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  #1  
Old 09-19-2021, 04:31 PM
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mikealpine mikealpine is offline
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Default Fun with less expensive guitars

Had a very nice experience helping my daughter’s friend, Ray, buy a guitar a couple of days ago. He is from the Dominican Republic and headed back there in about a month. He wanted a guitar to practice and learn on, and as a more meaningful souvenir of his summer in the US. He had a very limited budget, limited availability to find and try used guitars, so we settled on taking him to Guitar Center to see if anything worked for him.

He wanted something a little smaller for travel. I wanted to find a Taylor GS Mini, but they didn’t have any. I started pulling down OM-ish guitars in the $399 range. There were a couple that sounded very good! One was a Dean with a black-brown top. I have no idea what the layered woods were, but the back looked like mahogany. It had a surprisingly full tone. He liked it, but I sensed reluctance and asked what he was thinking. His was hoping to spend $200.

Tough number….but then I saw, tucked away in a back corner, a very pretty sunburst Mitchell. It was $189! I took it down, the strings felt new and it was way out of tune, like it hadn’t ever been tuned. I tuned it up and strummed it. It sounded much bigger, more full and rich than I expected. The action was perfect…no buzz unless you strummed pretty hard, very easy to play. I handed it to Ray. Short story, he loved it after just one strum. It sounded as nice in front as it did when I played it. He was thrilled! We asked the salesman about it. He said that Mitchell has really upped their game. Not only that, but apparently that guitar only came in that morning and we were likely the first to play it. We played an OM of theirs that was $379 or so that also sounded way better than I would expect at that price point. I know…buy with your ears, not buy price and name, lol.

It was a lot of fun and a great reminder that there is “good” at any price point. Ray walked out with the guitar. It didn’t come with a case, so my daughter and I gifted him with a very sturdy gig bag, that is built for travel.

Anyone else have similar experiences?
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Old 09-19-2021, 04:57 PM
Brooklyn Bob Brooklyn Bob is offline
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This is good perspective for many of us here with first world problems.
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Old 09-19-2021, 05:50 PM
dbuck dbuck is offline
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I got a used Mitchell dread a few years ago from GC to play and keep at our cabin when we go there. I think I paid around $70 for it. I was surprised how good it sounds and it is also pretty easy to play. There’s nothing wrong with having an inexpensive guitar if you like it!
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Old 09-19-2021, 05:51 PM
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I have an Ibanez Artcore OM all mahogany that sounds fantastic. My other two guitars are Martins , a D-18 and an 000-16T. The Ibanez sounds just as good in it's own way as my other guitars and only cost me $275.
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Old 09-19-2021, 05:57 PM
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mikealpine mikealpine is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooklyn Bob View Post
This is good perspective for many of us here with first world problems.
Agreed, Bob, and thanks. He was so happy. It was eye-opening, to be sure.

Here is what he bought. It’s a Brand Auditorium, though the lower bought is the same size as their OM, so it’s like an OM with a cutaway. Here it is:

https://www.guitarcenter.com/Mitchel...tric-Guitar.gc
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2013 Joel Stehr Dreadnought - Carpathian/Malaysian BW
2014 RainSong H-OM1000N2
2017 Rainsong BI-WS1000N2
2013 Chris Ensor Concert - Port Orford Cedar/Wenge
1980ish Takamine EF363 complete with irreplaceable memories
A bunch of electrics (too many!!)
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Old 09-19-2021, 06:01 PM
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mikealpine mikealpine is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbuck View Post
I got a used Mitchell dread a few years ago from GC to play and keep at our cabin when we go there. I think I paid around $70 for it. I was surprised how good it sounds and it is also pretty easy to play. There’s nothing wrong with having an inexpensive guitar if you like it!
Completely agree. I just kind of stopped looking at them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ASC67 View Post
I have an Ibanez Artcore OM all mahogany that sounds fantastic. My other two guitars are Martins , a D-18 and an 000-16T. The Ibanez sounds just as good in it's own way as my other guitars and only cost me $275.
Another good example, thanks!
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2013 Joel Stehr Dreadnought - Carpathian/Malaysian BW
2014 RainSong H-OM1000N2
2017 Rainsong BI-WS1000N2
2013 Chris Ensor Concert - Port Orford Cedar/Wenge
1980ish Takamine EF363 complete with irreplaceable memories
A bunch of electrics (too many!!)
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  #7  
Old 09-19-2021, 07:47 PM
SRL SRL is offline
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I used to work downtown and there was a busker near my office who could probably at circles around 90% of the people on this forum, definitely including me. He used an old plywood department store guitar with painted on fret markers, like a Harmony Stella or something. Gear is no substitute for skill.

I think some of the best values in the $200-400 range are the Yamaha 800 series (FG800, FS800, 820, 830, 850). Solid top, nice action, good sound.
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Old 09-19-2021, 08:36 PM
jricc jricc is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikealpine View Post
Had a very nice experience helping my daughter’s friend, Ray, buy a guitar a couple of days ago. He is from the Dominican Republic and headed back there in about a month. He wanted a guitar to practice and learn on, and as a more meaningful souvenir of his summer in the US. He had a very limited budget, limited availability to find and try used guitars, so we settled on taking him to Guitar Center to see if anything worked for him.

He wanted something a little smaller for travel. I wanted to find a Taylor GS Mini, but they didn’t have any. I started pulling down OM-ish guitars in the $399 range. There were a couple that sounded very good! One was a Dean with a black-brown top. I have no idea what the layered woods were, but the back looked like mahogany. It had a surprisingly full tone. He liked it, but I sensed reluctance and asked what he was thinking. His was hoping to spend $200.

Tough number….but then I saw, tucked away in a back corner, a very pretty sunburst Mitchell. It was $189! I took it down, the strings felt new and it was way out of tune, like it hadn’t ever been tuned. I tuned it up and strummed it. It sounded much bigger, more full and rich than I expected. The action was perfect…no buzz unless you strummed pretty hard, very easy to play. I handed it to Ray. Short story, he loved it after just one strum. It sounded as nice in front as it did when I played it. He was thrilled! We asked the salesman about it. He said that Mitchell has really upped their game. Not only that, but apparently that guitar only came in that morning and we were likely the first to play it. We played an OM of theirs that was $379 or so that also sounded way better than I would expect at that price point. I know…buy with your ears, not buy price and name, lol.

It was a lot of fun and a great reminder that there is “good” at any price point. Ray walked out with the guitar. It didn’t come with a case, so my daughter and I gifted him with a very sturdy gig bag, that is built for travel.

Anyone else have similar experiences?
Great story that made my day Mike. Thanks. Cool thing that u and daughter did.
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Old 09-19-2021, 08:42 PM
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For the last week and change, we've been visiting our daughter out in Oregon, who we hadn’t seen in almost two years. I’d sent my cheap Alvarez parlor guitar out with her and her fiancé (now husband) so I’d have something to play when we visited. This was in about September or October of 2019, and we assumed we’d have been here 2-3 times by now. But the pandemic hit and it took until now for us to get out here. In that time, I’ve bought both of my nice acoustics, a CEO-7 and an 000-28EC. My standards have been raised considerably since I last played this guitar.

Predictably, when we first got here and I started playing the Alvarez, being used to playing two MUCH nicer guitars every day, it sounded really bad. But after a few days of playing nothing else, it started sounding OK to me. Not GOOD - I’m very aware of its shortcomings, but good enough to really enjoy myself. Any guitar is waaaay better than no guitar. When we leave here on Friday, I’ll look forward to getting home to my good guitars, but I’ll be really grateful for the cheap Alvarez that lives at my daughter’s place in Oregon. I’m sure the next time we visit, I’ll be similarly unimpressed with it but ultimately grateful for it.

-Ray
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  #10  
Old 09-19-2021, 09:41 PM
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mcmars mcmars is offline
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There are some very nice affordable guitars now. I like the gretsch roots series from 2017, 3 sizes 0, 00 and 000. I have the 000 version as my travel/festival/river guitar and other musicians always comment on how nice it sounds and the great looks with the slot head, burst and nice inlay, it cost me $230 few years ago. But the factory in Indonesia burnt down so now you have to find used ones.

But I just got a Gretsch Jim Dandy and it has near perfect intonation and really nice action at both saddle and nut slots and plays and sounds really great for blues and other fingerstyle. It was an amazon warehouse deal at $120 from a dealer and showed up brand new looking in box with tags, not sure why it was marked down. It is a 24 scale guitar and 3/4 size and is great for taking anywhere and not having to worry about it. Tuners not the best is about only complaint, but worth upgrading. They have a few if anyone wants one and totally worth it, something to be said for a plywood guitar that plays and sounds good.
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Old 09-19-2021, 10:26 PM
wisedennis wisedennis is offline
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Played a $500 recording king ro227 , pretty good

And played Breedlove Breedlove Organic Collection Signature Concert $599

Pretty good too
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Old 09-20-2021, 05:12 AM
Robin, Wales Robin, Wales is offline
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What surprises me is that folks are surprised that a large number of the cheaper options are really very good instruments.

Yesteryears cheap instruments are highly prized today. Those $15 Kalamazoo guitars and the $35 Martin 17 series and the Gibson LG-2s go for silly prices today. If the AGF had been going in the 30s/40s those are the guitars we would have been turning our noses up at. The build quality wasn't great and the Kalamazoo/Gibson's did runs with maple plywood b/s (the most sought after today!). Many of today's cheaper guitars have a much higher build quality and a better, more stable geometry. And some of them will be the in demand vintage guitars of tomorrow!
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Old 09-20-2021, 05:57 AM
Dru Edwards Dru Edwards is offline
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Mike, great to hear that you were able to help Ray out. That first strum can be amazing. Sometimes a $200 budget is significant. Kudos to you for trying them all out.

Did you try any Yamahas in the $200 range?
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  #14  
Old 09-20-2021, 06:02 AM
euraquilo euraquilo is offline
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Love these stories.

My Martin Dreadnought Jr gets as much play time as my Taylor GC7. Plus I get to experiment on the DJr (internal mics, saddle changes, etc.) without feeling as though I'm running the risk of damaging a large investment. The action on my Djr is now what I measure any potential guitar against.
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  #15  
Old 09-20-2021, 06:05 AM
FingahPickah FingahPickah is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SRL View Post
Gear is no substitute for skill.

I think some of the best values in the $200-400 range are the Yamaha 800 series (FG800, FS800, 820, 830, 850). Solid top, nice action, good sound.
Ah...."skill" ...
I know a few players who (I'd bet) could make a tennis racket sound good.

Yamaha 800 Series: I completely agree. A year or so ago I was looking for a good quality low cost guitar to have converted to a mandocello.

When I played an FS800T ($200 brand new) I knew I found the perfect candidate. I was very impressed with it's build quality, tone and overall comfort to play. My luthier friend agreed. It came out awesome.

I don't hesitate to recommend the 800 series to anyone looking for big bang for the buck.
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