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Old 02-21-2012, 08:46 PM
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Default Cutaway Flattop for Jazz Chord Melody: Seeking Suggestions & Some Questions

Hi,

I have been considering buying a new acoustic. I have been playing a Martin M-38 for the last 20 years. It is a great instrument, but I struggle with passages in pieces above the 12th fret. I also have an acoustic archtop; a Heritage Sweet 16 which is obviously easier to play these pieces on. I play mostly chord melody arrangements of jazz standards. These arrangements have passages that can be lush, and single line work that can be dynamic. I play solo with both a flat pick and with my fingers.

I was originally thinking about a Selmer style instrument, but I really don't play that manouche style and it seems far less versatile instrument. I also realized that something like a Dupont costs as much as a fine flat top. Why not find a flat top that allows me upper fret access and would be good for this style of play. I am now thinking about a Venetian cutaway OM sized instrument. I like a smaller body for comfort. I want an instrument ~<$5,000 price range.

Some questions for the forum:

1)Would a rosewood or mahogany body be better suited for this instrument?

2)What type of spruce top (Sitka, Adirondack or Engelmann) should I consider and why?

3)In terms of makers I was thinking of a number of smaller established manufacturers like Bourgeois, Collings, Goodall or Santa Cruz or alternatively have the Martin Custom Shop make me an instrument. Any suggestions between these or other suggestions?

Thanks,

Bob
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  #2  
Old 02-21-2012, 09:02 PM
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I just play jazz, my very best flattop for that application is my Goodall RGCC which is a roseswood GC cutaway with a master Engelmann soundboard. My everyday guitar for jazz is a Taylor GS7 cedar/rosewood, although I also liked a GS5 cedar/mahogany I had a lot. I also find the GS neck very comfortable for jazz. They can be ordered with a cutaway, and for the price I think they are a great value. Best of luck.
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Old 02-21-2012, 09:13 PM
The Old Gaffer The Old Gaffer is offline
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I'd recommend athat you look at a cedar top if you like a mellow tone. I have a really nice Takamine cutaway acoustic electric with a cedar top and lacewood body. Played through an electric amp, it get a great jazz tone.
On the other hand, Gabor Szabo used to make great music on a Martin D-45:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xz0zYA_12og

Sorry about that previous link. I didn't know that was still on my clipboard.

Last edited by The Old Gaffer; 02-22-2012 at 03:46 PM.
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Old 02-21-2012, 09:50 PM
Go Navy Go Navy is offline
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I am awaiting a new Taylor 812ce with a western red cedar top, rosewood body and sides, a wood combination which I ordered for exactly the same reason you have posted. Up to now I've played nothing but jazz and bossa, so I just like a warmer, fatter tone. Since I don't have it yet, I can't testify to its sound. However, I did play a Taylor 714ce with a cedar top/rosewood body in a store and it was my favorite among all the acoustics, played both acoustic and amplified.

But why not get a good jazz archtop acoustic/electric?
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Old 02-21-2012, 10:03 PM
Mark L Mark L is offline
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Collings SJ cutaway, maple back/sides neck, sitka, german or adi top. There are some out there used. Fits your description to a T!
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Old 02-21-2012, 10:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Go Navy View Post
But why not get a good jazz archtop acoustic/electric?
I have a Heritage Sweet 16 already
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Old 02-21-2012, 10:25 PM
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Macaferri style guitars are far more versatile than you would think.
Although pigeonholed nowadays in gypsy jazz, they weren't originally designed for that.
And you could well find modern copies satisfying for your purpose, specially equipped with a magnetic PU. For much less than 5000.
Not at all the same as an archtop.

As an example, here is my (arguably cheap) Gitane D-hole with a Fishman :
http://www.youtube.com/user/batzic#p/u/26/nIsaK0AortA
http://www.youtube.com/user/batzic#p/u/29/Ft6CUs7k6Eg

Strange, but after staying in the case these last two years (new guitars to fall in love with, you know...), I pull it out yesterday, and... great guitar.
I have some new tunes that fit it very well. I'll YouTube them in a few day. I must find strings for it. Last time, I put extra lights for a test. No good.
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Old 02-21-2012, 10:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpbat View Post
As an example, here is my (arguably cheap) Gitane D-hole with a Fishman :
http://www.youtube.com/user/batzic#p/u/26/nIsaK0AortA
Only listened to the first one. I hate you I keed. Lovely performance! And yes those guitars do more than most think they will. One of my Faves, Oscar Aleman (don't know how to type the accent on the "a") played a National Tricone, which according to legend was confiscated by the Nazis as he tried to cross a border, and later a D-hole Selmer.

Here's Oscar tearing it up on the national tricone if anybody is interested http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yaA7_xNkJs
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Old 02-21-2012, 11:12 PM
jpbat jpbat is offline
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Tricones, too, are also incredibly versatile. Not just for sliding blues. As the other type of resonators BTW (biscuit and spider)
And some modern models have a cutaway.

I do play a tricone (and a biscuit cone), also :
http://www.youtube.com/user/batzic#p/u/17/oQHGHMJaWfA
http://www.youtube.com/user/batzic#p/u/16/qPkoS3iKLVY
http://www.youtube.com/user/batzic#p/u/10/fREL4WgEqbo
What I love in them, as in macaferri guitars, is the very fast response of the instrument. A X-braced flat top don't do that.
Those are fine guitars to fingerpick. Very "precise" guitars (if that means anything)

BTW, thanks for the mention of Aleman. Not well known these days, but what a player. And what a career...
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Old 02-21-2012, 11:58 PM
jseth jseth is offline
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I have a 6 month old Goodall Grand Concert (James asserts that his GCs, OMs, and OOOs are the same size...); mine is a redwood top with mahogany, and it is EXACTLY what you are wanting... you can NOT have mine!

I don't know about the <$5k figure, not for a new order - unless you go for one of James' "Aloha" models and then added the cutaway and the redwood top as an upcharge. The Aloha models are NOT something inferior, just fewer of the appointments that his full price models have...

The redwood top gives an IMMEDIATE response, and a warm clear tone; it's captivating, actually... I still get entranced by the sound of the guitar and get distracted from the song I'm playing! VERY dynamic and sounds equally good played softly or strongly. I'm sure that the same instrument with a spruce top would be wonderful, but for my playing (flat pick/fingers - a hybrid mishmash) the redwood is perfect.

I played a guitar built by Mark Angus (the Guitar Shoppe, Laguna Beach, CA) for over 30 years before this one; my Angus was maple and spruce w/ a Florentine cutaway (the Goodall has a Venetian cutaway)... and it served me very well all those years. Basically the shape/size of a Guild F-40, similar to most builders Concert Jumbo size... it, too, excelled at the tone/playing manner to which you allude...

So, something curvy, not a dreadnought... a CJ would have more bass, but the GC is not lacking, in that department either...

Funny, melody chording seems a lot easier on my 175 than either of my two acoustics; I'm pretty sure the nut width is narrower on the 175. Do you have a preference for the width of the nut/neck?

You're looking at a lot of great instruments... Good luck on your choice!!!

play on......................................>

John
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Old 02-22-2012, 05:12 AM
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Default Some potential candidates: Bourgeois, Collings & Santa Cruz

Hi,

Thanks for your responses. I did a little looking around the internet and without playing instruments, some that seem like they might fit the bill are:
  • Bourgeois OMC Cutaway
  • Collings OM2H Cutaway
  • Santa Cruz Model H Cutaway or OM Cutaway
Given my desired playing genre, I would appreciate hearing about any differences between these 3 OM cutaway models in terms of their tone and feel (I know that a Model H is a diffeent beast)?

Thanks,

Bob
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  #12  
Old 02-22-2012, 09:53 AM
RAD3 RAD3 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpbat View Post
Macaferri style guitars are far more versatile than you would think.
Although pigeonholed nowadays in gypsy jazz, they weren't originally designed for that.
And you could well find modern copies satisfying for your purpose, specially equipped with a magnetic PU. For much less than 5000.
Not at all the same as an archtop.

As an example, here is my (arguably cheap) Gitane D-hole with a Fishman :
http://www.youtube.com/user/batzic#p/u/26/nIsaK0AortA
http://www.youtube.com/user/batzic#p/u/29/Ft6CUs7k6Eg

Strange, but after staying in the case these last two years (new guitars to fall in love with, you know...), I pull it out yesterday, and... great guitar.
I have some new tunes that fit it very well. I'll YouTube them in a few day. I must find strings for it. Last time, I put extra lights for a test. No good.
Viva Jean-Paul Absolutely loved those vids. Sweet! Just proves to me (again) that it's not so much the guitar as the player.
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Old 02-22-2012, 11:17 AM
SOR SOR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iim7v7im7 View Post
Hi,

Thanks for your responses. I did a little looking around the internet and without playing instruments, some that seem like they might fit the bill are:
  • Bourgeois OMC Cutaway
  • Collings OM2H Cutaway
  • Santa Cruz Model H Cutaway or OM Cutaway
Given my desired playing genre, I would appreciate hearing about any differences between these 3 OM cutaway models in terms of their tone and feel (I know that a Model H is a diffeent beast)?

Thanks,

Bob
I can address your specific guitars as I owned or own non-cutaway versions of all three:

Bourgeois Vintage OM Madi/Adi: I currently own this guitar, it has a comfortable neck profile and great tone. For me the neck profile is good, but not quite as good as the Taylor GS for jazz. I play the Goodall and Taylor much more but I do like the guitar.

Collings OM-2H: I had the deep body version of the OM-2H, the neck profile was a shallow V which I thought was not ideal for jazz. The tone was good but I find Collings a bit overbuilt and consequently not as responsive as some others.

Santa Cruz Standard OM: The neck profile was good and the guitar very responsive, of the three you listed maybe the best for jazz followed by the Bourgeois (which is the only one of the three I still have). The problem with the Santa Cruz was the neck finish was sticky which has been noted with Santa Cruz by others. I am not a fan of Nitro in general but that one's stickness was in the end a deal breaker for me.

I do sense you want to avoid "mainstream" guitars by your list. but I would encourage you to go out and try some like the ones I mentioned. Enjoy the search.
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Old 02-22-2012, 11:34 AM
disguiseglasses disguiseglasses is offline
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I'd heartily recommend you contact Eric Skye, a member on this forum (min7b5 is his user name). Not only is he an incredible, dynamic player who has found a distinct voice on his instrument, he's also a gear head who has never failed to be anything but helpful to anyone who has ever asked him a question- pithy or otherwise.

His signature Santa Cruz model is a 00 Adi/Cocobolo that is the Ferrari of smaller-bodied guitars. Focused, responsive and with plenty of guts and gumption, too.

Good luck in the search!
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  #15  
Old 02-22-2012, 11:39 AM
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Default I am totally open to suggestions

I am happy to hear suggestions. There is nothing wrong with mainstream builders. A Martin or Taylor might be fine as well.

:-)
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