OK deliberatly stupid thread title to get your attention
I have had a handmade Bozo acoustic for many years. Sadly it was attacked by a concrete floor and I need to replace it. As I have not been shopping in a decade or so, I was amazed at the variety and quality of guitars out there. Seems like the chinese made brands have really caught up.
I am looking for a Grand Auditorium or Jumbo, preferably with Pickup. Its 99% instrumental I play
In my hunt, I have played Guilds, Martins, Freshmans, Lowdens, Tanglewoods, Yamahas, and Matons
I am settling on a Tanglewood TSR2. Its not amazing, but it is to my eyes beautiful and very balanced
My favourites are the Lowdens. But they are not cheap. I can probably afford to buy one second hand say to a budget of 3-4k. The Bensusan model is particuarily appealing. In some ways I would feel guilty about getting one - I just play at home for my own pleasure
What would the more experienced players suggest - get a good value TSR2 or go for gold?
I think go for what makes you happy. If I could afford a Lowdon I would get one in a flash. Every one I have ever played has been perfect. You dont need to spend 4k on it to get it new, you could go for the slightly cheaper models at around 2500 but I would suggest trying to play a few and see what you think.
Another option that I didnt see you list is Taylor, I put them second to Lowdon in terms of the major brands. The 14 models are my favourate. I would have a look at a 714ce.
A few years ago before I got myself a mortgage and had cash to splash, I decided I was going to get myself a high end acoustic.
After doing a lot of research and playing, I got myself a Lowden O35C custom. It is a lot like the Bensusan model, but it has a Spruce top, and a narrower nutwidth. It has the SLE neck (extended fingerboard), and all the abalone appointments that were available at the time. It is beautiful, amazing, all I could ever dream of, you get the picture!
A couple of years later, I was out drinking in Belfast. We'd started at around 10:00 AM that morning (don't ask), and in the mid afternoon I went out for a walk to try and clear my head. To cut a long story short, I came back to the pub with the Martin. It's a fabulous guitar with a huge booming sound. A cannon! I never take my creditcard out with me on the piss now...
Anyway, my nephew decided he wanted an acoustic guitar soon after. We went shopping, and came home with a Tanglewood TW-45 DLX. It is a small body guitar, with a cutaway and onboard preamp and pickup.
The Tanglewood is just an amazing instrument. It hasn't the complex sound of the Lowden (someone should start a thread on the European versus American acoustic guitar tones), and given the smaller body it hasn't the boom of my Martin. What it has is a beautiful balanced lively sound, that just makes you want to play it and play it. The neck is very slim and comfortable. It is constructed from all solid woods (mahogony back and sides, cedar top, rosewood fingerboard), and cost less than a quarter the price of the Martin.
Now, being realistic, it is not the first guitar I'd pick up if I had all three in front of me and an urge to play.
The Lowden is wonderful for fingerstyle, and not so good with a pick. I won't go on about it, you've played Lowdens, you know the craic.
The Martin is great for strumming, and even though many believe the big Martin Ds aren't such good fingerstyle instruments, I enjoy it for that... but it really excels when being played with a pick. It's not balanced in terms of tone, it's bottom heavy but that's what D size guitars are all about. As an aside, Michael Hedges, arguably one of the best known finger style guitarists used a D-28 which sort of nullifies the whole theory but we'll move on!
The Tanglewood is excellent for fingerstyle, great for strumming, and is amazing plugged in. It's really balanced across the spectrum, is very comfortable to play, and it's cedar top gives it a warm and very vibrant tone. Playing lead licks on it is just fantastic! The slim neck and lively sound nearly makes it feel like you're playing an electric!
It was made somewhere in the far east, and it didn't cost a huge amount of money when you consider the price of guitars... but it is a fantastic all-rounder. I know it seems to be a silly thing to say, but it's a 'fun' guitar to play. While playing in an acoustic group a couple of years ago, I borrowed the Tanglewood to use for the plugged in sessions, and it ticked all the boxes for me.
I'm not sure if my ramblings will have helped you or not, but there you go!
Ps: Probably just do what all the forums tell prospective guitar buyers to do... "Go and play as many guitars as you can and buy the one you like best... bla bla bla"
I've always been a fan of Takamines - A Lowden is a superior instrument but it's not a 2k better instrument if ya know what I mean!
I bought a second hand Takamine EAN40C a couple of years ago - I love it - it has a Cedar top which just sings - I couldn't recommend it enough.
As Tony says though, spend some time in the shops trying out a few and see what ones speak to ya and go from there!
I always get a little snippy when people say "It's just for my bedroom - for my own pleasure..."
That's the only reason I play - The logistics of gigging sucks! Hahahaha!
I have heard very good things about the Taylors, but none in my area that I know of. What shops in Dublin sell them?
Is it possible to visit Lowden (or a specialist shop) and try several of his models? Im just seeing a few scattered here and there and its very hard (for me) to compare guitars on different days in different shops. You just need them all together in a good room
Thats what credit cards are for
Someone else in this forum mentioned the difference between European and US approaches in terms of balance and bass. I want something with very good balance I dont want great bass and weaker treble. So Im kind of biased to begin with
Primarilly its what you want to play. Thats my starting point. I play a wide variety, but do not use a pick unless I am playing a lead melody. I love the higher end Martins, the lower end ones are overpriced IMHO. Martins just do not suit what I play but I recognise them as super guitars. The Matons are very interesting but perhaps just a little too bright, they are also visually naff, and I hate/understand them milking the Tommy Emanuel thing
Oh J*sus... Its like trying to find a wife, only harder
I don't know if you can go to George Lowden's workshop and try guitars, but you can go to the Avalon factory in Newtownards. They have a room containing guitars to try and buy, and it'll blow your mind frankly! I went, and came away with one of the small body Jazz models. It is incredible.
Builders, Guitars and their appeal is so subjective, which is very apparent from this thread.
I think Music Maker in Dublin 2 might have Taylor guitars. They used to, a few years back. They are very well made, and excellent to play. I found the examples I played quite bright though.
If you have the money I'd recommend you try and check out Dermot McIlroy's guitars as well. He used to be a luthier with Lowden. Google McIlroy guitars. I have one of this A30s and it's my favorite acoustic. I also have a Martin, an Ovation and a Taylor so it's in good company and is my go to guitar. But I think they are difficult to find in stock. I drove from West Cork to Monaghan (6 hours) to pick mine up. And I'd gladly do it again for this guitar.
If you have the money I'd recommend you try and check out Dermot McIlroy's guitars as well. He used to be a luthier with Lowden. Google McIlroy guitars.
I can't believe I forgot McIlroy. They are simply stunning!
I see there is a shop in Galway with some Mcllroys. I will pay them a visit.
The Avalons are out of my budget it seems 5-7k GBPs, and a hell of a trip from Limerick.
I guess everyone is saying forget the Tanglewood, go higher
X music in Dublin have Taylor, Tanglewood and normally one or two Lowdons too so you can compare them all. It is probably the easiest for you to get to as well if your coming up from the country since its out on the M50.
Got a tsr2c tanglewood a few weeks ago, very few of that model in uk or Ireland , lovely sound from it , am still at the beginner stage of guitar playing.