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New guitar... so many alternatives, so little time...

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Eminent Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 31
Topic starter  

Hi all,

I was at a shop for a couple of hours on the weekend and thought I would
try to put down some thoughts in case anyone here has any killer insights
into my situation. Sorry about the length of the post...

I *have* to get a new guitar... my company gives every employee a $500 gift
certicate to the store of their choice for a birthday present each year
(pretty cool :)). The only condition is that you have to take a picture
with your present so it can go up on the company bulletin board. This year
I picked the big downtown music shop (smaller shops don't have the gift
cerificates available).

So, I need to get something for that picture in the next couple of weeks -
pressure is on - must buy new guitar - do you feel sorry for me? :)

I have a $250 yamaha acoustic (cheapest solid-top money can buy) that I've
been using for a couple of years since I started. Clearly going up market
from there is a must.

What am I looking for? Well...

I like the warmer sounds (as opposed to the brighter sounds). I like
fingerpicking and folk music / folk rock. But recently took a 6 week course
in "surf guitar" which I found a lot of fun... and it sure sounds better on
an electric than on an acoustic.

I was planning to spend about $1200 (i.e. $700 of mine, $500 gift).

I have no friends who play the guitar, unfortunately. Luckily there was a
couple of other guys at the store about my age (40-50) but with more
experience who were also looking for new guitars and they didn't mind me
joining in their search. That was really fun. I've never had the pleasure
of hanging out at a guitar store with "friends" (even people I've just met)
trying guitars and talking about what we thought. (Except for hanging out
with salespeople - and thats just not the same thing!)

I was disappointed they didn't have any Seagull's to try.

Anyway... here was some impressions (BTW, prices in CDN$)

Blue Ridge BR-143 - ($675)

I had read lots of good things about Blue Ridge on the web. But this
guitar just didn't sing to me. Maybe that particular one was a dud. One
of the other guys said he thought the neck seemed to vibrate too much and
that maybe the neck vibration was damping the sound somehow... dunno. We
all agreed it just didn't project sound well. This one was around $675.

Martin mahogony 000-15 ($975) .

I was thinking that it would be nice to get into a non-spruce soundboard
for that warmer feel that I like, so I tried this one. This guitar was
very nice. It had great mid-range sound and seemed very forgiving of my
mistakes while "singing" where I wanted it to. The only negative I had
about this was for some reason the body of the guitar felt light or flimsy
somehow - like it was made out of cardboard. The guitar just didn't seem
sturdy to me. Maybe it was the non-glossy finish, maybe it has a heavier
neck than I'm used to so the balance felt different.

Taylor 514-CE ($2600!)

Holy crap! What a difference $2000 makes! This guitar had it all. It was
bright, it was warm, it projected, it had a great feel. The sound was
really phenomenal... (ok, you can tell I haven't listened to many hi-end
guitars). There was nothing bad about this guitar except that it was more
than double my budget. If it had been, say, $1500, I would have walked
away with it. But I knew I needed familial approval for that kind of
budget... (The other problem was it had such good definition of sound I
felt like it highlighted my lack of precision :))

I also stumbled around the electric section. I've never played an electric
guitar in my life. I have no idea what to look for or if I'd enjoy playing them.

The draws
- you can make them sound different by changing which pick-up you use, or different
amp settings, so its like more than one guitar in the same package.
- if you want "surf guitar" sound, you need one
- they seem a lot easier on the fingers than an acoustic :)

The cons
- do I really want to worry about having to drag equipment as well as the
guitar around? Since I usually do very short practice sessions that I can
fit in around my wife's schedule, is it practical?
- I'm only getting one guitar - if I get an electric, I'm not getting that
nice acoustic I'd also want - which one would I use more and get more out

Anyway, without having hooked it up to anything, the guitar that caught my
eye was this Ibanez:
Its around $400 (leaving me room for an amp). I guess I figure that since
I lean towards acoustic and have no interest in distortion etc, why not get
a hollow body or semi-hollow body - that might make sounds I prefer.

Well - this is really a personal rambling diatribe on the state of my
guitar search. Its kind of unrealistic to expect much help in this
search... But who knows - maybe someone here has some advice for me.

The logical side tells me to get the Martin. Its a huge step forward
from what I have, its in my budget, its a guitar I should be happy with.

The illogical side tells me - buy the Taylor! Impulse buy! Don't tell
the wife how much it cost! Who cares if I'm beginner hack who's destined
to never play beyond his backyard, when a guitar like that deserves an
audience. If I get the Martin I'm going to know deep down that it was second
best and in a year I'll be back here for another guitar.

An electric? Well - like - maybe I should give one a try for a while before
I buy one. Maybe I can rent one? It just seems like the odds that it ends
up sitting in the closet forever are too high.

Decisions decisions... time is running out.


Noble Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 1468

i would get the Martin but then again, i've been GASing for that very one for a while now. aqn even Better one is the 000-15S. almost the same, but much cooler---a slothead.

Estimable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 177

I would give the Epiphone Masterbuilts a listen. They have a great warm sound with excellent projection. Right now I'm debating between this and a Seagull...I haven't played a Seagull (heard great things about the S6) but I have played the Masterbuilt and I loved it. I just really loved the tone. Taylors are too bright for my tastes..

Try the Epiphone AJ500R. Advanced Jumbo with solid Rosewood back and sides. :D

Psa. 42:8
By day the LORD commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

Eminent Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 31
Topic starter  

Pearl - hard to tell from the web page whether there is any difference between the 000-15s and the 000-15 aside from the slot head... is that really worth $300 more?? :) I will try one if they have one. I am still leaning towards the Martin because although the Taylor is awesome - hey, no matter what guitar you buy there's going to be a better one, so lets keep things in perspective... its 3x the price of the Martin.

Ricola - thanks for the tip. I will also see if they have a Masterbuilt at the store I'm shopping at, but I have a feeling they probably don't. They main product they carry is Martin, Taylor, Larrivee, Yamaha, Takamine and Northland... have to buy from that store to achieve the goal of spending 500$ of the company money :) BTW, the Taylor that I liked has a cedar top so I think it may not be as bright as other Taylors. I would really like to try a Seagull. I've tried an S6 in the past and it was good, but not as good as this Martin. And it seems like Seagulls are hard to find here in Vancouver, and the Artist series is very hard to find. I don't understand it since (a) this is Canada, (b) its a Canadian guitar, (c) it gets great press... why don't the shops here get more of them in?


Famed Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 3709

I work in a hospital. For our birthday we used to get a gift certificate for a meal in the hospital cafeteria, but they stopped that. We are cutting costs you know. :oops: Congratulations and Happy Birthday!

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --

Famed Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 3995

Hi Donzo,

Try the Seagulls, they are very good guitars. When I bought my LP some months ago, I'm also trying some acoustics and I fell in love with the Seagull. I played the S6, S6 Folk and the 12 strings... and I think the S6+ too.

The Acoustic Guitar magazine selects the Seagulls as the best beginner guitars (the silver mention was to Yamahas and the bronze to Taylor and Epiphone). In the general dreadnoughts category, I mean, for non-beginners, the brands are: Martin, Taylor and Gibson.

It's very strange the unavailability of Seagull guitars there. Here, practically you can find them in each store.

And Happy Birthday! :)

Noble Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 1468

The difference between the 000-15 and the 000-15S: the 15S is a slothead, has a 1-3/4" nut, is a twelve fretter, has a cutaway, is acoustic-electric.

I may not be right about all these features but I know i'm right about some. check into it further if you're interested. you can't go too far wrong with either one, especially since mahogany is becoming rare in the guitar world. which reminds me, try to get one that is mahogany and not sapele if you can.

Reputable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 186

What company do you work for and are there any openings? :lol:

Eminent Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 31
Topic starter  

Just to close this off - in the end I got the Martin 000-15. I like it, its got a lot more depth to its sound than my old guitar. It hasn't made me a better player yet though ;) The only things I am not thrilled with about this guitar is - it has a very plain jane look to it, and I'm still getting used to the body feeling light. Other than that I am very happy with it.

I would have preferred the 000-15s as suggested but needed to "buy quick" and they had none in stock. I will try to hold off on the hollowbody electric until next company birthday present, if I can wait that long.

Thanks for the feedback.


Noble Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 1468

Because it's mahogany I don't think it has a plain Jane look to it, but it's true that there's no bling and the lightweight is a good thing, imho. i have trouble with guitars being too havey. anyway congratulations on this great new guitar. this one will always hold its value and since it's a martin will always sould great.