Need some advice on fingerstyle guitars

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Need some advice on fingerstyle guitars

Postby Tim Huffington » Fri Mar 22, 2019 8:16 am

I mainly play fingerstyle. I have a taylor 214ce-FLTD and it sounds great, but I find when I play some really fast Tommy Emmanuel tunes like T.E Ranch, The low strings overpower the high strings. And it's not pleasant to my ears... I also have a maton ebg808te (It was like an impulse buy when I first saw it because Tommy plays that guitar) and all I see is negative comments on how bad it sounds acoustically. That has affected me in a way so I have lost inspiration to play that guitar. I really need some advice on what guitar to get for fingerpicking.
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Re: Need some advice on fingerstyle guitars

Postby Bryan Bear » Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:23 am

Others will probably chime in soon with help on which guitars to consider but I want to remind you that the most important thing is to play the actual guitars you are considering and judge them individually. You can't really judge a factory made guitar like you can an automobile. There will be a fair amount of variation in tone even from the same model. Also, your tastes may vary from other's so make sure you look for what you like not what someone says is good or bad.
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Re: Need some advice on fingerstyle guitars

Postby Alan Carruth » Fri Mar 22, 2019 12:10 pm

IMO the 12-fret 000 or 14 fret OM size (15" wide lower bout) is god's size for the steel string guitar, especially for fingerstyle. I would also try to get away from scalloped bracing and lean toward 'straight' or 'tapered' bracing. Scalloped emphasizes bass and 'punch', where straight bracing, and especially 'tapered' (sometimes called 'parabolic') leans more toward treble and sustain.

As Brian says, play before you buy if possible.
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Re: Need some advice on fingerstyle guitars

Postby Steven Smith » Fri Mar 22, 2019 1:49 pm

There is no substitute for just going out and playing every guitar you find that looks like it might be suitable. Be patient, it may take a while but at some point you'll pick one up, play and not want to put it down.
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Re: Need some advice on fingerstyle guitars

Postby Randy Roberts » Fri Mar 22, 2019 8:17 pm

Tim,
What you hear, whether it's a guitar or someone's voice, or the birds chirping, no one else hears in same way. The same for them. Every single person's hearing is completely unique. Seeing comments, good or bad, is, and should be, meaningless for you. What they think they're hearing is no guide for you.

As Brian said, factory guitars are a bell curve from meh to excellent, for the same brand, same model, same woods. It's the individual guitar you are playing, and do you like sound, the feel, etc. Anyone else's opinion only counts for them.

Most of the opinions you find are ultimately the sludge left behind by marketing efforts of one kind or another.

And, as Steve said, play as many as you can, and buy the one you can't put down.

You might find the book "This Is Your Brain On Music" by Daniel Levitin enlightening. Go ahead and trust your ear, not a bunch of Bozo's on the web. They don't have your ear.
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Re: Need some advice on fingerstyle guitars

Postby Joshua Levin-Epstein » Sat Mar 23, 2019 5:49 am

This is almost a philosophical quest.

I think of a good instrument as one that "talks to you". That being said, sometimes you have to learn what the instrument has to say...

Don't audition too many guitars in one sitting. Your ears get tired. Also, in my opinion, you probably need to find a specialized (read that small and expensive) shop (or shops) that has a selection of better quality instruments. If you were in the Boston area, I'd suggest The Music Emporium (no commercial or emotional relationship). They have a lot of instruments and the de rigueur living room atmosphere. You might even get good direction from a salesperson. Even though they don't have your ears, they do hear a lot of guitars.

This is not to say you won't find what you want at a big chain. I just think its less likely.

If you wanted to get efficient, you might start with determining how much you want to spend, but what's the fun in that?

Good luck. I feel that looking is half the fun.
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Re: Need some advice on fingerstyle guitars

Postby Ryan Mazzocco » Sat Mar 23, 2019 9:15 pm

Tim Huffington wrote:... and all I see is negative comments on how bad it sounds acoustically. That has affected me in a way so I have lost inspiration to play that guitar.

This comment really disturbs me. You liked the guitar at one time, right? but you read negative comments which has changed your opinion of how it sounds? They didn't hear your guitar so they don't know what it sounds like. Frankly, I've not been that impressed with the sound most Taylor guitars make, but you say your 214 sounds "great." It very well may. I've never heard your 214 so who am I to say it doesn't sound as good as you think it does? I can't do that, and if I heard it I might be blown away by what I hear.
Point is, and I believe others have already put it quite well, find the guitar that YOU like and don't let other people tell you what sounds good and what doesn't. Maybe even give your old Tommy guitar another try with a fresh take and open ears.
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Re: Need some advice on fingerstyle guitars

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Sun Mar 24, 2019 8:37 am

Someone once told me the best way to choose a guitar is to wear a blindfold and have a friend hand you the guitars for you to try, and try many different brands and price levels. You may find you will choose one that others have passed up because it was the "wrong brand" or "too cheap" to be any good.
I think the 12 fret double O size gives the best balance between bass and treble, but I personally like the size 1 (large parlor) guitar because when well made it has both good sound and easy playability. It was the standard "full sized guitar" in the 1800's. YMMV
Use your ears, but don't be persuaded too much by other's opinions. What you hear coming out of the guitar, and the way it plays will inspire your playing more than what other people will tell you.
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Re: Need some advice on fingerstyle guitars

Postby Glenn Cummings » Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:38 pm

One approach is to change string gauge and material on 1,some,all
Might take a while and cost more.

The concept is to reduce or increase sound pressure from the appropriate string.

Now... depending on the gauge and material you currently... it might be changing the 'other' strings.

I have read where some players buy individual strings to make up their 'set'

But as you read the article below, you affect another quality of the sound when you change something.

https://ehomerecordingstudio.com/best-guitar-strings/
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Re: Need some advice on fingerstyle guitars

Postby Randolph Rhett » Wed Mar 27, 2019 4:29 pm

I've played without a pick for thirty years. I do think some guitars are better suited tonally. Generally I avoid guitars with boomy lows and sparkling highs and look for something more balanced. As a result I rarely pick up a dread or jumbo. But you can't really make anything more that vague generalizations. I spend some time on forums dedicated to playing rather than building guitars and see a lot of people talk about models and makes like you would a car. Guitars don't really work that way. Play enough Martin D-18's with exactly the same trim and you'll find no two are alike. There are dead jumbos and ukuleles that are absolute cannons of sound. "Yngwie Malmsteen" necks that feel chunky and pre-war "V" necks that fly. Best way to start looking for YOUR guitar is to just play everything you come across with no preconceived notions.
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Re: Need some advice on fingerstyle guitars

Postby Alan Carruth » Sun Mar 31, 2019 4:36 pm

By all means get the guitar that suits you best. I was just recommending the OM/000 size based on the old adage that :"the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's where the smart money goes". Generally speaking, a smaller box tends to be more 'treble balanced' than a larger one. It's often easier to get a 'clear' sound in the high register from the smaller top, and the tone usually 'carries' better. It's also easier to make a loud small guitar than a loud big one, believe it or not. The OM/000 size is where it all seems to come together nicely for fingerstyle, so it's a good place to start. The bass can be strong enough without being overpowering, as it might be on a Jumbo or Dread, and the trebles tend to be reasonably 'full' if it's done right. This is not to say that it's impossible to make larger or smaller guitars that will work well, it's just easier in that range of sizes IMO.
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Re: Need some advice on fingerstyle guitars

Postby Matthew Lau » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:14 pm

Hey Tim,

With guitars, I recommend just trusting your gut.
"Good" is subjective. If you've never heard better, a $100 Chinese guitar is fine (and perfectly capable of fingerstyle.

FWIW, I've had the chance to play Jake Shimabukuro's ukulele, Muriel Anderson's flamenco guitar, and Peppino D'Agostino's personal guitar....all were crap instruments, even compared to cheap factory guitars. Overbraced. Overly thick finish. Setup was "meh."

However, these talented musicians will far outplay me any day.

-Matt

ps. Tim, if you really want to get a great guitar, I can highly recommend the work of Al Carruth...or Clay. I haven't tried the other people's stuff.
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Re: Need some advice on fingerstyle guitars

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Thu Apr 11, 2019 4:38 pm

Tim wrote:
"I mainly play fingerstyle. I have a taylor 214ce-FLTD and it sounds great, but I find when I play some really fast Tommy Emmanuel tunes like T.E Ranch, The low strings overpower the high strings."

You could try a set of "silk and steel" strings. They tend to have less "brassy" overtones and may allow the trebles to come through better. Glenn gave good advice on trying different strings. Changing the type of string is cheaper than changing guitars.
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Re: Need some advice on fingerstyle guitars

Postby Dick Hutchings » Wed May 22, 2019 11:18 am

Alan Carruth wrote:IMO the 12-fret 000 or 14 fret OM size (15" wide lower bout) is god's size for the steel string guitar, especially for fingerstyle. I would also try to get away from scalloped bracing and lean toward 'straight' or 'tapered' bracing. Scalloped emphasizes bass and 'punch', where straight bracing, and especially 'tapered' (sometimes called 'parabolic') leans more toward treble and sustain.


This is quite a statement. I feel like I want to make it my signature as a reminder. I haven't finished my first guitar yet but when I do, I'd like to try this concept on a 000 or OM.
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Re: Need some advice on fingerstyle guitars

Postby Simon Magennis » Wed May 22, 2019 2:40 pm

One other point to remember is that most guitars sound different to the player and the listener. A professional might well choose one guitar for amusement at home and something quite different for playing to an audience. Amplification/pick-ups change the story completely again.
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Re: Need some advice on fingerstyle guitars

Postby Mike Conner » Thu May 23, 2019 7:46 am

Tim, I have played Taylor guitars for about 30 years now, and have plenty of experience with other brands. The advice here has been good in terms of your question regarding which guitar would meet your playing style and tonal objectives.

The strings can really make a difference, and trying different sets on your 214 is really an inexpensive test to see if you can improve your existing guitar(s).

My main guitar in the worship setting is a 414ce. I play both flatpick, fingerstyle and hybrid styles on the 414ce. This guitar has been played enough to need refretting with EVO wire, so lots of experience and definitely my reference instrument. Some recommendations:
- I have been playing Elixir Nanowebs since they came out. I need coated strings due to "death sweat" that kills uncoated versions very quickly.
- My standard has been phosphor-bronze Nanoweb light gauge (012 - 053).
- For many years now I have been replacing the unwound 012 and 016 with medium gauge 013 and 017. I purchased the unwound stings in inexpensive bulk packs. This in part can shift the tonal balance, and I think they sound more "solid" than the standards. Elixir now offers HD string sets which are basically the same as I had been doing with bulk strings.
- Try regular bronze strings (bright bronze or 80/20, Elixir 11052 set) in place of phosphor-bronze. They tend to be brighter, feel like they are somewhat lower tension, and have less punch in the bass.
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Re: Need some advice on fingerstyle guitars

Postby Brent Tobin » Fri May 24, 2019 10:28 pm

Tone is in the ear of the player. As an example, I bought an Ibanez Artcore jazz archtop because I liked it and the sound. There's a long list of bad reviews on the pickups and most people claim they've changed them out to high-end units.
I really like that guitar as it is, and I've had good comments from some other musicians as well.
If you like the guitar and all the above don't work, you could try the 'Tony Rice' extreme mod.
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