may not feel/sound/play exactly the same as another one. I do strum well enough to try out guitars in shops. No-one cares that my strumming isn't that great and even if they did, I don't.

I really enjoyed the day and I plan to try some local shops now (Bristol area) to try and find the guitar I want and can afford.

Failing that, anyone want to buy a kidney?


   
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mattguitar
(@mattguitar_1567859575)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 879
 

Rich

Nice story, sounds like a great day out.

Don't be talked into a Big Baby. Sounds like even though you aren't an expert, you know the sound you are after - follow your inclination and buy what you want to get - NOT what the salesguy says you should get.

All the best, enjoy the journey!

Matt


   
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Primeta
(@primeta)
Prominent Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 836
 

Rich, from what you describe, I'd be tempted to wait until you have another £200. Keep looking but don't settle for anything you like less than the Taylor 110e. If you can tell the difference in a blind test, then your ears really want something that good. I highly suspect your price range is at least £100 below the sound you want, though you can always get lucky. :)

And I agree, the places that know when to leave you aone are often the best.

"Things may get a whole lot worse/ Before suddenly falling apart"
Steely Dan
"Look at me coyote, don't let a little road dust put you off" Knopfler


   
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Ricochet
(@ricochet)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 7833
 

Gotta love those little parlor guitars! :D

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


   
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dogbite
(@dogbite)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 6348
 

what a great story. it's very rare when sellers are so animated and helpful in the shop as they were for you.

the only place wherte I get that kind of treatment is Willies Guitars over in St Paul, Minnesota.

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=644552
http://www.soundclick.com/couleerockinvaders


   
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Chris C
(@chris-c)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 3454
 

Excellent story, really enjoyed reading it. :D

Sounds like you have that rare and valuable quality, the ability to walk out of a guitar shop with nothing in your hands when you're not 100% sure of what to pick. :)

Similar thing happened to me when I was actually looking for an acoustic/electric hollow body f-hole style guitar. For some reason, after I'd tried a few out, the guy said "have a go on this" and handed me a Taylor standard acoustic instead.

Well, that was the end of that. I told him that after playing the Taylor it had popped the bubble on the sound of the others I'd played, and I couldn't afford the Taylor, so I might see him another day when I was feeling richer. :cry:

Sounds like you met some great sales people. I liked the part where the guy asked you to see if you could hear the difference - and you could! I always ask the guys to have a little show off for me, as they usually like doing it and I can often hear things that I might have missed when I was concentrating on playing and trying not to make a complete dork of myself in public.

Cheers, and good luck with the hunt. :D


   
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ccwilliams
(@ccwilliams)
Active Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 13
 

Thanks for the story - reminded me of when I bought my first guitar 12+ months ago.

Went to a number of stores, only one store I actually was made to feel comfortable in, being a scared newbie with no idea and all.

Played about 10 guitars in my price range, then made the mistake of goin to the next price bracket to see what I was missing out on. Then between my feeble playing and the salesman's good playing narrowed it down to a few and eventually settled on the Tanglewood FC15e for $AUS700 ($300 off retial).

Still love it after 12+ months - just want to pick it up every time I see it :D

Chris


   
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Rich_Halford
(@rich_halford)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 225
Topic starter  

A lot has happened in the last month or so.

When I decided I wanted to upgrade from my £99 Earthfire steel string I initially set a budget of £400, which I had to raise in savings. Then I tried that Taylor 110e that was £600 and I knew I had to start saving again. Well, thanks to Ebay, a refund from the electric company and a decent run on the stock market in the company shares I own I managed to raise the cash.

I went to Sound Control in Bristol yesterday and was let loose again. I saw on their website that they had a Takamine TSF40c on sale from £999 down to £649 so I wanted to try that. It was nice, but it didn't 'float my boat'. I asked the sales guy and he asked how much money I had, so I said up to £1000 at an absolute push and that whatever I buy would have to last me, possibly a lifetime.

He gave me free regn but pointed me in the direction of Martins and Taylors. Eventually I got it narrowed down to a Martin 0001(?) and a Taylor 214e. I couldn't split them, although the Taylor was easier to play and was slightly cheaper. The sales guy came back and I got him to play them both and they both sounded great from the 'other side'. He said that in his opinion the Martin was the better guitar of the two. Then he asked if I needed electrics and when I said no he went and got a different Taylor. I played it, it sounded great. I asked him to play it and it sounded great. He said it didn't have electrics and therefore the extra money was being spent on the guitar and was worth doing. He said that this would be a better bet than the other two and would get better over time.

It was a 314 and the sticker price was £1069, which was why I hadn't picked it up earlier. I spent the next half an hour playing the 214e and the 314 and trying to figure out if it would be worth the extra money. In playability and sound terms there wasn't really anything in it, but he was pretty adamant that it would be a better long term investment and I remember thinking before that I didn't need electrics and they must cost money to install, so that money has to come from somewhere.

Anyway, he did me a deal, did the guitar+case+3 sets of strings and 15 pics for £969. I suspect I could have gotten cheaper elsewhere, but I don't mind paying extra when the service is good. And it was, I was in there over 2.5 hours. I looked up specs when I got home and it seems there are differences between the 2 and 3 series regards woods and what have you, so I hope it was extra money well spent. I am happy wth it, although I am a little sad that my search for a guitar is over. No, I don't have GAS, no I won't be buying any more in the near to medium future.

When I got home I played my new Taylor and was wondering if it was worth the money. Then I picked up my old guitar and culdn't believe how bad it sounds. It was perfectly good that morning, but next to the Taylor it is terrible. Very strange.

Anyway, there you have it. Sorry to have rambled on, can't help myself. Off to watch the MotoGP now and muck about on my new guitar while I am at it.


   
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Chris C
(@chris-c)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 3454
 

Congratulations.

You've bought a very nice guitar there. :D

Excuse me if I turn a little green...

Cheers, Chris


   
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Taso
 Taso
(@taso)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 2811
 

When I got home I played my new Taylor and was wondering if it was worth the money. Then I picked up my old guitar and culdn't believe how bad it sounds. It was perfectly good that morning, but next to the Taylor it is terrible. Very strange.

I know exactly what you mean. You don't realize how bad the old one sounded until you start playing the new one, so you have something to compare it too. When I got my amp, I played it for a half hour or so in the store, and then I asked the guy to bring over the amp I used to have, because I didn't really believe I was getting anything good with the Fender HRD, that I didn't have with the Crate 15w practice amp, haha. When I played I couldn't believe how bad it sounded.

Anyways, congradulations on the new guitar, enjoy!

http://taso.dmusic.com/music/


   
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MaxRumble
(@maxrumble)
Honorable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 441
 

Great choice of guitar, wise decision on the 314. You will get a lifetime out of her.

Cheers,

Max


   
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