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Old 06-06-2013, 01:55 PM
estayton estayton is offline
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Default Played some guitars in my search, have some thoughts to share

So I managed to secure an hour and a half to go to GC today to play some guitars to help me search down a new one (see http://acousticguitarforum.com/forum....php?p=3483978).

I played about 15 guitars, trying to discern which I liked most. I played well out of the price range I was looking for since I was trying to find things that were representative of guitars I would try to buy used. I just wanted to note what I thought were the stand outs. Feel free to discuss and take this in any direction!

Breedlove C25CREH American Series (cedar/EIR): This immediately felt special when I played it. Great resonance, and a really nice smooth tone. The whole guitar vibrated from chords in a really nice way, and slow fingerpicking produced really nice effects from the long decay of notes. Downsides? The bass seemed a bit muddy. Strong but lacking some sort of tightness crispness to my ears that would bring it all together. And the trebles got a tad bright up the neck. But it definitely had something special about it.

Larrivee LV03R/RWD: I played two of these. One was used and labeled LV03R, the other was new and labeled LV03RWD. Both were superb, and substantiate everything I've liked about Larrivee 03's I've played in the past. A bit more mellow to my ears than the Breedlove, and a bit tighter sounding, but with a nice balance and rounder trebles. Also had barn-door pickup controls. Grrr.

Larrivee OM09 Custom Brazilian RW: Definitely shares a family resemblance to the above in terms of tone. I didn't play this long as BRW is out of my pricerange for this purchase, but if this particular guitar was any indication, I think I understand why people like BRW so much!

Martin 000 MMV: A fun little guitar: one of the best Martin 000's I've played and less than half the price of most of them. I thought it had a surprisingly big sound for its size, with a real fullness that is difficult to describe. I could probably be happy with one of these, but I do wonder what deeper body could do.

Gibson J-35: With all the talk of these lately on the forum, I just had to try it. I thought it was good. Not what I went looking for, but had a good, clear (LOUD) sound with some sparkle to it. And it had quite a bit of sustain, not thuddy at all. Plus the all-blonde appearance is kind of neat and different.

So my takeaway? I have more looking and thinking to do. I still have to try some Eastmans. But given the guitars that stood out to me, rosewood seems to be my general preference over hog for back and sides. I'll probably be looking more in that direction.
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Old 06-06-2013, 02:12 PM
royd royd is offline
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Could you say some about how these guitars compare to your Lowden... what did they bring to the table it does not and what does the Lowden have that they do not?
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Old 06-06-2013, 03:02 PM
estayton estayton is offline
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Sure, that's a good point and a good thing to add.

I did not have my Lowden with me so I could not A/B, but I certainly had it in mind while I was playing.

The Breedlove was probably closest in terms of sustain, resonance, and the openness of the sound. I feel like it had a little more warmth in the lows and midrange compared with my Lowden which is a sitka-topped model, though the Lowden has fuller-sounding trebles past fret 10 or so. It certainly was of a different character of sound--and this starts to get into the land where language fails--I'd call it less adorned than the Lowden sound, lacking the beautfiful orchestral blooming I get from the O32. Perhaps it is a difference in overtones that I'm hearing.

The Larrivees are very different, and could cover a different range of music. I found them to be darker, warmer, woodier, bluesy by comparison. They still had overtones and long sustain, but come across as earthly rather than heavenly. In a little DADGAD fingerstyle they sounded more intimate and focused, less open than the O32. I think they provide a good sonic counterpoint, while still being useful for some of the same styles of play.

The Gibson J-35 was yet another different kind of sound. Its pronounced midrange bite made it sound raw and brash. It was a surprisingly bright sound, and more stringy (as opposed to woody) than I would have expected, honestly more like the Taylors I played (heresy!). I imagine for heavy strumming and vocal backing it would be a bit more of a focused sound than the O32. In comparison to the Gibson's directness and rawness, I find the Lowden sound to be more enveloping, even with the edge it gets when strummed hard, certainly busier with overtones than the J-35. As I said it wasn't what I was looking for, but I think I get its appeal.

Just as a side note, it was interesting to compare a couple Taylors. They have a shimmering sound that is very different than the sort of shimmering I tend to hear from my Lowden. Less harplike and more metallic ringing, though that could in part have been the fresh-looking Elixirs.
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Old 06-06-2013, 03:20 PM
Dru Edwards Dru Edwards is offline
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Great review. I've found the same thing with the Larrivees and the J-35. Great to hear that you have some more thinking and looking to do ... don't leave any stone unturned or guitar unplayed.
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