MISC ACOUSTICS AND AC/ELEC GUITARS
GOOD INFO: A good article on choosing an acoustic guitar. Aimed primarily at beginners but there's a ton of stuff experienced players may not be aware of. Go here for the good read. Thanks for the info Ray!
1. Bill Lawrence Soundhole Pickup, older model by one of the legends in pickup design. Mounts easily in soundhole with a long cord attached, 1/4" jack, and volume control mounted to pickup. $75.
2. BBE Acoustimax Acoustic Instrument Preamp, (close-up), (back panel). Excellent studio or stage tool to tweak your acoustic tone, while providing BBE processing to your tone. I could write a 500-word essay trying to describe the BBE process but just know that it makes your guitar sound crisper, cleaner, with each note sounding more distinct, while making your guitar "jump" out of the mix if desired. Here's a simple video recorded direct, and with the BBE on, using no EQ'ing, just the BBE. The Acoustimax has a 3-band recording-console-quality EQ with sweepable mid and low frequency notch filter, as well as phase reversal, ground lift, line level out, dedicated tuner out, TRS effects loop, and a pre/post switchable DI output with pad. This adds up to a unit that shines in both the studio or stage. This unit lists for $392, selling well discounted to $199. This one's mint in the box for $125.
3. Aphex Acoustic Xciter, (pic2). Excellent sounding acoustic preamp and DI. Doesn't have quite as many features as the Baggs I posted last week but is much more compact and the fidelity is just as good. Features built-in Aphex Aural Exciter with "Big Bottom" technology. Active/Passive switch, Lo Tune - Lo Blend - Hi Tune - Hi Blend controls, 1/4" or XLR outputs. Like other Aphex units, your acoustic voicing will be clean and open, with better articulation, clarity, and projection with the feeling of a fuller reach to the lowest notes. This will probably go to a guitarist but please note that it's made for ANY acoustic instrument including violin, cellos, saxophones, flutes, accordions, xylophones, and keyboards. In Harmony-Central reviews (link), scored a 9.2 overall, 9.4 on sound quality. Click here for a YouTube demo by Tom Bresh on how he sets his Xciter. Perfect condition, not a scratch, but it does have two strips of Velcro on the bottom. Very nice unit for the money, $99.
4. Aphex Aural Exciter 204 with Optical Big Bottom, (front), (back). Don't confuse with other Exciters - Aphex is the original and the best. I remember when the first Aphex Aural Exciter came out in the 80's; a 1/2 rack unit that did magical things to a recorded mix. These units sold themselves at Hotlicks. We'd tell customers to bring us their demo tape, inevitably a cassette, play it in the bypass position, and then when we would engage the Aural Exciter their eyes would bug and they'd inevitably buy it on the spot. In fact, I have one of the original 1/2 racks and the later full rack in stock for you old-schoolers. As with the original 1/2 rack units, professional audio engineers use the Aural Exciter to increases loudness and clarity - brighten up sound dulled by analog equipment, got lost in a wash of effects, and now to liven up the mix during an analog to digital transfer. Now, with the Model 204, Aphex has brought back the Aural Exciter in an enhanced, 2-channel version PLUS included the Optical Big Bottom. While the Aural Exciter works on the whole mix, the Big Bottom focuses on the low end, providing deeper, more resonant bass with little or no increase in peak output. Briefly, the 204 increases presence and clarity of highs and lows, extends high frequencies with no added noise, gives low notes greater resonance, and does all this with no increase in peak volume. With a list price of $399 the 204 sells new for $249, but this one is barely used, in original box with manual, and a good investment in your tone at just $159 - and this unit is made in America.
5. Dean Markley West Coast La Jolla Active Acoustic Guitar Pickup System. Very good sounding complete active unit, with soundhole pickup plus under-saddle transducer, and preamp built into the end-pin jack. The La Jolla Active pickup system perfectly unites the Gold River Accelerator Jack with two world-class pickups, the Dean Markley Tahoe magnetic sound-hole pickup and the Barstow Gold-Plated transducer pickup. The Barstow transducer pickup is connected to a discrete Class A preamp housed inside the Gold River Accelerator Jack. The Tahoe (a passive pickup needing no preamp) is wired to the passive channel of the Gold River, going directly to your amplifier system. This specially designed Gold River Accelerator Jack increases headroom, expands tone and output, and is completely internal. We have several of these in stock which we're using as an affordable mod to transform any of our acoustics. With a list price of $259 but we can install these on any acoustic in stock for $150, including parts and labor.
6. Taylor Prints, original dealer displays. I have the set of 5 (each one different) that I bought around 5 years ago. You can buy them unframed - or I can also include a solid oak frame that I purchased for each one. This was a very successful ad campaign that ran from late '99 with just a subtle reference to the advertiser being a Taylor headstock pictured in the corner. These are very high quality on thick poster stock, 23.5" X 16.5", large enough to be a center piece in your jamming room or den. Email me if you want pics of the 3 that aren't pictured here. Price for a poster and frame is $35 (you cut the mat).
7. Taylor X-12 Luggage Case, for your X-12 (312, 512CE, W12, etc.). Very heavy, very plush, and the best protection around for your prized Grand Auditorium size acoustic. Mint condition. $165.
1. B.C. RICH U.S.A. ACOUSTIC - THE ULTIMATE GUITAR FOR THE B.C. RICH COLLECTOR: (Bernie Sr's. Last Guitar), (pic2). More pics and full description at this link: www.chrisguitars.com/bernie.html. Owned by Martin Miranda, my world-class tech, who was a close friend of Bernie and this was the last guitar that Bernie ever built, albeit not quite finished, and he was working on it the very day of his untimely passing. Click the link for a full description and feel free to email Martin Miranda directly at the address on the page.
2. Ibanez Artwood AW20CE, very good quality acoustic electric at a price that's unmatched for a solid spruce top with Fishman system. The AW20CE has an attractive Antique Violin finish, Ibanez/Fishman preamp system, solid Spruce top with maple back and sides. Appointments include multi-ply body binding front and back, maple headstock overlay that matches body, and Venetian cutaway to allow easy access to the upper frets. One really nice appointment is an Earvana nut, usually found on higher end guitars and makes a huge difference on proper intonation. List price is an amazing $499 and sells in stores for $345, but if you can live with a cosmetic flaw that I can't even find, grab this one, fully setup and ready to gig, for just $275.
3. 2013 Martin Jeff Tweedy 00-DB, (front), (back), (headstock), (label), (case). Superb playability and fantastic sound in a comfy 00-size acoustic. This model was designed in collaboration with Grammy Award winning Wilco front man, Jeff Tweedy and is Martin's first Custom Artist model that is Forest Stewardship Council certified by the Rainforest Alliance. The FSC label coupled with the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal on this guitar means that the wood used comes from forests that have are protecting forestlands, communities and wildlife. Aside from that distinction, it's a wonderfully crafted instrument that's a joy to play. Specs of this fine flattop include: 00-14 fret deep body with gloss finish, all mahogany body (top/back/side) with Mahogany Burst top and Dark Mahogany back/side, mahogany neck with Richlite fingerboard, Roden style Corian fingerboard inlay, simple dovetail neck joint, X bracing pattern with scalloped European spruce braces, Old Style-18 multi-stripe rosette, Style-18 back purfling/strip, wide 1 3/4" nut, 25.4" scale, modified V neck shape with standard taper, straight line bridge with drop in Richlite saddle, tortoise binding, 2 5/16" string spacing, multi-stripe top inlay, black plastic bridge pins, tortoise pickguard, compensated bone saddle with 16" radius, tortoise heel cap, tortoise endpiece, white side dots, solid square taper headstock, nickel open gear tuners with butterbean knobs, mahogany headplate with script old-style overlay logo, and bone nut and paper label signed by Jeff. This guitar compliments a voice, especially a higher voice, wonderfully. It is not overly midrangy like many small body guitars as the deeper body offers more projection than warmth than other 00's. The all-mahogany construction gives it a dark, full sound. It's just a joy to play in all regards. Retails new for $3249, discounted to $2599. Save yourself some serious dough and get this nearly flawless, barely used one for $1799. Includes original Martin case, keys, and tags.
4. 2010 Martin 000X1AE Acoustic/Electric, (front), (back), (side), (headstock), (controls). I haven't had many of these but I'm impressed by the tone. I find it compares very well to other non-wood bodies. It sounds more natural than an Ovation and even close to a Rainsong, which costs around 4X as much. It's a remarkable flattop for the money. Although it's a solid Spruce top, the sides, back, and neck are high pressure laminate. I wouldn't have though that alternative source guitars would sound so natural; so "woody". The tone is nearly indistinguishable from a mahogany or rosewood body. Similarly, the projection is excellent and even with the smaller auditorium body style it sounds very big and is quite loud. It's very comfortable to play with the scaled down 000-size body, while featuring a full-scale 25.4". Sounds good amplified as well, with control wheels for volume and tone just inside the soundhole. You may have noticed that Martin action has come down over the past few decades and this guitar is no exception. Action is low and comfortable, although it can easily be raised if you do very hard strumming. For the money, this is a hard guitar to beat. Extremely clean shape with no flaws to speak of. You'll see these online at $599. Get this one for just $419. Add a new high quality Gibson Blues King gigbag for $35 (pic).
5. 2014 Martin D-16RGT, (front), (back), (label), (binding), (headstock), (case). Mint condition and a surprisingly superb sounding USA Martin for this price range. It's loud, well-balanced, with excellent clarity and full bass response. The D-16RGTE offers the vintage look of a gloss finish top, but the back and sides have a satin finish, which is less labor-intensive but is actually conducive to better tone. It's nicely appointed with multi-ply top binding, back binding, bound neck, and herringbone rosette. Features include dreadnought body shape, solid East Indian rosewood sides and back with solid Sitka spruce top, solid Spanish cedar neck attached with Martin's fine mortise-and-tenon joint, solid Micarta fingerboard and bridge, modified low oval neck shape, D1 bracing pattern, white Corian nut, 25.4" scale, 1-11/16" nut with, pearl dot inlays, tortoise pickguard, chrome enclosed gears, gloss finish top, satin finish body & neck. I've had around 5 of these in the 000 size which are excellent fingerstyle guitars. This one is equally impressive for its bold, powerful strumming tone. I give it a solid 2 thumbs up. Sold new for $1859 ($2299 list) which makes this a nice deal on a clean used one at $1259. Offered in immaculate condition with a superb set up. Includes original Martin case, manual, unsigned warranty, etc.
6. Martin Nylon Backpacker Travel Guitar, (back), (side), (gigbag). The Backpacker is a cool little travel guitar that easily fits in the overhead compartment on flights and at a weight of less than 3 lbs. isn't much to lug around. Unlike some other diminutive guitars, the Backpacker is solidly built and plays like a regular guitar with a full 24" scale. Features include a solid spruce top, solid mahogany sides and back, bridge accepts either ball-end strings or standard tie-off classical, and chrome enclosed tuners. If you're looking for a classical guitar to play at the beach, camping, or strumming in the living room, this baby doesn't take up much space and has decent projection for such a small body. Nice deal at $119. Includes Martin gigbag.
7. 1968 Martin 00-18C, (front), (back), (headstock front), (headstock back), (side), (serial), (top grain), (case). "[ Where have all the flowers gone..." One of the coolest folk guitars you can own and just a few chords conjurs up the era of Peter, Paul, and Mary. This wouldn't be my top recommendation for a serious classical player looking for a Ramirez type guitar, but for a player or collector who wants that distinctive folk music tone, few could be better. It has a very big bass for a small mahogany body, and fills the room with smooth tones. Specs of the 00-18C include: double-bound 14 1/8" 00-size body, spruce top, mahogany back, mahogany sides, 12-fret mahogany neck, Brazilian rosewood fretboard - bridge - headstock overlay, slotted headstock, dot inlays, 19 fret, rosewood bridge, 3-on-a-plate tuners, and 2" nut. For nearly 50 years old this guitar is in amazingly clean condition. Just a few check lines on top but no other significant flaws or wear anywhere on this guitar. Playabilty is what you'd expect on a classical and there's plenty of saddle to work with. If you're a Martin collector, someone who wants to relive the glorious 60's, or just a player wanting an old Martin in beautiful condition, you want this guitar. $1299(HOLD-Geno C 10/23/20). Includes an old hardshell case that fits the guitar perfectly.
8. 1973 Norman B-30 Acoustic Dreadnought, (front), (back), (side), (headstock), (neck block/label), (case). Back in the 70's Norman, under the ownership of the revered Norman Boucher, was one of the premier guitar builders in Canada and THE guitar if you were part of the major music scene in Quebec. They were building up to 5000 guitars at year at their peak. In 1982 they were bought by LaSiDo (Godin, Seagull, Simon&Patrick, Art&Lutherie). The design of the instruments in the beginning was based on a Martin model with it's X bracing and the dreadnought body shape. One of design features was the unique neck joint, bolted to the body with no heel. It also features a much smaller, curved neck block (shown here), similar to a classical guitar, that has less mass and, thus, lets the top vibrate more freely. The B-30 features a dreadnought body, with many cosmetic elements that resemble a Martin at fast glance. There is conflicting info on the web regarding the body wood. It definitely has a solid spruce top but depending on the site, sides and back are made of either birch or with maple, but they're in the same family and have similar tonal properties. Other features include maple neck with rosewood fretboard, mahogany headstock overlay, mother of pearl dot inlays, quality black and chrome sealed tuners, black teardrop pickguard, 3-ring rosette, and black binding on the top. Overall in wonderful shape for its age but as it has a thin lacquer finish, there is a little wear (shown here) on the sides of the neck and on the back side, waist area. There are no issues such as cracks, repaired or otherwise, bridge lifting, belly problems, or any other detractors. At over 40 years the sound has opened up nicely and it has a wonderful tone. For a few online samples, check out a few YouTube samples here and here. Norman has a loyal following who seek out the older B-series. What can you get for under $430 these days? Well, around 1/4th of a '70's Martin D-18, 1/2 of a 70's Guild D-25, or a new Korean/Chinese import with plenty of cosmetic appeal but zero tone character...or this nice Canadian Norman B-30. I consider this an excellent value in a guitar that will be around for decades to come. $429 includes ultralight case pictured.
9. 2001 Samick Greg Bennett Design D-9 Dreadnought with Baggs pickup, (front), (headstock), (back), (pickup/endpin jack), (case). Samick "Imperial Series" maple dreadnought equipped with a Baggs M1 soundhole pickup ($139 new) connected to an endpin jack. The M1 clamps down without alteration to the guitar so it's easily removable if you don't want it for some reason. It's a passive pickup so no battery is required, and the pole pieces are individually adjustable to match your guitar's frequency response. For a passive system it has very good volume and works great plugged into a hi-z input on your amp. I find it much more warmer and more natural than a saddle Piezo system. The D-9 is one of the acclaimed Greg Bennett designs. Although Samick is the largest manufacturer in the world, their own brand was lagging behind until they brought Greg onboard and he has turned the company around with the Samick-branded instruments. The D-9 features a solid spruce top with laminated maple sides and back, with a maple neck. It's nicely appointed, with abalone trim along the entire soundboard edge, as well as an abalone rosette, cross inlays, and Grover tuners. Tonally the solid spruce contributes to a lively sounding tone. It's also fairly warm sounding for maple, not too far from mahogany to my ears. Set up is very comfortable throughout the register. Cosmetically it's in very nice shape with the only flaw being a 1/4" crack (shown here) in the sound hole that we've glued and will never be a problem. They only made this model from '01 to '03 so there aren't a lot of them out there. For a nicely appointed solid spruce dreadnought with the Baggs M-1 and a hardshell case, this is an excellent value at $329(HOLD-Mark D 2/2) or if you just want the guitar without a case or pickup, $215.
10. Washburn D6S Dreadnought - Solid Spruce, (front/back/side), (headstock). Excellent buy in a solid spruce dreadnought with a very nice in-house setup that puts it head and shoulders above anything in the stores or online superstores. Features solid spruce top with laminated mahogany back and sides, mahogany neck with rosewood fretboard, tortoise body binding, tortoise neck binding, genuine dovetail neck joint, 1 11/16"; nut, 25.5" scale, rosewood bridge, flat 16" fretboard radius, die-cast tuners, satin finish. Although a cosmetic second for reasons we can't find, this guitar is immaculate condition and not pre-owned. With a list price of $350, a very good buy at 50% off, just $175, set up and ready to play.
11. 1999 Yamaha APX-4A Acoustic-Electric, (front/back), (headstock), (preamp/battery comp.), (binding/rosette), (gigbag). Yamaha's APX series are designed as both a good quality acoustic guitar but really shines as a stage guitar, built for comfort and a quality amplified tone. I've had the earlier version, model 4 with composite body, and this 4A provides a far acoustic tone. The APX-4A is basically a cutaway dreadnought shape, except more shallow than a standard dread - plus the cutaway make playing the higher notes a lot easier. Features include spruce top, nato back and sides, unique oval soundhole with attractive wooden inlay rosette cap, 5-stripe bound body, 22-fret rosewood fretboard, pearl dot inlay, rosewood bridge with white pearl dot pins. A simple but versatile preamp includes 3 Band EQ with AMF (adjustable mid-range frequency), volume, battery light, and mute. An access door on the upper bout makes changing 9V batteries a breeze. Click here and here for a few YouTube clip of the APX-4A played straight acoustically, and here plugged in, although a bit buried in reverb. This is a well built guitar in the tradition of Taiwanese Yamaha's and a very good choice for a moderately priced stage guitar at $299.