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Author Topic: On the Hunt for a New Guitar, Advice?  (Read 15865 times)
redwoodwildflower
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« on: February 06, 2015, 05:41:55 AM »

First things first, newbie providing donuts 

I'm sure you all get a lot of questions for advice on which guitar to purchase, so I'm sorry in advance, but I would really like feedback and advice from guitar players, and Larrivee owners seeing as I don't know anyone that has played one.

I first discovered Larrivee after attending a concert by one of my favorite artists. I saw that he was playing a Larrivee and decided to look it up seeing as I hadn't heard of the brand before. After reading about Larrivee, I was really impressed with the feedback and people expressing the brand has such high quality.

Coincidentally, I have been wanting to start looking for a new acoustic guitar. I currently play a Hohner HW-300, it was a Christmas present from my dad in either 2001 or 2002. I took lessons for a couple of years and stopped. Now, 10 years later, I started lessons again.

I am really wanting to take guitar playing more seriously and may eventually want to perform at small open mic nights or something similar. So, I am wanting to look into a little higher end guitar. Not that I don't love my current guitar, but I'm looking for a little more.

I think my price range is no higher than $800, which I know isn't much in the world of guitars. I am planning on going to the local guitar center this weekend just to play a bunch of different guitars to get more of an idea size/shape wise. I'm taking a friend with me that is more knowledgeable about guitars than me. The problem is I don't think there are any Larrivees available, I live in a small town and their selection seems limited.

I did find a Larrivee OM-03R with a fishman pickup for sale that's in my price range but it's 3 hours away, I'm definitely willing to drive to see it if it's something that will fit my needs. The owner said they've had it for 7 years, it does have some light scratches and dings, which I'm okay with.

Recently I've played a Tacoma, which was smaller, I really liked it a lot. I liked the smaller size, the neck seemed not as wide which was easier for me to play. It was my friend's and she said she wasn't sure what it was considered, it's not made anymore, larger than a parlor. I also played a Taylor, I think it was a grand concert style, I liked it as well. I also played someone's Seagull, which I liked but it seemed really quiet to me. I guess I do play softly, but I was playing how I normally do and even tried a little harder and it was still fairly quiet.

While researching and looking online, it seems that the Martins and Taylors that would be somewhere in my price range are made with layered wood/high pressure laminate,whereas I may be able to pick up a Larrivee that is all wood, thoughts on this?

So to make a long post short:
1. Suggestions on guitars (wanting for general practice and playing, may eventually want to do small performances, mainly interested in folk and bluegrass)
2. Thoughts on Layered wood and HPL?
3. What size would an OM-03R compare to so I can try something out to at least see the size and if I'd like it before driving three hours.
4. Open to suggestions even if it isn't Larrivee
5. Budget of about $800

I'm willing to wait to find the perfect guitar for me, even if it means waiting a long time.

Thanks so much for all of your advice in advance! 
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teh
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« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2015, 06:25:53 AM »

Advice is free here so I will dispense with a little of my own based my personal experience to the questions you asked in your post:

1) In my opinion, the L body is Larrivee's best design and works equally well for my style of play which is primarily fingerpicking and strumming. I wanted a 12 string and chose a Larrivee L body because of that and it was a great decision. I picked it up 10 years ago next week and it has mellowed nicely with age.

2) I have a laminate (layered) back and sides no-name guitar that was purchased by my parents for me in 1969 for $90. I have loaned this guitar out to a number of friends, my son and nephew over the years in order to determine if they like playing the guitar. It's going out on loan to a co-worker next week. I played this guitar from 1969 to 1977 when I bought my first Martin.

I also bought my son a Little Martin made of high pressure laminate (HPL). This guitar has traveled the world from NW PA to Iraq, the Pacific NW, VA, Germany and now Texas and is virtually impervious to changes in weather. I will be playing it later this month when I spend two weeks there.

3) You could try a 000 or OM from other companies (i.e. go to the Guitar Center) and play some of the guitars in your price range.

4 and 5)  I like the quality of Martins at the lower end but I think you will be happier in the long run with a used Larrivee given your budget.

Take your time and enjoy the search. Looking for the right guitar is part of the fun.

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TEH

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L07 Shooting Star
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« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2015, 07:47:34 AM »

Hi, and welcome to our little forum.

I concur with Teh about trying an L-model.  I would also definitely try and play the OM-03R that is 3 hours away if at all possible.  I have 2 L models and an OM and they are all great guitars.  My L-07 is rosewood and my OM-03 is mahogany.  I've owned the L-07, which was made in 1982-83, since 1985.  I've only had the OM for about 6 months but it was made in 2008.

As far as comparisons, I can offer this.  The L model is a bit louder and has a bit more bass response than the OM.  This is not surprising since it is a larger bodied guitar and it is made of rosewood.  It is a very versatile guitar and excels at both strumming and fingerstyle. 

The OM, being a bit smaller and thinner, is very comfortable to play.  It is a bit softer sounding, but still has plenty of volume and is very well balanced across the strings and up and down the fingerboard.  I would say it responds better to fingerstyle playing than the L-07.  By that, I mean the guitar seems to be more easily driven to vibrate with the softer attack of fingers (as opposed to a pick) and that it has more dynamics, reacting more closely to harder and softer playing.  The L-07 seems to need a bit harder attack to reach it's full potential but it can be strummed harder without breaking up.

All that said, these are very subtle differences and not deal breakers in my opinion.  Because of my playing style, which is mostly cross-picking with a pick, I would choose the L model if I could only have one of them.  For someone who plays mostly fingerstyle, the OM might be a better choice.  Sounds pretty wishy-washy, I know.

If comfort is the major consideration, then the only way to discover which is best is to try the various standard sizes as has been suggested.  They don't even have to be Larrivees as long as they are the same size.  As far as laminate vs solid wood, I believe you will mostly get a superior tone and ultimate satisfaction from solid wood back and sides.  That is why you should seriously consider a Larrivee.  Within your budget, you should be able to find a very good used Larrivee *-03  or *-03R model.  Since you aren't in any great hurry, there is a good chance that someone on the forum will be offering what you are looking for before too long.

It's a very good idea, bringing your friend along to help you choose.  Once you've narrowed it down to a few guitars, and are satisfied with the comfort, feel, sound, and playability, have your helper play it for you so you can listen to it from out front.  Also have them listen to you playing it and consider their observations.

Hope this helps.
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Mikeymac
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« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2015, 05:51:56 PM »

Another reason to consider the OM-03R that is about 3 hours drive away, is that, if it is new, but old stock ("new old stock," or "NOS") being sold by the Larrivee dealer, it will come with a full factory warranty.

And if it has a pickup in it, it should be an excellent choice for performing when you get to that point.

Whether new or used, might be worth the drive. Take your friend and make a day of it.

Welcome to the Larrivee Forum! 
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« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2015, 08:00:47 PM »

Welcome to the forum.  The OM-03r was my first larrivee and I still play it all the time in rotation with my others.  An L-03 or L-03r is,in my view, the best all-around guitar in the Larrivee lineup.   Hard to find a new one in your price range but you could probably find a good used one at that price.  I think you would be surprised at the volume and tone of the 0M once you tried one out though.

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JOYCEfromNS
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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2015, 10:10:32 PM »

I think you would be surprised at the volume and tone of the 0M once you tried one out though.


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redwoodwildflower
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« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2015, 10:57:24 PM »

Thank you everyone for the feedback, it's extremely helpful! There are so many models that I didn't know where to start.

I definitely would like to check out the L series guitars, it sounds like everyone agrees it is a versatile, great all around kind of guitar. I just barely started learning the very basics of fingerstyle and I am terrible at it. It's something I would like to improve on. Right now, I am mostly just strumming.

teh- thanks for the info on laminate. Does a solid wood guitar not do as well in all weather conditions? L07 Shooting Star mentioned that solid wood guitar has better tone. Which was one of the reasons I was looking into Larrivee was because I would be able to afford a used one and they would be solid wood. I'm just concerned I may not take care of it properly, or it would be more sensitive?

So when I go this Saturday, to give me an idea of size for Larrivee, an OM translates in size to OMs in other brands, what does the L translate to? The 000?

L07 Shooting Star- Funny you should mention having my friend play back to me, that's what she suggested as well. She's actually the person I take lessons from, so I'm really glad she's going with me. She had never heard of Larrivee though, so she didn't have any advice on them. I'll keep a look out on the forum. I definitely want to take my time, and I don't mind waiting a long time if I find the perfect guitar for me.

Mikeymac- The OM-03R is from a private owner. I think I still will make the trip to at least play it to see what I think. It does have some scratches and dings on it. I have seen other OM-03 and OM-03Rs listed for around $150 less, and possibly not with the blemishes that this one has so I may be able to talk him down or once I play it and decide if it's the one or not, I at least know what model I like.

tuffythepug- Thank you for the recommendations, I will keep a look out for those models.

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L07 Shooting Star
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« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2015, 11:26:40 PM »

The L-model's body is similar in width, depth, and length to a "dreadnaught" or D-model but it has a different shape.  It is shaped more like a large classical guitar with a narrower waist and rounder shoulders than a D-model.  Here are a couple of links that may be useful to you when comparing sizes.

http://www.larrivee.com/instruments/acoustics/index.php  (click on any model to see pictures)
http://www.larrivee.com/instruments/acoustics/compare.php  (compares sizes and features of Larrivee models.  Doesn't show all models, however.
http://www.martinguitar.com/featuresmaterials/featuresmaterials/sizetype.html  (compares sizes of Martin models.)

Good luck with your quest.  Take your time and enjoy the process.
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"Badges?  We don't need no stinkin' badges."

Became a Shooting Star when I got my 1st guitar.
Back in '66, I was 13 and that was my fix.
Still shooting for stardom after all this time.
If I never make it, I'll still be fine.


 
teh
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« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2015, 12:27:13 PM »


You've received some great advice so I won't repeat what has already been shared.

Three things in order of importance:

1) Make sure your guitar teacher leaves her wallet in the car when you look at the OM later today until you decide whether you want it yourself (LOL). Seriously, if you like this guitar, don't let it pass you buy. (not a typo).

2) Laminate and other materials like HPL are less expensive but based on my personal experience, more durable and stable than solid wood. Depending on where you live, you need to make every effort to control the humidity to prevent your guitar's wood from drying out. I use a Bemis room humidifier and keep the relative humidity between 45 and 55% along with a temperature in the 60 to 70 degree range. You can also get a case humidifier (Oasis or Dampit). More on that later in another post. o

Also, never subject your guitar to extreme weather conditions (Cold, Heat) or leave it in a hot locked car. 

3) The wood used by Larrivee and their ability to build quality into their guitars at a more affordable price than many competitors are major reasons for their success. It's also the key reason for the number of repeat buyers with two or more Larrivees  (especially on this forum). Several people have purchased the same body style with different wood combinations (Mahogany, Rosewood, Maple, Walnut) or a specific wood combination with different body styles (L, OM, Dread, Parlor).




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redwoodwildflower
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« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2015, 12:04:06 AM »

Okay so I'm back from my day of playing several guitars at Guitar Center and I can hardly type because my fingers are sore.  bigrin

Today was one of the best days I've had! It was a lot of fun comparing guitars and being able to hear the differences in sound. There weren't any Larrivees which is what I expected but out of the ones I played, Martin was the front runner out of them. I of course played ones that I couldn't afford and some that I could. They either had expensive or very inexpensive, none really right in the middle where my price range is. I then took photos of the ones I liked best. I am looking into either driving the 3 hours away next week to play the Larivee OM-03R, or 3 hours a different direction to a dealer that is listed on Larrivee's site. I'm going to call soon and see what they have. So out of everything I played today, heres a list of what I liked:

Taylor GS minis- I was shocked and impressed at the sound that came out of these and they held up and were even more impressive than some of the more expensive guitars I played. I played both the mahogany laminate and the rosewood laminate acoustic/electric version which I think I liked the acoustic/electric version better.

Taylor 114CE Spruce Grand Auditorium Acoustic/Electric- Mahogany back. I liked this one as well, and it wasn't as small at the minis.

Those were the two that were in my price range that I liked. Now onto the ones not in my price range

Martin 00015M- Solid Mahogany I really loved this one, this was the first one of the day that I played.

Martin GPCPA4 Acoustic/Electric- Spruce top, Mahogany back. Nice guitar, a little larger size, which I did like.

Martin CEO-7 Acoustic/Electric- Spruce top, Mahogany back. I liked this one, way out of my price range, but it wasn't my favorite of the group, I kept hearing something off when strumming a lot, it may just have been the strings or pick. I couldn't place it.

Used Martin 2014 OM-18- I really loved this guitar as well. Of course out of my price range. It didn't say anything about what kind of wood was used.

Well, I learned something, it looks like I like mahogany. I must have played some rosewood ones, at least I thought I did. I also liked a little bit of a smaller guitar. I played a dreadnaught which is currently what I play but I think I liked the others more. I played a Gibson J-45 (I think) and I was surprised that I didn't like it nearly as well as the others. When I first started thinking about getting a new guitar, Gibson was my holy grail, not anymore.

To end such a great day, my friend told me about a little old lady in town that collects and sometimes sells vintage guitars, and has several vintage Martins. She suggested I stop in there just to see the vintage guitars. I did, and I can't even believe what I experienced! She first let me play a vintage Gibson from 1960, it was beautiful and looked new. She then tells me she has a treat for me and pulls out this old Martin and then tells me it's from 1860. I couldn't believe it! The sound that came out of that guitar was beautiful! I'm surprised she even let me play it. Rightly so, she is very protective over her collection.

So, this has been a wonderful day, and I'm looking forward to continuing my search. Does anyone know how Guitar Center's online used system works? I see it says that they will send it to your nearest store. I just didn't know if once it came in and it wasn't what you wanted if they offered any system or you bought it and that's it.
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Mr_LV19E
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« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2015, 10:55:31 PM »

GC will ship to the store nearest you but you are not obligated to purchase it. I think their policy also allows you 30days to change your mind and return what you bought, or maybe exchange for something different.
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« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2015, 12:06:06 AM »

Look at 0M and 000 sizes.
I loved my OM-03RE and could always recommend it highly for sound and quality in your price range.

As always it comes down to what you see, hear and FEEL when you play THE GUITAR...

Good luck with your search.
 
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redwoodwildflower
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« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2015, 02:04:44 AM »

Thanks again everyone. I found an L 03 in my price range through GC I may purchase. There were a couple OM-03s as well. So I'm torn. When I went to GC the other day the majority of the models I liked were OMs and 000s in the Martin brand. However, I did like Martin's GPCPA4 which was bigger and Taylor's grand  auditorium which is a larger size as well. I'm leaning toward the L03 because it sounds like a versatile guitar and I'm still working things out to discover what I like and want to play. Right now the majority of my playing is strumming.

The money going to this guitar is all money that I have saved on my own by selling some of my items. Today my husband mentioned maybe being able to put some tax return money toward my guitar purchase. I was surprised but turned it down. I can't yet justify spending 1200 or more.
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« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2015, 05:34:09 PM »

What size nut were on the guitars that you have played?  The reason I am asking is that I see that you are female and some people with smaller hands have had trouble adjusting to the wider, flatter fretboard on Larrivee's with 1 3/4" nuts.  It took me a little time to adjust and I have pretty big hands but now I love it.  Something else to consider.  The good thing with GC is that you have time to return it if you don't like it, but you might want to keep that in mind.  I have an L-05 which is basically the same model as the L-03 and it is a wonderful, very versatile guitar.
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redwoodwildflower
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« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2015, 06:19:31 PM »

What size nut were on the guitars that you have played?  The reason I am asking is that I see that you are female and some people with smaller hands have had trouble adjusting to the wider, flatter fretboard on Larrivee's with 1 3/4" nuts.  It took me a little time to adjust and I have pretty big hands but now I love it.  Something else to consider.  The good thing with GC is that you have time to return it if you don't like it, but you might want to keep that in mind.  I have an L-05 which is basically the same model as the L-03 and it is a wonderful, very versatile guitar.

Out of the guitars I liked the other day, three were 1 3/4 and two were 1 11/16. I am not sure what my current guitar is, but it does feel like it has a wider neck which can be a little challenging for me to play at times.
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redwoodwildflower
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« Reply #15 on: February 10, 2015, 09:46:25 AM »

After much thought, I think I'm going to go with an OM-03. Deciding between Rosewood and Mahogany now. The majority of the guitars I played and liked were Mahogany so I think I'm going to go in that direction. I found a few online. I called and asked on them and one OM-03 had some very minor buckle rash, the guy said he was only able to see it due to looking for it. He said there was some tarnishing on the button on the neck for the guitar strap. It has a clear pick guard that had some scratches as well. A OM-03R I called on a very small indentation on the back/side, he said it was about the size of half a grain of rice. He also said that it looked as if the clear pick guard may be peeling at the edges. I have one more to call on tomorrow.
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« Reply #16 on: February 10, 2015, 04:23:00 PM »

Where are you located?
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« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2015, 06:19:28 PM »

An OM-03/OM-03R is a nice choice but I would have suggested the L, as well.
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redwoodwildflower
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« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2015, 06:54:32 PM »

I'm in Oregon. Ducktrapper, now I'm starting to second guess, you would recommend the L because it's more versatile? I was leaning toward the OM 03s because they are a little smaller but I don't mind a larger guitar. It is a challenge not being able to play first and compae sizes. I've found L's and OMs located 3 hours away from me but they are all 3 hours in the opposite directions of each other. One is south, one is north, and the other is west.   
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« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2015, 07:39:56 PM »

First thing I'd do because from MY experience with some people with very small hands, they  prefer other makers to Larrivee's I would definitely see if you like the neck first.

If you are a small person I would be leaning towards an OM over an L. The OM is a very versatile guitar.

Just my 2 cents

EDIT: Just noticed Mattwoods post now - I concur with his findings
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