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  #1  
Old 12-01-2012, 12:08 PM
guitarlifestyle guitarlifestyle is offline
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Default What Small-Bodied (0-000) Acoustic Am I Looking For?

I wanted to get your advice. I'm primarily an electric guitar player, but I've owned a few acoustics over the years. I've never found "the one" yet, so I always end up selling them because they never get played. I'm wanting to try again, but this time I wanted to make a more informed decision.

I would primarily be playing delta-style blues on it, but I would like to have a guitar that is somewhat versatile for occasional strumming as well. Based on what I've played in the past and doing some research as well as my own tastes, this is basically a list of features I'm looking for:

* 0, 00, or 000 sized - nothing larger than a Martin-style 000
* 1 3/4 nut - this would be primarily a fingerpicking guitar
* Not sure about top wood. Mahogany seems to be right up my alley blues wise, but seems like it might be too dark for strumming tunes. I'd lean towards blues sounds, and presumably Mahogany, if I had to make a choice.
* American-made, solid wood construction
* around $1000 - could go up to $1500 for the right guitar, but would like to keep it around $1000
* New or used is fine
* Slot-head would be a plus, but not a necessity

Based on my list here, I would think the special-run Martin 00-15m or 000-15m would be right up my alley, but I wanted to get others input before making a final decision. I've also played the Taylor GC3 model, which I really liked, but I'm not sure if it'll really get the vintage-style sound I'm looking for.

LA Guitars seems to be the only place with the 1 3/4 nut Martin models in stock. Elderly looks like they can get them, but not until next year. So, I would have to buy without playing, which leaves me a bit nervous. I really like the look of the gloss-top models that LA Guitars have, but again, I wouldn't be able to play it before buying. Furthermore, it's hard to find the entry-level American-made solid construction small bodies in town to try any of them out.

Am I on the right track? Any other guitars I should be looking at? Am I asking for too much out of a guitar in this price range? Thanks in advice for steering me in the right direction!
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Old 12-01-2012, 12:16 PM
capemjs capemjs is offline
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How about a Martin 000-16S?


Last edited by capemjs; 12-01-2012 at 12:23 PM.
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Old 12-01-2012, 12:16 PM
kirkham13 kirkham13 is offline
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i would consider a shallow body with maple b/s as some possibles.. def looking to go for that dry sound. You also might look to ebay and check out the archtops... I am in the same boat currently, 2 strats and seeking a bluesy/jazzy acoustic..........
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Old 12-01-2012, 12:21 PM
guitarlifestyle guitarlifestyle is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by capemjs View Post
How about a Martin 000-16S?
This one looks like a contender. Do you know of anyone selling the 16s models? A quick search reveals that most dealers carry only the 16gt (1.685" nut) models. But, spruce/mahogany seems like an interesting combination.
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Old 12-01-2012, 12:26 PM
HHP HHP is offline
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Sounds like the spec sheet for a Martin 000-15SM. I had a 000-15S for many years and it was outstanding.
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Old 12-01-2012, 12:34 PM
ataylor ataylor is offline
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Sounds like you know exactly what you want -- and there are enough positive reviews about both the standard 15 series models and the custom ones with little tweaks that I don't think you can go wrong ordering without playing.

I'd suggest you try to find a local shop that carries both the standard 00-15M and the 000-15M and compare the two in terms of sound. You might even decide you prefer the 1-11/16" nut width since you're coming primarily from electric guitar. You'll at least have some idea about which size is working better for you in terms of sound/tone if you want to get one with the 1-3/4" nut.

The good news is that I don't think you can go wrong with any of the 15 series models -- I've enjoyed every one I've played and probably won't be too far behind you in getting on myself!

One more idea if you want to save a little bit more -- if you liked the Taylor GC3 but wished it had a little more of a vintage tone to it, consider a Taylor 12-fret GC. This could be a great option for you if you're wanting to keep costs down.
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Old 12-01-2012, 12:54 PM
capemjs capemjs is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarlifestyle View Post
This one looks like a contender. Do you know of anyone selling the 16s models? A quick search reveals that most dealers carry only the 16gt (1.685" nut) models. But, spruce/mahogany seems like an interesting combination.

No I don't but they come up for sale on the used market often. Ebay or the UMGF are good bets.

I used to own a Martin 000-15s and I loved everything about it... except the hog top. It should be a contender for you to consider... IMHO.
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Old 12-01-2012, 04:36 PM
AZLiberty AZLiberty is offline
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IMHO what you are describing is one of Ted's (LA Guitar Sales) Custom 000-15M Martins.
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Old 12-01-2012, 04:39 PM
weslacho weslacho is offline
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I'll preface this by saying that I do not have this guitar yet. BUT. Everything you just said is basically my story. I ended up choosing the 00-15M Custom Gloss from Ted at LA Guitar Sales. It'll be delivered next week. While my opinion might not be as justified as someone who has spent lots of time with the guitar I still thought it I would share. I was determined to make a very solid choice the first time too and my specs were:

0, 00, 000 sizes
1 3/4 Nut
Probably all Mahogany but open minded
Didn't have to be Martin but you know...
Don't live where I could try Ted's guitars out
Budget between $1000 and $1500
I even seriously considered the Taylor GC3 (liked it, didn't love it, missing "flavor")
Love the blues, folk and fingerpicking but strum occasionally

So as you can tell, pretty much the same exact story. I've spent months making this decision, ask Ted. My journey, while fairly obvious, was this:

After I ruled out the other contenders due to price and specs I knew it was going to be a 15 Series with a 1 3/4 nut. So I just tried the other features and sizes out via other guitars. I found shops that had each body size, only asking myself which felt most comfortable as these were sometimes $5k guitars I wouldn't end up with. But again, just focused on body size. It came down to 0 and 00. Aside from tonal differences, which couldn't practically be known by me without flying to LA, I set out to play several long and short scales. Ted's 0 is a short and the 00 is a long scale. Personally, I found the differences in reach and string tension to be a non-issue for me. There is the sound differences but again, couldn't solve that 3,000 miles away. The 00 just fit like a glove. Either would have been just fine I'm sure but I had to decide somehow. Most people say 00's are more versatile sound-wise anyway and alternate tunings are easiest with full scale, apparently. Would have been much easier to sit with each option for about 10 minutes but unfortunately that was never an option. So a big thanks to everyone on this wonderful forum who assisted including of course Ted. Time will tell but I think I made the best decision I could with the hand I was dealt. Wish you the best of luck and let us know what you end up with!

Wes
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Old 12-02-2012, 11:33 AM
guitarlifestyle guitarlifestyle is offline
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Thanks for the input so far, guys. I went and played a few 000s last night as well as an OM and a 0 (none of the shops I went to had 00s in stock), and came away with a few surprise thoughts.

Now I'm not sure I want a hog top. I played several spruce/rosewood combinations and really liked the richness in tone compared to the hog guitars I played. The spruce/rosewood guitars just really had a fuller tone. I knew that the hog bodied guitars would be a little crisper/tighter, which I thought I wanted, but now I'm not so sure. I even played a spruce/mahogany guitar that sounded great, but not as rich/full as the spruce/rosewood guitars I played.

I played a number of Martins from $1200-$5000 and none of the less expensive ones really felt "right" to me. The one I walked away liking the best was a 000-28ec Clapton model at $3500 (a little more than I wanted to spend). This leaves me further concerned about whether the 00-15m or 000-15m would really feel right to me. I'm fairly picky when it comes to guitars, so buying unplayed leaves me concerned, as I mentioned in the OP.

By contrast, I felt like the Taylors were more consistent across the range of models. Is this just the Martins in my local shop, or have others noticed the same thing?

What are the best Martin 000 sized with spruce/rosewood in the $1000-1500 price range? I played a GC run of the 000-MMV guitars that didn't do much for me. I know these generally get good reviews, so maybe it was just the one in the shop.

I played several Martins with 1 3/4 nuts as well as several with the standard 1 11/16 nuts. Both felt good playing, but it was nice to have the extra string spacing at the bridge with the wider nuts. I'm not opposed to getting a 1 11/16 nut, but would lean towards the wider nut, if possible. I was ok with either the 24.9 scale or the 25.4 scale.

Last edited by guitarlifestyle; 12-02-2012 at 11:50 AM.
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Old 12-02-2012, 11:49 AM
000-18GE 000-18GE is offline
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you may want to comb through used sources to see if there is a 000-28 or OM-21 available in your price range.
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Old 12-02-2012, 04:51 PM
woodbox woodbox is online now
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Hey there.
Let me begin by saying what a wonderful time I had in your hometown last spring. Saw "Vince and Friends" at the Ryman including Rodney Crowell and Emilou. Hung out at Roberts on Broadway a lot. Met more nice people in Tennessee...

A few points I would like to make that may help you.

First, the Martin 15, 16 and 17 series are almost always going to have an M/T (mostise and tenon) neck joint, as opposed to a dovetail joint, and you might get a bit more sustain from a dovetail joint. I may be opening a line of discussion that could muddy the waters for you here, but I personally feel that the dovetail joint conveys more vibrational information between neck and body. This is not an uninformed conclusion, but it is subjective--I have no "proof". But I have had three 15's, four 16's and a 17. Fine guitars all!!!! Just be aware of the different build technique. Let the dissension begin!!

Next, 12 fret or 14?
Being an electric player, you are accustomed to having access to the higher notes. Take a good look, or feel, at how restricted you might feel with a 12 fret model. I love 12 fret guitars, I have 4 of them. The deeper, fuller tone they bring is very cool, but I reach for a 14 when I might wanna go high.

All that said, and inspite of what I just said about the neck joint, for your money, I would still send you toward a Martin 00-15, 000-15. Or agree with HHP suggestion of a 12 fret 000-15SM. (i'll let someone else discuss why some have the "M" in the name)
Or maybe that 16 capemjs sent the picture of, also a 12 fret, and I believe is rosewood/spruce. Kinda hard to come by compared to the 15's though.

I'll be very interested in what you decide, so keep us posted.
Thanks for asking, and listening.
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Old 12-02-2012, 05:44 PM
FlyFast FlyFast is offline
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Well, I love my LA Guitars Martin Custom 00-15M for acoustic blues. It sounds like you are leaning away from all hog now, so how about a used Gibson Keb' Mo' Bluesmaster. It might be a little over your price point but it certainly is a guitar that is well suited to acoustic blues.
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Old 12-02-2012, 05:47 PM
Roselynne Roselynne is offline
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Just a little bit on 15s, if you're interested:

A 15S means "standard." The original standard was a slothead, and so are these.

15M is the current series. "M" means "mahogany." An "SM" is an all-mahogany slothead.

15Ms feature ebony pins, and bone bridges and nuts. Most have satin finishes and no bindings, but vendors such as LA Guitars and Maury's feature custom models that may have gloss finishes, bindings, wider nut widths, etc.

A 15 without the "M" is most likely used, and may be made from mahogany or sapele, with plastic pins, bridges and nuts.
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Old 12-02-2012, 05:59 PM
Landru Landru is offline
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You surprised us both with your turn into rosewood and spruceland - didn't see that coming.

And since you've tasted the fruit and liked it, I feel that you're moving in the right direction.
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