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Old 10-22-2021, 11:52 AM
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raysachs raysachs is offline
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Default Reassessing the Sable (long)

I've owned a few Martins over many years and a few Emeralds over very few years, and a few other assorted acoustics back in the day. I'd been a one acoustic guy for about a year and a half, with a CEO-7 that I flat out love. Then almost six months ago I added an 000-28EC to get a bit more of that lush, sustaining, overtone laden rosewood sound. I love both guitars, they both have Mod-V necks, the same short scales, 1.75" nuts, generous string spacing at the bridge, same playability. Both play great and sound great in totally different ways.

BUT, I found keeping track of and maintaining humidity on TWO nice wood acoustics seems to take considerably more time and attention than just maintaining one had. There are some out of the ordinary logistical reasons for this that I won't bore you with, but suffice it to say I was thinking about it too much, so I decided to look into carbon fiber again, to possibly replace one of the wooden ones. I've had the combination of one nice wood acoustic and one carbon fiber one before and found the combination pretty much ideal.

I've owned an Emerald X20 and two X7s (different years / designs). Didn't really bond with the X20 but loved the current version of the X7. When I sold it, it made perfect sense to do so, but I've since come to wish I'd kept it. I knew I could get another, so that would be in the running, but I also REALLY wanted to check out a McPherson Sable, of which many around these parts seem to think it's the most "woody" sounding carbon fiber they've heard. I had one ordered and was waiting on it and then, I was perusing a guitar shop in Eugene, OR about a month ago, they had one, I played it, came back and played it a couple more times, and decided no way it could replace either of my wood guitars. And I don't want three acoustics for another set of logistical reasons I won't bore you with. So I cancelled my pending order and had more or less blown off the idea.

But then last week, I stumbled onto a used Sable on Guitar Center's website, for about $1000 less than you generally see them for. With GC's generous return period and since I can buy from them tax free (my closest shop is over the state line in Delaware - if I have stuff delivered to that shop, no sales tax), I figured I should really give it a more thorough workout than I'd been able to in that shop in Oregon last month. So I ordered it and I've had it for a few days now. It's in absolutely perfect condition - it was just bought new in May (the previous owner left the initial receipt buried in the case - he paid about $1400 more for it new than I just paid). It didn't have the second saddle and it came with the old hard case instead of the Reunion Blues gig bag (which I'd prefer), but otherwise, it's basically brand new. And I guess the warranty wouldn't be in effect, but how often do these need warranty service? Somewhere between rarely and never I believe.

It became apparent pretty quickly that the Sable sounded much closer to the 000-28EC than it did to the CEO-7, so I started doing some back to back playing. Initially, I was still liking the 000 a lot more, but over a period of a couple days, the Sable kept growing on me relative to the 000. It's quieter, so I need to play a slightly heavier pick, and it seems to prefer medium strings to lights, so it's taken a little getting used to for my fingers, but I'm doing OK. I've tried a few sets of strings on it and so far like the GHS Vintage Bronze most, more than Sunbeams which are a go-to of mine. The Sunbeams are a little zingy or shimmery in the high end for my taste - the GHS sound more like Sunbeams sound on the 000, which I really like. I don't like the Sable's neck AS much as the EC neck, but I like it fine. The sound isn't the same, but it's the same neighborhood, and I like it a lot. A slightly different flavor, but kind of a wash in terms of how much I like the sound. It records as well or better than the EC. The only things I clearly like more about the EC are the neck and it's looks - it's my only natural top guitar and I love that look, just classically beautiful - the Sable just looks like black plastic, which it basically is. And it has a cutout, which I don't particularly like either.

But I'm seriously thinking about selling my nearly new 000-28EC and keeping this Sable. It will make me a little bit sad, but the ability to have one guitar I like that I can just hang on the wall and not even THINK about humidity with again, sounds really nice. Then I can just keep the CEO-7 in my humidified cabinet at home and in it's case when we're away for the winter and on super humid or dry days, just not even open it up. And the Sable has electronics, which I almost never use, but I plugged it in and it sounded better through my electric guitar amp than any other acoustic ever has, so maybe I'd even use it plugged in from time to time.

I haven't decided for sure yet, but I'm leaning toward selling the EC and keeping the Sable - I just need to give it a little time to make sure that idea still feels right after living with it a little while. Here are a couple pics of the Sable, in case this does turn into a NGD...

0 by Ray, on Flickr

0-1 by Ray, on Flickr

-Ray
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Last edited by raysachs; 10-22-2021 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 10-22-2021, 12:32 PM
Fixedgear60 Fixedgear60 is offline
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Nice review and to boot you have the honeycomb weave and gold hardware. Sounds like a keeper. I am a touring lover and no longer have any wood acoustic guitars . Enjoy and should keep a candy dish near my guitar as well. Perhaps it will help me play more often. Enjoy!!
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Old 10-22-2021, 12:32 PM
Winzzy Winzzy is offline
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I can't really say much more than the Sable ended my search. Completely done with zero desire to keep looking. It is exceedingly rare for any piece of gear to do that for me.
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Old 10-22-2021, 01:33 PM
jdinaz jdinaz is offline
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Good follow up there Ray, Sounds like as long as you have the CEO, you won't miss the EC too much....all 3 very fine guitars and a great problem to have. Good luck deciding.
I was able to take the "low" saddle down even more than it was with good results if you like a low action. I bought a spare from McPherson so not to hack up the one it ships with. I'll give the GHS a try too, always fun trying different strings.
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Old 10-22-2021, 01:58 PM
reeve21 reeve21 is offline
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Ray,

You are going to miss that EC. There are dozens of threads about seller's remorse, people buying back the same guitar multiple times. Because I don't want you to suffer that fate, I will gladly store and humidify it (whole house, in room and in case methods) for you until you come to your senses. And I promise not to play it except on days that end with a "y."

Your friend,
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Old 10-22-2021, 03:23 PM
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Nice review! I was at Chuck Levinís today, they had a bunch of McPís CF guitars. Also had a few Rainsongs. Nice folks there. Anyway, glad youíre enjoying the Sable. Seems like a killer deal!
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Old 10-22-2021, 03:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reeve21 View Post
Ray,

You are going to miss that EC. There are dozens of threads about seller's remorse, people buying back the same guitar multiple times. Because I don't want you to suffer that fate, I will gladly store and humidify it (whole house, in room and in case methods) for you until you come to your senses. And I promise not to play it except on days that end with a "y."

Your friend,
Bob, you're a generous man and your offer is greatly appreciated. I, of course, reject it out of hand...

I would miss the EC. Although sound wise, its kind of a wash between the EC and the Sable (not the same, but similar enough and I can't say I prefer one to the other), everything else about the EC I prefer except for the need to take care of it. I like the feel of it more, I like the LOOK of it overwhelmingly more, I like the weight of it more.

The funny thing is that a year ago - heck, HALF a year ago, the CEO-7 was my only acoustic and I was happy as a pig in slop. Now I'm playing the Sable and the EC all the time, trying to decide which I prefer, and then I just a few minutes ago pulled out the CEO-7 and as soon as I started playing it, I was in HEAVEN. I love that freaking guitar - I did from the first minute I played it in the winter of last year. It feels every bit as good as the EC, maybe even slightly better, but I like the SOUND of that guitar way more than either the EC or the Sable. It's not that it sounds better - but it sounds better to ME, it's my taste almost completely. I added the EC for variety, both in looks and sound, and I love the variety, but there's no question which is my #1. The only thing I don't love about the CEO-7, is the look of it's sunburst, which has never been my thing.

I realize I could go back to just having the CEO-7 and being perfectly happy again. But instead, I agonize over which of the other two to keep - what an idiot! I always said I was happiest with one acoustic and one electric and I'm actually beginning to believe that in my gut. But, we're people, we can't leave well enough alone.

This is an embarrassment of riches. I'd be happy with either of those "other" guitars, or neither of them. So why is it so hard to choose? It may come down to the path of least resistance, returning the Sable because then I won't have anything left I need to do. If I keep the Sable, I'm gonna have to sell the EC and that, as you say, will be very painful. I don't think returning the Sable will be near as hard - I'll always know I could buy another just like it if I REALLY want to someday. With the EC, I might not get one as good next time.

Arrrggghhh. Who knows. There are no bad decisions here. I'll keep playing them both for the next few days and I'll probably reach a point of clarity in my gut. My brain is helpless to figure this stuff out, but my gut usually gets it right if I listen to it. We'll see...

-Ray
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Old 10-22-2021, 06:39 PM
tbeltrans tbeltrans is online now
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Congrats Ray on your Sable. Mine is just like yours except that I did a bit of work on the nut slots and saddle to lower the action a fair amount.

Funny thing, of all the Martins I have played, if I were to own one, it would, be the 000 EC model. However, I have no need at this point and am still considering going all CF at some point, which only would mean selling my wood guitars since I have a CF collection of McPhersons and original CA Guitars Cargos.

Edit: As for the "sounds like wood" claims, to me that is wishful thinking. Going back and forth between my wood guitars and the Sable, the Sable has a nice warm tone, but "not metallic" still doesn't really mean "sounds like wood". There is just something in the sound of wood, just as there is in carbon fiber. As with any guitar regardless of what materials it is made from, either you like the sound or not.

Tony

Last edited by tbeltrans; 10-22-2021 at 07:44 PM.
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Old 10-22-2021, 08:30 PM
DMZ DMZ is offline
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I saw a Sable on GC site recently. Congratulations! I just found out about these and got to play 3 Sables and 2 Touring today. It has me rethinking much.
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Old 10-23-2021, 07:19 PM
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Methos1979 Methos1979 is offline
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Nice looking guitar. I like their honeycomb finishes, especially the black/gold combos. I wouldn't worry about selling the EC. There is no shortage of them and since they are one of Martin's most popular guitars, I don't see them discontinued anytime soon. I've owned two and both were great. Variety is the spice of life.
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Old 10-24-2021, 10:41 AM
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I put new strings on the EC this morning - I realized I'd been playing the Sable with new strings and comparing it to the EC, which had month and a half old strings on it. Turns out, when comparing oranges and oranges, to my ears, it's not much of a comparison. I like the sound of the Sable, but I like the sound of the EC a good bit more. So, really, everything about the Sable, for my wants and likes, is a compromise, with the great advantage being the lack of having to think about taking care of it. I like it a lot, but I like everything about the EC more, some things a lot more, some things a little more.

I spent a fair amount of time trying various wood guitars until I got to the point of owning two of them I just totally bond with - I love them to the extent one can love a guitar. I wish one of them could be carbon fiber and maintain all of their other great properties, but that guitar doesn't exist, or I haven't played it yet. I've owned and played carbon fiber guitars I really liked, the Sable as much or more than any (although the current model X7 is really close), but not nearly as much as either of these wood Martins.

So, the Sable goes back tomorrow morning. If anyone is looking for a screaming deal on a mint condition Sable, it SHOULD show up on Guitar Center's site sometime tomorrow. If it doesn't, call the Wilmington, Delaware Guitar Center sometime tomorrow afternoon and you should be able to buy it from them.

-Ray
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Last edited by raysachs; 10-24-2021 at 11:50 AM.
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Old 10-24-2021, 02:40 PM
jdinaz jdinaz is offline
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That's one of the best deals I've seen on a Sable....should go fast. Too bad you couldn't keep it with the rest of the herd.
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Old 11-22-2021, 08:41 AM
guitarxan guitarxan is offline
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Ray

What a great analysis..and a great problem to have. Three great guitars to choose from. I have had my Sable now for a year and it has gradually become the only guitar I gig with.

I did a similar compare with my acoustics - one of which is a McPherson Camrielle, the other an OM35. I have Elixer PBíS on them all. All three sound great, but there is no comparison between the wood and acoustics. I think of it as CD vs Vinyl. There is warmth in the wood guitars that isnít there with the Sable.

However, the Sable is now my regular gigging guitar because it absolutely rocks plugged in. All three have Fishman pickups in them, and while they are of different variety, the Sable is balanced, no feedback issues and it projects well. It is the most warm of the three plugged in, plus it is very stable from a tuning perspective.

Would I give up wood guitars for the Sable? For me the answer is no, but is sure nice to have one[emoji846]
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Old 11-22-2021, 11:16 AM
tbeltrans tbeltrans is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarxan View Post
Ray

What a great analysis..and a great problem to have. Three great guitars to choose from. I have had my Sable now for a year and it has gradually become the only guitar I gig with.

I did a similar compare with my acoustics - one of which is a McPherson Camrielle, the other an OM35. I have Elixer PBíS on them all. All three sound great, but there is no comparison between the wood and acoustics. I think of it as CD vs Vinyl. There is warmth in the wood guitars that isnít there with the Sable.

However, the Sable is now my regular gigging guitar because it absolutely rocks plugged in. All three have Fishman pickups in them, and while they are of different variety, the Sable is balanced, no feedback issues and it projects well. It is the most warm of the three plugged in, plus it is very stable from a tuning perspective.

Would I give up wood guitars for the Sable? For me the answer is no, but is sure nice to have one[emoji846]
Well, there you have it...

I have a stable Sable in my stable.

Say that as fast as you can, as many times as you can.

Tony
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Old 11-22-2021, 11:34 AM
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I don't mean to pile on in a negative sense,

read your post twice,,

but it seems like selling guitars due the effort of maintaining proper RH sounds like a solution looking for a problem.

I tend to keep my guitars (6 acoustics) cased until I want play them,

the action on none of them change a bit over the course of the year's climate change.

I am now using the sound hole humidifiers and the soap travel box with a damp sponge up under the head stock. so that maintenance has begun but I don't mind doing it.

to me it's a small amount of effort for big gains.

All this to say,

Keep that EC signature, because to me, there's no replacing "the wood" in an acoustic instrument. I'm sure the McPhearson comes close and looks to be a fine guitar, but I guess carbon fiber guitars just aren't for me
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