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Old 02-14-2019, 12:51 PM
Deliberate1 Deliberate1 is offline
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Default Clarintetist needs guitar advice - reprise

Friends, this follows my first post last week soliciting advice on a first guitar. Have to thank all the kind people that responded - very helpful community (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/...d.php?t=537562).
Since that time I have been listening to dozens of Youtube vids - one guitar leading to another. Now I can't seem to get the sound of Tony Polecastro's voice out of my head. But he does a great job with his A/B comparisons playing the same tunes with each.
Like the kiss from a first love, I was pretty smitten with the tonality of the Martin 00015sm, and I still am. But as I listened to others, and developed at least a rudimentary appreciation for the design and geometry of different boxes, it seemed to me that this all hog box may be a bit too specialized for will be my first guitar (and potentially only one). But as I read and learned, I think that a 12 fret guitar with 1.75 nut in a 00/000 body will be a good partner for me. No shoulder issues, but I do have a bit of arthritis in the fingers. Beyond that, finger style playing definitely spoke to me. And I understand that the 12 fret and wider string spacing facilitates that. And I definitely noticed a different presentation and sound stage with the instruments with a slotted head stock.
I looked and listened to a bunch. Have to say that the sweetest ones to my ears were the Martin 000-28vs and Larrivee 000-60. Some suggest that the 1 13/16 nut and modified Martin V neck caused them some hand issues. Now that could be a unique mismatch. But the price is a bit dear as well, especially when comparing to the Larrivee line. Another kind member suggested the Martin 000-17sm, which is the hog body/sides and sitka top.
I have been corresponding with a fellow who responded to me in a pm. Turns out he and I met skiing in Maine several years ago. And our paths never crossed again until I posted. He is a big fan of Larrivee guitars. So I spent a lot of time researching them and listening to vids. They certainly come highly recommended and swing well above their price range.
I focused on on the 12 fret models, some with slotted and others not. Some suggest that price is not necessarily an indicator of better sonic quality - that the higher priced models may have more choice wood and are gussied up. And that's all good, but not a requirement for me.
The ones I am looking at are:
Larrivee 000-40 (EIR/spruce).
Larrivee 000-60 (EIR/spruce) w/slotted head
Larrivee 00-50 (mahogany/spruce) w/slotted head
Larrivee 00-09 (EIR/spruce) w/slotted head.
Looked at the Taylor 522, but it did not do it for me. Martin 00017sm with the spruce top is also an option.
Again, many thanks for your thoughts.
David

Last edited by Deliberate1; 02-14-2019 at 01:12 PM.
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Old 02-14-2019, 01:26 PM
zmf zmf is offline
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David -- this might be a good idea or not, but why not immerse yourself in guitars by going to a shop with an extensive inventory, like The Music Emporium in the Boston area. They have a good high-end selection that would give you an idea of the whole spectrum of the guitar world.

I'm not recommending that you consider buying a "boutique" guitar that this point, but it would be more along the line of an "educational event" to get a feeling of what you gravitate towards.

And yeah -- the Martin 000-28vs is a nice guitar -- the elongate body shape makes a difference.
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Old 02-14-2019, 01:43 PM
Deliberate1 Deliberate1 is offline
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Originally Posted by zmf View Post
David -- this might be a good idea or not, but why not immerse yourself in guitars by going to a shop with an extensive inventory, like The Music Emporium in the Boston area. They have a good high-end selection that would give you an idea of the whole spectrum of the guitar world.

I'm not recommending that you consider buying a "boutique" guitar that this point, but it would be more along the line of an "educational event" to get a feeling of what you gravitate towards.
Sage advice for sure. My concern is going to a store without anything in mind and being rather overwhelmed by all the possible choices. Being able to narrow down the options gives me a plan - even if it goes out the window. Were I buying a new clarinet, sax or mouthpiece, I would be in my element.
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Old 02-14-2019, 02:36 PM
offkey offkey is offline
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It seems to me that a first time guitar buyer could not do much better than the Martin 000 15sm. True they do have a unique voice but so do most other guitars. They are common, easily available and fairly inexpensive. Most folks think they sound great and the neck is about as easy on the fingers as any neck out there. Plus they are easy to find and sell used.
Beginning with a 000 28vs is much more of a gamble, lots of people including me struggle with the neck profile.
Do yourself a favor and go with the Martin 000 15sm. You can thank me later.
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Old 02-14-2019, 02:44 PM
SJ VanSandt SJ VanSandt is offline
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Hi David - welcome to the forum. I'm glad you provided the link to your original post - it was informative and entertaining, as were many of the responses. I was rather surprised to find that no one suggested what seems to me to be a logical first step: find a good guitar teacher. Take a few lessons with a borrowed guitar (the teacher may have one himself). He or she would be able to give you much more knowledgeable advice about what type strings, setup, body size, brand name, etc. etc. than any of us here, because she would be able to see you, hear you speak or sing (your vocal range could make a big difference in what instrument suits you best, and it appears, since you are writing songs, that you want to sing), find out more about your musical tastes, and so on.

I really like your original impulse to find a guitar that sounds something like a clarinet, and I think you are on the right track with the all mahogany idea. Woody, not shimmery. I also support your predilection for getting a really fine instrument from the get-go. Martins are fine instruments, but the 15 series are their mid-price, workingman's models and they do build better sounding guitars, as do any number of boutique builder and individual luthiers. The best all-hog guitar I've personally played was a Collings OM, but I understand Santa Cruz makes some fine ones as well. Check out some Youtube videos.

The Music Emporium is good advise. I wouldn't buy online, myself.
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Old 02-14-2019, 04:00 PM
Aaron Smith Aaron Smith is offline
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YouTube reviews are worth exactly what you paid for them. Nothing sounds the same in your hands as it does on the internet. And there can be a shocking amount of variation between three or four of the exact same model guitar from the same manufacturer.

You also didn't specify the budget you're working with, which is probably the most important variable.

As someone who has learned a bunch of new instruments as an adult, my advice would be to get a decent $400 guitar with a solid top, and have a competent luthier set it up for another $100. Then play the stuffing out of it until you start to get a better understanding of what you want to improve with the instrument.

I started learning violin about 10 years ago, and I still couldn't make a $10,000 instrument sound better than a $500 instrument. Sometimes I'm tempted to throw money at a better instrument, but it would probably be a waste.
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Old 02-14-2019, 04:28 PM
Deliberate1 Deliberate1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by offkey View Post
It seems to me that a first time guitar buyer could not do much better than the Martin 000 15sm. True they do have a unique voice but so do most other guitars. They are common, easily available and fairly inexpensive. Most folks think they sound great and the neck is about as easy on the fingers as any neck out there. Plus they are easy to find and sell used.
Beginning with a 000 28vs is much more of a gamble, lots of people including me struggle with the neck profile.
Do yourself a favor and go with the Martin 000 15sm. You can thank me later.
Aw, c'mon. Tell me what you really think
Why don't I save the time and thank you right now. To my ear, that Martin is the one to beat. Got to kiss lots of frogs to get to the right hog. You can quote me on that.
Cheers, mate.
David
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Old 02-14-2019, 04:45 PM
Deliberate1 Deliberate1 is offline
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Originally Posted by SJ VanSandt View Post
I was rather surprised to find that no one suggested what seems to me to be a logical first step: find a good guitar teacher.

I really like your original impulse to find a guitar that sounds something like a clarinet, and I think you are on the right track with the all mahogany idea. Woody, not shimmery. I also support your predilection for getting a really fine instrument from the get-go. Martins are fine instruments, but the 15 series are their mid-price, workingman's models and they do build better sounding guitars, as do any number of boutique builder and individual luthiers. The best all-hog guitar I've personally played was a Collings OM, but I understand Santa Cruz makes some fine ones as well. Check out some Youtube videos.
Obliged for yours. Actually, I have feelers out in my music community for teacher recommendations, and I will start interviewing soon. If you have any suggestions as to what to ask and listen for, I am all ears. My thought is to get an instrument, get comfortable with it, learn the basic barre chords, and perhaps different forms, so that I have some foundation when I start lessons. That said, I do appreciate the vote of confidence for the mahogany boxes. They seem to speak with an honesty and simplicity that I strive for in my winds work. I will look at the Collings and SC, but consider them aspirational instruments.
BTW, my inclination is to buy used. Wood instruments tend to mature and open with age. It does not hurt so much when you put your first ding on a horn that already has some. But warranties are typically not transferable. Is that an issue with the makers I am exploring?
cheers.
David
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Old 02-14-2019, 05:20 PM
Bernieman Bernieman is offline
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I had read some of your first thread and I think you may as well trust your ears : you've been a musician for long and you have practised to get a good sound obviously...So you know what it is about...Mahogany topped guitars are not many musician's first choice, but a lot of it seems (to me at least) to come from the fact they have been rarely used by the big stars of the guitar...For years (even decades) they have been pretty unsee-able in shops, then they (re-)appeared quite recently it seems...
They have never been my choice as I didn't know much about them, but I think it may be a mistake : they have a very smooth tone, and they seem to give a more even response than most others to a little too harsh of a playing, which is very good for (trained) beginners. I remember congratulating a well-known specialised guitar reviewer for his sound with such guitar on a bit he was usually playing a bit too aggressively with other guitars I thought, and that sounded perfect that time I thought...It was a Taylor 322 I believe, at least an all-mahogany guitar (like the 000-15 SM)...
First I thought reading this other thread you had started, that if looking for smth. that sounded like a clarinet you should go for an electric guitar with a good overdrive from your amp (!) - then you could get long lasting sustain -, but no, I understood when reading you were into writing songs now...
All mahogany guitars are quite cheaper than those with other woods you now mention, and can last for life just as well as most many others...
Guild too makes some : guitars such as M20s maybe could make you happy too...
Here are some videos you might like (1 and 4 I like the most).
www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDvqXev3W5s
www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0uJFmWJZLU
www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yEqeEc8lwo
www.youtube.com/watch?v=9J8PkL5UfYk
I never buy guitars from online stores, and I think it's better to check up your local shop first : maybe they'll have a Guild or a Martin or a Taylor, or some other good brand's guitar you'll want to listen to...If you're not good enough at playing yet, they usually always have someone who can play, and it's even a better way sometimes to hear how good a guitar is...From online stores, asking for a low action is a thing to do I believe as steel strings guitars especially, can be difficult to handle at first...Good luck
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Old 02-14-2019, 06:01 PM
jim1960 jim1960 is offline
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The thing you're doing that's most right is that you're looking for a guitar that inspires you. Whether you go Martin or Larivee, buy the guitar that you don't want to put down.
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Old 02-14-2019, 06:06 PM
G-Money G-Money is offline
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I would recommend "lower end" Larrivees. As I think you said, the more expensive ones are more expensive because of the aesthetic "bling." The company's approach is to build a single guitar for each body style, then add bling for those interested in paying more for abalone inlay and fancy bindings. One could argue that the higher grade woods they select from the same high quality lots of wood used on the higher price models impact the sound, but I tend to doubt that. My L-03's back, by the way, is almost psychedelic; I can hardly imagine a better appearance from something like the the L-10's back wood. The Larrivee's you have listed include some higher end ones as far as I can tell -- the -40 model and so on. I recommend you feel free to go as low as the 02 or 03 model. And an 000 seems spot on from the info in this and your previous post. For reference, I recently bought an 2006 mint L-03 to add to my 000, for $650 ....
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Old 02-14-2019, 08:16 PM
mawmow mawmow is offline
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I like Tony Podecastro videos as he compares two guitars with the same recording system. I mean you can hear many great videos but the different recording setups cannot actually help make an idea.

Mahogany top on all mahogany body appeared quite recently probably as a reminiscence of the 1955-1965 Gibson's, say Lg-0, that were made cheap and became the sound of many bluesmen: These were quite bold, were ladder braced (instead of modern X-bracing) and had a boxy sound. That is to say they are primarily for blues players. Late Bill Collings more recently lauched a series (ladder as well as X-braced) under the name of Waterloo reminiscent of the original Gibsons of the 1930ies but I never touched any.

I owned a Larrivée OM-03R (made in Canada) and can tell you it did not compare with the OM-09 2014 (US made). My (rare) L-03koa sounds great though. Larrivée are generally worth their money.

As a first guitar, you would probably look for a Mahogany back (Rosewood is more expensive) with sitka spruce top, x-braxing. It is how most guitar are crafted.

I recently heard a pro play a Taylor Academy that blowed both of us away.
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Old 02-14-2019, 08:26 PM
SJ VanSandt SJ VanSandt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deliberate1 View Post
BTW, my inclination is to buy used. Wood instruments tend to mature and open with age. It does not hurt so much when you put your first ding on a horn that already has some. But warranties are typically not transferable. Is that an issue with the makers I am exploring?
cheers.
David
The best sounding 15 series Martins I've heard were all a couple of decades old, at least. Mahogany tops mature slowly. On the other hand, they tend to develop problems when they are that old. Another consideration is that if it's considered collectable, you don't necessarily save much money buying used. With spruce tops a couple of years can make a difference, sound-wise (and price-wise) but probably not so much with mahogany. I think if I were buying a 000-15, I would opt for new one just for the warranty protection.

I listened to some all-hog demos and I'm rethinking the analogy to the clarinet. It may be woody and mellow sometimes, but a good clarinet also has a strong upper partial presence that can punch through just about anything - that's what gives it its character. I don't think you get that much with all-hog. Mahogany back and sides with a good spruce top is what you want. Clarity with character. Listen to Norman Blake - see if that's not the sound you are after.

Good luck with your teacher quest. I haven't any terribly useful recommendations, except maybe try to find someone who wants to hear you play your clarinet and sax. A good teacher should be interested in knowing where you are musically. You aren't going to be starting anywhere near square one, with your experience, and they should tailor your lessons accordingly.
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Old 02-15-2019, 01:53 AM
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colins colins is offline
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Originally Posted by Deliberate1 View Post
Sage advice for sure. My concern is going to a store without anything in mind and being rather overwhelmed by all the possible choices. Being able to narrow down the options gives me a plan - even if it goes out the window. Were I buying a new clarinet, sax or mouthpiece, I would be in my element.
David, I suspect that you have a much better understanding of what you want than you give yourself credit for. Your knowledge of good woodwind is part of a fundamental understanding of sound and the “playability” of an instrument, and that will translate to guitars.

So I still feel that a trip to a big shop would be beneficial. That said, I just remembered that while it is summer down here in Australia, it is winter up where you are and a road trip kind of loses its appeal if it’s snowing!

Col
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Old 02-15-2019, 07:30 AM
cmd612 cmd612 is offline
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But as I listened to others, and developed at least a rudimentary appreciation for the design and geometry of different boxes, it seemed to me that this all hog box may be a bit too specialized for will be my first guitar (and potentially only one). But as I read and learned, I think that a 12 fret guitar with 1.75 nut in a 00/000 body will be a good partner for me. No shoulder issues, but I do have a bit of arthritis in the fingers. Beyond that, finger style playing definitely spoke to me. And I understand that the 12 fret and wider string spacing facilitates that. And I definitely noticed a different presentation and sound stage with the instruments with a slotted head stock.
I looked and listened to a bunch. Have to say that the sweetest ones to my ears were the Martin 000-28vs and Larrivee 000-60. Some suggest that the 1 13/16 nut and modified Martin V neck caused them some hand issues.
I've read both this thread and your original one and hope you don't mind me saying this: you're doing something that I'm often guilty of myself: overthinking, in a big way. We could continue this discussion for months, and at the end of it you will know no more about YOUR preferences for sound and feel than you do now.

The all-mahogany might be satisfactory for a one-and-only. It might not. You might love a 1.75" nut. You might prefer 1-11/16, or 1-23/32, or 1-13/16. You might find a v-neck uncomfortable, or it might be perfect for you. You might be comfortable with a 25.4" scale, or you might find the lower string tension of a short scale easier. You might like a Larrivee, or you might find that you prefer the sound of a Martin.

The only way you will ever find out what your preferences are is to play guitar. You can solicit advice from strangers on the internet for years, but we can't tell you what your hands and ears will prefer any more than we can pick your favorite ice cream flavor for you.

My suggestion at this point: just buy a guitar. Whatever you think, right now, that you'll like most. You've done a lot of research and have some good candidates. If you really think the sound of the all-mahogany is too limiting for what you want to do, get a spruce top. If you're just repeating what you've heard others say about all-mahogany guitars being specialized, then I'd say you need to trust your own ears and get the 000-15. They don't know what you like. If you're not comfortable spending that much when you aren't sure what you want, buy something inexpensive - with the understanding that once you get to a point where you can play a bit, you'll go to some stores and really audition guitars.

Then, after you've been playing for a year or two, if you find that there's something about your guitar, whether it's a 000-15SM or something else, that annoys you - whether it's sound or feel - you'll be in a great position to go and audition a wide range of guitars and find what you really love. Or maybe that won't happen, and you'll be comfortable with the guitar you have and enjoying making music and not be bothered about whether something else out there might be "better."

Just my 2 cents, and probably worth what you paid for it.
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