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  #31  
Old 02-06-2019, 07:42 PM
archerscreek archerscreek is offline
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Of the 30+ boutique guitars I've looked at in the past few years, every one was as good as or better looking than the best Martin guitars I've seen. Of the dozen or so boutique guitars I've played and the others I've heard other guitarists playing, none sounded better than the best Martin guitars I've played.
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  #32  
Old 02-06-2019, 07:49 PM
rokdog49 rokdog49 is offline
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I would like to approach this question from a slightly different angle.
I have read posts where folks have said they couldn't "find a this or a that which was befitting their wants or needs" so they went Boutique. Ok, fine. I have read posts where the "quality of Gibson or Martin" wasn't there compared to this Boutique or that.
I read another post that simply said there's no comparison.
Here's a thought. If Boutique Builder "A" builds a few hundred guitars a year and
95% of those are exceptional, great. Based on those numbers, and the circumstances, they should be.
If Martin or Gibson builds tens of thousands of guitars in a year, no one will ever convince me that in that number there aren't at least hundreds of those guitars that are as good or better than the any number of Boutiques, especially at the higher end.
Yes they may be hard to find, but they exist.
My answer is yes Martin and Gibson do build that kind of quality. As I said, you may have to look to find it or then again, it might be hanging on a wall at GC or your favorite independent dealer, but they exist. I would put my friend Lee's Custom Shop Martin OM H up against any Boutique instrument at a comparable or higher price. It's a gorgeous looking and sounding instrument and IMHO worth more than what it cost.
Finally, to those who would say no, my response is this. Have you seen and played every J45 Gibson built in 2018. Oh, you haven't, then how would you know if there aren't any of a quality comparable to a Boutique? Sheer numbers say there likely are, if only a handful.
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Last edited by rokdog49; 02-06-2019 at 08:01 PM.
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  #33  
Old 02-06-2019, 07:54 PM
leew3 leew3 is offline
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Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
No. Next question...

this ^^^^ +2
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  #34  
Old 02-06-2019, 08:09 PM
Goodallboy Goodallboy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rokdog49 View Post
I would like to approach this question from a slightly different angle.
I have read posts where folks have said they couldn't "find a this or a that which was befitting their wants or needs". I have read posts where the "quality of Gibson or Martin" wasn't there compared to this Boutique or that.
I read another post that simply said there's no comparison.
Here's a thought. If Boutique Builder "A" builds a few hundred guitars a year and
95% of those are exceptional, great.
If Martin or Gibson builds tens of thousands of guitars in a year, no one will ever convince me that in that number there aren't at least hundreds of those guitars that are as good or better than the any number of Boutiques, especially at the higher end.
Yes they will be hard to find, but they exist.
My answer is yes Martin and Gibson do build that kind of quality. You may have to look to find it or then again, it might be hanging on a wall at GC or your favorite independent dealer, but they exist. I would put my friend Lee's Custom Shop Martin OM H up against any Boutique instrument at a comparable or higher price. It's a gorgeous looking and sounding instrument and IMHO worth more than what it cost.
Finally, to those who would say no, my response is this. Have you seen and played every J45 Gibson built in 2018. Oh, you haven't, then how would you know if there aren't any of a quality comparable to a Boutique? Sheer numbers say there likely are, if only a handful.
I can agree with this, but it isn't a tremendous complement to either Gibson or Martin. In fact, perhaps because it's such a true statement, it illustrates the problem with both makers and why boutiques are thought of as "better". When I go in store after store and play these brands it's a rare experience that I play a truly fine guitar. That doesn't happen with most of the boutique brands.

But rok is on point, they're out there, but if you're buying unplayed your standards better not match mine. Good luck, you'll need it.
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  #35  
Old 02-06-2019, 08:13 PM
gfirob gfirob is online now
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Congratulations on that guitar, it will serve you well.

I am a fairly faithful Martin owner over the years, but the truth is that all makers produce duds as well as masterpieces because guitars are made out of wood by human beings, both of which are highly variable.

My primary guitar is a Martin OM 42, which Iíve had for more than 15 years and it really is an exceptional guitar, but in the course of buying it, I did play Martin OM 42ís that were duds. An OM 42 is a fairly high end Martin, but it is inferior (in my opinion) in fit and finish to a guitar like (for instance) a Froggy Bottom, which is made in smaller numbers with less industrial process and much more individual care. That said, I never heard a Froggy Bottom that I liked more than this OM 42, though one is probably out there somewhere.

But the Martin I bought came from a field of eight OM 42ís, and it was the best of them. The lesson to me is you have to choose based on the individual guitar, and not on brand loyalty and you have to listen to a lot of guitars and take home the one that speaks to you.
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  #36  
Old 02-06-2019, 08:16 PM
rokdog49 rokdog49 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goodallboy View Post
I can agree with this, but it isn't a tremendous complement to either Gibson or Martin. In fact, perhaps because it's such a true statement, it illustrates the problem with both makers and why boutiques are thought of as "better". When I go in store after store and play these brands it's a rare experience that I play a truly fine guitar. That doesn't happen with most of the boutique brands.

But rok is on point, they're out there, but if you're buying unplayed your standards better not match mine. Good luck, you'll need it.
Sheer production numbers and other restrictions prohibit either company from being comparable to a Boutique Builder with every guitar.
It's just not apples to apples.To me the fact that these high quality Martin and Gibson's do exist is a testimony to the fact that they are quite capable of doing it...just not in huge numbers. It shows me that on their best days, they are right there, or as I stated, even better.
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  #37  
Old 02-06-2019, 08:28 PM
jaymarsch jaymarsch is offline
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Iíve played a good number of guitars over the years both from large, small shops as well as independent one-person shops. I have played some wonderful guitars and some duds from all of them. I think that once you get in the $2,000 range, the difference between is not as discernible to most. No two guitars are alike and each has to be judged on its own merits. If someone has a $750 guitar and they tell me it is the best guitar they have ever played then who am I to argue with them? Basically, Iím happy when folks find a guitar they love no matter the builder or the price. It really does come down to personal preferences. Congrats on your Martin.

Best,
Jayne
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  #38  
Old 02-06-2019, 08:48 PM
Jaden Jaden is offline
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Iíve heard Chris Martin IV talk on video that Martin guitars are expensive, but compared to the boutique builders in my area who are small order shops serving customers like Gene Simmons et al, they arenít. Are these small shops making loads of money? I donít think so. If I went to visit one and order a OM comparable to a standard Martin, starting price would be probably triple of the big manufacturer. Depending on the small builder and their experience, I have no doubt their guitar would or could be superior.

But going back into the history of the steel string guitar, it wasnít small shops who forged out the frontier of the design(s), but rather manufacturers.

So you have history and tradition on your side. Congrats.
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  #39  
Old 02-06-2019, 10:06 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rokdog49 View Post
Here's a thought. If Boutique Builder "A" builds a few hundred guitars a year and
95% of those are exceptional, great. Based on those numbers, and the circumstances, they should be.
If Martin or Gibson builds tens of thousands of guitars in a year, no one will ever convince me that in that number there aren't at least hundreds of those guitars that are as good or better than the any number of Boutiques, especially at the higher end.
I'm not going to try to convince you otherwise, but your logic is faulty. It might be valid, but it might not.

For example, Washburn makes thousands of guitars per year. It is unlikely that any Washburn is as good as a high-end boutique-made guitar. It might be true that some Martins or some Gibsons are, but your reasoning is based on an unsubstantiated premise that some of them are.

In other words, your logic is along the lines of, "If Martin or Gibson makes any guitars that are equal in quality to boutique-made guitars, then some of them will be of equal quality to boutique-made guitars". If Martin or Gibson doesn't make any guitars of equal quality, it doesn't matter how many they make, none of them will be of equal quality.

Regardless, there is no definitive answer to the question since the criteria for judging is very largely subjective: it's one person's preference versus another's. If one prefers Martin, one will likely believe/opine that Martin builds just as good a guitar as anyone else. Ditto if one prefers Gibson, or insert-favourite-brand-here.
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  #40  
Old 02-07-2019, 05:35 AM
imwjl imwjl is offline
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One of the 5 Martins I've owned had the amazing responsiveness my Santa Cruz has but not the finish quality. Still the latter was superb.

Having gone GAS crazy in an area where I can travel to some of the world's best shops I learned the Santa Cruz and Collings plus a few others' stock pretty much always have that amazing responsive characteristic and felt that was a reason to consider them.

Something else I observed was how my GAS killer Santa Cruz that's coming up on its 10th birthday didn't ever show physical change as much as others whether it was need to do setup work or the "opening up". It seems to me the extra labor or time the small shop has in the guitar and the price helps each one come out so well.

I also observed there are lot of just pretty faces. We have one shop near that sells a lot of newer small luthier guitars. They're all beautiful, many have their own voice from some design, wood or physical differences, but they don't have the super responsive nature.

Put another way. My wonderful Martin and Larrivee 00, 000 and OM could go to a bluegrass jam but never be heard the way my Santa Cruz 000 can.

This might be worth considering too. I admit to going GAS crazy as many have. My Santa Cruz acoustic and Collings electric initiated selling around 1/2 dozen acoustic and electric guitars. I've had no desire to buy another in the 7 to almost 10 years since.
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  #41  
Old 02-07-2019, 06:11 AM
rokdog49 rokdog49 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charles Tauber View Post
I'm not going to try to convince you otherwise, but your logic is faulty. It might be valid, but it might not.

For example, Washburn makes thousands of guitars per year. It is unlikely that any Washburn is as good as a high-end boutique-made guitar. It might be true that some Martins or some Gibsons are, but your reasoning is based on an unsubstantiated premise that some of them are.

In other words, your logic is along the lines of, "If Martin or Gibson makes any guitars that are equal in quality to boutique-made guitars, then some of them will be of equal quality to boutique-made guitars". If Martin or Gibson doesn't make any guitars of equal quality, it doesn't matter how many they make, none of them will be of equal quality.

Regardless, there is no definitive answer to the question since the criteria for judging is very largely subjective: it's one person's preference versus another's. If one prefers Martin, one will likely believe/opine that Martin builds just as good a guitar as anyone else. Ditto if one prefers Gibson, or insert-favourite-brand-here.
Hi Charles,
My take was in regard to Martin or Gibson only, not Washburn or anyone else.
It's not only based on the brand but also some of the specific guitars themselves.
I suppose I would consider a J45 at the lower end of the spectrum or a D45 at the higher end as having "Boutique" potential. I believe there are some of those guitars out there whose quality would equal that label.
I understood the OP to be asking if Gibson or Martin make anything that would qualify as comparable to "Boutique-level". I would say yes.
That's just me .
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  #42  
Old 02-07-2019, 06:14 AM
AndrewG AndrewG is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silly Moustache View Post
Hi, interesting discussion.

I am very old and have had them all particularly Martins - although the most I had were probably made in the '60s/'70s.

In the late '90s I had finally realised what I needed to play at my best, and I commenced a long search for a Martin with a fretboard wide enough to enable me to do what my style dictates.
I searched the UK for a Martin Dxx-S model, which just happened to resemble the original dreadnought designs, but none could be found.

However, with the help of a great guitar sales person, I was given a choice of a Martin, Santa Cruz, Bourgeois and a Collings.

The Bourgeois and the Collings were clearly superior to me but the Collings "fitted" my hands perfectly.

Had the Martin had the same dimensions, I might well have settled for a known name.

Since then, Martin introduced the 111, D28 - 31 Authentic and the D1. I had the opportunity to try a 111 and an authentic ... very fine guitars, but I took along my stock Collings and despite handsome trade in offers, neither of the Martins were "noticeably better . so I stayed with the Collings and have since acquired more.

This doesn't mean that Martin doesn't make great instruments, and my office if full of books about Martin.

I'm also more than impressed with the innovations of Gibson over the years, but when I wanted to get a wider 12 fret Jumbo (remember the Jackson Browne?) I ended up with a Santa Cruz, which was clearly better made.

Why? because they offered me exactly what I wanted - not absolute clones of standard Martin/Gibson production items, but something ... more.

When I went to buy a Gibson L-00, I came home with a Waterloo : it was clearly better made.

Strangely there wasn't an enormous price differential when I bought my first Collings Santa Cruz or Waterloo.

You see, if I'd wanted a standard issue D28/J45 etc, it would have been far more simple, but once I'd learned exactly what I wanted and exactly how well a guitar can be built and presented, my options were limited.

The flourishing of the small factory makers in the new millennium opened the window of opportunity. for me, and I flew in.

Prices have increased, circumstances have changed and I couldn't afford the same process now.
Your experience echoes mine to a large extent; I too ran the gamut of several Martins-from a OOO-15S to a D-42 with a couple of D-28s, a D-18, CEO-4R and CEO-5 in between, and a J-40, as well as an (very briefly), absolutely appalling OOO-28EC. I bought an SCGC Tony Rice from the defunct London Resonator Centre, and later a Bourgeois Slope D from TAMCO (they took my 1917 Gibson F4 in exchange), and a couple of custom builds from Brook. Then someone put a Gibson AJ in my hands and I was smitten.
Then illness and ensuing poverty struck, they all went to pay bills and the mortgage and I returned to my first love, Yamaha, mostly through necessity. Honestly it felt like putting on your favourite old jeans after a day in an office suit!
I feel blessed to have been able to own and experience all those glorious aspirational instruments, but it isn't a process I would want to repeat. I'm firmly in my comfort zone now.
(Anyone want to buy 'Martin Guitars: A History', and 'Martin Guitars: A Technical Reference'?).
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Last edited by AndrewG; 02-07-2019 at 06:29 AM.
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  #43  
Old 02-07-2019, 08:54 AM
Jaden Jaden is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imwjl View Post
One of the 5 Martins I've owned had the amazing responsiveness my Santa Cruz has but not the finish quality. Still the latter was superb.

Having gone GAS crazy in an area where I can travel to some of the world's best shops I learned the Santa Cruz and Collings plus a few others' stock pretty much always have that amazing responsive characteristic and felt that was a reason to consider them.

Something else I observed was how my GAS killer Santa Cruz that's coming up on its 10th birthday didn't ever show physical change as much as others whether it was need to do setup work or the "opening up". It seems to me the extra labor or time the small shop has in the guitar and the price helps each one come out so well.

I also observed there are lot of just pretty faces. We have one shop near that sells a lot of newer small luthier guitars. They're all beautiful, many have their own voice from some design, wood or physical differences, but they don't have the super responsive nature.

Put another way. My wonderful Martin and Larrivee 00, 000 and OM could go to a bluegrass jam but never be heard the way my Santa Cruz 000 can.

This might be worth considering too. I admit to going GAS crazy as many have. My Santa Cruz acoustic and Collings electric initiated selling around 1/2 dozen acoustic and electric guitars. I've had no desire to buy another in the 7 to almost 10 years since.
This answers a lot of questions Iíve had regarding appearance vs responsiveness vs factory production vs small builder
And makes a lot of sense. Thanks
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  #44  
Old 02-07-2019, 09:14 AM
LadysSolo LadysSolo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kh1967 View Post
I think it all comes down to the specific guitar. That said, it might take a little longer to find that "special" guitar in a production, standard build, but they do exist.

Speaking from personal experience, it is easy to go down the "rabbit hole" of finding a "better" guitar. If you have one that speaks to you, it does not matter who built it.
This^^^. I have found an instrument that the first time I strummed it, it felt like "coming home." I just hope everyone has this experience, I smile every time I play it. It's been over a year, and I have never lost that feeling. And it was not an expensive instrument.
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  #45  
Old 02-07-2019, 09:14 AM
gfsark gfsark is offline
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Fun post with the eternal (at least on AGF) question about Martin vs. everyone else, especially small & boutique luthiers. Hereís my take:

Suppose you took on the incredibly ambitious task of competing with Martin. How would you do it? What could possibly justify the purchase of your guitar over that of Martin? Your main options:

Price: sell the Ďsameí guitar for less money (like Eastman)
Quality: sell a Ďbetterí guitar for the same money
Tone: create a signature sound that Martin doesnít have. Price that guitar as high as possible.

Leave it to experts to decide what combination of these factors make a difference in which brand.

When I went shopping for my last guitar, I asked the store owner to put guitars in my hand without telling me anything about the guitars, not even price. Short scale was my only requirement. The rest would be determined by how much I liked playing it. To condense the story, after nearly passing out from sticker shock, I ultimately ended up buying a Santa Cruz 00 Skye. Didnít know the company. Didnít know the wood. Never heard of Eric Skye. But that guitar was amazing.
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