I finally bought my dream guitar!

jcroy

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I'm too "old school" when it comes to buying stuff like musical instruments + equipment.

In general, I insist on trying the actual instrument in person. Even for the same model, there can be subtle or even big differences between different individual instruments (of the same model) on the racks at a music store.
 
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Carlo Medina

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Nice Carlo, have fun with that.

Anyone tried one of these? I keep getting ads for it on FB:
A few thoughts:
  1. I agree with jcroy - for musical instruments, amps and effects I either need to hear it first (especially instruments) or have a solid, iron clad, easy and no hassle return policy. Something which in these covid days is pretty much impossible unless they have curbside pickup.
  2. Positive Grid does seem to have a robust online presence, as well as significant product offerings in Sweetwater and Guitar Center websites, mostly software/effects related, so although I've never heard or tried them, they seem to be a legitimate presence in the industry.
  3. The product (and PG in general) seem to be going after the Line 6 style of modeling amps and effects. I think the "reviewer" even mentions his Spider Amp, which is a Line 6 product. They're not going after the market of, say, tube amps and boutique effects pedals.
So my thoughts just based on the video (assuming it does everything claimed in the video which is a risk) is this: if you are in the market for a practice amp that seems to let you simulate tones to songs and artists you know well, and play along with pre-recorded tracks, that does seem to fit that bill.

At my current playing style, and believe me I am not professional quality, I'm a little bit outside of this product's target audience. Earlier in my playing path, I would have loved something that made my guitar sound exactly like [insert favorite band/artist here]. But now I actually enjoy getting the various effects pedals, and the myriad of ways each pedal can be altered to get an infinite array of sounds. Example: maybe you buy a delay pedal because it's the one The Edge uses. While trying to dial it in to get that "Where the Streets Have No Name" vibe, you discover a ton of other ways it affects your guitar's sound, and that leads to you experimenting. Now multiply that experience with every new pedal or effect you buy and add to the effects chain. I get so much more joy and fun now out of just experimenting with my pedals (on electric guitar) and the way it inspires me to create my own sounds, than being able to click on a button and say "make me sound like Slash on Welcome to the Jungle, or Jimi on Foxy Lady". Because ultimately when you sound exactly like that, you pretty much just want to play that song (and if you're playing for others, they'll be expecting it).
 
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jcroy

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Earlier in my playing path, I would have loved something that made my guitar sound exactly like [insert favorite band/artist here].
I use to think this way too back in the day. At the time, I was attempting to replicate van halen's sound and a few others.

In the end, I remember reading an article in a guitar magazine back in the early-mid 1990s where eddie vh himself mentioned that his studio setup was just a simple older model marshall stack. So I realized I was just spinning in my wheels for the whole time.

At around that same time period, the Peavy 5150 stack was just appearing on the market which I tried out at a local music store. That's when it dawned on me that I came to the realization that it didn't sound like van halen's sound at all. For that matter, initially I thought it sounded like a "godzilla" version of an old Peavey amp I had for many years prior.

After that uninspiring event, I realized the "ultimate" sound had more to do with my own personal technical playing abilities and/or writing, than any particular equipment setup.
 

Carlo Medina

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Here's a secret I discovered. For the vast majority of people you'll play for, if you can nail the actual song they won't even notice that your distortion/fuzz/delay/reverb aren't spot on.

Because here's the truth: you'll most often be playing solo, or with friends, versus playing with the actual track (I mean how weird would that be: hey everyone, gather round while I play the actual song and plug my guitar and play alongside it!). 99% of your friends won't remember the exact guitar tone anyway and will just be impressed that you know how to play it.

Same with your musician friends too. When someone I know nails a song, especially a difficult one, I never say "man you should use a different distortion pedal" or "you really need to adjust the delay and reverb on your pedalboard". It's always "great f'n job man you rocked!" And, if they put their own spin on it and it sounds good, I'm not even picky about them not nailing it chord- or note-perfect. There are dozens of ways to play chords on a guitar with different voicings and embellishments. So if someone takes a little artistic license on a song, or goes down a slightly easier path due to their skill level, I don't nitpick.

If I want to hear the exact song played note-perfect and with the period correct effects and amps...I'll put on my CD or stream it.
 

jcroy

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When it comes to nitpicking muscians, the only ones I ever came across were individuals who were hardcore "perfectionist" types. Fortunately, they were quite rare.
 

Carlo Medina

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Yeah, those types of people are best left listened to...as a member of the audience...and are best left out of my social circle. :rolling-smiley:
 
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Also I realized I have been playing favorites due to my recent purchase, so in fairness to my Taylor, here she is:
914CE.jpg
As you can see, even though topwood is Sitka spruce like my M32, it's a lot more whiter/cream colored than the M32. It's actually lighter than the European spruce on the D32. These differences are much more pronounced in real life vs. how they look in the pictures, but here's the three of them side by side, the differences start to come through when you have them all onscreen at once.
Comparison.jpg
 

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One thing having multiple guitars lets you do: keep one in alternate tunings. The M32 is now in DGCGCD. open Gsus2. Or as many know it: ”The Rain Song” tuning. And guess what covid closure has allowed me to work on? Yup. I know how to play all the parts. Now it’s just a matter of stringing it all together smooth and singing on top of it.
 

jcroy

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Back in the day, I had two guitars I used regularly.

One had the standard E tuning. The other one was tuned to E flat.

In those days, a lot of stuff I was transcribing was originally tuned to E flat.
 

Carlo Medina

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So...quarantine brings out the worst in my ability to control my impulses.

Contacted a boutique guitar shop in a neighboring city who was willing to do a by-appt. one on one demo with me. He had The Big Three small builder shops (Collings, Bourgeois, Santa Cruz). Having bought a Dreadnought as a bigger brother to compliment my Taylor and Lakewood Grand Auditoriums, I now was interested in a smaller guitar (000 or OM size) to be a smaller sibling. This place had multiple OMs for Collings and Bourgeois, and one for Santa Cruz. All had Adirondack tops which is something my current guitars do not have (Taylor and Lakewood GAs have Sitka spruce, and the Lakewood Dread has European spruce).

I tried out 6-7 guitars over the course of 3+ hours. It was just him and me and our PPE, keeping a respectful distance of 10+ feet.

Here's a pic of three guitars on his wall.


On the right is my Lakewood M32.
On the left is now the shop's Taylor 914ce. :eek:
In the middle is my new Santa Cruz OM.

Yes, I traded in what I thought was my "forever" guitar, my bling baby. Why? Because in all honesty, the Santa Cruz may be the single finest guitar I have ever played. There really is a difference when small makers are able to do things like "tone tapping" the top wood which makes a huge difference.

For the rest of the sordid story, I'll spoilerize it to keep this post relatively short. Expand at your peril :D

Note: I copy-pasta'd this from another forum I had posted about the purchase

Set up a one-on-one by appointment audition this past Saturday. My local shop had a lot of Collings OMs that I liked, but no SCGC OMs and is not a Bourgeois dealer. I knew my next guitar was going to be a smaller OM body since I'm not a big guy and wanted a smaller guitar for the stable. This San Diego based dealer carried all three of the makers, and had OMs in each one (OM2HA and OM1AJL for Collings, OM Vintage and OMC Generation for Bourgeois, and the SCGC OM). To top it all off (inadvertent pun), these all had Adirondack tops. My GAs have Sitka and my D has Euro spruce. I was very eager to see what difference that wood would make on the sound (in addition to the body size and construction differences).

We agreed on the logistics, day/time, precautions we'd take (gloves, masks, physical distancing, hand washing, sanitizing sprays). Due to closure these models had been in storage and were untouched for weeks, but he was still going to do what he could to clean them.

As per my usual process, I brought the M32 and 914ce as my "reference tones". I was once burned by buying a guitar that sounded good in a room, without hearing what mine sounded like, only to bring it home and find my M32 was preferable to me in every way. But this wasn't going to be a "shootout". I knew I wanted a different sound in my OM. The Lakewood and Taylor are very similar in sound characteristics, and I wanted my OM to be a complimentary guitar, a tone that was sufficiently different from my existing cache.

I spent over 2 hours playing all of those guitars, and my own, going back and forth, chatting with the owner, who was extremely helpful and not at all pressuring. He was extremely knowledgeable with advice and telling me what he heard (which largely mirrored what I thought I was hearing but kept to myself so I could get his uncolored feedback).

All three makers make exceptional instruments. All of the OMs had similar-ish sound signatures (i.e. closer to a traditional sound than the Taylor/Lakewood more bright/forward tone) except the Julian Lage which was more bright/forward sounding than the other OMs, and maybe had a bit more emphasis on fundamental tones, and slightly less overtones. Had I played any one of those in isolation, I could have gone home a happy new owner with any of them.

Since I was able to play them against each other, there was one I kept gravitating to. Just something about the tone, it was exactly what in my head I was looking for. The neck (both the smoothness of the back, the shape, and the fret/fretboard setup) seemed to make chord changes easier and faster for me.

I realized the adage is true: at this level, you're comparing excellence. Now it's up to personal preference. And that one, for me, was the Santa Cruz. But it was also more than I wanted to spend. I asked the question I had no inkling (as of that morning) that I would even contemplate. "What kind of trade-in can I get for the 914?". He gave me a good trade-in value, especially considering I had gotten a discount from my friend who worked at Guitar Center, on top of a small discount for the SCGC OM. I admit, I'm not much of a haggler, but I did do my homework so I know he gave me a little bit of a break, but I'm sure others here will say I could have gotten more. He had been so helpful, genuinely friendly, and the furthest from a pressure-salesman tactic, that I made peace with the price.

I spent another 15 minutes going back and forth with my M32 and 914. It's funny but it wasn't until I was in that room that I critically compared the two back to back. At home, I would just pick up one or the other and that was my guitar for that particular session. I never realized how much they sounded alike. The M32 could get a little louder, and maybe had a bit more lush overtones than the 914, which was not as loud, maybe a little more even across the EQ spectrum, and had more controlled overtones. But they're essentially 95% similar in overall tonality. And I'm never selling the M32 (sentimental value, custom build, and has an attractive piece of Sitka on it that has aged fantastically in terms of tone and appearance).

It's been 48 hours now and I don't regret leaving the 914 behind. 72 hours ago I would have thought this impossible. The SCGC (and the Collings and Bourgeois) really do have a quality difference to the big brands, even the best models of the bigs. Here are my initial thoughts with about 10 hours of play on the SCGC.
  1. Balanced sound. No one part of the frequency spectrum is overemphasized. But don't confuse balanced with boring, it's anything but.
  2. Surprising volume for it's size. I thought losing nearly a 1/4"-1/2" in depth, plus smaller lower bout, would make this much quieter. I can actually strum it hard and it doesn't break up at all, and can get nearly as loud as the Lakewood.
  3. Very articulate bass notes in comparison to the 914 and M32. The bass note clarity and separation is just more noticeable and pleasing.
  4. Fit and finish. The nitrocel gloss just seems more polished. Smoother. Like more time was taken to get it feeling almost glass smooth.
  5. The back of the neck. I know it's mahogany just like my others. But I don't know if it's stained, or just finished better. But it looks like high-end furniture grade. And it feels smoother while still being satin finished (the one thing I didn't like about Collings was the gloss neck).
  6. Ease of playability. I don't have big hands. But after playing it a while I became suspicious it might be a shorter scale because I felt it easier to fret certain shapes. I knew it wasn't 24.9" because that would have been very obvious. Checked the interwebs, turns out it's 25.35" and my other two are 25.5. Who knew that I could sense a difference of 0.15" spread out over 20 frets?
  7. It's nearly a pound lighter than the 914! Yes it's a smaller body, and yes it doesn't have electronics. But it's baffling to me how light it is every time I pick it up.

I'm sure I'll have more thoughts (and pics) in the future.

My...I won't call them dislikes, but things I'll miss...
  1. Uppermost fret access. The 914 cutaway was great, but if I'm being honest, I play that high approximately 0.1% of the time. So I'll give up that 0.1% for the other 99.9%.
  2. This sounds stupid but...I'm hesitant to have a luthier install the second strap pin. Not that I'm afraid of devaluing it (I don't purchase guitars for resell, I purchase because I love the sound and want to play it). But the neck to body join is so beautifully shaped, it looks perfect. This is the first dovetail joint acoustic I've owned. Not sure if the neck join area is shaped like this due to that method, or if SCGC just gives it a beautiful aesthetic because it's in their company DNA, but I don't want to do anything to mar it.
  3. I now have a lot less abalone in my life. I wouldn't change this guitar's aesthetic, it's perfect in the classic look it's designed to emulate. But man the 914 was "bling city".

And here's a parting close up shot...
 

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