The Acoustic Guitar Forum

Go Back   The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > General Acoustic Guitar Discussion

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 12-04-2019, 11:27 AM
cciesec2006 cciesec2006 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Washington DC
Posts: 34
Default custom made acoustic guitar versus Martin acoustic guitar

Hi Everyone,

This week has been a very slow work week with not a whole lot to do but I guess I am getting paid so I am not complaining

While taking my daily walk exercise routine this morning near my work place, I discovered a place that makes "custom" acoustic guitars. I decided to walk in and inquire about it. They told me that they can make an acoustic guitar at the cost of $5000 and it will take 4 months to finish.

Are "custom" made guitars any better than Martin guitars?

Just trying to understand between the two.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 12-04-2019, 11:31 AM
UncleJesse's Avatar
UncleJesse UncleJesse is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: STL
Posts: 2,618
Default

It depends on the builder. Does he have any made you could try?
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 12-04-2019, 11:43 AM
Ozzy the dog Ozzy the dog is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Lancashire, England
Posts: 1,552
Default

I would say yes (as long as the builder knows what they are doing).

With a true custom build you can specify exactly what you want regarding Nut width, scale length, woods used, inlays, bindings, body depth/shape, neck profile, fret sizes etc, etc. The list is endless.

You also end up with something totally unique that suits you perfectly and no-one else has.
__________________
It's hard work being a dog.

YouTube
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 12-04-2019, 11:43 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 7,922
Default

You'll get lots of opinions.

Martin guitars are factory made. The company is old and they, largely, appeal to "tradition". They are famous and popular. They make some great instruments, they make some not-so-great instruments. Most factory made instruments vary from one instrument to the next.

One can order a "custom-made" guitar from a factory or from a one-person luthier shop. All "custom-made" means is that the purchaser gets some choices and input into the materials and details of the instrument - versus buying a finished "run-of-the-mill" instrument, "identical" to all of the others off the line. You might, or might not, get a greater range of input variables from a smaller shop than a large production line - it depends on the company/manufacturer.

It is important to recognize that there are different scales of manufacturing, including large factories - producing thousands of guitars per year - smaller manufacturers - producing hundreds of guitars per year - and individual luthiers, who often produce a dozen or so guitars per year. Each brings different things to the market. None of these guarantee a great instrument is produced: each individual instrument needs to be assessed on its own merit. Put another way, an individual luthier's guitars aren't guaranteed to be better than a factory-made guitar, or vice versa: it depends on the luthier, the factory and other factors.

As a general rule, if one can find what one wants in an off-the-shelf guitar, one is better off to buy that, rather than order a custom instrument. If one can't find what one wants, then a custom order is a way of getting what you want. As a gross generalization, those best served by custom-made instruments are those who want something very specific, something very discerning.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 12-04-2019, 11:54 AM
jaymarsch jaymarsch is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: North of the Golden Gate, South of the Redwoods, East of the Pacific and West of the Sierras
Posts: 7,631
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by charles Tauber View Post
You'll get lots of opinions.

Martin guitars are factory made. The company is old and they, largely, appeal to "tradition". They are famous and popular. They make some great instruments, they make some not-so-great instruments. Most factory made instruments vary from one instrument to the next.

One can order a "custom-made" guitar from a factory or from a one-person luthier shop. All "custom-made" means is that the purchaser gets some choices and input into the materials and details of the instrument - versus buying a finished "run-of-the-mill" instrument, "identical" to all of the others off the line. You might, or might not, get a greater range of input variables from a smaller shop than a large production line - it depends on the company/manufacturer.

It is important to recognize that there are different scales of manufacturing, including large factories - producing thousands of guitars per year - smaller manufacturers - producing hundreds of guitars per year - and individual luthiers, who often produce a dozen or so guitars per year. Each brings different things to the market. None of these guarantee a great instrument is produced: each individual instrument needs to be assessed on its own merit. Put another way, an individual luthier's guitars aren't guaranteed to be better than a factory-made guitar, or vice versa: it depends on the luthier, the factory and other factors.

As a general rule, if one can find what one wants in an off-the-shelf guitar, one is better off to buy that, rather than order a custom instrument. If one can't find what one wants, then a custom order is a way of getting what you want. As a gross generalization, those best served by custom-made instruments are those who want something very specific, something very discerning.
I would agree with Charles here and add that from my experience the best way to take advantage of what a custom guitar option offers is to get clear on what you want and be able to communicate it clearly. Communication is key when working with a luthier. It is also helpful to have played a number of their instruments and understand a bit about what their tonal objective is when making a guitar as it may not be the same as yours. Some luthiers are very versatile and can meet your tonal needs while others specialize in a tone that is, let's say more modern or more traditional. So lots of factors to consider.

Best,
Jayne
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 12-04-2019, 11:55 AM
cciesec2006 cciesec2006 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Washington DC
Posts: 34
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleJesse View Post
It depends on the builder. Does he have any made you could try?
Hi,

Yes, they have some acoustic guitars ready to be delivered to customers but I don't know how to play guitar so it does not help me much . But to my un-train ear, it sound very much like the Martin 000-28.

The person who made the guitar has been doing it for at least twenty years.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 12-04-2019, 11:57 AM
cciesec2006 cciesec2006 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Washington DC
Posts: 34
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by charles Tauber View Post
You'll get lots of opinions.

Martin guitars are factory made. The company is old and they, largely, appeal to "tradition". They are famous and popular. They make some great instruments, they make some not-so-great instruments. Most factory made instruments vary from one instrument to the next.

One can order a "custom-made" guitar from a factory or from a one-person luthier shop. All "custom-made" means is that the purchaser gets some choices and input into the materials and details of the instrument - versus buying a finished "run-of-the-mill" instrument, "identical" to all of the others off the line. You might, or might not, get a greater range of input variables from a smaller shop than a large production line - it depends on the company/manufacturer.

It is important to recognize that there are different scales of manufacturing, including large factories - producing thousands of guitars per year - smaller manufacturers - producing hundreds of guitars per year - and individual luthiers, who often produce a dozen or so guitars per year. Each brings different things to the market. None of these guarantee a great instrument is produced: each individual instrument needs to be assessed on its own merit. Put another way, an individual luthier's guitars aren't guaranteed to be better than a factory-made guitar, or vice versa: it depends on the luthier, the factory and other factors.

As a general rule, if one can find what one wants in an off-the-shelf guitar, one is better off to buy that, rather than order a custom instrument. If one can't find what one wants, then a custom order is a way of getting what you want. As a gross generalization, those best served by custom-made instruments are those who want something very specific, something very discerning.
Good advice, thank you. I guess my son is not at the level where he should get a "custom" made guitar. He needs to earn it first.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 12-04-2019, 11:58 AM
cciesec2006 cciesec2006 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Washington DC
Posts: 34
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaymarsch View Post
I would agree with Charles here and add that from my experience the best way to take advantage of what a custom guitar option offers is to get clear on what you want and be able to communicate it clearly. Communication is key when working with a luthier. It is also helpful to have played a number of their instruments and understand a bit about what their tonal objective is when making a guitar as it may not be the same as yours. Some luthiers are very versatile and can meet your tonal needs while others specialize in a tone that is, let's say more modern or more traditional. So lots of factors to consider.

Best,
Jayne
Thank you very much Jayne. I'll wait until my son has earned his way to get a custom made guitar.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 12-04-2019, 12:00 PM
L20A L20A is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Roy Utah
Posts: 5,829
Default

$5,000.00 is a fair price for a custom built guitar.
The big problem with a custom guitar built by a not so well known builder is resale.
You will have hard time selling it for very much, if and when the time comes.

I would personally spend the money on a nice Martin.
But that's me.
__________________
Happiness Is A New Set Of Strings
L-20A
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 12-04-2019, 12:16 PM
stringbound stringbound is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Germany
Posts: 728
Default

The problem with a custom guitar is that you can't play it before you get it. You don't know what the guitar will sound like, if you are comfortable with the playability, etc.
__________________
Taylor 914ce (2016)
Furch LJ10 (2019)
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 12-04-2019, 12:22 PM
stevecuss stevecuss is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Front Range, Colorado
Posts: 1,142
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaymarsch View Post
I would agree with Charles here and add that from my experience the best way to take advantage of what a custom guitar option offers is to get clear on what you want and be able to communicate it clearly. Communication is key when working with a luthier. It is also helpful to have played a number of their instruments and understand a bit about what their tonal objective is when making a guitar as it may not be the same as yours. Some luthiers are very versatile and can meet your tonal needs while others specialize in a tone that is, let's say more modern or more traditional. So lots of factors to consider.

Best,
Jayne
really great information here. What has not yet been said, which I think is essential to state, is that many, many custom builders make a guitar that sounds nothing like a Martin.

I love the Martin tone. Love it. I own a Martin.

But my Mcilroy is a custom. Hand built by a father and son and intentionally tonally very different than a Martin.

I reach for the Mcilroy most of the time, partly because if forced to choose, I prefer its tone by a wide margin (I'm a sucker for lush, heavy overtones) but also because I met Dermott and had the privilege of touring his shop, learning all the ways he pours care into each guitar, so it is also an emotional thing unrelated to tone.

We live in the 'golden age of luthiers.' An incredible, diverse range of custom guitar builders today, some who focus on that Martin sound, and many who explore different tones and designs.

Hope that helps.
__________________
Steve
Mcilroy A25c (Cedar, English Walnut) with Schatten HFN (Passive, putty install.)
Eastman E10OM-TC. Schatten HFN (Passive, tape install.)
50th Anniversary Fender Am Std Strat.
Gretsch 5120 with TV Jones
Home Built "Cusstone" 18 Watt Plexi.
Line 6 Helix LT

If I played as much as I read threads, I'd be a pro....
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 12-04-2019, 12:34 PM
RalphH RalphH is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: Canterbury, UK
Posts: 853
Default

It sorta depends what you want it to be better at.

If you want it to be better at being just like a Martin then the Martin will win. If you want it to be better at being different to a Martin, then the custom will win.

If you want it to be something the Martin simply isn't then go for it, but be clear in your mind about what constitutes 'better' because the reality is that it'll just be 'different' as there is nothing really 'wrong' with a $5000 Martin or Gibson or Taylor.

It'll get more time and attention and care, it won't get the massive economies of scale or large R&D department.
__________________
Gibson Customshop Hummingbird (Review)
Taylor GS Mini Koa
Orange Crush Acoustic 30
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 12-04-2019, 12:39 PM
swarfrat swarfrat is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 183
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by cciesec2006 View Post
Yes, they have some acoustic guitars ready to be delivered to customers but I don't know how to play guitar so it does not help me much
Full stop.

Assuming this was serious and not tongue in cheek. Go get you a $200-$500 guitar and play it for a couple years until you know what you like about it and what you don't like about it.

Last edited by swarfrat; 12-04-2019 at 12:58 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 12-04-2019, 12:50 PM
RalphH RalphH is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: Canterbury, UK
Posts: 853
Default

IMO you need to have been playing a decade or more and been through all the big brands and know why you need a custom guitar, because it'll be much harder to sell if you decide it's not what you want 5 years down the line. The cost of ownership of mid to high end models from the big brands is very very low as they retain almost all of their value.

Very few people marry their first girlfriend (and stay married). Even fewer keep any of their early guitars, and not just because they're normally bad. You grow as a player and need to experiment and try different things. Very few guitars are great at everything and if you buy a custom strummer for someone who ends up playing finger style it wont be the right guitar.

I once sold an electric guitar I'd built for myself and got less for it than the cost of materials, even though it was 'better' than the equivalent Gibson in any measurable way and I even preferred the tone too.
__________________
Gibson Customshop Hummingbird (Review)
Taylor GS Mini Koa
Orange Crush Acoustic 30

Last edited by RalphH; 12-04-2019 at 01:01 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 12-04-2019, 01:02 PM
redir redir is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Mountains of Virginia
Posts: 6,067
Default

Charles summed it up perfectly and I would only add that most people who buy small shop luthiers guitars also like the fact that they are buying something that is truly hand crafted. Sort of like going to a craft fair and buying hand made pottery or going to a frame builder and having a costume bicycle frame built for you or something like that. To them there is something special about that because there is something special about it. And if the luthier has been at it a while he or she can truly make you something very special and unique that will have an amazing tone and playability. Anyone can run out an buy a Martin but not everyone will have a truly hand built guitar. And I love Martin's too so I'm not trying to imply anything bad about them.
Reply With Quote
Reply

  The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > General Acoustic Guitar Discussion

Thread Tools





All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:56 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, The Acoustic Guitar Forum
vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=