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Author Topic: Effect of a cutaway on Larrivee guitars  (Read 3272 times)
TonyC
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« on: February 05, 2009, 04:35:10 AM »

Howdy.  I'm a fiddler, not a guitar player.  But I'm a father too, and I'm researching Larrivee guitars for my 15 year-old daughter.  This forum is very interesting.  You folks have a lot of great things to say and read.  Very helpful.  Perhaps you might help me with a question.  I'm looking at the L series.  I live not far from Minneapolis/St. Paul and The Podium has great prices on the L series Larrivees.  My daughter loves the look of a cutaway.  I have to confess that I think they look swell too.  She's quite petite and thinks that the cutaway would help in moving up the neck.  But mostly I think she just likes the look.  My question is whether you knowledgeable people think that a cutaway in a LV-03E or a LV-05E imposes much of a hit on the sound/performance of the guitar.  If the tone suffers a fair bit, that might be a reason to try to nudge her away from the cutaway.  Any advice would be appreciated.  Thanks in advance.

Tony Cunningham

 
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hadden
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« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2009, 04:49:08 AM »

If she is petite she might be more comfortable with an OM. I'm sure the OMV-03r would be great. I personally prefer rosewood in smaller guitars over mahogany. With the L either is excellent.

I don't think anyone has definitively been able to tell much of a difference between cutaway and noncutaway. I don't think it's deficient. I have an LV03r. It's great and I like having the easier access up high.
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snkysnake
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« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2009, 04:52:04 AM »

Most folks say you can't hear the difference between a L-03 and a LV-03 , identical guitars except for the   V  (cutaway)  I owned a LV-03, and I currently own a OMV-03 , and I have never been able to hear a loss in projection, sustain, volume, tone , etc on any guitar with a cut a way. If your daughter  likes the idea of more reach up the neck then a cut a way is the way to go.  I play quite often at fret # 12 or higher, and  couldn't do it  on a non cut a way. See if your shop has two identical guitars, same back and side materials, with and without cutaway, and have the salesman play them for you, with your eyes closed so you can compare.  I think you'll love the L and especially  the LV.

and Hadden is correct , petite people might like the OMV even more,  that one of the reasons I bought an OMV,  a slightly smaller body size that fits me real nice
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« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2009, 04:55:30 AM »

Those are great guitars!  You might also experiment with the OM style as it's a little smaller and maybe more comfortable.

And, no, the cutaway won't affect the tone of a Larrivee or any other guitar to my knowledge.  I had a Martin knock-off Blueridge with a cutaway that was nice and I have a LSV-03R on order.
If you do a search there are probably more detailed/informed discussions on the topic.
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jeremy3220
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« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2009, 03:23:03 PM »

It's impossible for the cutaway not to make a difference in sound. Decreasing the size of the air chamber will raise the resonant frequency. That along with other factors is going to change the sound. The question is if can you hear the difference; that question gets brought up in so many different guitar tone topics and is always best answered by the individual. There are people with strong opinions and people with different hearing abilities, so like snkysnake said you should find out for yourself.
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Mr_LV19E
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« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2009, 08:27:43 PM »

I would also recommend the smaller OM.
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« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2009, 08:34:14 PM »

 afro

It's going to make a difference but not a big difference.  It's helpful if you want to play high up on the fretboard although some don't need the cutaway to play high up. 
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TonyC
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« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2009, 03:15:59 AM »

Thanks very much for all these good replies.  We'll certainly listen with our own ears.  I figured it would also be good to consult the collective wisdom and experience on this forum.  I know with fiddles that how they sound when built and how they sound a few years down the road can vary quite a bit (to be honest, they can sound different depending on the season).  One thing I was curious about is whether the difference between a cutaway and no cutaway might grow as a guitar seasons, so to speak.

TonyC +1
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ducktrapper
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« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2009, 12:27:51 PM »

The L is what Larrivée guitars are all about, imo. The effect of the cutaway is that you can play things up the neck passed the 14th fret a lot more easily. If you notice any other significant difference, you have the hearing of a German Shepherd. 
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tremolo
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« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2009, 05:49:04 PM »

Here's Taylor's take on cutaways, as recently published in Wood & Steel Magazine, Volume 58, Winter 2008.

"Does a cutaway diminish the tonal output of a guitar?  Conventional wisdom would suggest that it would, since a cutaway does remove real estate from the soundboard and slightly diminish the overall air volume in the cavity of the guitar.  But in reality, the tonal difference is neglible, because the soundboard area in the upper bout where a cutaway would be located doesn't remove much anyway.  In fact, the relief rout that we cut on the underside of our guitar tops to enhance movement doesn't extend to that region.  Tonal output is affected more by the degree of tapering in the waist of a guitar body than a cutaway."

It's interesting that Taylor believes that their slotted headstock has a larger impact on tone.
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tremolo
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« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2009, 06:08:39 PM »

...If she is petite she might be more comfortable with an OM. the easier access up high.

 +1

Comfort is definately a factor.

However, cosmetics may be just as important for a young 15 year old girl.  She's probably going to be more interested in playing what she wants and likes and has selected herself.

By the way, a lot of petite women play guitars much larger than an Larrivée L body.  Sarah McLaughlin plays jumbos, GA-x and x-14 Series Taylors (with a 16" lower bout just like an L body Larrivée), Sheryl Crow is super tiny but plays comparatively large Guild Songbird dreadnoughts and huge electric basses, Feist is tiny but plays a large Guild Starfire semi-hollow electric as her number 1, dreadnoughts, etc.

Being so young, I think your daughter would be less sensitive to the size of an L body (which is comfortable for most people and not that large for anyone taller than 5 feet in my opinion) so if she really likes the look and sound of that LV, that's the one you should buy for her.

In the long run, the guitar she chooses is the one she'll be playing the most since that's the one she's has her heart set on.  Just my two cents...

By the way, the LV03E is an outstanding guitar that plays as nice as it looks!
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amoore
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« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2009, 06:54:52 PM »

It's impossible for the cutaway not to make a difference in sound.
He's right......in my opinion, non-cutaway just sounds better and to be honest i think there's a difference in sound even with something as small as a pickup/electronics. but hey, if that's what she likes and is comfortable with that body style, go for it! She won't be disappointed with either of the two.   
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hadden
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« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2009, 07:32:18 PM »

+1

Comfort is definately a factor.

However, cosmetics may be just as important for a young 15 year old girl.  She's probably going to be more interested in playing what she wants and likes and has selected herself.

By the way, a lot of petite women play guitars much larger than an Larrivée L body.  Sarah McLaughlin plays jumbos, GA-x and x-14 Series Taylors (with a 16" lower bout just like an L body Larrivée), Sheryl Crow is super tiny but plays comparatively large Guild Songbird dreadnoughts and huge electric basses, Feist is tiny but plays a large Guild Starfire semi-hollow electric as her number 1, dreadnoughts, etc.

Being so young, I think your daughter would be less sensitive to the size of an L body (which is comfortable for most people and not that large for anyone taller than 5 feet in my opinion) so if she really likes the look and sound of that LV, that's the one you should buy for her.

In the long run, the guitar she chooses is the one she'll be playing the most since that's the one she's has her heart set on.  Just my two cents...

By the way, the LV03E is an outstanding guitar that plays as nice as it looks!


All true. I always notice how smaller women look a bit dwarfed with jumbos or dreads, and know they'd be physically more comfortable with smaller guitars, including the known players you mention. I saw a woman with a Lowden O at folk festival and it looked like a bathtub on her lap. It is more a factor when sitting down than standing up though, for me anyway when I play.

I am 6" and find OMs have a snug and easy feel compared to dreads or jumbos, and after being used to Oms for a few years I found my L took a few weeks to get used to with the extra width and depth of the lower boute. The top of my shoulder got numb after reaching over after a while.  A woman who is slight and say 5" 2 is just going to have a harder time with bigger guitars -- of course anyone can play or get used to any instrument.

And the L would be fine I'm sure. It's not that much bigger. I just think an OM might potentially be more perfect for her.
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« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2009, 07:39:26 PM »

Hi Tony:

I bought a new Larrivee L-03 last month, and when I was comparing guitars in the shop I found there was nearly as much variation in sound between samples of the same model as there was between different makes and models of guitars. I walked into the store ready to buy a Martin D-15 and walked out (after 4 hours of playing about 15 different Martins, Larrivees, Taylors, and Guilds over two days) with the Larrivee. I went with a friend, and it was good to listen as he played, as well as trying the guitars myself.

I'd bet she'd be happy with the Larrivee cutaway if you just bought one over the internet, but she'd get a really good comparison of the sound and feel of the different sizes and styles if she got to compare them in a good shop.

 
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« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2009, 07:54:06 PM »

+1

Comfort is definately a factor.

However, cosmetics may be just as important for a young 15 year old girl.  She's probably going to be more interested in playing what she wants and likes and has selected herself.

By the way, a lot of petite women play guitars much larger than an Larrivée L body.  Sarah McLaughlin plays jumbos, GA-x and x-14 Series Taylors (with a 16" lower bout just like an L body Larrivée), Sheryl Crow is super tiny but plays comparatively large Guild Songbird dreadnoughts and huge electric basses, Feist is tiny but plays a large Guild Starfire semi-hollow electric as her number 1, dreadnoughts, etc.

Being so young, I think your daughter would be less sensitive to the size of an L body (which is comfortable for most people and not that large for anyone taller than 5 feet in my opinion) so if she really likes the look and sound of that LV, that's the one you should buy for her.

In the long run, the guitar she chooses is the one she'll be playing the most since that's the one she's has her heart set on.  Just my two cents...

By the way, the LV03E is an outstanding guitar that plays as nice as it looks!

Although I very much dislike cutaways, I tend to agree w/ tremolo here (except for the remarks about the looks  yak )
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TonyC
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« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2009, 12:52:44 AM »

A continued thanks to all for your comments and advice.

I've been trying to do a fair bit of research on the web even before we make it to Minneapolis to try a Larrivee.  We'd tried a number of Taylor guitars in my town (St. Cloud).  I'd taken some Taylor literature and spent a good while on the Taylor site and poking around web reviews of various Taylor models.  I'd noticed the Taylor comments saying that a cutaway shouldn't really affect the sound very much.  But when I stopped at the Podium (without my daughter, since I was just passing by and scouting), the owner told me you don't often see performing artists use a cutaway.  He chalked up part of it to it probably not being so necessary/pertinent unless you play way up the neck, but he seemed to think the larger factor was that such folks ultimately conclude there is some sacrifice (however slight) of tone.  In other words, I got some conflicting advice, so I figured this forum would be a great place to ask.  I stumbled on it because the more I searched around on the web trying to get the lay of guitar land, the more I kept running into mention of Larrivee guitars.  And while some guitars like Taylors got a lot of raves but also some gripes, I kept seeing almost nothing but kudos for Larrivees.  And when I combined the high praise for the guitars themselves with the opinions that Larrivees offer big rewards for the money, I liked the sound of that tune.

I can see how some folks might love cutaways or hate them looks-wise.  I happen to like them myself (I think just for the touch of asymmetry - the florentine cutaway is particularly interesting, though it may be so pointy that it makes my eyes want to squint a little).  I'm guessing as some folks have mentioned here that a 15 year-old is likelier to want to spend more time on a guitar that she loves visually.  In my own case, I'm to the point with a fiddle where it could be way ugly and if it has the sound under the hood, I'm fine with it.  But in the same breath, when the Cape Breton fellow (Otis Tomas, a guitar maker too) who made my fiddle did a little work on it for me a couple of years ago, I asked him to change the color of the varnish (so while sound is almost everything, looks count for something too).

We'll soon get to the Podium and I'll report back.  Again, I certainly appreciate all the helpful advice.  It's a welcome thing to have more knowledgeable people weigh in when you're not a player yourself (all this guitar talk leaves me with a hankering to pick it up).

TonyC
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tremolo
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« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2009, 06:38:29 AM »

Many consider the Larrivée tone to be somewhere between the Taylor and Martin.   Kind of a broad, loose statement given the large number of models Larrivée produces, but I think it's a fairly accurate description of the sonic signature in very general terms.

Don't forget to try the Martins when you're shopping.  I'd recommend that you at least look and play a Martin OM-21 which is a very good value in the Martin line.  Regrettably, I had to sell my OM-21 when I picked up my L05 (a totally different sound and playability in comparison to the Martin), but I may pick up a rosewood Martin again one day.  The Martin tone is so much more different than both Taylor and Larrivée. 

I prefer the Larrivée tone personally and I like how they play, but I think few can argue that the sweet Martin tone has its many fans.  Many also love Taylor with its bright percussive tone and wonderful electronics.

Please let us know how your search turns out and what your daughter ultimately chooses.
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« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2009, 08:44:55 AM »

The L is what Larrivée guitars are all about, imo. The effect of the cutaway is that you can play things up the neck passed the 14th fret a lot more easily. If you notice any other significant difference, you have the hearing of a German Shepherd. 
               I agree. My LV-03R sounded fantastic. It's a large enough git to still have a load of volume with a cut a way. The Parlor cut a way is a little dif. IMHO

Many consider the Larrivée tone to be somewhere between the Taylor and Martin.   Kind of a broad, loose statement given the large number of models Larrivée produces, but I think it's a fairly accurate description of the sonic signature in very general terms.

Don't forget to try the Martins when you're shopping.  I'd recommend that you at least look and play a Martin OM-21 which is a very good value in the Martin line.  Regrettably, I had to sell my OM-21 when I picked up my L05 (a totally different sound and playability in comparison to the Martin), but I may pick up a rosewood Martin again one day.  The Martin tone is so much more different than both Taylor and Larrivée. 

I prefer the Larrivée tone personally and I like how they play, but I think few can argue that the sweet Martin tone has its many fans.  Many also love Taylor with its bright percussive tone and wonderful electronics.

Please let us know how your search turns out and what your daughter ultimately chooses.
             I have a Martin OM-21 and think your daughter might like the neck feel on the Larrivee's more. Though the OM-21 is a worthy model, tone and playing wise, the neck is not for everyone.
                                                                                               Danny
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« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2009, 08:55:37 AM »

Physically, there's some real estate loss with a cutaway. For the average hearing, it's hard to tell the difference in sound.

Even Bob Taylor commented that part of the guitar top where the cutaway is located does not vibrate much; they don't even put their "relief rout" (the rut-cut they put on the inside of the top near the edges to maximize vibration in post-2006 models)in the cutaway area .  That to say, even one luthier's opinion is that the cutaway hardly makes a difference in sound.

I am small in stature as well.  I find the L surprisingly comfortable, but would likely prefer the "better feel" of the OM relative to my size.

Hopefully, there's both a LV and OMV in your local git store.

Enjoy.

ricky
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« Reply #19 on: February 07, 2009, 09:07:55 AM »

Physically, there's some real estate loss with a cutaway. For the average hearing, it's hard to tell the difference in sound.

Even Bob Taylor commented that part of the guitar top where the cutaway is located does not vibrate much; they don't even put their "relief rout" (the rut-cut they put on the inside of the top near the edges to maximize vibration in post-2006 models).  That to say, even one luthier's opinion is that the cutaway hardly makes a difference in sound.

I am small in stature as well.  I find the L surprisingly comfortable, but would likely prefer the "better feel" of the OM relative to my size.

Hopefully, there's both a LV and OMV in your local git store.

Enjoy.

ricky
                  ricky, I'm impressed. That's some good info.
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