GAS'ing for a new acoustic in 2021 - With a happy ending!

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LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 753
edited May 29 in Acoustics
Hankering for a new acoustic guitar next year. Been running with my Takamine EG321c electro acoustic since 2011 which sounds good unplugged and decent plugged in. Back when I bought it though I didn't really pay much attention to acoustic wood, tone, etc.

Now I've been playing more due to the lockdown, giving online lessons, doing live streams/recording etc and have started to hear things that lack perhaps.

The 2 premium brands seem to be Martin and Taylor, so I'm wondering if I should get something from one of these two. The Martin D28 is way out of my budget, costs the same as my Kemper did! But I've seen the D-10e, the DX1e and another D model I can't remember the same of that are a bit more sensible and realistic in prices.

What puts me off about some electro acoustics is the pickup sound, horrible clicky metally boxy type sound. I believe Martin use the Fishman pickups that I have no experience of. I would like to it sound as nice plugged in as it does acoustically (i.e unplugged).

My playing style is mostly open chord and strumming as opposed to fingerstyle or lead soloing (although I do a bit).

I believe these guys use either Martin or Taylor and their playing matches my style:



The guy in the red cap looks like he's using a Taylor. (Its obviously been pre-recorded with nice mics and EQ'd I suspect)

In this clip the sound isn't as good as I believe they might be going DI:



Anyone on here own a Taylor or Martin acoustic? Would the D-10E/DX1 be a good upgrade? Or shall I look at other brands?
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  • droflufdrofluf Frets: 1198
    I’ve owned a Taylor and now have a Martin - neither have pickups so I can’t speak for the plugged in sound but unplugged they, as brands, have distinct sounds. To my ears the Taylor sound is more brash and “in your face” with stronger trebles whereas the Martin is warmer and more rounded. Both are great brands but people seem to prefer one or the other. 

    Obviously the normal advice is to try before you up but that’s not so easy these days...
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  • Before you go chasing another guitar, you might like to try a range of stings. I used to use Martins exclusively. But following a thread here I bought others. The biggest revelation was fitting my PRS SE A40E with D'Addarios. I was gob smacked at how much better it sounds both unplugged and plugged in.

    At  least it's cheap!!!
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  • It's also not as simple as 'a Taylor' or 'a Martin'. I have two Taylors – a 714 and a 322 – and they're completely different guitars. I'd wait until lockdown lifts (it won't be long now) and go to your nearest big dealer and play as many as you can. If you're buying a premium instrument, consider other quality brands too. Once you've decided what you want, buy it used and save £1,000.
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  • Martin and Taylor tend to be at the higher end of the market price wise. They generally sound quite different when you compare similar models from each brand. As @drofluf says, Taylors are pretty bright, while Martins tend to be warmer. Obviously, different models have these characteristics to a greater or lesser degree. I was in a similar position to you a few years back and tried lots of models from both companies. Personally, I found the Taylors too bright, although I know that others are drawn to them for this very reason. I ended up getting a cedar/rosewood Furch Grand Auditorium. It's easily as well made as a Taylor or Martin, but was noticeably cheaper. It probably sits between the big two in terms of sound. It's a good all rounder for strumming, finger picking, lead type stuff. I've subsequently bought two Audens, a cedar/rosewood parlour and a spruce/rosewood dreadnought. I was actually looking at Martins when considering a dreadnought, but the Auden was on a par with Martins at twice the price. I wasn't so enamoured with the Auden dreadnought in cedar/rosewood, the spruce/rosewood version seemed more balanced to me. For what it's worth, I did try some very nice Takamine's too (sorry, I can't recall the models), so it might be worth trying different strings or having a different pickup system fitted to your current guitar.
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  • drofluf said:
    I’ve owned a Taylor and now have a Martin - neither have pickups so I can’t speak for the plugged in sound but unplugged they, as brands, have distinct sounds. To my ears the Taylor sound is more brash and “in your face” with stronger trebles whereas the Martin is warmer and more rounded. Both are great brands but people seem to prefer one or the other. 

    Obviously the normal advice is to try before you up but that’s not so easy these days...
    Hmm going by that I think a Martin would be better choice if I was to get one of the two. I've played one of my learner's Taylor electro acoustic but I can't remember what model it is. It was very nice to play though but was £1500 (or so he said)
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  • Before you go chasing another guitar, you might like to try a range of stings. I used to use Martins exclusively. But following a thread here I bought others. The biggest revelation was fitting my PRS SE A40E with D'Addarios. I was gob smacked at how much better it sounds both unplugged and plugged in.

    At  least it's cheap!!!
    I use Elixir's and they are the best sounding strings I've used. Don't like D'addarios, they wear out too quickly and don't have that brightness.
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  • It's also not as simple as 'a Taylor' or 'a Martin'. I have two Taylors – a 714 and a 322 – and they're completely different guitars. I'd wait until lockdown lifts (it won't be long now) and go to your nearest big dealer and play as many as you can. If you're buying a premium instrument, consider other quality brands too. Once you've decided what you want, buy it used and save £1,000.
    There's probably other brands I can look at that'll give me a similar sound for a lot less. My electro-acoustic was bought from GAK so I presume when this covid shit is over I can take a trip down there to have a good try out (I never buy guitars without trying them first)
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  • Martin and Taylor tend to be at the higher end of the market price wise. They generally sound quite different when you compare similar models from each brand. As @drofluf says, Taylors are pretty bright, while Martins tend to be warmer. Obviously, different models have these characteristics to a greater or lesser degree. I was in a similar position to you a few years back and tried lots of models from both companies. Personally, I found the Taylors too bright, although I know that others are drawn to them for this very reason. I ended up getting a cedar/rosewood Furch Grand Auditorium. It's easily as well made as a Taylor or Martin, but was noticeably cheaper. It probably sits between the big two in terms of sound. It's a good all rounder for strumming, finger picking, lead type stuff. I've subsequently bought two Audens, a cedar/rosewood parlour and a spruce/rosewood dreadnought. I was actually looking at Martins when considering a dreadnought, but the Auden was on a par with Martins at twice the price. I wasn't so enamoured with the Auden dreadnought in cedar/rosewood, the spruce/rosewood version seemed more balanced to me. For what it's worth, I did try some very nice Takamine's too (sorry, I can't recall the models), so it might be worth trying different strings or having a different pickup system fitted to your current guitar.
    It'd be hard to find a 'bad' Martin guitar wouldn't it? Apparently even the DX models that are around £500 sound decent. I will admit I'm less knowledgeable on acoustic woods than electrics. Haven't heard of Auden so will check them out.

    I like the sound of the LR Baggs pickups so could get that installed in mine, it'd be cheaper and saves another guitar taking up more space! I only have 2 acoustics anyway haha.
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  • I think that is a Koa Taylor that the guy on the right is playing. Has a really bright sound. I actually won a Fame Koa recently in a songwriting contest (sell for £900 new, solid Koa front back and sides) and it sounds similarly bright. I would never have bought the guitar as don’t know the brand but it sounds and plays incredible. Worth thinking about the woods and playing different models.
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  • I think that is a Koa Taylor that the guy on the right is playing. Has a really bright sound. I actually won a Fame Koa recently in a songwriting contest (sell for £900 new, solid Koa front back and sides) and it sounds similarly bright. I would never have bought the guitar as don’t know the brand but it sounds and plays incredible. Worth thinking about the woods and playing different models.
    Yeah a K24e or something? Apparently its custom built but they retail around £4k!
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  • Andy79Andy79 Frets: 616
    I would go out of my way to avoid so called electro acoustics, a great gouge out of the side with electronics that will be out of date in no time. Get a std acoustic and add stuff afterwards 

    Im probably Taylor’s biggest anti-fan. Just cannot get on with them. Cheap Martins are well out gunned by other makers but higher priced ones are tough to beat. Those new Epiphones look worth a look. Seek out something with maple back/sides to try. Great tonewood. One of my favourite guitars is maple/spruce 

    Let us know body shape and budget and we can throw out suggestions 
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  • My advice would be do not get an electro-acoustic unless you're planning on spending £2-3K upwards. Below that sort of money, I've not personally played or heard anything that sounded worthwhile as an unplugged instrument when compared to the same outlay for an equivalent guitar but without anything electric in it. I wouldn't trust any online demo for an acoustic guitar, either. It's how it sounds in a room with you playing it that really tells you if you'd like to own the guitar yourself. And (if you can) having someone else play it so you can sit away from the guitar and hear how it really sounds.

    If you're looking to spend less than £2k on a new guitar I'd not bother with Martin or Taylor. Try L'Arrivee and Furch. Your money will buy you much nicer tone using wood that will develop over time. For me, less expensive Taylors are aimed at people playing acoustics in the context of a rock band. Not much subtlety in the sound, but in the context it doesn't matter. Less expensive Martins are built down to a price for people who just want that name on the headstock. Play fine, sound poor. 

    Find a nice guitar that is 100% acoustic and just add a K&K pickup if you want to amplify it. 

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  • jellyrolljellyroll Frets: 2786
    Agree with Bigdipper. Martin standard series (£2.5k+ new) and up are great but their cheaper models don’t shine for me. For less money, I would direct you to Eastman. Furch are also well thought off, though I have no experience. 
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  • You have Kemper ( brilliant but not cheap ) a s/h D28 at the same price as a new Kemper - a classic acoustic for life at the price of a depreciating piece of kit ? Worth thinking about. That being said there are some wonderful acoustics out there without Martin or Taylor on the headstock. 
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  • Andy79 said:
    I would go out of my way to avoid so called electro acoustics, a great gouge out of the side with electronics that will be out of date in no time. Get a std acoustic and add stuff afterwards 

    Im probably Taylor’s biggest anti-fan. Just cannot get on with them. Cheap Martins are well out gunned by other makers but higher priced ones are tough to beat. Those new Epiphones look worth a look. Seek out something with maple back/sides to try. Great tonewood. One of my favourite guitars is maple/spruce 

    Let us know body shape and budget and we can throw out suggestions 
    Haven't got much knowledge on body shapes and what not, my EG321c is a single cut but I don't really need access to the higher frets.
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  • My advice would be do not get an electro-acoustic unless you're planning on spending £2-3K upwards. Below that sort of money, I've not personally played or heard anything that sounded worthwhile as an unplugged instrument when compared to the same outlay for an equivalent guitar but without anything electric in it. I wouldn't trust any online demo for an acoustic guitar, either. It's how it sounds in a room with you playing it that really tells you if you'd like to own the guitar yourself. And (if you can) having someone else play it so you can sit away from the guitar and hear how it really sounds.

    If you're looking to spend less than £2k on a new guitar I'd not bother with Martin or Taylor. Try L'Arrivee and Furch. Your money will buy you much nicer tone using wood that will develop over time. For me, less expensive Taylors are aimed at people playing acoustics in the context of a rock band. Not much subtlety in the sound, but in the context it doesn't matter. Less expensive Martins are built down to a price for people who just want that name on the headstock. Play fine, sound poor. 

    Find a nice guitar that is 100% acoustic and just add a K&K pickup if you want to amplify it. 

    Yeah I guess I've fallen into the trap of "It has to be a Martin for it be a good acoustic", when there are other brands out there that can get a similar (if not better) sound.

    I checked out a few Furch models and they do sound very nice, and depending which one it is slightly more affordable.

    I mentioned the LR Baggs pickups which I like so I could possibly add one of those but I believe K&K sound more natural.
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  • jellyroll said:
    Agree with Bigdipper. Martin standard series (£2.5k+ new) and up are great but their cheaper models don’t shine for me. For less money, I would direct you to Eastman. Furch are also well thought off, though I have no experience. 
    Eastman cropped up a few times but I haven't got any experience of what's good/specific models etc.
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  • artiebear said:
    You have Kemper ( brilliant but not cheap ) a s/h D28 at the same price as a new Kemper - a classic acoustic for life at the price of a depreciating piece of kit ? Worth thinking about. That being said there are some wonderful acoustics out there without Martin or Taylor on the headstock. 
    The only way I could pick up a D28 is to get it on finance perhaps haha. Would be too scared to travel with the thing or leave it unattended though.

    But if I'm going to spend a decent amount I obviously wanna make sure its the right one for me and my playing style.
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  • Andy79Andy79 Frets: 616
    So what is your playing style? 
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 753
    edited December 2020
    Andy79 said:
    So what is your playing style? 
    Similar to those guys in the videos above. Chords/strumming with a pick. I do a little fingerstyle and some picking stuff but mostly chords I'd say. I like to fiddle with alternate tunings too, DADGAD and those open ones.
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  • 2020 was my year for buying myself a really nice acoustic for my 60th. I was dead set on a Martin and tried about 6 different models without being as knocked out as I would have expected to be for £2k to £3k. Tried a Furch and was blown away, different class of tone, depth, build and I like the neck a lot. Also it was only £1.6k. I guess I am saying don’t get set in a brand or model until you can get your paws on a few and test drive them. 

    I really don’t need any more guitar pedals...I really don’t need any more guitar pedals...I really don’t need anymore guitar pedals.......
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  • Andy79Andy79 Frets: 616
    I have a feeling an Eastman E10ss would suit you. 
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  • 2020 was my year for buying myself a really nice acoustic for my 60th. I was dead set on a Martin and tried about 6 different models without being as knocked out as I would have expected to be for £2k to £3k. Tried a Furch and was blown away, different class of tone, depth, build and I like the neck a lot. Also it was only £1.6k. I guess I am saying don’t get set in a brand or model until you can get your paws on a few and test drive them. 

    Di the same thing in coda. Played Atkins, gibsons, taylors, santa cruz, collings etc.
    Left with a martin because it was nicest sounding and playing by some distance.

    Acoustics are such a personal thing. I really believe you have to go and try them. 

    As a side note I personally don't get the love for Eastman or Atkins. I found multiple examples of both very, very bland.
    The Bigsby was the first successful design of what is now called a whammy bar or tremolo arm, although vibrato is the technically correct term for the musical effect it produces. In standard usage, tremolo is a rapid fluctuation of the volume of a note, while vibrato is a fluctuation in pitch. The origin of this nonstandard usage of the term by electric guitarists is attributed to Leo Fender, who also used the term “vibrato” to refer to what is really a tremolo effect.
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  • 2020 was my year for buying myself a really nice acoustic for my 60th. I was dead set on a Martin and tried about 6 different models without being as knocked out as I would have expected to be for £2k to £3k. Tried a Furch and was blown away, different class of tone, depth, build and I like the neck a lot. Also it was only £1.6k. I guess I am saying don’t get set in a brand or model until you can get your paws on a few and test drive them. 

    Do you know which Furch model it is?

    And I will try out a few just now isn't a great time to get down to guitar shops hence why I'm asking about on here!
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  • Andy79Andy79 Frets: 616
    2020 was my year for buying myself a really nice acoustic for my 60th. I was dead set on a Martin and tried about 6 different models without being as knocked out as I would have expected to be for £2k to £3k. Tried a Furch and was blown away, different class of tone, depth, build and I like the neck a lot. Also it was only £1.6k. I guess I am saying don’t get set in a brand or model until you can get your paws on a few and test drive them. 

    Di the same thing in coda. Played Atkins, gibsons, taylors, santa cruz, collings etc.
    Left with a martin because it was nicest sounding and playing by some distance.

    Acoustics are such a personal thing. I really believe you have to go and try them. 

    As a side note I personally don't get the love for Eastman or Atkins. I found multiple examples of both very, very bland.
    I like discussing taste on acoustic guitars, opinion is so varied. I think Eastman sound terrific. On the other hand I’ve had a couple of Faith guitars for eg,  and for me they are deader than dead. Funny old world 

    I don’t understand the acoustics are so personal thing. Only in as much as anything else is.  I could pick and choose candidate guitars from ten paces 
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  • BingManBingMan Frets: 29
    sub £2k i'd either be looking for a clean used guitar from one of the better guitar builders, or if you want a new instrument, something like an Eastman where your money goes much further than the budget lines martin and taylor put out. But I do always think going used is a better shout regardless. I've owned a fair few really great used Martins over the years in the £1,800 - £2k range that would have been close to £3k new... and when i've decided to move them on i've never taken a hit on resale.

    As far as type of guitar, body size, tone woods, bracing, that's a totally personal thing. The guys in the videos seem to have OM sized guitars.
    But to me, the recording of those guitars in the example clips don't exactly tell me much about the tone of those guitars... they sound kinda thin and clangy... and for my ear, not exactly what a desirable acoustic tone would be... Probably most likely due to how they were mic'd and eq'd. Ironically I think the second clip sounds truer to what the instruments actually sound like... but it's all personal taste! 

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  • crunchmancrunchman Frets: 7552
    You are better off with a Furch than the lower end Martins.  To be honest, the higher end Furch guitars are up there with the some of the better Martins at a cheaper price.

    You could also look out for something from a small British maker second hand.  They might be very good value second hand.  I suspect that the better known brands like Atkin and Brook will hold their value better, but I've played very good guitars from lesser known brands like Northworthy and Moon.
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  • markjmarkj Frets: 529
    artiebear said:
    You have Kemper ( brilliant but not cheap ) a s/h D28 at the same price as a new Kemper - a classic acoustic for life at the price of a depreciating piece of kit ? Worth thinking about. That being said there are some wonderful acoustics out there without Martin or Taylor on the headstock. 
    The only way I could pick up a D28 is to get it on finance perhaps haha. Would be too scared to travel with the thing or leave it unattended though.

    But if I'm going to spend a decent amount I obviously wanna make sure its the right one for me and my playing style.
    I bought a HD28 reimagined in January last year. I had to sell a few guitars and lay down some cash but it was well worth it, It's an absolutely wonderful guitar. I had an Eastman mid price acoustic before that but there isn't any comparison in the two. I Would either save up or buy one on finance or buy a fine condition one used. If that's not an option you could look at a Martin 00015m. I had one a few years ago and it sounded super sweet.
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  • idiotwindowidiotwindow Frets: 633
    Somebody is or was selling a D-18 in the classifieds for £1500. If you can stretch to that, it represents far better value IMO than paying £600 for any of the budget Mexican Martin models. Something else to consider might be a red label Yamaha FG5 reissue.
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  • BingMan said:
    sub £2k i'd either be looking for a clean used guitar from one of the better guitar builders, or if you want a new instrument, something like an Eastman where your money goes much further than the budget lines martin and taylor put out. But I do always think going used is a better shout regardless. I've owned a fair few really great used Martins over the years in the £1,800 - £2k range that would have been close to £3k new... and when i've decided to move them on i've never taken a hit on resale.

    As far as type of guitar, body size, tone woods, bracing, that's a totally personal thing. The guys in the videos seem to have OM sized guitars.
    But to me, the recording of those guitars in the example clips don't exactly tell me much about the tone of those guitars... they sound kinda thin and clangy... and for my ear, not exactly what a desirable acoustic tone would be... Probably most likely due to how they were mic'd and eq'd. Ironically I think the second clip sounds truer to what the instruments actually sound like... but it's all personal taste! 

    I think I'm getting too fixed up on how it'll sound amplified where a truly good acoustic will sound good at its roots - unplugged. So the wood and other factors will be key instead of just electronics.

    I think one of the guys (the lead player) has a Martin OM which would explain your comment. Thing is when they play acoustically it changes setup, sometimes they're mic'd up, sometimes they're DI'd, some is a mix of both. But they seem to sound pretty good whatever they play through, to me anyway.
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