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First guitar-shopping experience (unsuccessful)

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(@jester)
Trusted Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 52
Topic starter  

Just went to some guitar stores for the first time, and thought I'd post about it, in irritating length.

I've been playing for a little over a month. My current guitar is a borrowed piece-of-junk nylon-strung cheap Japanese model that's been rotting in a suburban basement for 15 years. I've been trying to make do, but it sounds like crap and is so physically repulsive to me that I never want to pick it up, so finally I thought, "You know what? I've commited enough time and effort to this that I can scrape up a few hundred dollars for a reasonable guitar." So, after my latest lesson, I talked about it with my teacher and headed out.

My main interest is acoustic folk/blues. I had decided to look at Art & Lutherie and Seagull, because they've been very highly praised esp. for the price; each line has a "Folk" model that's a little smaller than the usual dreadnought. (They're both Godin lines, A&L is cheaper.) The first store I went to carried only A&L; they did not have the Folk in stock--they said that they can never keep it in stock, they order six and only get one and it sells right away. So I played a few different models. I was amazed at how much I liked the sound of these guitars. And despite my previous (and entirely random) dislike of dreadnoughts (I don't need a huge sound), I really liked the guitars that had a loud, bright sound. Perhaps this makes me shallow :-). I hope it's still OK for fingerstyle stuff.

The one I liked the best, by far, was the Wild Cherry cutaway. It had comfortable action, a nice, bright sound, and it felt good. However, it also had a built-in pickup, which I don't want; A&L make the cutaways both with and without onboard electronics. I felt that I was going to end up paying a big premium for this. So I moved on to the next shop.

This place did have the Seagull version of the Folk size, and I hated it. The action was incredibly high, and the sound was dull. Not "balanced" or whatever, just dull. I was disappointed. So I moved on to some other Seagulls--all of which were somewhat more than I had wanted to spend. I liked them, in particular the M6, which is a mahogany model. (I also preferred those with a glossy finish; the A&Ls were all a matte finish. Again, call me shallow.) By this point, though, I was having trouble playing much--I had had a long lesson, and had been playing for a while, and I'm new to this and my left hand was painful and tired. I couldn't do simple bends and wasn't sure it was because the action was stiff or the strings were--were whatever happens to strings when you can't move them much--or because I was too tired.

So, I gave up, with some regret, but I didn't want to get something I wasn't totally sure about. I was struck by how different each guitar was, in both sound and feel, and was confused by my reactions. I am really eager to move on from my current guitar, and hope that I can get to another store, or just try again, this coming week.

Oh--I haven't seriously thought about getting an electric yet, but while I was in one of the stores I picked up a nice Strat. It felt good. It felt REALLY GOOD. I'm doomed.


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(@bluezoldy)
Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 330
 

... I picked up a nice Strat. It felt good. It felt REALLY GOOD. I'm doomed.

Yes.

♪♫ Ron ♪♫

http://www.myspace.com/bluemountainsblues


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(@anonymous)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 8306
 

I guess you have already found out how nice a dreadnought can be.
I wouldn't trade mine for the world. I primarily play fingerstyle so yes you can play fingerstyle and about any folk music on a dreadnought.
The strings are steel so bending will be harder than on that nylon string.
Make sure the shop you buy from does a good setup.
If the action is high a setup will take care of that.


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(@yoyo286)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1684
 

I have both a Strat and a M6, and I love them both..... :D

Stairway to Freebird!


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(@jester)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 52
Topic starter  

And yoyo--I was meaning to mention for your benefit that I did try a 12-string in the course of things. I loved it. I would not mind having one of them.

But I can't really get one for my first guitar.


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(@greybeard)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5899
 

And yoyo--I was meaning to mention for your benefit that I did try a 12-string in the course of things. I loved it. I would not mind having one of them.

But I can't really get one for my first guitar.
No, No, No!!!! You MUST buy two six string guitars.

You are now in the first, budding stages of the most common ailment to afflict guitar players. It's more addictive than crack-cocaine, more deeply rooted than any psychosis and there's no known cure - and it's called GAS!

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
Greybeard's Pages
My Articles & Reviews on GN


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(@nicktorres)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 5468
 

If you want to screw yourself up totally, see if you can find a Collings OM1A to play.

As soon as you get your breath back, you'll be stealing money from your family, raiding the kids college accounts, whoring yourself out, checking the couches for change, begging on the street corners with a paper cup just so you can own one.

hmmm it is like crack

Call me GAS ho....

BTW, I eventually paid back the money into the kid's college accounts.


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(@davidhodge)
Member Moderator
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 4485
 

And yoyo--I was meaning to mention for your benefit that I did try a 12-string in the course of things. I loved it. I would not mind having one of them.

But I can't really get one for my first guitar.

Of course you can! I did. But then again, you might want to end up as an old bald guy who spends all his spare time writing guitar lessons and newsletters...

Peace


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

Oh Nick, you've made me feel better, I'm only lusting after a National Resonator :P

Jester: No doubt about it, GAS. In the Seagull watch whether you are picking up a cedar or a spruce top, some find the cedar too warm/ dull and they tend to have a wider neck than other makers. Play some more and follow your ears and hands, this won't be the last guitar you buy.
:D :D :D

"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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(@twistedlefty)
Famed Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 4166
 

i can relate completely to your delema.
btw DH is correct you can pull the finger on a 12 for your first, mine was a 12 string silvertone (sears) 1971 and i had no idea how bad it was till i bought my Yamaha dred in 76.
8 guitars later and i'm totally jonesing for a new 12

#4491....


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(@yoyo286)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1684
 

If you want to screw yourself up totally, see if you can find a Collings OM1A to play.
Oh, great! Might as well tell them that you'll develop GAS-ticular cancer after a while!

I have a rare form of GAS... I have GAS for relitivly cheap (max: 1000 bucks) guitars... BUT, I want to own hundreds of them, and that is when the money starts getting up there with the boutique snobs who spend horrendous amount of money on gear....

Stairway to Freebird!


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(@waltaja)
Estimable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 170
 

i picked up a 70's takamine 12 string a while back and it's my favorite guitar to play these days. it sees 95% of my playing time

"I got a woman, stay drunk all the time!"

-Led Zeppelin-


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(@pilot)
Estimable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 180
 

Jester, what price range are you looking in? I ask simply because even though you have a couple of brands in mind, it really pays to play every single guitar you can get your hands on that's in your range.

I started off with an inexpensive Epiphone acoustic that I really, really enjoyed playing. After I felt that I'd outgrown it a little and wanted something a bit higher quality, I took a trip to Guitar Center and spent nearly 3 hours trying out a number of different guitars. I played a few Martins and Taylors that were a bit over my limit, tried some Fenders and Ibanezzessez (someday I'll learn to pluralize that) both with and without electronics, a few Ovations, a couple of really nice Takamines...and probably some others I've forgotten. I'm sure the GC guys were REALLY tired of listening to me play my extremely limited repertoire after the first hour, but to heck with them, it's *my* money going out the door here. :)

At any rate, I settled on a nice Yamaha full dreadnaught that just *felt* right all over. Great tone, nice glossy spruce and rosewood finish, excellent action and neck/fretboard size...it just fit me perfectly. Walked out of there for $300, which is about $50 less than I had earmarked.

Bear in mind that I have bought 7 guitars in the last 14 months or so, and I'm down to just three now - the Yamaha, a Strat, and an Epiphone Les Paul. I absolutely adore all of them, although I do have my sights set on replacing the Epi with a true Gibson one day. :)

It took me a fair bit of time to figure out what I liked. Had I spent more time in the 'tryout' phase with most of those early guitars (and curbed my impulsiveness a bit more) I probably would have spent a lot less money in the long run.

The moral and message of this increasingly long story is, definitely keep shopping around until you find something that suits you. You'll know it when it happens, and there will be one that does. If it's that 12-string, then by God, buy it! :D


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(@snarfy)
Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 119
 

Jester, I can't help much with the acoustic choice, but if your GAS leads to an electric, and you don't have any moral aversion to feeding the Chinese Manufacturing Monster, you might want to have a look at the stuff for sale from Rondo Music.

I just got a strat copy from them for 99 bucks (yep....99 bucks), and I couldn't be happier with it.


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 klim
(@klim)
Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 273
 

Hey Jester,

I was in the same dilemma about a year and half ago. After looking for a month and trying various guitars, it came to a compromise of pricing, style and feel of the guitar in my hands.

I settled for the A&L Wild Cherry (with a cutaway).

The A&L has been very good to me and it's a great beginners guitar. While I lust for a Larrivee, I've been very happy with it.

Just so you know the A&L are laminate tops, so the guitar sound will never change with age (meaning solid wood tops get better with age). So what ever model you choose, make sure you like the sound of it when you play it before purchasing.

Kenny


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