Test Of A Range Of Acoustic-Electric Guitars

Test Of A Range Of Acoustic-Electric Guitars

John and I took a side trip to our local Guitar Center to test a few different models of acoustic electric guitars and a few basses. I usually don’t buy my guitars there, but there’s a large inventory to test different guitars and space to do it. It’s not as if I wouldn’t but there, but when I buy a guitar it’s usually a lifetime commitment so I shop slowly and deliberately and especially for an acoustic guitar, test the specific guitar I’m buying, not just order a model and return it if I don’t like it.

In this case, I’m shopping for my next guitar which I’ll buy in about 7 months, so the shopping has begun. I’ve played guitars in various Guitar Centers and have usually been ignored and that’s fine, it gives me plenty of time to play what I want to play and make my own notes. In this case, we had the assistance of a very lively, well-informed salesman named Kevin who helped guide us through the inventory. Considering that I’m blind, the guidance was welcomed.

I was hoping to test a wider range of instruments than was available including a Yamaha APX1200, any Rainson and Takamine Supernatural. These are all available online but none were available in the store. We did manage to play a few nice offerings from some highly regarded guitar makers and here are our impressions:

Martin DCPA4 $1199: This guitar has a solid spruce top, solid sepele backs and sides, a nice slim neck and very responsive electronics. The playability was very good although the sound was a bit imbalanced with the lows overshadowing the highs. For the price, it was probably better than average although for similar money I think I’d be more inclined to try the Yamaha APX1200 ($1349) or the Babicz Spider Identity ($1188). As I’ve written before, the Babicz Spider is very innovative and one of my favorite guitars.

Taylor 414 CE Grand Auditorium $1899: This guitar had Taylor’s trademark excellent playability and visually, it’s simple and stunning. It amplified very nicely and with a solid spruce top and solid mahogany backs and sides the sound was rich although not as vibrant as I expected. It’s hard to be negative about Taylors mostly because their truly high quality instruments. It plays and sound like you’d expect ahiher end acoustic guitar to play and sound.

Breedlove C250CM $499: In a previous blog I wrote that there were problems with a Breedlove Atlas with an additional soundhole on the top of the guitar and that was the case. This one, was a good sounding, easy playing acoustic electric that sounded fine amplified. I’m not sure of the material of this model but I suspect it’s all laminates. I’ll check that and write a bit more. It’s sound was “sparkly” but not objectionable. In the general price range, I preferred the Martin and Takamine which are my next reviews.

Martin DRS1 $699: This is an offering from Martin’s lower priced line of guitars that have laminated backs and sides. The laminates are produced using extremely high pressure, so it feels and sounds more like a guitar with solid wood back and sides, or that’s what the advertising suggests. It did sound goo and in our opinion, the sound was more balanced that the $1199 Martin PA4. The playability was good, electronics performed well and if you don’t have the bucks for the high end stuff, this could be a good option for you. Martin craftsmanship is apparent in this guitar.

Takamine EG530SC $599: A nice guitar for the money. The sound was very lively, almost like overly carbonated soda, but Takamine electronics are excellent and the guitar amplifies very well. Good playability and in league with the Martin DRS1 above for $100 less.

Martin OMCPA3 $1999: This guitar won my heart. I know I have a bias toward Martin, but I think the bias has been earned by their consistent quality. The first thing I noticed was the great balance of sound from the thinner bodies OMC. When you hit a chord, you heard a chord, not six distinct notes. The solid Sitka spruce top and solid rosewood back and sides were beautifully crafted. The aura electronics use a system that’s complex to understand but incredibly simple to use. With a simple knob you can integrate the sound of digitally recordced classic Martin guitars in with the sound of this guitar. In advertising, you often see a phrase like “this guitar provides features and sound you’d expect to see on guitars costing thousands more.” This guitar delivered that. Absolutely, my pick of this litter.

I’m looking for feedback from someone who plays, or has played a Bedell TBCE-28 (about $1399), a Rainsong Hybrid Series (range $1550 – $1800), a Guild GAD Series F150RCE (about $1249), or a Takamine TAN15 Supernatural (about $1599), Or if you have or have played a similar model, please let me hear from you. I’ve been trying to find a shop that stocks them but what I was told at GC me is that I can order one and if I don’t like it, they’ll refund my money. Please write to me if you have, or have played any of these guitars. Thanks! Write to dave@openmindedmic.com or just place a reply on this blog.

Tomorrow’s blog will be about some interesting basses that I tested including Fender Geddy Lee Jazz bass, Marcus Miller Jazz Bass, Godin A4 semi-acoustic fretless bass, and a review of a used Traben Phoenix Sun.

Thanks for reading. Prof. Dave

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