Guitar Players? Gear advice for a newb

 
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jonnybravo
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2021 9:50 pm    Post subject: Guitar Players? Gear advice for a newb

Hey y'all. Decided to learn a guitar. Grew up on the piano but my current living arrangement isn't going to allow for it and went with the guitar route for now. Anyways, my friend recommended a Taylor Mini and I ended up getting a "blemished" Mini GS-E Koa. In any event I picked it up today from Guitar Center and the kind fella helped me tune it and played it some and it sounded good but I'm untrained in knowing to look for. Are there any important considerations? Also, the Koa wood on mine has a blonde streak in the middle. I know wood isn't uniform and the rep said it was one of the best looking flame he's seen. Is he just joshing me? A small part of me is really bothered by it if THAT was the blemish. Picture link below.

So anyways, any tips etc is welcome. Trying to get a hold of my buddy but he's MIA for a minute so here I am .

https://imgur.com/dg0AblT
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cathy78
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2021 11:54 pm    Post subject:

Just get a damn shovel...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9-ltPsbw9g
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jonnybravo
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2021 12:08 am    Post subject:

^

Maaaaannn.....should I return it with that streak down the middle?
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cathy78
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2021 12:41 am    Post subject:

jonnybravo wrote:
^

Maaaaannn.....should I return it with that streak down the middle?

It is kinda cool but kinda weird at the same time. I don't think it affects sound though. So if you don't like the unique look you might want to change it.
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LarryCoon
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2021 6:51 am    Post subject:

No, that's what Koa is known for - a grain with so much color variation and depth. In your case that's a two-piece top -- the lumber was about half the width of the guitar. It was sawn and facing pieces were bookmatched, so they get as much left/right symmetry as possible.

Just taking a look around for other examples, here's a Lichty that's probably in the $10K range:

LINK

Here's a higher-end Taylor ($13K):

LINK

That said, if you don't personally relate to the guitar and feel like it's the one for you, then don't get it.

I'd also suggest that if you're just starting out, you might want to stick with something a little more vanilla, and save all that for your next guitar when you know more about what you want and how you're playing. The classic combination is a Sitka spruce top and mahogany sides, and you're not going to go wrong with that combo. If you plan on singing while you play, other woods offer a more "scooped" tonal balance so you're not competing with the guitar in your vocal range -- eg: rosewood. If you are going to fingerpick, then consider a cedar top rather than spruce.

But again, if you're just starting out, you have no idea what kind of player you're going to end up being. Pick a versatile body shape (eg: orchestra model or some variant) that's good for everything (eg: for Taylor guitars, look for models ending with "14"). Pick a versatile wood combo like the aforementioned sitka/mahogany, learn the instrument, and figure out what you're becoming as a musician.

Also figure out the right price point. I imagine you paid more than you need to with that Taylor from Guitar Center. You can get a FANTASTIC learning guitar from Orangewood for $300:

LINK

(Although they're sold out right at the moment.) Orangewood sources from Asia and does a full set-up in their offices in Orange County, and ships direct to the customer. Check out Youtube for reviews of Orangewood.

Hope this helps.
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jonnybravo
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2021 2:14 pm    Post subject:

Thanks Larry! Crap, you might be right. I started looking up Orangewood guitars and they seem like really good quality despite the low price. Saw they have a mini version of their Oliver for $275 (which was apparently $225 on black friday)...that's a fraction of what I paid.
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LarryCoon
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2021 6:54 pm    Post subject:

jonnybravo wrote:
Thanks Larry! Crap, you might be right. I started looking up Orangewood guitars and they seem like really good quality despite the low price. Saw they have a mini version of their Oliver for $275 (which was apparently $225 on black friday)...that's a fraction of what I paid.


The main factors determining the price are going to be retail markup (eg: Orangewood sells direct; Taylor sells through dealers, so you're paying a premium).

After that is construction. The body can be either solid wood or laminate. Solid wood is much more expensive. But remember -- the top is responsible for most of the sound of the guitar. It doesn't matter as much whether the sides & back are solid or laminate -- in fact, if you go to a guitar store and listen to someone playing one of each without knowing which is which, you may not be able to discern a difference.

The best bang for the buck comes with solid tops and laminate sides & backs. That's exactly what the Orangewood Brooklyn I pointed out has, with a solid Sitka top and laminated Pau ferro (a wood in the Rosewood family) sides & backs.

Going to an all-solid guitar does get you a better guitar (but ironically, not just because it's all-solid) but is more expensive. With Taylor, the 300 series & up is all-solid; the 100 & 200 series is laminate. The Taylor 100's start around $700; the 300's around $1700. With Orangewood, the solid top + layered sides & backs starts around $300; the all-solid around $650.

Then there's the species of wood used, and within a species, the grade of an individual piece of wood (just like steaks are graded prime, choice & select). A big company like Taylor gets some Rosewood in. The first thing they do is grade it out, with the best pieces used for their Presentation series, then the next best for the 900 series, the level after that for the 800 series, 700 series, etc. So you can get Rosewood in 5-6 different series, but the quality of the rosewood will be better the farther up you go, Note that this really affects just the appearance, not the sound.

After that the cost is mainly due to the different adornments on the guitar -- bindings, inlays, etc., on the appearance side; cutaways & electronics on the functional side. So when you look at a guitar like a Taylor, the higher-end series will start with better (solid) wood, use the best specimens they get in, and will have more adornments. But you're paying for all that, with diminishing returns on the sound & playability of the instrument.

One other thing they do is torrification. As guitars age, the wood eventually loses moisture, the resins cure, etc. This is why older guitars sound (objectively) different and (subjectively) better. Torrification accelerates the process by baking the tops in an oven. It lowers the ceiling for how good the guitar will eventually get on its own, but that doesn't make a difference for 99% of the guitars out there. Think of it like decanting wine vs. cellaring it for a couple decades -- it only makes a difference for a few select wines.

But a bigger factor than these esoteric differences is the setup of the guitar. A well-set-up guitar is more playable; it doesn't have fret buzz, etc. This is all something that can be fixed later; but you want to get it right when it's new. As I said before, the direct-to-customer companies like Orangewood do a good setup before the guitar is shipped to you.

So what's the sweet spot for you if you're just learning? Getting the right mix of quality and price, I'd say:
* Something middle of the road. You don't need something that's more of a specialty guitar until you know that you're a player who needs a specialty guitar. This means an Orchestra Model size/shape, and a Sitka top.
* Get a solid top, but feel free to go with a laminated sides & back. Wood choice here isn't as important, and Mahogany, Ovangkol, Rosewood, Pau ferro, and a few other are common. Koa, Maple & a few other species are more expensive.

Play this guitar for a year or so, and THEN figure out what you want your next guitar to be.
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EchoZulu
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2021 6:59 pm    Post subject:

You could've just got yourself a coffee stirrer.
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