Friday, December 07, 2012

Travel Guitar

Today Phoebe and I went to the dog park. Did the long hike, and then came back to the flat bit where the dogs all like to play while their owners stand around and yak about their dogs. While Phoebe played with the other dogs, I sat on a bench and played my big Yamaha F335 TBS acoustic guitar I brought along. Worked on chords. It's slow work, learning guitar.

I really like this guitar, and I've played a bunch of "better" ones in recent days, thinking I might get an acoustic/electric, but I'm sticking with this. My playing doesn't justify even a $300 guitar at this point. Even with a laminate top, this Yamaha has a big sound, and the right neck and action for me. Sure, a $2000 Martin has a bigger sound, but I play for myself and certainly don't need that. There are probably plenty of people who would say that the smaller my sound, the better.

I've been thinking about a 3/4 sized travel guitar that's easier to transport, even to the dog park, fits in the overhead bin on a plane, but still plays like a full size guitar, that is has a neck that's right. The sound varies with these little guitars, but that's not a big problem for me. The few I've played at our local music store I've liked.

The Baby Taylor, I've played. It sounds great. Same with the Taylor GS Mini, although it's too big. The GS Mini sounds just like an expensive full sized guitar. All mahogany bodies on these guys pull the overly bright sound of spruce tops down into murkier territory. Playability was great for me on both

I also got to play the Little Martin, the LX1 I think it was. It's definitely a Martin; I thought the action was a little high, but the sound was big, and WAY bright - solid spruce top. Nothing wrong with the sound, I just prefer the darker sound of the mahogany Taylors.

Lots have been written about all three of these guitars by people who actually know stuff about guitars if you want to read it.

Of more interest to me are the alternatives to the Taylors/Martins.

You all know I'm all about the equipment, and if I practiced guitar as much as I surf guitars at I'd be a playing fool by now. But here's what I'm looking at checking out at Guitar Center in Albuquerque this weekend. These are cheap guitars compared to the Martin and Taylor.


A Spanish company makes the SX TG1. Solid spruce top, but looks like only stores in Europe sell it. It's the right size, and I don't mind the exaggerated parlor-style body. From videos, the price and the solid top I'd almost get one without handling it. Almost.


Luna makes this all mahogany Luna Safari Tattoo. Who knows how it plays? If it's decent it could work.

Yamaha JR1
Yamaha JR1. I know from my big Yamaha that their sub $200 guitars are great, they hold tune and sound good. I'm going to keep the 335 forever.

Mitchell. Who are they?

Mitchell makes a small Dread, their MD10. Who knows? 

Again, not brilliant sound I don't guess from any of these little guitars, but that's not the point. Decent sound, good neck, and more practice time are the goals.

There are others, Breedlove, Washburn Rover, a Takamine, more.

Crosby Striper, a Good Boat
These acoustic guitars, the expensive ones and the cheap ones, all of them, seem very much to me like wooden boats, if they had ever found a way to mass produce wooden boats instead of going to fiberglass hulls. This is a good thing. I like that a wooden guitar requires that some attention be paid to it's well-being, especially in a dry place like New Mexico. I remember my dad filling his wooden 30-odd year old Crosby Striper's hull with water every spring prior to launch, so the planks could swell enough to keep her from sinking in her slip the first night in the water.

A complex tool like a wooden boat or a wooden guitar is a fine thing, and worthy of our attention.

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