General advice sought on acoustic or electro/acoutstic guitars
April 15, 2004 2:24 PM   Subscribe

I'd like some advice on 6-string acoustic-electric guitars. I'm considering buying one for my "home studio" setup (a computer with a MIDI keyboard, a mic, and a couple of guitars), preferrably for less than $400. Does anyone here own an acoustic-electric they'd recommend? Any general advice on this type of guitar? I'm looking for a bright, clear sound, and with a versatile EQ or tone knob.
posted by edlundart to Shopping (14 answers total)
I'd look around for a used Taylor, or a low-end new one. Taylor accoustic and accoustic electric guitars are the best.
posted by lazaruslong at 3:27 PM on April 15, 2004

I've heard good things about Taylors, but when I get my acoustic/electric, I will buy an Ovation.
posted by annathea at 3:30 PM on April 15, 2004

rather fond of Takamine and Alvarez myself. You are really just going to have to go and plink around on a dozen different brands.
posted by th3ph17 at 3:51 PM on April 15, 2004

I love my Takamine acoustic-electric. The EQ is pretty good, although I end up doing most of the equalization (& effects, etc.) in post processing. You'll have a hard time touching one (or anything with decent electronics) for sub-$400 though.
posted by maniactown at 4:52 PM on April 15, 2004

I agree with the Taylor suggestion. Their "Expression System" pick-ups are really cool, though you'd have to do some hunting to find a used one at the price you're looking for.

If I were using the guitar solely for recording purposes, I would just mic a regular acoustic (assuming you already have one) and invest the money in another area of your recording set-up. (But I'm a purist when it comes to acoustic guitars...)

A place you may want to check out for suggestions is on usenet. They're a bunch of cranky old farts, but they are really helpful. If you dig around on the Google Groups archive of RMMGA you can find some great advice.
posted by eastlakestandard at 4:57 PM on April 15, 2004

I've got a Washburn Dreadnought and it is pretty nice. I know it says it is $479, but if you go to a Guitar Center you can usually get them for far below that.
posted by sciurus at 5:40 PM on April 15, 2004

The fellows at Godin/Seagull/etc make some very nice guitars. My guitar teacher keeps commenting on how nice the sound is from my Seagull. I think he's jealous... surprising, because the guitar was only mid-priced.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:00 PM on April 15, 2004

Response by poster: Hmm... the reason i asked was because i was unable to find much of a consciences about acoustic-electrics. I think the electric guitar or acoustic guitar landscape is easier to navigate, with more clear choices depending on what style of music you play, etc. This thread echoes my research online, which basically revealed no clear favorites until you start talking about the expensive Taylor guitars. I'm sure those are great, but I'm not sure I'm willing to spend the money. Anyway, thanks for all your replies, I will consider it all and look into the stuff I didn't know about.
posted by edlundart at 7:33 PM on April 15, 2004

Why go acoustic-electric at all? My $200 Seagull sounds better mic'ed than my $1400 Gibson plugged in. If you are playing live, then fine, use the pickup and built-in EQ and all that, but if you're in a controlled environment like a home studio, mic that thing. By all means.

In the price range you're talking, you'll probably just have a traditional transducer pickup and it will sound like ass compared to what you'd get out of even cheap microphones. I have a set of small-diaphragm condensers (Oktavias, I don't remember the model number at the moment) which were under $200 as I recall, and I can make excellent recordings of my acoustic guitars. Mic placement for acoustics is a big topic, but there are lots of web sites that can help you. I prefer one mic up over my shoulder, another aimed sort of at the fretboard, each panned hard in opposite directions. YMMV.

Please don't plug your acoustic guitar in unless you really have to.
posted by mragreeable at 9:02 PM on April 15, 2004

Response by poster: mragreeable, I kind of agree with you in principle. I have an acoustic, but it's got a pretty bad, boomy sound, made worse by the acoustic situation in my apartment, which I can't really change. I have a dynamic mic, but no condenser as of yet. The dynamic mic does not give me good results with the guitar (nor is it supposed to), though I'm still trying different mic positions as you allude to. I am able to get a nice and clean and versatile, controlled sound using my electric guitar plugged in to my system. But I lack a good acoustic guitar sound. In order to get that I'd have to buy both a good acoustic guitar AND a good condenser mic. I figure it may make sense to just buy an acoustic-electric instead, that I can plug in and thus get a more controlled recording. I could also play it unplugged, for fun or even for recording once I buy a new mic later. I realize it's not going to sound as good as a regular acoustic guitar when it's not plugged in, but there's always good and bad sides...
posted by edlundart at 9:57 PM on April 15, 2004

Another vote for Godin here. A guy I used to play with used one, and it was very nice - although, as mragreeable said, it was superior for live performance (acoustic guitar is very hard to mix with a live rock band) more so than for recording.
posted by crunchburger at 4:01 AM on April 16, 2004

No two guitars are the same, and this carries over into the acoustic-electric realm. No one manufacturer is superior to another. You just have to get out to the shops and play the individual instruments.

Somewhere out there, you can find a new economy guitar in your price range that just happened to turn out to be a superior instrument, but you will have to play hundreds to find it. If you open yourself to used instruments, your search gets exponentially easier.
posted by mischief at 7:37 AM on April 16, 2004

You should also check out Ovation guitars (as mentioned by lazaruslong). I have one of the lower-end Applause line, which I enjoy but wouldn't immediately recommend for the quality you're looking for. The higher-end models may be out of your price range, but worth a look.
posted by shinynewnick at 8:18 AM on April 16, 2004

No one manufacturer is superior to another.

posted by five fresh fish at 9:19 AM on April 16, 2004

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