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What do you find most important when getting an acoustic guitar?


onewilyfool

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To me about any nicely-playable guitar, acoustic or electric or combination thereof, is going to sound more than good enough for the way I mostly play which is gentle fingerstyle. Add to the playing style and light strings that those flattops, as well as my full archtop electrics, are almost always played through an amp or board, and I doubt anyone in the audience could figure a difference and hopefully would be listening to the nice notes rather than trying to figure out and be critical of what brand guitar I was playing.

 

That said, I do have several big box AEs that I have heavier strings and a different setup involved that are for use that's functionally acoustic rhythm flatpicking for old-time, bluegrassy, or folkie-country type stuff. Again, technique remains 80 percent or more of that too.

 

I've heard enough pickers who would sound as good on an Epi as on their high-end Martin or Gibson dreads, and ditto a lotta electric pickers who would be as well off with an Epi version of their $4,000 Les Pauls...

 

Playability by my definition is a combination of "feel" of a given guitar body, neck shape, fretboard radius, nut width, scale and setup for a given picker's technique and personal playing needs. To be comfortably playable IMHO, all have to "fit" with the player's technique and physical geometry.

 

m

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For me it's all about how it reacts to DADGAD tuning, tone, volume/projection, balance with good mids, playability/response & overall feel, 1-3/4" nut, and something VERY important that wasn't mentioned.... how it sounds and reacts when capoed up to the 10th fret (except the 12-fretters) since I play capoed 95% of the time. I've played MANY guitars that sound great when played open, but as soon as I introduce a capo, they fall short. And some will sound good capoed only on certain frets. For me, a guitar has to sound good and respond well when played open and capoed on any fret up to the 10th. If not, I don't want it. Looks and brand don't really matter and I prefer understated rather than blingy. I don't even like bound fretboards, and definitely no cutaways. Don't like bass-heavy guitars and have gotten away from dreads and have sold them all. Prefer OM/000/F body. The exception is my J-35 which is just too good to NOT have, and satisfies all my requirements beautifully. :)

 

DC

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Playability by my definition is a combination of "feel" of a given guitar body, neck shape, fretboard radius, nut width, scale and setup for a given picker's technique and personal playing needs. To be comfortably playable IMHO, all have to "fit" with the player's technique and physical geometry.

 

m

 

My definition of "playability" is pretty much what Milod says. While sound is certainly important to me, it's not the most important factor. Playability is most important to me. The guitar has to be something I feel I can bond with, literally making the guitar an extension of who I am. If I don't want to play it, I'll never bond with it. If I don't bond with it, I'll rarely play it. It will sit in a case, maybe be played once every few months, or it will be sold...

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I was not planning on listing my quirks as it is hard to say what attracts me to a guitar. But I wanted to see the poll results. At times I think my fascination with the unwashed and unusual is as much a driving force as feel and nut width.

 

But neck profile and nut width are biggies. A few weeks back I went to look at a 1954 Guild F-50. Great sounding guitar but that 1 5/8" nut was a deal breaker for me. I knew that after the honeymoon wore off it would end up just sitting in a case neglected.

 

And just looking at what is in the house, vintage has to be on the list. It was not my intent to own only guitars made between the mid-1930s and early 1960s but it is sure the way the way it turned out.

 

Another one not on the list is Made in the USA. I just cannot bring myself to buy an offshore built instrument. Not saying it is reasonable as I have played some great sounding imported guitars but the phobia is just there.

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Playability is such a major decision. I learned it the hard way. I bought a used Hummingbird through the web and immediately found the neck uncomfortable. My hands don't like 1.75 nut widths, but prefer 1-11-16" and smaller. I kept the Bird thinking I would adapt to it and while I did get better with it, I could tell it would always be the last guitar I reached for. (Compounded by it's lack of projection.) I traded it.

 

I've been through a variety of guitars since. I do like my SJ-200, despite the nut-width being slightly wider than I prefer. I guess the neck angle is easier for me. (I had a JB where the large nut wasn't as much a factor as the sheer nervousness of handling such an expensive weapon.)

 

My favorites are the 1966 LG-1 with the super narrow nut. The 1961 LG-3 with the 1 11/16" nut. (body size is also super comfy for sitting around the sofa.)

 

I'm enamored with a Martin M-36, as I also love my dad's 1958 D-28 that ain't leaving the house.

 

Guitars? It's weird.

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All of the above

 

Got to have a emotional connection with the guitar most importantly. There have been times I have raced into a shop because they got some old guitar or some guitar that I thought I had great specs. Only after playing these guitars which I thought would be gems in my head did I realize I had no connection. No point in buying a guitar that doesn't speak to you so to speak.

 

The price also has to be right....but that's another discussion.

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Sound and playability are the main things for me. I like a mellow sound with lush mids, rumbling bass, and sweet highs. Too many overtones get in my way. As I said before I'm a warm and fuzzy guy. I like the warmth of a mahogany. I use PBs for the same reason. They are a little fuzzier on the bass but the 80/20s give up too much warmth. I do believe looks play a big part with most people. The last time I was in the local shop they still had that ugly black J45 with the white pickguard. They have had it for about two and half years now. It is one of the best j45s they have had in that time. No, I can't buy it; that's just a fact. By the way, none of the major guitar companies make a mahogany like the Gibson J45.

 

ChasAK

 

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Sound and playability are the main things for me. I like a mellow sound with lush mids, rumbling bass, and sweet highs. Too many overtones get in my way. As I said before I'm a warm and fuzzy guy. I like the warmth of a mahogany. I use PBs for the same reason. They are a little fuzzier on the bass but the 80/20s give up too much warmth. I do believe looks play a big part with most people. The last time I was in the local shop they still had that ugly black J45 with the white pickguard. They have had it for about two and half years now. It is one of the best j45s they have had in that time. No, I can't buy it; that's just a fact. By the way, none of the major guitar companies make a mahogany like the Gibson J45.

 

ChasAK

 

 

ChasAK, I agree - Gibson definitely has staked out bragging rights on Mahogany B/S guitars. I hope it is because of the cosmetics that you can't buy that J45. There was a thread here several months ago - on the sister of that one - the Pelham Blue J45. It was roundly dismissed as too ugly to be seen playing. I strongly disagree. I think Gibson realizes that some of us get weary of the choices of natural or sunburst. Albeit they have slight variations in the sunburst shadings - it is refreshing to me to see some actual colors out there. So - if that one is a match for you - I'd consider it strongly. These sadly have been hanging on the walls and shelves for awhile. On a good day - the dealer might take more off. They are limited editions. G'luck.

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If I did buy it I would find ablack pickguard with the same foot print and switch it out. My problem is Iwould have to sell my j45 in order to finance it. I can’t bring myself to dothat. By the way it is a 60s reissue that Fuller had Gibson do. Concerning the new colors I kind of like thewine colored j45.

 

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