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New guitar recommendations

02 May 03 - 09:04 AM (#944827)
Subject: New guitar recommendations - higher-end instrument
From: Grab

OK, I know this topic comes up all the time, but usually it's either with regard to beginner instruments or high-end fantasy instruments. This is slightly different.

After 6 weeks of working 60-70 hour weeks, and trashing my health and not seeing much of my wife in the process, I've got myself a fair-sized bonus. I intend adding this to last year's Xmas bonus (and maybe this coming year's Xmas bonus) and getting myself a decent guitar with it, the kind of guitar that will last me for years, if not for ever. Adding all this up, that gives me a £2K war-chest (about $3K), although I'd prefer to spend less if I can get away with it.

My question is simple - what instruments should I be looking at? I don't give a damn how it looks - in fact the less gold, silver, abalone, ivory or any other flashy crap on it, the more I'll like it! And if I can get that instrument for less than my budget, I'll be even happier. Technical details: No cutaway needed, but a 14-fret join might be helpful provided it doesn't affect the tone. I'll only be using it for fingerstyle playing (I hardly ever use a pick), so I'm looking for something with a clear, sweet, even tone from bass to treble (nothing too bass- or treble-heavy). For best tone and volume it'll probably end up being a jumbo/dreadnaught kind of size - I don't have a problem with guitar weight because I also play a steel-body resonator so I'm used to it. :-)

From other threads I know about the cheaper guitars like Seagulls, Takamine, Yamaha, etc, but I don't really know of any of the better makes apart from the usual suspects like Martin and Taylor. My worry is whether I'll get value for money on an expensive guitar, or whether there are cheaper guitars which sound just as good or better. A friend dropped £2K on a Taylor a couple of years back, and although it's a nice instrument, frankly I don't think it was worth the money - I played a £500 Yamaha in a shop a few months back which felt better. I'm trying to avoid that situation, which is why I'm looking for instruments that people can personally recommend. I know some of you browse music shops extensively (Rick Fielding for one), so I'd appreciate any advice you can give me.

At this kind of price, also an option is to go to a luthier and get one made. There's a guy in Lewes with a website whose instrument go from about £1.5K to £2K, so that's an option - there will be others around too (I've seen lists of phone numbers) but I haven't done any research yet. I like the idea of supporting British craftsmen, but again I'd need to be sure that the instrument I get would be better than the one I'd buy off-the-peg.

At the moment I really don't have much of a clue - I've lived with my old cheap guitar for so long and not been able to afford a replacement for so long that I've basically never considered upgrading. Also I've never been anywhere that have a music shop selling this kind of level of instrument, so apart from a couple of Taylors owned by people at our local folk clubs I've not seen or played anything of this kind of quality. That's why I'm asking for more expert advice, so I don't buy something and then kick myself a couple of years down the line!

I'm planning a "research" trip to London soon to check out the "proper" music shops and get an idea for myself what kind of instruments suit me. But any advice people could give me would be great, then I'd know in advance what to look for and what to avoid.


02 May 03 - 09:22 AM (#944840)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: John MacKenzie

You've got a big enough budget to take yourself to several music shops, and keep trying out guitars till you find what you want. Everybody has their favourite, mine is a D28, but if I had your budget, I'd be looking on Elderly Instruments for a vintage Martin. In other words, different strokes for different folks.
Good luck

02 May 03 - 09:25 AM (#944844)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Midchuck

You want a Collings OM, or possibly Bourgeoise.

That money would buy one in the States, I don't know how much the markup is with Customs and transport and stuff by the time it gets to the UK.

If you want to pay my transport, I can buy you one over here and bring it over. I'll even start playing it in for you. I note Tom Russell is at the Mirage Hotel in Castelford again on July 1. That was one of the best shows, in one of the most unlikely venues, that I ever saw in my life.

Oh well, I tried.


02 May 03 - 09:31 AM (#944850)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: GUEST,jonm

I'm in a very similar position to yourself, with the added disadvantage of being left-handed, so I cannot readily walk into shops and try instruments.

Check out these UK manufacturers - can't do blue clicky things, but the website names are all closely related to the company:

Fylde - excellent fingerstyle guitars, very helpful and informative, some custom options are free. This is probably where my money is going. Many household names play 'em and quality control is back after a dip in the '80's.

Northworthy - handmade to special order at not-so-special prices in the wilds of Derbyshire. I knew Alan Marshall in a former existence and I'm sure if he can help, he will.

Lowden - made in Northern Ireland, lovely unique-sounding instruments (though the tone is so complex they don't record well, so a sound engineer friend tells me); the company seems to have outgrown its organisation and there are currently long lead times for replies to enquiries and for instruments.

Brook - hand made in Devon, a mate bought one second-hand and they sound great and are very well made.

McIlroy - a guy who used to work for Lowden and has set up on his own, apparently making instruments which out-Lowden Lowden!

There are lots of others, Moon (personally, I don't like their guitars' tone for fingerstyle), Atkin etc. but any UK-made guitar will come out much cheaper than the equivalent Martin/ Taylor/ Larivee/ Collings/ Santa Cruz etc. If, like me, you have a budget, you'll get a much finer instrument for your money.

02 May 03 - 09:34 AM (#944853)
Subject: guitar
From: GUEST,leeneia

Get a copy of Guitar for Dummies (preferably at the public library for now) and read Chapter 17.

02 May 03 - 09:35 AM (#944855)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Willie-O

No, no, no, he's in the UK. Imported guitars from North America, Martins, Collings etc, are charged a ridiculous tarriff rate, so that unless your one and only dream is to own a particular N. American made instrument, the value for money is highly dubious.

You want to go try out some good Irish Lowdens. Like an O-10. Every Lowden I've ever picked up has been a fingerpicker's dream guitar. Compare them to your local luthier, then decide.

Also, Fylde seems nice. Archie Fisher plays 'em.

Good luck. LOWDEN

happy low-end Lowden owner

02 May 03 - 10:09 AM (#944870)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: GUEST,John Barden

The advice given to you by GUEST, JohnM was good

I have a Fylde Oberon which I bought from Roger Bucknall in 2001 at the Fylde Folk Festival. It's simply stunning, has the 14 fret joint you're looking for, has no fancy abalone etc, and is just simply wonderful to play. You also get a lifetime guarantee, plus they are always happy to give advice.

02 May 03 - 10:22 AM (#944876)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Roger the Skiffler

I know nothing about guitars (or anything else musical) but if you're going shopping in London don't neglect Macari's who sell second hand instruments & stuff. Their window always attracts me and they seem to have all sorts of string instruments at a variety of prices.
Macari's Ltd
92, Charing Cross Rd

Tel: 020 7836 2856

(no connection, not on commission!)

02 May 03 - 10:30 AM (#944882)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: KateG

If you're into fingerstyle and want a full balanced tone, check out the Martin 000-15S. No frills, all mahogany/sapele, 12 fret to the body with a slot head. Not a beauty, but the sound is amazing. I spent a day at Mando Brothers in NY playing everything. I had a $2,000 upper limit and ended up spending $800 and change. I had some other customers play my short list, and some of them were pretty awesome blues players, and they all voted for this one.

02 May 03 - 11:12 AM (#944903)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: catspaw49

Hi Graham.....To expand on your "over there" instead of something from "over here'...the US...I think there are some good possibilities. Lowden and Fylde have already been mentioned, but if you talk to Mooman, he'll tell you that Lakewood is the one. The ones I have played are wonderful instruments and Mooman swears by them, especially the M series and he has excellent knowledge not only as as a player but also as someone who has done some luthiery and knows his stuff. They are great and worth looking at. Short on flash, long on GREAT woods and playability. Lakewood Guitars

The other is made in the UK and everytime we mention great guitars, Bill Sables brings up Docherty, made by Terry Docherty in Ashington, Northumberland. Bill has a "set" of his instruments (mandola, mandolin, guitar) and when he was over here along with Ian and Sam, I had a chance to check them out and that guitar was simply the best. I have no idea of the price but they are handmade and stand up alongside any instrument I have ever seen. Again, short on fluff and long on everything that matters.   Martin Carthy plays one.

Send mooman and Bill a PM and get the dope from them. If you're looking at that price in the US, either go Vintage or Collings like Peter said. Collings just kicks ass on craftsmanship as well as sound and all the good stuff.

My 2 cents!


02 May 03 - 12:38 PM (#944963)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Jim Colbert

Quite honestly, if I could drop that kind of cash I'd probably walk away with a couple instead of plopping it all on one guitar... maybe a nylon and a steel string- or I'd have my dream guitar custom-made. (My tastes in inlay and trim are also pretty conservative, so it could likely be done!)

I think you're in a great position and should try as many as you can. By all means try the Lowdens if you can- I think the cedar top models are especially warm sounding and very playable. i love Taylors, but I don't find their higher-end models to add anything in sound quality (or at best, very little) over the mid-range ones, its just fancier trim.

If you do look at Martins, play as many as you can, too- many are excellent but some just seem to be unexceptional.

Wow, I'm jealous! Keep us posted with what you decide!


02 May 03 - 12:55 PM (#944972)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Wesley S

Another vote here for a Collings { or Santa Cruz } OM. It's one of the best all around shapes for a guitar. And just about any model by these companies would be top rate. The PW { prewar } Santa Cruz should be in your price range with some to spare. My 2001 price list I have here at the office lists it at $2,250 US.

02 May 03 - 01:15 PM (#944984)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Grab

Re the US/UK thing, I'm likely to be sent over to Detroit by work sometime in the next couple of months, so a trip to Elderly is an option while I'm over there.

Import tariff will not be a problem - I'll just walk casually through the green channel... Sorry to disappoint, Midchuck. ;-) Problem I guess is that guitar shops can't do that and also have to pay UPS or whoever for shipping, so there's a pretty hefty difference in prices over here. My reso (bought from Elderly a couple of years back on another business trip) cost about 2/3 the UK price.

Thanks for the info, guys - I appreciate it. I've not heard of a lot of these makes or of those luthiers - cheers for those hints on UK luthiers, jonm and Spaw. And Roger, I'll check that shop out when I'm in London.



02 May 03 - 02:20 PM (#945026)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: dwditty

I am partial to my Collings 000-2H, which fits the specs save the 14 fret requirement. The general comment from people is that is sounds much bigger than it is. Ideal for fingerstyle.

02 May 03 - 02:28 PM (#945036)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Clinton Hammond

As is all too well known, I'd say get a good Seagull... you'll have a very fine guitar that will only improve as the years travel over it... and you'll have a BUNCH of yer wad left over to spend on other things!

When/if yer in the area be sure to let me know eh!


02 May 03 - 02:33 PM (#945040)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Allan Dennehy

I'll repeat some of what's being said already. Don't but a guitar from outside the EU, spend your pounds on workmanship instead of tariffs. Do check out the Lowden 010. I bought mine 10 months ago and its changed my life?
One more suggestion. Consider buying used, as long as you have an expert with you. Then you can look at guitars that might have cost 4000 pounds from new!
Best of luck. Keep us informed.

02 May 03 - 02:37 PM (#945045)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Allan Dennehy

And one more thing... One of my friends flew from Denmark to the states, spent a few very enjoyable days over there, bought a Taylor, brought it back with him and still had money in his pocket compared with the European price.

02 May 03 - 02:42 PM (#945048)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Naemanson

I can't use any of that technical jargon. And I don't have a ton of experience with other guitars. I do know that the Haruo 12-string I bought at a yard sale is one of the best guitars I have ever played. Kendal has offered me double my purchase price for it. Of course, that's only $140....

I know you don't want a 12-string but Haruo apparently made mostly 6-stings. The other four owners I found all have 6s and all tried to buy my 12. They swore by their guitars.

Of coursee, the problem is finding one....

02 May 03 - 03:02 PM (#945063)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: GUEST,glenda

Hi, I haven't stopped by the Mudcat to visit in several months. But I did today and happened to see this thread. My husband, who is my guitar teacher, would say it depends on what kind of music you want to play. So before you make any decision about how much you will spend, talk to others who play like you play and even then try out a lot of guitars before you settle on one. I own a Taylor Big Baby (just over $400 here in the states) It plays well enough that my hubby usually plays it instead of his Gibson or his Takamine. But if he were going on stage he would use his Tak. So think about what you plan to do. Don't let anyone else tell you unless you agree with them after trying several out.

02 May 03 - 03:44 PM (#945081)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Bee-dubya-ell

I'll give a strong second to Santa Cruz' pre-war series guitars. They sound as good as any Cruz but the minimal appointments make 'em a whole lot cheaper. I have an OM-PW for my principle finger-picking axe and simply love it. It's the benchmark against which I evaluate the sound of other small-bodied guitars when I try them out and have yet to find one that sounds better. And, while it's primarilly a finger-picking box it can be used for flat-picking or rhythm playing, especially in small sessions. If you prefer a large-body guitar, the D-PW dreadnought is the OM-PW's big brother.

The only problem I've had with the guitar is that it really sounds best with Elixir Polyweb strings on it. Every time I try something else I always wind up taking them off and putting Elixirs back on. No big thing except that I'm not rich and I have about 20 other instruments that like new strings too. With the Elixirs costing about three times what my regular brand costs, somebody's going hungry. And I don't buy the "Elixirs last a lot longer" bit. They may sound "fairly good" a lot longer, but they only sound "really good" for about the same length of time as regular strings.


02 May 03 - 04:50 PM (#945113)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: GUEST,Guest Spot

There's no problem with what to get - it's whether you can get one!!

Lowden 032 - simple, understated fabulosity at its best ( No - I wont sell you mine!!) About 1500 uk quids new!!
Regards to all      Spot

02 May 03 - 06:05 PM (#945154)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Frankham

Martin 0021. Twelve frets. Slotted head. Balanced from bass to treble. Plays and sounds great.

Frank Hamilton

02 May 03 - 06:11 PM (#945156)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: You Can Call Me Al

I'm a big fan of old guitars, especially Martins like my 1955 000-18 and 1965 D-28. I've also got a Gibson J-45 from sometime in the 1950's that sounds great. I like going into stores that sell old guitars and trying them out. About once every five or ten years I come across one that sounds so good, and is priced reasonably enough, that I can't not buy it.


20 Jul 03 - 06:48 PM (#987172)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Grab

Update time!

I had a trip into London in May to check stuff out, together with a couple of guitarist friends from the local folk clubs (disposing of amateur-acting wives to look at the art galleries and the Globe Theatre ;-). Myself and one guy were actively looking, the other was at the "planning" stage and wondering how much he needed to save. The two of us actively looking were both after fingerstyle folk guitars, the "planner" was after something for fingerstyle blues. None of us could afford real vintage instruments. Sometime after that, I also had a business trip over to Michigan during which time I went through the racks at Elderly Instruments.

The big news was that none of us got on nearly as well as we'd expected with new Martins or Gibsons - they all seemed somehow lifeless. Sorry to hardcore fans of either. Maybe they're great for pick-work, but we were distinctly unimpressed for fingerstyle. Some of the more expensive Gibsons started getting better for blues work, but £3-5k to get any sound quality is just silly, and I don't pay for fancy inlays. When I went round Elderly (which have a much bigger range of American instruments than the UK shops) I found much same thing - the only guitars of that type that were interesting were the Collings ones. (Oh, there was also a little archtop Tacoma jazz box which was sweet but not what I was after; maybe later if I take up jazz. :-)

At World of Guitars we hit the jackpot with Lowdens and Avalons (basically the same make with a different name), which we all three loved. They had Collings as well, which were nice but not nearly as nice (and twice the price to boot). The mahogany-back ones (as recommended by Allan Dennehy above) were good but not great, and they had koa and walnut ones which were beautiful to look at but nothing to write home about in the sound department. Rosewood backs were the clear winner on tone for all of us. In the end, it came down to between a spruce-top Avalon and a cedar-top Lowden. The Lowden was winning, bcos the Avalon seemed a bit harsh and not as sweet. But while I was deciding, the other guy who was actively-looking sneakily bought the Lowden without telling us! Bugger. But I was not jealous, no, not at all... I was bloody livid! I wanted that guitar! ;-) Comparison of that Lowden against two others of the same type owned by members of a local folk club found that they were basically identical though, so I didn't need to worry too much about variability in production when I went looking for one of my own.

Not to be put off, I checked websites and phoned round places, and this weekend went over to Coda Music in Stevenage who had the cedar-top rosewood-back Lowden (O25) and spruce-top ditto (O32). The spruce one was second-hand, a year old, and the shrillness I'd felt with the Avalon had apparently mellowed a lot over that time, to the extent that the spruce and cedar sounded almost the same with just a slight difference. The cedar one was easier to play (it seemed impossible to get a bum note out of it); the spruce one was a bit more temperamental, but generally it had a livelier tone which felt like it would sing better once we'd got to know each other. So I am now the (VERY) proud owner of an O32 Lowden! And now I'm not at all jealous of my mate, bcos in the end I think I got the better deal (not least in terms of money, since a new Lowden is £1300 and this second-hand one only cost me £1000 :-).

After a day-and-a-half of playing it, I just love it to bits. Guest Spot is dead right, and I wouldn't trade mine to anyone either! ;-) One thing I will say is that the tone is so complex, it doesn't seem to respond to strumming very well; like an overdriven electric, the sounds from each string "clash" a bit. I think I need to work on that and see how it responds best there. Fingerstyle though, it's almost an alternative to a human voice singing, it's got that rich and sweet a tone. And the harder you push it fingerstyle, the better the tone gets - it *loves* being loud (and it's a loud guitar anyway, unbelievable projection).

Guest Spot (if you're still around), what strings do you run on your O32? Mine came with a set of Elixirs, and I've got some D'Addarios to replace them as good neutral strings (both are 13s). I was wondering if you'd found any which you think are best, before I start experimenting myself?

Anyway, another member of the Lovers of Lowdens Club, along with Willie-O, Allan, Guest Spot, and a whole bunch of others (not least three other guitarists at our local folk clubs). Thanks for the advice everyone - greatly appreciated. Sorry if I've wittered on a bit here, but I thought the process might be useful to anyone else after a similar guitar.



PS. Clinton, I was in the area over July 4th weekend, but unfortunately you were elsewhere then. Went out to a couple of places with DDW which was good fun. As always I can't predict future trips - I was out on this one at less than 2 weeks notice - but I may out again sometime this year/start of next year.

20 Jul 03 - 07:09 PM (#987184)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Bert

A buddy & I were looking around for a source of cheap guitars for beginners that we could sell for around the $100 mark. We didn't really think that we would find anything worthwhile in that price range but we looked anyway.

One day we strolled into the local branch of a big chain guitar store and looked at their acoustic guitars. They had a laminated mahogany guitar at just the right price so we gave it a whirl. Now maybe we were just lucky but it sounded great so we signed up as a reseller with them and bought a couple of guitars. They are both great guitars one at $100 and a slim body acoustic electric at around $200.

Now I don't really care if no one buys these 'cos I wan't to keep them both for myself. But if you're interested send me a PM.

21 Jul 03 - 03:58 AM (#987289)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Richard Bridge

It would have been a good idea to look at Kincade, or Brook - or (John Barden) that stunning birds eye maple thing that wotsisname with the recording studio had at the Greyhound the other week, made by Doug something or other - someone said he made an acoustic for Clapton - and you later said he was a Kentish maker.

Lowdens differ greatly from each other. I remember one very favourably - touch it gently and it was sweet and complex, but hit it hard and it rang like a great bell. Never seen another half as good.

But the best by a street I have ever touched is William Pint's Goodall, whatever the tariff rate!

21 Jul 03 - 05:02 AM (#987312)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: clansfolk

Martin D45 for under 3k have been seen.

but if I had 3k to spend on a guitar and had to ask others what guitar to buy - I wouldn't buy one - sit on the cash till your guitar and you get together.

It's like a marriage if you want the relationship to be good and to last make sure you make the right choice for you!


21 Jul 03 - 09:52 AM (#987455)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: MikeofNorthumbria


I was a little concerned to see that you have put a set of 0.13 gauge strings on your Lowden. The leaflet that came with my Lowden strongly advised not using anything heavier than 0.12s, in case the top became over-stressed.

For many years before that, I had played my guitars (which included Takamine, Sigma and Gibson) strung with 0.13s , but soon found that a Lowden with 0.12s produced just as much volume, and far greater subtlety of tone.

As to which brand of strings to use: I play D'Addarios a lot of the time. They are rather bland, but very dependable - the coated ones last significantly longer than the uncoated, though they seem to have have slightly less edge when fresh on. However, I prefer Gibson Bronzes - when I can find them - as their sound seems a little more characterful to my ears. In the end, though, it's all a matter of personal taste.

If your Lowden gives you as much pleasure as mine has given me, it will have been a very good buy at £1,000.


21 Jul 03 - 02:26 PM (#987594)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Steve Benbows protege

I can personally recommend a few guitars. Firstly, A "Yairi" - they are one of the most underated guitars on the market. Mine plays like a dream and has mellowed well in the eight years i've had it. They now cost from £800 upwards. I bought mine for £200 (now that's inflation) they are all good quality hard wood. They have different models so try them all. Ivor Moraints stocks them as does Chandlers in Kew.
Secondly, buy a good Gibson - a well rounded model such as the SJ special. It is an all round guitar. I use mine for folk/blues/jazz and it holds it head up for all the above styles very well.
Yamaha do a hand built service - they come with electrics in (if not, wage a deal to get it put in.) They used to have examples in Chappels in Bond Street. The hand built guitars start from about £1,100ish.
good luck!

21 Jul 03 - 07:34 PM (#987760)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: GUEST,sorefingers

Lovely thread! Glad to know that everybody got a the Guitar they deserved. Often I think we are our own best critic and, for that reason, worst enemy, since testing highend Guitars can be so costly in punishing the most obvious, at least to me, oversights.

Say nuttin about the name and the images that result, if you like fingerpickin then surely a 'Louden' must be the ticket; seriously who can test a Gibson or Martin with dead strings? bad setup? abused in stores hanging on a peg for years and not played but thrased by folks who approach with a bad attitude?

Shopping I many a time try odd makes of Guitar because I love to mess with them, and often find great little boxes for bargain prices. Once I found a used Washburn that was just the mightiest box I ever did try but could not get the cash to bring it home! Sheesh .. I often find Fender Acoustics that are real teasers for the middle range, never found one I would not be very glad to play on a gig!

This is not surprising when the wood in them makes many a lowend box a gem, and highend a lemon, but that is another day's shopping. For now I am happy with the box I found by accident hanging in a very un-guitar musicstore in one of those 5 mile long Malls. That it is a Martin DM is irrelevant to me, since I never pay any attention to the maker; does it ring? does it feel good? would it feel better if it had this or that? Anywho I noticed right away it was fairly new on the floor and the strings still bright, but it had that magic good boxes all have, it rang true-

What most of all makes this a keeper for me is that I did not buy it, but my missus did, and she is a better musician than I will ever be...
I think she paid the most of a grand for it. Today I know I could easily double that today without leaving the neighborhood!

22 Jul 03 - 04:00 AM (#987925)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Richard Bridge

Be careful with Mairants. THe old man himself is good (if he's still alive, I'm not sure), but one of his younger relatives wanted to give me an insurance valuation of £125 for a Hagstrom J45 X-braced, 1964 model low serial number.... That was in 1982.

22 Jul 03 - 08:57 AM (#988054)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Grab

Mike, thanks for the info on strings. I did read the info sheet (amazingly for a second-hand guitar, it still had that tucked away in the case!) but I didn't see that note about string gauge.

I've never been greatly impressed by D'Addarios either, but they're a very neutral string so I've found them to be a good starting point. I'll see if I can find those Gibsons.


22 Jul 03 - 09:56 AM (#988085)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: GUEST,Green Man

Some years ago I got sandbagged by a 'mate' who runs a music shop in Worcester. Het Dave he said you have to try this. Being a lefty I was interested and then he handed me a Northworthy Guitar. Never heard of em I said and sat in his tryout room with this lovely handmade English style guitar. Well at the time I was between venues and couldnt afford it so I bought it anyway. (Afer asking She who Must be Obeyed).

It's a Carsington (model) and it sings. I am on the large size so the extra 3/16" on the fingerboard width was welcome. I play it fingerstlye or with a flatpick. Its amazing. Northworthy have a lead time of about 4 months on some models. The woods are all top notch.

I have tried other makes such as Martin and Older Epiphone's, this just puts them all in the shade. I realise it may not be to your taste but at least it's worth a look.

Good Luck in your quest.
Green Man

22 Jul 03 - 12:34 PM (#988209)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: GUEST,Strollin' Johnny

I've got a Lowden O25 (had an O10 and traded it) and a Martin J-40 and both are excellent in different ways. The Lowden's a Loud 'Un (excuse the pun), Cedar top/Rosewood B/S and VERY full-sounding, great for finger-picking. The neck's a touch wider than the Martin and took some getting used to but it's a nice profile. The Martin's a totally different beast (that's why I bought it and not another Lowden), very balanced sound but not a loud as the Lowden. Both are very purty in different ways, and both are a joy to play.

I reckon when you're up in the £thousand-plus region they're all good - just a case of finding the one that's the 'goodest' for you. No one else can tell you what YOU like - try them all and make a decision.

22 Jul 03 - 11:42 PM (#988551)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations

Congratulations Graham! I went through a similar shopping experience and picked an O23 cedar top and never looked back. I still have my Martin D 18, but it doesn't get out as much as it used to.

Now...have you fitted it for a pickup?


22 Jul 03 - 11:50 PM (#988554)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: UB Ed

S'up! Lost my cookie!


23 Jul 03 - 02:20 AM (#988580)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Richard Bridge

We had a thread on pickups a while back.

I think most favoured seemed to be PUTW or LR Baggs I-Beam (both fixing to the inner brdge plate, not being undesaddles) and another getting into some very top instruments at the moment is the B-band, but that I think is undersaddle.

23 Jul 03 - 05:04 AM (#988643)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: GUEST,JohnL

I was in your position a couple of years ago and went to Coda Music at Stevenage where I listened to the sales guy play Martins, Taylors and Lowdens while my back was turned and I went for the Lowden every time. This was a surprise as I was intent on buying a Martin but bought a Lowden O35!

I had a custom guitar built several years ago by a fairly well known maker who shall remain nameless and it was a disaster, mainly because of careless workmanship and the fact that many of my specifications that he recorded were ignored. It also took 3 years to arrive. If you decide to get a custom model, make sure you write out your spec and send a letter confirming what is agreed. I was very unlucky, but it would pay to be very cautious.

23 Jul 03 - 05:52 AM (#988650)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Raggytash

Don't know where your based but a look at Jonathan Kinkade in Bristol could be worth a trip, my Kinkade is very plain, no flash Mother of Pearl inlay or bits of gold, but it sounds and plays wonderfully.
He can be found via the Google search engine, if you struggle to find him give me a PM I think I know where to look


23 Jul 03 - 08:15 AM (#988701)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Grab

JohnL, that's what worried me about getting a handmade one too - apart from the time delay, there's the uncertainty about the end product.

Ed/Richard, there isn't a pickup on it yet, but I'm planning on getting one fitted. Coda Music recommended a Fishman; I'm open to suggestions, particularly from you guys with Lowdens who've been through this already. Richard, I've checked those threads from last year, and it all seemed pretty inconclusive. Did you ever get anywhere with PUTW? Now I've got the guitar, maybe I should start another thread about getting a pickup...

As was said on the other threads, it'll be about suiting the pickup to the guitar. Trouble is that no manufacturer seems to give details of what kind of sound the pickups aim for, what kind of frequencies they boost/attenuate, etc - all they say is "our pickup gives perfect sound" which really ain't much use. To make it worse, they'll have one pickup for $20 which says "this sounds perfect" and another one for $200 which also says "this sounds perfect" - well make your minds up guys! :-/


23 Jul 03 - 09:47 AM (#988756)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Willie-O

Congratulations Grab, you done well. Not that I have anything against Martins, the other half of me is a certifiable 18-series fanatic.

many happy years to you and your new baby.

23 Jul 03 - 01:49 PM (#988930)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Richard Bridge

No, I never got that PUTW, but I'm just starting to get back to pickups again and I might take a chance (and if so report back here).

Trouble isif the customs catch me there will be a major on-cost!

I think John Barden has an I-beam in his Fylde and likes it a lot as not being too twangy. Installed Brian Rodgers who also put one in his own Martin whatever series, and I have to say Brian's really nearly sounds like his guitar only louder. I think both use external parastatic pre-amps.

23 Jul 03 - 03:50 PM (#989029)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: UB Ed

I've used Fishmans in my Lowden, D18 and Martin 12 string with consistent success. I have some distant memory of Lowden recommending Fishman for its split saddle configuration. I think it was on their website.

And you know you always get what you pay for...


23 Jul 03 - 04:33 PM (#989062)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: The Barden of England

Grab - Richard mentioned the I-Beam I have in my Fylde. He is correct, I love it. It is an active pick-up, but I do run it through the LR Baggs Paracoustic DI. It would suit your Lowden I'm sure as it doesn't fit under saddle just like the PUTW. He also mentioned Brian Rodgers has fitted one to his 0000-28 Martin with great results. I also happen to know that Chris While has just fitted one to her Fylde too, so there's some recommendation. Try as, even with import duty, they are so much cheaper than can be bought here in the UK.

23 Jul 03 - 05:37 PM (#989111)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: GUEST,sorefingers

Technical misconception! Ok a Louden is a Loundun - but I just have to add that any decent Martin is very loud, xcept copies and kits!

If you are buying a used Martin look for the owners certificate! I have seen some used Martins, or were they?

When first I ot used to my Martin, and played it in the back of the house, visitors would ask ' who is playing the electric Guitar' ... beleive me this sucker is too loud.

If I wanted to be any louder I would get an amplifier.

Now what Guitar did Robert Johnson play on?

24 Jul 03 - 08:43 AM (#989441)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: GUEST,Strollin' Johnny

Ref the pickup question, I've got a Fishman Matrix (the one with the little pre-amp mounted on the Jack-Endpin) in both my Lowden O25 and my Martin J40. Both sound excellent but have no on-board EQ, so I use a Fishman Pro-EQ 2 to get a bit of extra control over the sound. The pickup's about 120 quid in the UK and the Pro-EQ2's about the same.

I've heard that Headways are good in Lowdens, but I haven't any first-hand experience of them. Allan Taylor uses Highlanders in his Martins and his Ralph Bown and they sound amazingly good.


24 Jul 03 - 09:28 AM (#989470)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: mooman

Regarding pickups...I have used several types, e.g. Fishman, Shadow, Ashworth, and have now fitted my main instruments with PUTW #27s. These I mostly run through a PUTW Power Plug endpin preamp which has a bit more gain and is more convenient than my Fishman EQ II which I also sometimes use. I have found the PUTW 27 to be the most natural-sounding pickup to my ears, at least with my instuments, and it avoids some of the drawbacks of under-saddle types. You do need to use a decent preamp though.

Grab...sorry you didn't get a Lakewood as mentioned by 'Spaw above

(;>)    (they don't pay me anything honest!)

but the Lowden is a very fine guitar also second guitar was a Lowden until recently!



24 Jul 03 - 10:02 AM (#989501)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Grab

Mooman, they didn't have Lakewoods in London or at Elderly. From what I tried, the Lowden came out on top. Maybe in another 10 years I might look for something better than the Lowden, but I'd need to hear one first - frankly, the way the Lowden sounds, I find it difficult to conceive of such an instrument though! ;-)


PS. The guitar objected in the strongest possible terms to being strung with plain D'Addarios. Its attitude seemed to be "OK then, play if you like, but I'm not going to help you". Elixir Nanoweb changed its mind though - it's a very happy instrument now. :-)

24 Jul 03 - 10:41 AM (#989556)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: mooman

Agreed Graham, my guitars and I prefer the Elixirs too although I favour the Polywebs rather than the Nanowebs.

I think the Acoustic Centre in Wapping is Lakewood's main London dealer if my memory serves me well (which is decreasingly likely!).



24 Jul 03 - 03:04 PM (#989828)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: GUEST,Whistle Stop

Congratulations on your Lowden! I've been the happy owner of an 0-32C for the past four years, and I like it better every time I play it. I trust you will as well; they're fine instruments.

As far as pickups are concerned, every one of them has its good and bad points, and I'm not sure it really has as much to do with matching it to a specific instrument as it does with matching it to your playing style and amplification needs. Some will work better in relatively low volume settings (sound board transducers, internal microphones), others can handle lots of decibels without producing feedback and other unpleasant sounds (magnetic). Some prefer a gentler attack (under-saddle transducers), others can handle a more robust playing style without "quacking". Sometimes a dual-source rig can help compensate for the shortcomings of each individual source, so these are worth considering. My Lowden is equipped with a Fishman Rare Earth Blend pickup, which is a combination of a magnetic pickup with an internal electret condenser microphone (and a dial to adjust the relative contribution of each to the overall sound). It's not the Holy Grail, but since I often play in high-volume settings, having the magnetic pickup was important to me; I can dial out the microphone altogether if feedback problems are getting the best of me, or add more in if that's not such an issue (ideally, I find that using both is best, in varying ratios depending on what sort of setting I'm in and whether I'm playing with other musicians). You'll get a lot of different opinions on this, and they generally reflect people's own playing styles and amplification needs to a great extent. If you have a chance, experiment with a few different kinds before making a decision. And don't go cutting into your instrument for the sake of the pickup -- Lowdens deserve better than that.

Good luck -- you got yourself a real nice guitar.

25 Jul 03 - 07:26 AM (#990310)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: GUEST,Strollin' Johhny

I've got a Rare Earth double-coil model that I used with my first Lowden, an O10. It sounded very good - a lot more 'acoustic' than some of the under-saddle transducers. Only trouble was that I hated seeing my beautiful hand-crafted instrument sullied by this lump of black plastic and metal stuck across the soundhole, it got right up my nose. So I went for the Fishman Matrix transducer with the Pro-EQ 2 outboard EQ box, and I get just as good a sound as with the Rare Earth.

Whistle Stop (and anyone else contemplating fitting a pickup to a Lowden) - you don't have to do any cutting or drilling when you fit an under-saddle transducer to a Lowden. They're pre-drilled under the saddle for the cables when they're built, with a shim under the saddle that you simply remove when you put the transducer in. You don't even have to reamer-out the endpin hole because they're pre-drilled to the correct size for an endpin jack, with an oversized wooden endpin supplied. It's a doddle.

Peace to all Lowden Freaks

30 Jul 03 - 07:55 AM (#993246)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: GUEST,Whistle Stop

Thanks Johnny; I was aware of that. The cutting I was referring to was the big hole that folks sometimes cut into the side of the guitar for the control panel. Lots of guitars come with these already installed, but some people will retrofit these to guitars that didn't come equipped with them from the factory. Either way, I don't like them (talk about sullying a beautiful instrument for the sake of the pickup!); I tend to think it's better to do minimal alterations to the instrument itself, and go with outboard controls.

30 Jul 03 - 07:57 AM (#993250)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: GUEST,Strollin' Johnny

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!! Sorry, I misunderstood - I'm getting to be a daft old duffer! Yep, I'm in full agreement Whistle-Stop.
All the best

06 May 06 - 03:29 AM (#1733880)
Subject: Lowden 0-32c
From: GUEST,dominick

hey there...please email at
wondering opinion on two things....taylor's new expression system vs. old fishman pickups....what's better and why in your opinion? Also I'm tossing up a Taylor 414ce with a Lowden 0-32c....thoughts? Aside from obvious lack of pickup in the Lowden. Lowden seems to have WAY more bottom end and just as nice a low-profile neck as the Taylor....

06 May 06 - 03:08 PM (#1734159)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: GUEST,Sandy Andina

I have both an ES-equipped Taylor 414ce and Fishmans: Prefix blend in an 814ce, Rare Earth Blend in my Martin M-36, and Matrix undersaddle trasducer in a Larrivee Parlor guitar. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, but I find myself turning most often in performance and recording situations to my 414ce. (It's the all-gloss rosewood LE, not the std. ovangkol gloss-top version). It has plenty of rosewood bottom end, plays smoothly (perhaps fits more naturally in my hand), and the ES sounds terrific and natural through a PA or DI into a studio console. (Not that terrific through acoustic guitar amps, which are designed for high-impedance undersaddle transducers--you get a more magnetic sound from it, with less sparkle and shorter decay). The Fishman Rare Earth blend is also magnetic, but you can dial the condensor mike into it. Of course, my favorite setup is an unamp'ed D-18GE into a Shure SM57, but I don't always have the luxury of a second mic stand or even input if not using my own PA. I am not a big fan of piezo "quack," which, sadly, most young acoustic guitarists who come to the instrument from rock think is the way an amplified acoustic guitar is supposed to sound. The only reason I have a piezo undersaddle in my Parlour (and my dulcimers) is that for the former, I wanted something quick and easy should I find myself in a performance situation while on vacation; for the latter, it's more natural than a soundboard transducer and easier to install on a dulcimer.

07 May 06 - 12:12 PM (#1734541)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Phil Cooper

Neither of my two Taylors, or my Santa Cruz had on-board electronics when I bought them. I had fought the on board trent for years, as I thought it would make any good guitar sound like an ovation (that quacking sound Sandy referred to, above.) I finally bit the bullet and got the guitars fixed up with highlander stand alone internal mics. They can either be plugged in directly, or through a direct box.

I got tired of playing large outdoor stages that were run by people who had no idea how to mic an acoustic guitar.

08 May 06 - 08:39 AM (#1735263)
Subject: RE: New guitar recommendations
From: Grab

Dominick, I'd go for the Lowden. Mind you, I already have (O-32 without cutaway) so I'm biased! ;-) Also worth checking out Avalon which basically do "productionised" Lowdens - very similar, just a few corners cut (eg. no split saddle) and a bit cheaper.