My chief regret in life/Guitar Shopping
July 20, 2012 4:56 AM   Subscribe

I sold a Dana Bourgeois Slope D guitar and have always regretted it. I can't really afford to buy another one. What's a good alternative?

This is truly what I call the great regret of my life. I bought a Dana Bourgeois (pre-pantheon) Slope D guitar, Indian Rosewood back and Spruce Top (IIRC). I had it for a couple of years and when I was a little less active and wanted to take a trip I sold it for an unspeakably small amount of money. Not unspeakably, maybe, but far less than what I could buy one for now.

I'm back to playing guitar and would like to have a really nice instrument. Currently playing the same $100 buck yamaha that I've had for years. I'm wondering about buying a much nicer instrument, but can't really afford a new or used Bourgeois based on ebay prices...and they don't seem to be any cheaper at dealers.

Can you suggest a maker that I could look for? My rememberance of the Slope D was that it was a smallish guitar with a clear, warm sound, wetter than dry. Seemed to respond well to finger (, I have no nails) picking and pick. I have some right shoulder problems, so something on the smaller side would be good.

I'm saving money at the moment. Currently at $450. I don't think I will end up spending more than $1200. I could end up with a used Martin, I guess. I was wondering if that might get me something from an up and coming boutique maker? Definitely not looking for a fancy guitar, but a beautiful one, tastefully done.

posted by sully75 to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Outside your current price range, but worth saving for, would be a guitar made by John Greven. I have two-and-a-half*, and they are wonderful instruments. The audio sample on the Travel Guitar page was made using my guitar.

*After I received the first one, I couldn't stand the muddy sound of my mid-70s Martin, so I had him put a new top on it.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:57 AM on July 20, 2012

You can get some very nice guitars at that price. Martins do seem to have a premium on the name. For equivalent quality at a lower cost, check out the higher end Larrivee guitars, or some of the Guilds I think are very good. At a substantially lower price point, the Godin sub-brands of Simon & Patrick and Art & Lutherie are really excellent value and you might find yourself surprised by how good they are. I have a Simon & Patrick Songsmith and I know Chococat has one of their little parlour guitars. I went into a big acoustic room in a store and played everything under about $800 and the S&P was the clear winner.

If you like a warmer sound, the Gibsons may be for you and they are plentiful used. They definitely have more of a 'look' if that's important to you. I think of them as more of a strummer's guitar, but they are well balanced for accompanying a voice.
posted by unSane at 6:20 AM on July 20, 2012

I had always heard that Taylors in that price range aren't worth it, and was planning on getting a Martin (about 6-7 years ago), but my 214-E has been nothing but brilliant. The line has changed a lot since then-- more options, more body styles, including some smaller-bodied guitars. The popular Grand Auditorium style (great for fingerpicking) has a smaller "waist" than a dreadnought, but equal... erm, hips?
posted by supercres at 6:25 AM on July 20, 2012

I'm no guitar expert, but a distant friend of mine is in a band, and when I was asking about approachably-priced steel-string acoustics, she steered me to Seagull. My girlfriend's father actually bought one on the advice of a local guitar shop guy (independent of any advice from me), and loves it -- I'm still playing an Epiphone Dot, but that's another story. Can't speak to the specifics of what you're looking for, but might be worth a look?
posted by Alterscape at 8:15 AM on July 20, 2012

i think maton make great guitars. however, i may be biased because i'm australian. i've had a few over the years and i'm currently playing one of these. it's a thing of beauty and is small, clear and warm, and in your price range. they have a bunch of other great models too. not boutique exactly, but pretty awesome. good luck.
posted by soi-disant at 8:15 AM on July 20, 2012

The Larrivee "L" shape is very similar to the dimensions of a slope D. The 03 series is an excellent value and, brand new, in your price range. They're rather spartan in look, but it's hard to beat the quality vs. cost. For something with a bit of flash (abalone rosette, headstock logo) see if you can get your hands on a used L-05.
posted by Lorin at 8:48 AM on July 20, 2012

Thanks all. Lorin, that Larivee looks pretty sweet. I'm going to look into it.
posted by sully75 at 7:31 AM on July 27, 2012

I love my Martin 000-15M, it's a smaller body size, fits your price range, and responds well to both fingers and picking. I think it's beautiful, but I've heard others refer to it as the "Fudgesicle Martin". The 00-15 is an even smaller version. Both have a narrow nut (which I prefer), but if you want something closer to the Dana there's the slightly more expensive 000-15SM (with the very cool slot head design).
posted by doctord at 1:38 PM on August 6, 2012

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