Graphite is NOT wood (or, late-night ramblings on guitars)

24 Jul

I stopped by Guitar Center today after work (mostly to see if the new issue of The Sounding Board – a Martin guitar newsletter – was out yet. It is, but GC didn’t have a copy), and naturally ended up in the acoustic corral playing guitars. My happiest discovery today was the Taylor GC8 – a sweet little easy-to-play guitar by Taylor. One of the most distinctive features, other than the concert-sized body, was the slotted headstock. I hadn’t played a Taylor with a slotted headstock before. I must have spent a good 10-15 minutes or so playing the GC8.

Then, not wanting to neglect the myriad of other guitars in the corral, I picked up a long-time favorite of mine, the Martin OMC Aura.

There is such a distinct difference between Taylors and Martins. Martins are warm and resonant. Taylors are bold. Andrew and I have a long-standing debate on which are better guitars. Though I would be the first to say that Taylors have concentrated on making their electronics top-notch (which they are – and cosmetic too! There’s none of this huge black box on the side deal that you see in most Martins), Martins are truly acoustic-centric and concentrate on the sound. But when you get down to it, it’s a different sound, and everyone has different preferences. I, for the life of me, will never understand why anyone would get a Gibson. They just sound tinny to me. Tinny and loud. And these are the ones in the $3,000 range.

The OMC Aura I picked up has an intimacy that lacks in the Taylor. Even my 312CE which I love. I recently started playing Cricket again (he’s a Martin 00-16DBM – solid mahogany, smaller, but deep body) after shelving him for the last few months to concentrate on breaking in the Taylor 312CE. It felt a lot like coming home – and made me wonder why I ever stopped playing Cricket. However, I picked up an 000-18 today at GC too. Warm, warm, warm, but no sustain or resonance. I was actually very disappointed (it’s not the first time I’ve played the 000-18, and never really fell in love with it…thank god. The pricetag is $3,000+), since the 000-18 is one of Martin’s classic models. Likewise, I have never been overly impressed with the D28 (and HD28) or the D18, which everyone swears by. Maybe I just don’t like dreadnoughts.

Ultimately, it’s the individual guitar that speaks to a person, and fits a person. Though I love my Taylor, I think I will always prefer playing Cricket.

Near the end of my GC excursion, one of the GC fellows came in and told me to check out the Rainsong graphite guitar. I was rather non-plussed. It’s a guitar made all of graphite, so it’s lighter, and doesn’t warp in extreme weather. Handy for people who live in the desert or very humid places. The price-tag on it was $2,300. The sound was not bad, but all I could think of was, for the same price, a Martin or a Taylor would give you 10 times the sound. Graphite will never be wood.

I’m done rambling. I should sleep.

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Posted by on July 24, 2008 in Uncategorized


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