As you have possibly guessed by my new header image, I do indeed enjoy some six-string-therapy, this year it is my plan to buy a serious guitar, to this end, I have been playing every guitar which passes by, trying to figure out what I want.
Last week I finally had the chance to go into my local music shop and take their guitars for a test run, I simply thought I would share my experience with you.
After being polite, and asking the guy if it was alright to have a play, I eagerly grabbed the guitar stool and selected my first instrument, it was a reasonably cheap Ashton, well made, but along with all other sub-$500 guitars I have played, it has a certain “Cheap” feel and nothing awe inspiring in a sonic sense either.
I moved on to the $1000+ rack, when playing any of these instruments they all seem to have their own personality, it is literally a case of finding one which speaks to you.
I spent a fair amount of time playing a Takamine Dreadnought, sitka spruce top etc it was a ‘Nice Guitar’ but thats all it was, I wandered further along the rack, intentionally leaving guitars of particular interest for later, and allowed my digits to curl around the neck of a Maton 225 (spruce top, QLD Maple back and sides). Played fingerstyle, this guitar is not even worth mentioning, it is dull and dead sounding, however if you are a strummer you should take note that when strummed it seems to burst with life, having rich and complex overtones (a strumming guitar is not my cup of green tea but certainly worth noting).
*Note: I also played the Maton 325 which is essentially the same just with walnut back and sides, it exhibited the same qualities but with a slightly warmer tone*
My next guitar was the good ole’ Washburn, I had high hopes for this one as my Bass guitar teacher from my early teens had/has a 20 year old Washburn, which absolutely sings in a way that very few guitars can.
With this in mind I settled myself on the stool, slung the guitar across my lap, latched my hand onto the neck and lovingly picked a D chord, waiting for my auditory centers to go into overload… and guess what I got? yep, you guessed it, twang,twang, twang, thwack… wait, maybe it was me, maybe I had done something wrong, lets try some barre chords…hmmm… strumming maybe? nope!
Maybe this particular model or particular instrument was a dud, but whatever it was, I know that it did not belong amongst the guitars where it was hung, it took approximately 10 seconds of play for me to re-hang this heavy behemoth.
I continued, undaunted, a $2700+ Takamine spruce topped jumbo, which was ok but still nothing to write home about… abalone inlays, beautifully finished… but the sound did not impress me.
Finally, the guitar which I had been purposefully saving for last, a Tanglewood Parlor size guitar it was of a very fine quality, small, well made body, slotted headstock, shorter scale, 12 fret neck, and a beautiful rich sound, making it absolutely glow when fingerpicked, it still responds well to light strumming, but I wouldn’t go much heavier than that. I enjoyed this for a while then compared it to the first takamine dread and plainly concluded this little understated parlor guitar was, according to my ear, the best in the store.
Would i buy it?: The simple answer is no, at a little over $2000 it is a little overpriced in my opinion and plus I would not purchase a parlor design for myself, I am not a tiny guy, and a parlor is a little too ukelele-esque when attached to my frame, but other than that, for a smaller person who loves their fingerstyle, I would thoroughly recommend it.