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Old 02-19-2019, 09:22 PM
Alluvius Alluvius is offline
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Default Trusting your ears as a first time buyer

Tldr: how do I tell a good d-28 from a bad one? Am I throwing pearls for swine if I get one as my second guitar?

Hey,

I haven't played the acoustic guitar for very long, about 3-4 years experience with my Yamaha C40. I play almost every day and I love it.

Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and I have a history of playing other instruments.

Now I'm looking to upgrade to a good quality, steel stringed guitar. I started looking at a budget of 500-1000$, which I thought was reasonable considering my lack of experience and proficiency.
First I ordered a Seagull Artist Mosaic online. Stupid, but none my local stores could provide one for testing at the time. When it finally showed up I was extatic.
Until I played it.
It wasn't at all what I was expecting.
Very bright sounding, kinda thin, and to me just not very pleasant to listen to.
It was also damaged...

I ended up returning it and headed to a local store to try out their inventory.
Partly to find a sound i enjoyed and partly to see if I could hear any difference between the guitars.
They were Yamahas, Taylors, Martins and Gibsons of various prices.
I quickly realized that the difference was huge and very audible to me.

Then I picked up the Martin d-28. Just to try it out, because really, Im too new to spend that kind of cash... Right?

But WOW... I was blown away by that sound!! So powerful, rich and that bass... but still with a clear sounding high register that wasn't at all shrill, but soft on the ears and pleasant to listen to.
Just wow.
After trying that one nothing sounded as good, especially not the guitars within my planned budget. Not even worth buying.
I had to leave the store to think about this.

I've been dreaming about that sound all week. It's the last thing I think about when I fall asleep and the first thing when I wake up. Coming back to my C40 feels terrible.

Should I get it? I HAVE the money even if I could (probably should if you ask my wife ) spend it on something else.
And if I do... Aren't there good and bad d-28s?
I've certainly read that there are and I'm worried I won't recognize a flawed specimen. I don't want to spend thousands on a guitar that others recognize as sub-par, and which I will realize in a few years doesn't compare to other d-28s.

It sounds magnificent to me, but should I trust my inexperienced ears? How do I test the guitar to see if it's good, what do I listen for? Could I go wrong with a d-28?
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Old 02-19-2019, 09:35 PM
AgentKooper AgentKooper is offline
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Default Trusting your ears as a first time buyer

If it sounds great to you, buy it and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks about it. Trust your ears. Don’t overthink it. The same guitar can sound different to different people in different places on different days for all kinds of reasons. As long as it sounds magnificent to you most of the time, you win.

Take it to a good guitar repair shop and tell then you need help evaluating whether it has any structural issues to be concerned about. If there are issues, return it. If no issues, have the shop set it up for you and enjoy it like crazy. It’s hard to go wrong with a new D-28.
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Old 02-19-2019, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AgentKooper View Post
If it sounds great to you, buy it and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks about it. .....
This. There aren't any "bad" ones. They are all going to be similar and different. If you like it/one, it's a great one. Once you get one, regardless of what make/model it is, take it to your preferred tech/luthier and have it set up for your playing preferences and you'll likely be fine for years.
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Old 02-19-2019, 09:41 PM
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I guess I'm not understanding. What matters - all that really matters - is how you think it sounds. Compare away, but if your inner muse says that's the guitar, it is. No one else will ever hear it the same way as you will, playing it yourself, and once you record it or amplify it you have infinite options to change the sound around for someone else to listen.
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Old 02-19-2019, 10:21 PM
CylinderBear CylinderBear is offline
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Just buy the D28 - it’s a great guitar and it will only get better over time. Just make sure to take good care of it and be mindful of the humidity. Keep it at the 45% - 55% range and it will be fine.

I tried the D28 and I was blown away by the bass as well. But then I figured that it could be too bassy for my style and I ended up getting the HD28.

You can try out the HD28 if your store has one on display.
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Old 02-19-2019, 10:38 PM
BT55 BT55 is offline
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Alluvius,
Your ears are telling you the truth. You’re looking at a quality guitar but some are better than others. When looking for a D18e I played a number of them before finding the one that sounded right to me. None were “bad” but the one I finally picked had the sound that I was looking for.
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Old 02-19-2019, 10:45 PM
Steadfastly Steadfastly is offline
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I've played D-28's and I know what you mean about their tone. It is a very, very nice guitar. However, may I suggest you look at one of these before you make your decision. You may like it more and save yourself some money at the same time. If you can find an Alvarez MD-70 check it out as well. It is very D-28 like for around $900.00 new.

https://www.alvarezguitars.com/guitar/dym70/

https://www.zzounds.com/item--ALVDYM70
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Old 02-19-2019, 11:35 PM
jrb715 jrb715 is offline
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I was sort of right where you are 25 years ago. I went to a shop that specialized in Martins and played everything they had. I had already been in other places with the lower priced alternatives that folks had raved about and assured me would save me money for guitars "just as good as Martins". Well, the Martins were better, and for me, by a large margin. I took the time to play everything in the store, without knowing in advance what I was supposed to like, what certain models were supposed to sound like, and found an HD28 that simply sounded to me better than all the various models I played. I didn't have any voices telling me what to like. I just loved the sound of that one guitar.

I still have that guitar 25 years later, and it sounds sensational. It's my only Martin and I've learned to love some other maker's guitars as well: particularly Collings and Huss and Dalton; but that Martin was a great purchase. Trust yourself, but audition as many guitars as you can, so you don't have second thoughts about your guitar down the line. No one hears as you do, or has the same taste in guitars. It's perilous to listen to AGF buying advice instead of just getting what makes you happy.
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Old 02-20-2019, 12:26 AM
1neeto 1neeto is offline
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A bad D28? Maybe in some other parallel universe were Martins are China made and retail for $200.
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Old 02-20-2019, 12:53 AM
Jaden Jaden is offline
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I’m a newbie as well but I have a guitar tech who has been in business for 50 years who has been working on Martins the whole time. He can tell an exceptional example by plucking the d string once but with vigor to judge volume and sustain, then he plays it to check for balance and responsiveness.

If in doubt, take someone experienced with you who you trust for help.
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Old 02-20-2019, 01:16 AM
Alluvius Alluvius is offline
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Thank you all for your great advice and encouraging words. I feel much more confident in my choice now.

Jeffrey, I suppose I'm worried that a subjective appreciation of sound will prove fickle and change as I gain experience. There is an objective truth as far as quality goes aswell. I just don't want to regret spending all that cash on a bad instrument because I was too new to tell the difference.


I wasn't planning on taking my new guitar to a shop for set up because I'm not really sure how I want it. However, it is an idea worth considering to get help looking for flaws.

I'll go back and try out some more and really compare and listen to other d-28 and similar guitars. See if I cant find that Alvarez.

I did some research and apparently I should check intonation, inspect the neck for bending or twisting and look for signs of hits where the head joins the neck. Obviously also look for cracks in the body.
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Old 02-20-2019, 01:22 AM
IndyHD28 IndyHD28 is offline
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Alluvius:

Your post is what people mean when they say a particular guitar “spoke to me”. Stop with the “I’m not good enough for this guitar” nonsense. A fine guitar is actually easier to play. That and the pride and joy it gives you will motivate you to play more and become a better player. This is an heirloom guitar that you can keep for the rest of your life and hand down to your children. If for some reason you ever have to sell it, it will be easy because of its iconic nature.

I learned to play on a Chinese Yamaha back in 1973. All my guitar heroes played Martins. I put Martin on a pedestal and lusted after one for 45 years. I’m going to buy #3 in a week or two when the 000-28MD hits the stores. Don’t make the mistake I did, denying yourself this lifelong pleasure. Go get that guitar. You won’t be sorry!
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Old 02-20-2019, 03:50 AM
AndrewG AndrewG is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1neeto View Post
A bad D28? Maybe in some other parallel universe were Martins are China made and retail for $200.
Yes, there are good, bad and mediocre Martins just like any other mass-produced guitar.
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Old 02-20-2019, 04:04 AM
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I think it’s most important you get whatever guitar set up right so that it’s easy and enjoyable to play.

Regarding your ears? They can love a guitar today, think it sounds bad Thursday 2 weeks from now in high humidity, love it again with different strings, hate it because you have a cold, and then love the sound because it’s saturday. And this is before you get GAS...

Generally though, modern Martins are surprisingly consistent in tone. One D28 sounds close to another. I probably shouldn’t say that, because I recently played two of the same Martin models, where their tone was definitely varied. But generally... modern Martins Taylors and Gibsons are pretty consistent.

And here is the best part. Whether you have an A specimen or a B- specimen, playing it often and over time... that guitar will blossom regardless.
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Old 02-20-2019, 04:04 AM
AndrewG AndrewG is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alluvius View Post
Thank you all for your great advice and encouraging words. I feel much more confident in my choice now.

Jeffrey, I suppose I'm worried that a subjective appreciation of sound will prove fickle and change as I gain experience. There is an objective truth as far as quality goes aswell. I just don't want to regret spending all that cash on a bad instrument because I was too new to tell the difference.


I wasn't planning on taking my new guitar to a shop for set up because I'm not really sure how I want it. However, it is an idea worth considering to get help looking for flaws.

I'll go back and try out some more and really compare and listen to other d-28 and similar guitars. See if I cant find that Alvarez.

I did some research and apparently I should check intonation, inspect the neck for bending or twisting and look for signs of hits where the head joins the neck. Obviously also look for cracks in the body.
Aside from the obvious things to look for which you have mentioned, the neck to body angle is important to check. Lay a straight edge (steel rule is ideal), along the fretboard and up to the bridge (not the saddle). The rule should either just pass over the top or just touch the front edge close to the top of the bridge.
Too shallow a neck/body angle and you'll have problems setting a comfortable action because you'll eventually run out of saddle height to reduce, and as the top bellies over time it'll become more difficult, ultimately necessitating a neck reset.
Have fun with your new guitar; you've chosen a great model.
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