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Old 11-10-2007, 10:35 PM
tscwong tscwong is offline
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Default Composite Acoustics

Over the past few months it has been interesting to read a few of the posts about Composite Acoustic guitars, as they appear to have the combination of durability and tone. I live in Melbourne, Australia where it's often either too hot or too cold, and subsequently the air-conditioning or heater is frequently on inside our apartment with my poor guitar (Breedlove Atlas) bearing the consequences! In addition I have to carry my guitar to band practice/church, and I was hoping to purchase I guitar I knew would be durable enough to withstand all the knocks and bumps as well as the humidity changes.

I was particularly interested in the Player Series (GX model) as its within my price range and was curious to find out what you guys thought about a few aspects of the Composite guitars:
(1) Acoustic tone: is it similar to any other manufacturers sounds (eg Martin, Gibson, Taylor) or does it seem to have a unique sound of its own?
(2) Amplified tone
(3) Playability
(4) Resistance to knocks & humidity change
(5) Which shop to purchase one from?

Thanks for your help. It's difficult purchasing a guitar without having played one, but unfortunately they are not available in Australia yet.
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Old 11-11-2007, 09:35 AM
stoney stoney is offline
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Originally Posted by tscwong View Post
Over the past few months it has been interesting to read a few of the posts about Composite Acoustic guitars, as they appear to have the combination of durability and tone. I live in Melbourne, Australia where it's often either too hot or too cold, and subsequently the air-conditioning or heater is frequently on inside our apartment with my poor guitar (Breedlove Atlas) bearing the consequences! In addition I have to carry my guitar to band practice/church, and I was hoping to purchase I guitar I knew would be durable enough to withstand all the knocks and bumps as well as the humidity changes.

I was particularly interested in the Player Series (GX model) as its within my price range and was curious to find out what you guys thought about a few aspects of the Composite guitars:
(1) Acoustic tone: is it similar to any other manufacturers sounds (eg Martin, Gibson, Taylor) or does it seem to have a unique sound of its own?
(2) Amplified tone
(3) Playability
(4) Resistance to knocks & humidity change
(5) Which shop to purchase one from?

Thanks for your help. It's difficult purchasing a guitar without having played one, but unfortunately they are not available in Australia yet.
I can't comment on the GX series of CA guitars, as I have not played them. However, I can tell you about my experience with my Legacy AE. It is one of the earlier ones with an ebony fretboard.

1. Acoustic tone; this guitar is what one would expect from a high-end, older dreadnought, with powerful, even tone. Some have said they notice some compression with playing aggressively, but I have not.
2. Amplified tone; my CA has the Fishman Prefix mixer. I set it to "mic" only and love the pure acoustic tone I get. I usually have to fight with the sound people to just give me a straight-through signal, as they are used to having to mess with EQ.
3. Playability; I find the neck, action and overall feel of this instrument to be equal to anything I have played. I loved the feel of my Taylors, but I like the CA more. One friend of mine says he does not like the neck, as it feels "sticky" to him. I never felt this, but it is worth noting. I have a very light touch on the back of the neck when I play and this may be the difference. The neck, of course, is very slick composite.
4. Durability; I was walking through the living room last week, holding my guitar by the neck, and accidently slammed the front into a wooden footstool. My wife winced, remembering how that would have damaged my other guitars. I just said, " Sorry about the footstool." No damage to the guitar. It is also extremely stable when the temperature and humidity changes, and the new ones are better than mine as they have composite fretboards instead of the ebony on mine. I would have mine changed if I could.
5. I cannot tell you where to get one. I purchased mine from Gruhn Guitars in Nashville.

I have nothing to gain by my support of CA guitars except the pleasure of seeing technology applied to my passion. I was frustrated by all the vagaries of guitars, and worried too much about set up, humidification and temperature swings ( I live in New England, where winter temperatures dip to -20F and summer can see 100). I worried about which guitar to take to the outdoor festivals; do I take my "favorite" and worry about damage, or do I take a "beater" and hate the tone? I no longer worry about any of this, and enjoy taking my favorite guitar everywhere I go, pass it around the jams for anyone to play while I play dobro, and generally just enjoy the music. I have sold all my wooden guitars save the dobro, which I hope, someday,to replace with composite. Are you listening, CA???

ST in VT
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Old 11-11-2007, 02:27 PM
coldshot coldshot is offline
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The last time i was at haworth guitars in kiama near wollongong nsw they one not sure what model they had might be worth a check.
www.haworthguitars.com.au
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Old 11-11-2007, 03:18 PM
tscwong tscwong is offline
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Thanks heaps Stoney for your detailed response, that was exactly what I was hoping for and you've put my mind (and ears!) at ease and I will go ahead and make enquiries to see if I can get one shipped from the US. Sorry about the footstool you took out with your guitar, and thanks for taking the time to post such a great response. I think your comment about the feel of the neck is interesting- I actually was concerned about that as I have very sweaty hands and grip the neck quite firmly, that was one of the reasons I was going for the 'Player' Series which seems to have satin-type finish on the neck.

Thanks Coldshot for the link- I can't find the composite acoustics on their website but I'll give them a call when they're open to see if they have any. I suspect I'll end up have to buy one from the US and ship it across, but given the construction of the guitar, I'm not so worried about damage in transit anymore! Thanks for your help, much appreciated!
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Old 11-11-2007, 04:00 PM
Mosspoh Mosspoh is offline
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It definitely intrigues me. I would've never considered CA, but the idea of durability alone sounds great. I tend to be rough on gear.

Does the carbon fiber scratch up much? Or show scratches in general?
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Old 11-11-2007, 04:38 PM
coldshot coldshot is offline
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If you do end up ordering from the states our own JR Rogers forum administrator has some available.is very up to date on what's hot about them also.look up the heading agf marketplace towards the bottom of the heading page.
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Old 11-11-2007, 09:52 PM
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I have a CA Vintage Performer that I like a lot; so much so that my beloved, old Martin D35 doesn't get much playing these days. The acoustic tone of the CA is similar, but it has a stronger and more balanced high end than the Martin, something I didn't expect on a guitar with such a powerful bass. The plugged in tone is not bad, but still a little too electric for my taste. Run through my Fishman Dread pedal and Ultrasound amp, though it is fine. I like the action on my Martin a bit better. Once new strings have settled in I seldom have to tune the CA, whether I play hard or soft. I haven't really tested the durability. Though I gig with it regularly, I've always been very careful with my guitars-after years on the road my 30 year old Martin still looks practically new. The finish on the CA is linear polyurethane, which is a very durable finish. I have some scratches where my fingernails brush the top in the place where a pick guard would be, but that's it. After a year of hard use, except for the small fingernail scratches the guitar still shines like a mirror. The CA has become my primary axe, not because it is durable, but because it is a fine instrument; the durability is a bonus.

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Old 11-12-2007, 08:39 AM
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Keep in mind that the Player Series has the same gloss finish on the neck as the Performer Series. There is also the RT Player Series that has the more satinesque finish. The RT stands for "Road Tough".

While I was in Hawaii this past week (Big Island), I stopped into Hilo Guitars where they had the X model in Player and RT Player finishes. The RT felt kind of odd; imagine a guitar with very pronounced "goosebumps" or "chicken skin" as some call it (not sure what it's called in Oz). You know, when you're cold and your skin gets all bumpy? It's like that, but imagine your skin is carbon fiber with a thick finish.
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Old 11-12-2007, 08:41 AM
BillBob BillBob is offline
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I have no doubt that these guitars are the wave of the future.

If you turn your nose up at these because they are not "natural", you are missing out on one of the nicest playing and sounding guitars made today. I have a Legacy Performer and it has a 1 3/4" neck. I almost didn't purchase it because I have played a 1 11/16" neck for 40 years. But it's action is so nice that I had no trouble playing the wider neck. The sound is so wonderful that it was worth adjusting to the wider nut. Keep in mind that I have a nice collection of higher end guitars. I know what a quality guitar sounds like.

I also brought home this weekend an CA X performer. This is the narrow body acoustic electric. When I picked this up to play it, I was not expecting much. But it has an incredible sound. MUCH fuller than it has a right to be. It is as full sounding as many full size dreads!

I love the fact that I don't have to worry about the care of these guitars. If you have chased the humidifiers on numerous wood guitars all year, you'll understand what I mean. You cannot go wrong with these.
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Old 11-12-2007, 08:52 AM
sirflyguy2000 sirflyguy2000 is offline
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While I am definitely a wood guitar kind of guy, I am very much intrigued by these guitars. I have always hated taking my nice Taylors or my Kronbauer to an outdoor gig. The idea of worrying not-a-bit is very appealing to me. I may have to ditch one of my Taylors for something like this at some point.
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Old 11-12-2007, 08:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillBob View Post
I have no doubt that these guitars are the wave of the future.

If you turn your nose up at these because they are not "natural", you are missing out on one of the nicest playing and sounding guitars made today. I have a Legacy Performer and it has a 1 3/4" neck. I almost didn't purchase it because I have played a 1 11/16" neck for 40 years. But it's action is so nice that I had no trouble playing the wider neck. The sound is so wonderful that it was worth adjusting to the wider nut. Keep in mind that I have a nice collection of higher end guitars. I know what a quality guitar sounds like.

I also brought home this weekend an CA X performer. This is the narrow body acoustic electric. When I picked this up to play it, I was not expecting much. But it has an incredible sound. MUCH fuller than it has a right to be. It is as full sounding as many full size dreads!

I love the fact that I don't have to worry about the care of these guitars. If you have chased the humidifiers on numerous wood guitars all year, you'll understand what I mean. You cannot go wrong with these.
+1

This is exactly what I have found to be true about every CA guitar I've played, which is why I have the GX on order.

FWIW, I played a ton of guitars at a high end store and the only guitar I really loved was a CA Bluegrass Standard (the only CA they had in stock). I went back a week later and it was gone, but they had added another Bourgeois to ther stock - a nice hog/adi Country Boy. I loved the tone of that guitar! My wife commented that it sounded just like the CA from the week prior. The guy that owns the store thought that I was playing a CA dread.

So, small shop tone, no weather worries, and actual money left over for other gear.

No "Wood Snob" here.
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Old 11-12-2007, 08:57 AM
Poetmonk Poetmonk is offline
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I can't say they are great or not because i have not played one yet but i just happen to be a purist and i love wood guitars, and the only place i heard them was on the dreamguitars website and the ones they have with the MP3 samples of are either to muddy or to plasticy sounding to my ears. I'm not putting them down in any way shape or form but i love the sound, feel, look, and smell of wood. I have an Ovation guitar but at least the top is wood.
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Old 11-12-2007, 09:15 AM
Poetmonk Poetmonk is offline
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And one more thing, unlike wood, you can't tell one apart. As in, people who love HOG buy guitars with HOG wood for the sound and people who love Braz., Koa, EIR, Maple, Etc, go for that wood for that sound. Same as in top wood, Cedar, Engel, Sitka, Adirondack, Italian, Etc,. But if Plastic guitars all sound the same then you leave the buyer with no choice. The shapes might be different but the sound is all the same. Talk about mass production, reminds me of "Soylent Green". I know it sounds like I'm putting it down but I'm really trying not too. I don't think Composite guitars are going to be the wave of the future but alternative woods will be. Rainsong guitars started out here in Hawaii and never really caught on.
P.S. I guess i really am a Wood snob and have to deal with it. So i ask for your forgiveness to those i might have offended.
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Last edited by Poetmonk; 11-12-2007 at 09:26 AM.
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Old 11-12-2007, 09:36 AM
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I think a Rainsong or CA justifies itself based primarily by virtue of its toughness and that benefit to the player's lifestyle, with second or third place going to the fact that it has admirable tone.

When I got to play Jim Tozier's Rainsong a few months ago, I was impressed with the tone, but my recent interest in one is based on it being a guitar that can stand up to the airlines or trunk of the car on its way to North Carolina.

Of course, I could always buy an inexpensive guitar and simply leave it at my daughter's house.
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Old 11-12-2007, 09:56 AM
Mosspoh Mosspoh is offline
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Originally Posted by Poetmonk View Post
And one more thing, unlike wood, you can't tell one apart. As in, people who love HOG buy guitars with HOG wood for the sound and people who love Braz., Koa, EIR, Maple, Etc, go for that wood for that sound. Same as in top wood, Cedar, Engel, Sitka, Adirondack, Italian, Etc,. But if Plastic guitars all sound the same then you leave the buyer with no choice. The shapes might be different but the sound is all the same. Talk about mass production, reminds me of "Soylent Green". I know it sounds like I'm putting it down but I'm really trying not too. I don't think Composite guitars are going to be the wave of the future but alternative woods will be. Rainsong guitars started out here in Hawaii and never really caught on.
P.S. I guess i really am a Wood snob and have to deal with it. So i ask for your forgiveness to those i might have offended.
Lets face it, the beauty of wood is really the best part. As the technology progresses there will definitely be different sounding guitars made from the plastics, carbon fiber, etc. I am certain that polymer sciences will move to the point they can get different amounts of resonance with different plastics...it'll never be as pretty though. I love the look, smell, and feel of wood. I also love the technology, care, and even the cool futuristic look of the CA. I think the true wave will be a nice fusion of the technologies. There will be some kind of harmony met as people experiment with materials more. Lately it does feel as if they are trying to use carbon fiber for everything. Sailboats, cars, guitars, tennis racquets, pulleys, yada yada yada.
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