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FDP Forum / FDP Unplugged - Acoustic Instruments / Smaller guitars sound better

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hushnel
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North Florida

A Friend of Bill W.
May 2nd, 2019 09:49 AM   Edit   Profile  

I never really had an opportunity to to play anything besides a dreadnought, until I was ambushed by a Yamaha Classical guitar back in the early 80s that sounded amazing to me. I purchased it and never touched my dread again, also a Yamaha.

It seemed like the only option back then where the dreads. Some time in 2006 I was in Sam Ash checking out the status of acoustic bass guitars, and was again, disappointed. I saw the smallish 00-15 hanging behind the counter and asked the sales guy if I could check it out. I compared it to every other mahogany and a few spruce guitars he had in stock. No doubt this 00 sounded so much better, no dread even came close. I understand the subjectiveness of tone and this was all in my head.

Not too long after that I got into the ukulele, mostly so I could have an instrument with me, even on the motorbike. I was basically given this 1917 Martin Ukulele soon after, I was using a Flea Market Flea at the time. This Martin uke sounds amazing and it’s volume is through the roof, it can easily hang with the boomiest dreads.

This got me thinking about the guitar and other acoustic instruments. Violins are loud, I played one in the early 60s as well as the Double Bass. I started thinking that these luthiers that designed and build these instruments, centuries ago, had an understanding of the resonating requirements of the sound box for given scales. The higher the scales the smaller the body, the lower the scale the larger body. I figured that for any given scale covered by the strings there had to be an optimal resonator/body size and shape.

I researched the library concerning the history of the guitar and discovered that Stradivarius was one of the early makers of the guitar, rather, stringed instruments that played the same scales and where fretted, though not exactly what we play today. They were small bodied more along the lines of parlor guitars, which are direct descendants of these early instruments.

As civilization got louder volume became more important than tone quality. The Jumbos and Dreads evolved and through all the years became very functional and great sounding instruments for their purpose, but in my head listening to a top tier dread and an equally top end parlor, their is no choice. Just the balanced tone of the parlor smokes the large boxes.

I’ve been looking at a lot of parlor guitars lately, too bad so few are in the brick and mortar’s. Back in Nov, 2018. I traded in the LXK2 Little Martin for the Yamaha parlor guitar CSF1M. The Guitar Center had a used Seagull Parlor I went to check out, but it had the plastic box installed on the side, a deal breaker for me, plus the Yamaha sounded better, I got home I pulled the saddle to lower the strings and saw the under saddle transducer, checked the lower bout strap button and sure enough electric. Sounds really great through the PJ Double Four Bass amp.
I’ve never built a ground up acoustic guitar, I ordered blueprints from LMI for the parlor guitar. I’m seriously considering building one. I haven’t located my tone woods yet but I’m fairly sure their in the sealed trailer. I’ve got a few things that I have to finish before I can start this kind of project.

littleuch
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Ocala, Florida

Paunchy and goatee'd
May 2nd, 2019 10:00 AM   Edit   Profile  

Mike, you're killing me and I suspect I will own a CSF1M before the year is done. 8-)

My only acoustic is a big boomy but balanced Martin D17M. I really, really like it but favor the 000-15 sized acoustics for playability. I never bonded with parlors but did like the one Taylor Mini GS I had. I think I am at a stage of life where a couch guitar is on order.

hushnel
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North Florida

A Friend of Bill W.
May 2nd, 2019 10:16 AM   Edit   Profile  

Something about the small 12 fret slothead parlors really attract me. I do tend towards the earlier centuries though and have some serious physical challenges with both of my right arm and left hand that make these feel natural to me.

Not too long after I got the 00-15 I snagged a great deal on the Martin 000-15S, same year solid mahogany.

The 00-15 and the CSF1M, are both within reach.

Ragtop
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The older the violin

the sweeter the music.
May 2nd, 2019 03:15 PM   Edit   Profile  

I broke out my Martin 00-18V last night for the first time in a couple of weeks (I've been traveling).

And I was blown away once again at how good that little guitar sounds. Resonant, woody, sustain for days.

I love that guitar.

MJB
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Who's we sucka?

Smith, Wesson and me.
May 2nd, 2019 04:54 PM   Edit   Profile  

I wonder how many out there have never played an acoustic guitar that was NOT a dread. Probably more than you would think.

I'm a fan of 00/000/OM guitars though I like a 1 3/4" nut width.

littleuch
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Florida

May 2nd, 2019 05:15 PM   Edit   Profile  

Before buying my D17M I really wanted to buy a 000-15M that hung in a store back in Michigan for a long time. While having no regrets on the D17M I do feel like that 000-15M got away. I've played others that were nice but that one felt so good.

Ah well, think I'll go play a spell. Don't do the acoustic enough.

hushnel
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North Florida

A Friend of Bill W.
May 2nd, 2019 05:22 PM   Edit   Profile  

Back in the 60s and 70s the companies that made guitars I could afford were all making dreads, never knew about the smaller ones, they weren’t hanging on the walls in the music stores I went into. I can’t recall even seeing a “Guitar Store” until the late 70s.

I do too, I can go an 8th down or up without a too much of a problem.

(This message was last edited by hushnel at 07:28 PM, May 2nd, 2019)

hushnel
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North Florida

A Friend of Bill W.
May 2nd, 2019 05:27 PM   Edit   Profile  

Does the “M” signify Mahogany?

I’m reversed, I haven’t pulled out the Tele in months, maybe a year or better. Electric bass, all the time. Even the bass at home takes second to the six string. When I’m out playing with others, it’s almost always bass.

Viera
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May 2nd, 2019 09:16 PM   Edit   Profile  

I like smaller acoustics.

But...

If I were to go with only one it would be a dread. I can much more closely approximate the sound of a smaller acoustic on a dread than vice versa.

hushnel
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North Florida

A Friend of Bill W.
May 2nd, 2019 10:35 PM   Edit   Profile  

No doubt a dread has it’s own voice. I do prefer the sound of the parlors and other smaller guitars.

My biggest problem with the dred is the size and thickness of the body, my right arm is about 50% paralyzed and they cause my hand to go numb fairly quickly. The smaller guitar is more comfortable for me to play too.

Doc B
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San Diego

May 3rd, 2019 02:09 AM   Edit   Profile  

I’ve got a gloss O-15 Martin that is one of the sweetest guitars ever. It records better than any of my other guitars, and I own an embarrassing number of acoustics.

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
May 3rd, 2019 10:00 AM   Edit   Profile  

I get tired of the boominess of Dreads. For me, the Gibson LG-2/LG-3/B-25 size and shape are right in the pocket.

6L6
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San Francisco, CA

May 3rd, 2019 10:05 AM   Edit   Profile  

WELP...

There's reason all of my acoustic guitars are dreads...

TONE!!!

6

hushnel
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North Florida

A Friend of Bill W.
May 3rd, 2019 12:29 PM   Edit   Profile  

“There's reason all of my acoustic guitars are dreads...”

And extremely fine ones at that.

I know the thread title is a rather strong statement, I posted knowing how tone/EQ is very subjective.

I lived with this guy back in collage that had a 60s era D35. One of the best sounding guitars I’ve ever heard. Chances are I’d still lean towards 0-21 or 0-28 Brazilian, I might even choose the Mahogany over the rosewood, just going with what I like to hear, subjectivity “o)

jefe46
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State of Jefferson

May 3rd, 2019 09:03 PM   Edit   Profile  

I have a 2015 Martin 00-18V with rare flamed mahogany back and sides. Fine guitar.

My first guitar back in 1961 was a 1939 Martin 00-17. I have been a fan of the smaller bodied guitars since.
I have owned a dozen or so dreads and 12 fret dreads but always seem to come back to the 00s.

reverend mikey
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N of I-90, E of I-29

You're old. Then vintage. Then good!
May 3rd, 2019 09:58 PM   Edit   Profile  

I think when small guitars sound good, it's because of careful attention to materials, design and build; when these are all top notch, the results can be phenomenal and surprise lots of folks.

Many of the older small Martins (and to some extent Gibsons) were built light with great wood. They've had decades to open up and mature, so they sound incredible.

My favorite guitars right now are my two Martin Jumbos (one Rosewood, one Mahogany). They're powerful and toneful.

The one small body guitar that I have some gas for is the 00-17 Authentic 1931. I'm thinking of doing some downsizing so that I can afford to add one of those, and that would probably be my last "good" guitar purchase (at least until retirement, which is 5-7 years off, if not longer).

jhawkr
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Wichita, KS USA

It's all gravy from here on...
May 4th, 2019 07:55 AM   Edit   Profile  

Martin 000-28 EC rosewood and Gibson J-45 mahogany and a Yamaha Y3CR which is a small concert. I suppose my selections betray my preferences.

(This message was last edited by jhawkr at 07:54 AM, May 6th, 2019)

MJB
Contributing Member
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Who's we sucka?

Smith, Wesson and me.
May 4th, 2019 02:29 PM   Edit   Profile  

000-15 EC?

jefe46
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State of Jefferson

May 4th, 2019 06:22 PM   Edit   Profile  

My first Martin was a 1939 00-17. Loved it.. got stolen.

In 2011 I placed a custom order for a 00-17 with grade 4 (highest grade) mahogany. Tortoise binding. Ebony bridge and fingerboard. Ribbons on the sides.
Highest grade tuners, bone nut and saddle. One piece neck. Scalloped braces. Old style logo
Stamp on the back of the head. etc

Expensive.

Sadly it arrived with the neck offset by nearly 1/4 inch and about 8 degrees angled sideways. . They cut a 1/4" off the end of the bridge to make it look as if it was in the center.They centered the bridge, offset the pin holes. What a mess.

The low E was 1/4 inside the edge of the fingerboard at the 12th fret and the high e was at the edge of the board.

It arrived, I did not play it. Returned to Martin.
Did not hear from them and no response to repeated contacts. After 2 months.. they advised me they destroyed the guitar as unrepairable, this without my permission (I owned it) or notification.
Then why did it pass QC and why did they send it out. ?

I contacted the seller (Elderly) who after repeated calls finally sent a refund.

These are facts.

I no longer buy new Martins.

My current 00-18V is flawless and very rare flamed mahogany. Plays well, sounds good.
Proof they can make a good guitar.



Chris Greene
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Idaho, USA

Buy your virtue signal here
May 4th, 2019 11:36 PM   Edit   Profile  

I disagree with "better" but would agree with "different". Personally, I prefer dreads and always have.

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FDP Forum / FDP Unplugged - Acoustic Instruments / Smaller guitars sound better




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