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Old 03-08-2018, 05:23 AM
personatech personatech is offline
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Default Another noob X vs. Y - this time, Guild vs. Martin vs. Seagull

Hi again, everyone!

On my last find-a-first-acoustic sortie Tuesday, I dropped into a locally-owned shop with the expectation of a quick, fruitless visit. Yelp! comments had dissed the owner as being something of a curmudgeon so the shop's rating was really low. I didn't expect to stay long because of this but, lo and behold, he was actually very pleasant and helpful; I spent over an hour there strumming and chatting before I had to leave to make a dental appt.

What he had there was mostly used stuff and new Martins. On the used rack was a Guild GAD50EATB in fine shape - all solid body, Fishman Sonotone pickup, hard case, $499 (and he acted like he'd come down from that). Sounded great, really resonant, nice appointments (binding, rosette, etc.) felt good. Here's a pic:



When the visit was winding down, the owner said, "You really need to check out these Martins!" I said no, thanks, but that would be way over my self-imposed $500 budget. He said, "I have a few here that I can't let go for that price, but I can come close!" Now I was aware of the X series Martins and have mixed feelings about the composite bodies (and sometimes tops!) - I assumed that these were what he was referring to. I'm really not interested in HPL bodies and I really had to hit the road, so I declined.

He said, "Well here, then. Take this!" It was a Martin catalog/magazine. Needless to say, I pawed through that magazine that evening. It did its job; I'm now thinking about upgrading early to a Martin Road series. I'll call later today to see if he has any of the RS models in stock (there was at least one on the wall that looked like it might have been a DRS1).

I also got a call yesterday from another dealer I had spoken with who had some new Seagulls come in. At this point, I'm considering the following:

1) Seagull Entourage Rustic QIT, either with or without cutout. I like the diminutive QIT electronics - useful controls and tuner that don't take up too much real estate. Up until I played the Guild, this was my favorite of all the guitars I've played - nice warm tone with that cedar and cherry.
2) Martin DRS1, 000RS1, or GPRS1. A bit more money but perhaps better resale value if it comes to that? I need to try these out, though, before I commit. Reviews are uniformly thumbs-up! I like Martin's strategy of making an all-solid body guitar more affordable by cost-cutting the neck, but I'm a bit concerned about that laminate neck since there are a few reports of bubbling on the Richlite fretboard edge. Quick additional question about these: is the GPRS1 a Guitar Center-only model? I can't seem to find this Road Series Grand Performance model anywhere else.
3) Alvarez AG75CE. Nice tone with a cedar top on rosewood laminate body, but the most intrusive electronics of them all.
4) That used Guild GAD - essentially a $1400 guitar that sounds great and plays well!

I'm hoping to make a decision very soon and would appreciate any comments, suggestions, or personal anecdotes about these. In fact, I think another 3-hr round trip to check some of these out might be in the cards for today!

Last edited by personatech; 03-08-2018 at 05:31 AM.
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Old 03-08-2018, 06:02 AM
v32 finish v32 finish is offline
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Hello and good morning! Personally, out of the ones you’ve listed, I would opt for the Martin, simply because I’m a fan of the brand, the tradition, history etc. That being said, their low end models are OK, but not stellar.. but I do like the DRS1. This was a competitor on my short list, and one of the last to be eliminated before I bought my Taylor. Also as you mentioned, the resale will help you tremendously when you’re ready to upgrade or get the itch again. Well worth the extra cash, IMO.
Anyways, the DRS1 is the one that *I*would pick, but…. I don’t matter – the only thing that matters is how it feels and sounds in your hands, so.. Go and play all of them. I’m a firm believer that if none of them ‘speaks’ to you, or if you don’t know pretty explicitly which one is right, then NONE of them may be right. Don’t be afraid to hold out for ‘the one’. I’ve found that I can usually tell oftentimes in the stroke of a single chord “that’s the one”.
Anyways, good luck and let us know what you decide!
-SC
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Old 03-08-2018, 06:15 AM
countryblues75 countryblues75 is offline
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Hallo,
nowadays you can buy a nice guitar for 500 dollars: it really comes down to your playing preferences and needs.
In that price range i would choose a Seagull S6 for sure: wide nut, super comfortable neck profile, clean fit and finish. Moreover, as you said in your post, Seagull guitars with cedar top/ cherry lam back and sides have a nice warm tone.
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Old 03-08-2018, 06:20 AM
jpmf jpmf is offline
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if you're the least bit worried about resale then the guild stands out, especially as you've played it and like it.
I personally started with a seagull S6, that's a solid choice.
martin.. well I don't have any but I probably wouldn't be satisfied (for all the wrong reasons) with one of their 'economy models'.
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Old 03-08-2018, 06:28 AM
musicman1951 musicman1951 is offline
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There is no opinion that will substitute for playing a guitar and liking it. I don't have any experience with the guitars you're considering, but I always go used if I can. You get more guitar for the money and a better return if/when you decide to sell/trade it.
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Old 03-08-2018, 07:10 AM
bil40272 bil40272 is offline
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Default martin suggestion.

I'm not sure what style of music you are playing, or what setting, but one Martin to try would be the Dreadnaught Jr.
It is not a full size guitar, but they do sound bigger than they are.
I just recently sold one that would have been within your budget.
the only reason I sold it was because I added a Gibson LG2 AE, that took the Jr's place. It was a great guitar sound wise and playability.
I recently played one of the all sapele Jrs at GC, and it too sounded nice,,,may buy one of these in the future.
Another guitar to watch out for is the Breedlove Premier Concert.
I picked up one of these used for $550 off of Craig's list, and it is an incredible guitar.

hope this helps

Bill
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Old 03-08-2018, 08:49 AM
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vindibona1 vindibona1 is offline
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If you want my honest opinion, NEVER buy from specs. Each individual guitar is just that- individual. You can play 3 of the same model, even those costing thousands of dollars and they'll all play differently- just like twins will have different personalities even though they may look identical. IMO it is always advised to select your guitar through play testing yourself. Sometimes that's impossible, but if you are buying sight unseen or from spec you are rolling the dice.

Second... FORGET ABOUT BRAND NAME. Today brands are largely marketing devices aimed at the ego. The brand names and models may direct you to a starting point but it comes down to sound, playability and how it allows you to express yourself musically.

USED instruments are the way I like to go. Let the first owner take the first hit on depreciation. Often if something needs warranty work it shows up pretty quickly and the original owners tend to work the bugs out. A used instrument will protect you better financially should you choose to sell it down the road.

Based on what you said, I say buy the Guild. It's a good brand name and you like it. That's what counts.
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Old 03-08-2018, 09:41 AM
YeOldRocker YeOldRocker is offline
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I agree, never buy from specs. Had I done so, I'd have gone full throttle into buy, sell, try again mode. It's frustrating and takes you away from doing what you first intended, which is enjoying a new (or used) guitar.

Of the guitars you first mentioned, I'd go with the Guild, particularly the one you already liked, guitar in hand. Seagulls are nice guitars, but if you like the feel of the Guild, I doubt you'll like the feel of a Seagull, as it is very different. The sound, of course, is different, too.

I almost bought a Guild GAD OM-sized guitar, my last acoustic search, but ultimately opted for a much pricier Martin. That said, if/when I'm in the market for a less-expensive backup guitar, the Guild is first in line.

My personal advice, beyond what I've already said, is to stick to your initial investment limit - it's very easy to go for the "next step" up, because it may be a bit better than the lower rung. A moderately priced Martin will easily lead to a more expensive model, and so forth, while a very good budget guitar can hold you for quite a while, as you save (or not) for the upper echelon guitars down the road. It's a bit like playing Shoots and Ladders (for those that remember the game). Finding a good instrument shouldn't be a never-ending process, unless you want it to be and can afford it to be.

It's kind of simple - find a guitar you really like and can afford now, then play guitar.
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Old 03-08-2018, 10:21 AM
Steadfastly Steadfastly is offline
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You have to make the final decision but you got four very good choices, IMHO. You can't go wrong with any of them.
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Old 03-08-2018, 07:33 PM
personatech personatech is offline
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Thanks, everyone! I did go out and do a lot of looking/playing. Apparently, a lot of dealers have received their after-Christmas restock orders! I spent so much time at other shops, I didn't get back to the dealer with the Guild. There are several I did try - here are the ones that at least moved me to take a photo on the phone:
  1. Epiphone FT-79 Texan
  2. Epiphone Masterbilt AJ-500RCE/VSS
  3. Epiphone Masterbilt De Luxe Archtop
  4. Fender CD140SCE All Mahogany
  5. Martin GPCX2AE X Series
  6. Martin DSR-1 Road Series
  7. Seagull Coastline Spruce CW QIT
  8. Seagull S6 Original Slim QIT
  9. Seagull S6 Spruce CW QIT Sunburst
  10. Takamine GD11 MCE all-mahogany
  11. Yamaha LL-TA
  12. Yamaha FG-TA
  13. Yamaha FS-TA
  14. Yamaha A3R Sunburst

Wow. A day well-spent! Here are some general impressions:
  • The Epi Texan was surprisingly lively, much more so than its brothers, the Masterbilts. Strange, considering that the Masterbilts are supposedly all solid wood while the Texan has laminate sides. The De Luxe had a baseball bat for a neck - certainly the most chunky of all the necks I played today. If I go Epi, it'll be that Texan.
  • The deal of the day was the Takamine. Not quite in the same class as some of the others but, for $299, its tone was rich and the guitar was nicely appointed.
  • Yamahas are always nice. A while back, I thought my first acoustic would be an FG830 before health and the holidays waylayed my search. I had seen the TransAcoustic LL before but thought the system was more gimmick than a useful tool. I was wrong. The reverb and chorus sounds coming out of these guitars is rich and full. While the LL was super nice, it didn't sound $400 better than the FG/FS models. Wow. The FG/FS-TA are on my "short list."
  • Seagulls - ah, I do love Seagulls! Love their sense of being environmentally friendly, love that they are built in Canada, love that they are innovative. Several new ones were available at the the two Seagull dealers. The new, deep red-brown stain on the S6 backs is a big improvement over the previous lighter stain. I tried several and the two that stood out were the Coastline Spruce CW Slim QIT and the S6 Original Cedar Slim QIT. For some reason, Seagull dreadnaughts just seem to be a bit more comfortable than other brands' and they just ring out. While I enjoy the warmth of the cedar top, the spruce model seemed to be a bit more responsive, especially when I really dug in a bit. (I'm finding that, as I gain more confidence in my playing, I do tend to strum hard. Yay me!)
  • The Martin DRS-1 was perhaps my favorite of the day, just eking out the Seagull Coastline by a smidge. It was head-and-shoulders above the Martin GPCXAE2 in my estimation. The X Series model's back was all laminate with the appearance bordering on plastic. Some may like that - I do not. Considering that the all-solid wood body of the DRS-1 is only about 60 bucks more, it almost is a no-brainer. I'm sure the differing body shapes had a lot to do with the tone. The neck of the X Series seemed a bit rough and actually looked laminated; understandably, I feared that the neck of the DRS-1 would be similar. My fears were unfounded. The DRS-1 neck was nice and smooth and you'd be hard-pressed (see what I did there?) to tell that it was not wood. I know that I just checked out one sample of each, but if this is representative of the two models then the $60 upcharge for the DRS-1 is well worth it. In short, the DRS-1 was one of the two or three that actually "spoke" to me so yeah, it's on my short list. Unfortunately, I couldn't compare it directly to the Seagulls (different dealers).
Thanks again for all your comments. My wife and I will probably be going out again on Saturday to look at a few more.
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Old 03-08-2018, 07:43 PM
personatech personatech is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by countryblues75 View Post
Hallo,
nowadays you can buy a nice guitar for 500 dollars: it really comes down to your playing preferences and needs.
In that price range i would choose a Seagull S6 for sure: wide nut, super comfortable neck profile, clean fit and finish. Moreover, as you said in your post, Seagull guitars with cedar top/ cherry lam back and sides have a nice warm tone.
Thanks! I do like the Seagulls, but not with the 1.8" nut. I've found 1.72 to 1.75 more to my liking. I checked out a couple of Seagull dreads today with the Slim neck and liked both.
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Old 03-08-2018, 07:52 PM
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I like Guilds and I like the 000 Martin as I've played a few. It depends on what sound you want as they are completely different to my ears.
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Old 03-08-2018, 08:30 PM
personatech personatech is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bil40272 View Post
I'm not sure what style of music you are playing, or what setting, but one Martin to try would be the Dreadnaught Jr.
It is not a full size guitar, but they do sound bigger than they are.
I just recently sold one that would have been within your budget.
the only reason I sold it was because I added a Gibson LG2 AE, that took the Jr's place. It was a great guitar sound wise and playability.
I recently played one of the all sapele Jrs at GC, and it too sounded nice,,,may buy one of these in the future.
Another guitar to watch out for is the Breedlove Premier Concert.
I picked up one of these used for $550 off of Craig's list, and it is an incredible guitar.

hope this helps

Bill
Thanks, Bill. Good points. I haven't come across either a Dread Jr. or Breedlove yet, but I'll keep my eyes open for one. As far as my musical style, think Syd Barrett/Tom Verlaine/Robyn Hitchcock/Paul Weller. Pretty eclectic stuff, leaning towards psychedelic rock. I also dig Coryell, Hendrix, and Jorma. Of course, these are players known mostly for their electric work, but it is what it is.
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Old 03-08-2018, 08:52 PM
AZLiberty AZLiberty is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by personatech View Post
2) Martin DRS1, 000RS1, or GPRS1. A bit more money but perhaps better resale value if it comes to that? I need to try these out, though, before I commit. Reviews are uniformly thumbs-up! I like Martin's strategy of making an all-solid body guitar more affordable by cost-cutting the neck, but I'm a bit concerned about that laminate neck since there are a few reports of bubbling on the Richlite fretboard edge. Quick additional question about these: is the GPRS1 a Guitar Center-only model? I can't seem to find this Road Series Grand Performance model anywhere else.
1 - Martin stopped using the multi-ply necks 2 or 3 years ago. They are solid wood now. The X-series generally still uses the multi-ply laminate necks.

2 - yes the GPRS1 is a GC/MF "custom" model.

3 - The Road Series (like the DRS1) comes with a hard case. So take that into account on your pricing.

I really do like the 000RS1, hunting for a good price on a used one myself. The DRS1 seems to come up on the used market all the time, but folks hang onto the 000 version.
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Old 03-08-2018, 10:27 PM
JohnW63 JohnW63 is offline
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Another thread that shows you can have quite a selection of guitars in a lower end budget.
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