All posts by Danny Trent

Can a Cheap Guitar Like the Fender FA-100 Be Any Good?

Do you see the price of this guitar? As guitars go, that’s practically nothing!

I find it a little bit odd that Fender even has a guitar at this price. As a general rule of thumb, their intermediate to professional level instruments carries the Fender name, whereas their cheaper guitars, aimed at beginners have the Squier brand slapped on the headstock.

Fender FA-100 | MSRP: $149.99

 

I did little checking, and found that I some places the Squier beginner pack is being sold for more than this!

Fender has never seemed as precious about their acoustic offerings, so I guess it’s easier to lump this in with the Fender brand name. I’d love to see the research and boardroom reasoning behind it! In saying that, there have been a few electric models coming from China in the past few years. They must have performed well!

Anyway, let’s take a look at the actual guitar!

Core Features and Specs

As you can probably guess, at this price, the FA-100 doesn’t have much in terms of specs that makes it fancy at all.

In fact, even on Fender’s own marketing materials, the things they highlight are so ordinary. IT seems the biggest selling point for the FA-100 is just how ordinary it is.

Style Dreadnought
Body material Sitka spruce top and basswood back and sides
Neck Maple
Fingerboard Rosewood
Frets 20
Pickup None

Yeah, definitely nothing too exciting there. Probably the most interesting part is the basswood back and sides. Basswood is best known for its use in electric guitars, typically Superstrat-style ones.

Probably the stand out thing with this guitar is that you’re not just buying the guitar. It’s sold as a pack which also includes a padded gig bag, a few picks, a strap, and a tuner.

This will work well for…

I can think of two markets for whom this would appeal to.

Firstly, and probably most obviously, is beginners. Fender is a well-known brand that even beginners who have never held a guitar in their life will be familiar with. It’s the sort of things where if you say “Jimi Hendrix used to play Fender,” you invoke images of rock stardom. That’s half the sell right there.

Add in the pack status of this product, and it is pointing squarely at beginners.

The other candidate for owning the FA-100 is intermediate or professional guitarists. Players who have a few guitars in their collection, but just need something for knocking around, either for the living room or bringing to the beach or on road trips. Essentially they’ll be looking for something that’s not expensive, but that won’t be completely awful to play either.

Does it do what it should?

As with a lot of Eastern-made guitars at the cheaper end of the market, the parts of the FA-100 are all unbranded.

What does this mean? Well, as with most guitar companies, production practices in relation to location are kept pretty vague, so I can’t tell you for definite. But, there a good chance this is mass produced, with Fender, or any other company who wants, able to buy the guitars, and put whatever logo they want on the headstock.

Eek, that sounds a little negative. But, if that keeps costs down when you’re looking for a cheap guitar, well, you’re  not really in a position to complain, but it may be worth thinking about how much of the FA-100’s price tag you might be spending just on having Fender printed on the headstock.

It’s also worth remembering that, as one of the leading instrument manufacturing brands in the world, Fender will likely pay a little bit more attention to quality control, more so than a lot of brands. Even if these are being churned out of a factory, I’d wager 50 American dollars on them keeping an eye on what they’re putting their name on.

Construction

Despite some misgivings about the parts used in constructing this guitar, it’s actually a fine instrument.

I mean, not “fine” as in “a work of art that’ll replace the Mona Lisa at the Louvre,” but fine as “it’ll do fine.”

I’ll go over key points that should be looked at on any guitar.

Firstly, looking at the neck joint, and it really is a very tidy piece of work. I’m very impressed by it. It’s better than neck joints of seen on premium Fenders from its dark days in the seventies, that’s for sure! There are no scratches or globs of excess glue, and nothing looks forced. Good job!

The rest of the parts share this level of build quality. The machineheads seem good and tight, with no concerning rattles. Looking down the neck, the fingerboard looks as even as you’d like. Taking a closer look at the frets, and it’s as good as can be. In line with the rest of the instrument, it’s fine. No alarm bells anywhere.

The body has been finished with a black binding. It’s fine, but I’m not sure it adds anything to the guitar, visually. But in saying that, I do have a personal bias towards favoring a nice white or cream binding.

Tones

I’m reviewing this guitar in what I would describe as an average sized living room area. It’s got carpeted floor and curtains, and the usual soft furnishings, as well as harder furniture.

Why do you care what my living room is like? I honestly hope you don’t, but I wanted to give you an idea of the room I’m reviewing from, because that will influence the sound, especially on acoustic guitars, which don’t have distorted amps to hide behind.

The room I’ve just described should give you an indication that it’s really a dull sounding room from the carpet and soft furnishings, but not completely dead. There’s no danger of any kind of reverb affecting the sound.

I went straight into this playing a few chords: mid-tempo, and a relatively relaxed strum. No more than my comments on the build of the guitar, it was fine. It’s far from the brightest or most resonant guitar I’ve played. While the higher strings rang out fine, the overall tone is definitely geared towards a mid-to-low sound.

If you’re after an instrument with sustain that’ll ring out for four days, it probably won’t come as a surprise that this $150 guitar isn’t it.

It’s not a bad sound if you just need drunken strums around a campfire where nobody knows what a Martin D-28 sounds like, this will make relevant noise to keep people happy.

Playability

I find that in terms of playability, cheaper guitars are more of a fight if that makes sense. The action is rarely particularly low. The FA-100 is no exception.

For an inexperienced player, this is actually a good thing. Having to press that bit harder will strengthen your fingers, and get you used to play with a bit of effort and precision. If you learn to on a guitar with a bit of fight, any guitar after that will seem easy.

The other thing I noticed playing through the FA-100 is that it doesn’t seem as finished as other instruments. It come with a gloss polyurethane finish, which is fairly standard, but I don’t know if it’s that it hasn’t been given many coats or whether it’s a thinner coat than more expensive instruments.

I’ll chalk that up to being one of the cost cutting measures that keeps the cost of this guitar nice and low. It’s not that it creates any discomfort when you’re playing or anything, but it is noticeable.

If you’re an intermediate or professional guitarist, who has been used to playing better finished guitars with lower action, this might be a bit uncomfortable, but it’ll remind you of the importance of getting back to basics in your playing.

Pros Cons
  • So cheap!
  • Everything you need to get started in the pack
  • A decent instrument for beginners to learn on
  • It’s not an exciting guitar
  • Seasoned players might find the feel and action to be a challenge

Alternatives to try

Epiphone PR-150

Never in a million years will Gibson produce a new guitar as cheap as this. Their Eastern-made Epiphone’s brand is renowned for exceptional quality at affordable prices. They are a common choice for beginners and intermediate players on a budget.

The PR-150 is a straight up brand equivalent of the FA-100. On surface-level, the only noticeable difference is the name on the headstock. The Epi comes with mahogany back and sides, and a mahogany neck. Ordinarily, mahogany is a more expensive tonewood to use, but at this price, you can guess that it’s not going to be any kind of exceptionally high-end stuff.

Yamaha F335

If you’re looking for something a little bit different but in a similar budget, the Yamaha F335 might be an option. Rather than the classic natural finish, you can get one of these in a high gloss black finish, with gold hardware.

Its top is regular old spruce, but its back and sides are made from a wood called Meranti. It’s called Philippine mahogany but isn’t actually mahogany at all, but it does look like it.

Conclusion

If you’re a beginner but want to take comfort in the familiarity of a well-known brand, the FA-100 from Fender is an excellent option. As it’s a pack, it comes with the few extra bits you need to get you up and running.

It would probably be an OK choice for intermediate guitarists as a backup guitar for messing around with, but personally, I’d spend a few dollars getting the action lowered.

The Ultimate Justin Guitar Lessons Review: For Those Who Want to Keep Learning

If you’re a beginning guitarist who is looking for inexpensive guitar lessons, you should take your time and check out Justin Guitar review. Justin Guitar offers completely free online guitar lessons that have a decent quality to them and a suitable selection of courses to choose from.

Justin Guitar allows users to choose from three levels of lessons:

  • Beginners Guitar Course
  • Intermediate Method
  • Style Modules, which includes blue rhythms, blues lead, fingerstyle folk, and a small selection of metal and rock

Justin’s beginner’s course is completely free to use; it’s so free to use that you don’t even need to give his site your credit card information. If you’re just starting out on guitar or not exactly sure you even want to start playing guitar, take some time to give Justin Guitar a look at.

Beginner’s Course

The beginner’s course is split into ten different stages and in these stages, players will learn:

  • Common FAQs that beginners have with answers
  • What proper technique is
  • A selection of open chords
  • Rhythm training
  • How to properly apply your picking technique
  • A little bit of music theory
  • Power chords
  • Palm muting
  • Some finger style training
  • Minor pentatonic scale
  • Training techniques
  • Practice schedules
  • Practice exercises

Each level that you enter in has a different song that you will learn. You do not have to pay for anything for the beginner course, but Justin Guitar strongly encourages donations. However, if you can’t afford the price tag that comes with other online guitar lessons, Justin Guitar is a great place to start with.

The beginner’s course is perfect for anyone who has never touched a guitar before or for anyone who is looking for some basic knowledge about how to play the guitar or improve their technique. If you’re a guitarist that’s self-taught, you may also want to go through these lessons, just to see if there’s anything that you may have missed when you were teaching yourself. It doesn’t hurt to look!

Intermediate Course

In Justin’s Guitar course, the intermediate method is broken down into five foundations; these are lessons that build up a player’s foundation that is needed to be able to confidently play, no matter what their style is. This course helps to encourage and build proper technique for comfortable and confident playing.

The lessons that are taught in the intermediate course are:

  • Different barre chords
  • Major scale
  • Keys
  • Learning the fretboard
  • Advanced techniques
  • How to bend strings
  • Improving fingerstyle technique
  • Advanced rhythm training
  • Dynamics
  • A song to learn that incorporates all of these lessons

The intermediate course is also free but comes with some DVDs that you can purchase for some extra education. You do learn a lot in this free course, but if you really want to go above and beyond in your understanding of the guitar, the DVDs really help.

This course is great to enter in if you are someone who has already completed the beginner’s course or who has had some basic training on the guitar in a properly structured manner; if you have ever completed any online training or in-person guitar lessons. If you are a self-taught musician, I would still suggest that you start off with the beginner’s course, just to make sure that you have a solid understanding of all of the topics covered in that course.

Style Modules

The courses that Justin’s Guitar offers through their style modules offers a mix of both free and paid courses.

  • Master the Major Scale is only available through a paid DVD
  • Solo Blues is only available through a paid DVD
  • Blues Rhythm Guitar offers free online course and a paid DVD
  • Blues Lead offers a free online course and a paid DVD option Folk Fingerstyle offers a free online course and a paid DVD

Teaching Quality

I am more of an independent physical learner and I found that the teaching style that Justin employs is not only easy to understand, but his directions are very clear and concise. I also enjoyed how all of the videos that I used from Justin’s site all had subtitles, which really came in handy because there were certain times where his accent was very clear.

All of the lessons also have subtitles for each of these languages:

  • Spanish
  • Croatian
  • Finnish
  • French
  • Romanian

I also found the lessons to be perfectly paced; Justin didn’t go through each lesson at a speedy pace. Instead, he really took his time to explain everything, which was very nice to see in the beginner’s section.

Conclusion

Overall, I was very impressed with the quality of the videos and learning experience that Justin’s Guitar lessons provided users with. It was really nice to see high-quality beginners videos for free, which is really hard to find. These lessons were also organized very well; some online lessons will teach beginners songs on sheet music before they even teach their guitarists how to read music.

I did not find one single lesson that was lacking in knowledge; each lesson was very thorough and there weren’t many important things that Justin left out in the beginner’s section. My biggest complaint is the style modules, as I’m not exactly sure how learning how to play major scales is a module, but that organization is up to Justin. I understand that the style modules are still being worked on, but the beginner and intermediate lessons that are free are really impressive and worth the experience. I also didn’t enjoy the heavy push to purchase beginner’s products, like DVDs and books. There were DVDs that cost around $50 and any excited beginning guitarist may be tricked into purchasing that DVD when they don’t even really need it.

If you are a guitarist who is looking to improve technique, can’t afford guitar lessons, or want to expand on your guitar knowledge, Justin’s Guitar lessons are something that I would highly recommend that you check out. Even if you can afford to pay for lessons, I would also suggest that you check out these lessons and really learn those basics.

Play Harder: The Best Combo Amps for Metal

When you imagine an image of a generic metal guitarist, I think it’s easy to go straight to an image of some dude in front of a half stack at a small gig, or a wall of stacks at a bigger gig.

There are two things about that imagined picture. Firstly, it’s not always dudes, and secondly, a minimum of a half stack is not always practical. To be honest, by “not always practical,” I actually mean “rarely practical.”

Let’s face it: most of us are not playing ginormous stages, and have to lug our gear in and out of venues ourselves, and usually get there via an average car rather than a van or truck. A combo is much easier to fit in with a guitar, backup guitar, pedalboard, and that band member who doesn’t drive.

There’s also the matter of balancing cost with tone. A half stack rig will typically be more expensive than a combo.

Let’s say your budget is $1,000: you can probably get an amp head with digital modelling that has a metal setting, that you’re never going to get to fully crank anyway, or, you can a decent tube-driven combo amp, that’ll come with a bit of warmth, and a generally rounder, fuller, and better quality tone.

For this roundup, I’ll take you through a few of the high-quality combos on the market that will be well-paired with a metal player. It’ll cover a range of budget, and focus on tube-driven amps: these are the best!

If these are still beyond your budget, the metal setting of a modeling amp may well be your best bet, but a round up of the metal settings of modeling amps is a different listicle.

With this in mind, there aren’t really alternatives for most of the amps here. The market for dedicated amps for metal players is very small.

Blackstar HT Metal 1 | MSRP: $279.99

Now, isn’t this just the diddliest?

This may not be a gigging amp, but it packs more than enough of a punch for practicing your shredding, and for recording sessions.

It has just one single watt of output, which sounds measly, and you know, it a lot of amps it would be. Namely solid state ones. However, this packs a couple of tubes into its diminutive casing, which makes things a little louder than you might expect: the sound here will be cranked by an ECC83 and an ECC82.

This is not an amp that will intimidate. It only has a single eight inch speaker. But, we’re looking specifically at voicing here, and with that in mind, this little combo certainly won’t disappoint. In case the name didn’t give it away, this little amp has been voiced and set up to play all of the metal.

Looking at the top panel, and the Metal 1 comes with a minimalist control selection as far as amps go. You’ve got three jack plugs: one for your input, one as a kind of auxiliary input for attaching an MP3 player or something, and then an output which you can use for headphones, or as a line out for recording directly.

The controls you have at your disposal are gain, volume, EQ, and reverb, as well as a button for overdrive. It’s all very tidy. The EQ isn’t like a regular EQ though. It’s actually Blackstar’s trademark ISF control, for deciding whether you want a UK sound, or an American sound, or a blend of both.

Alternative

Blackstar HT Metal 5 – the Metal 1’s big brother, with a 12 inch speaker, independent tone controls for each channel, as well as a full set of EQ controls.

Marshall DSL40C | MSRP: $970

Here’s the token Marshall.

I’ll be honest, this isn’t the most metal of metal amps. To be fair, Marshalls are best known for rock, particularly that of a blue-inspired nature. It’s not the first name that comes to mind for metal.

In saying that, they can be cranked sufficiently to head in the right direction, particularly if you favor old school metal from the UK – I’m thinking the likes of Saxon, Judas Priest, and of course, Motörhead.

This is quite the tube monster for an amp with a single speaker, giving your playing so much clarity. It’s pre-amp rocks three ECC83s, while its power amp rocks another EC883 and two EL34s. That’s quite a lot for such a modestly sized amp!

It comes with a single 12-inch speaker – a Celestion Seventy 80 – and runs at 40 watts. For most of us, that really will be plenty.

The key feature here will be the Ultra Gain channel. I guess the name of that channel gives its intention away! But yes, head there, crank it up, et voila: a pleasant metal tone with plenty of definition and clarity.

There aren’t too many surprised on the top panel. You’ve got your usual EQ controls, with a not so usual knob for resonance, and a Reverb control for each channel. Each channel has its own gain and volume controls, and the Ultra Gain channel comes with additional Lead 1 and Lead 2 controls.

It also includes a footswitch for you to switch from one sound to another while you’re playing onstage.

Peavey 6505+ | MSRP: $999.99

Peavey’s 6505 head is very much an amp with a longstanding positive reputation in metal, favored by the likes of Trivium, Bullet for my Valentine, and Machine Head, and it now comes in combo form.

If the aforementioned bands float your boat, this could be a good solution if you need thing something more compact for not playing in venues the size they pack out.

Looking through the specs of the Peavey, it essentially looks like a souped up version of the Marshall we just looked at. There’s nothing wrong with that, and actually is probably a bonus for playing the metal.

This boasts a 60 watt RMS, and a Sheffield speaker.

But the real winning spec with this amp is the fact that it’s an absolute tube-fest! Five 12XA7s in the preamp and two 6L6GCs in the power section! That’s some muscle right there!

It comes with two foot-switchable channels, each with its own EQ controls. The footswitch is sold separately, which is standard, but I always feel that’s a bit of a pain.

Built-in reverb on an amp is no big deal, but the reverb on the 6505+ is a little bit special. It’s a genuine old school spring reverb, made with three actual springs! It’s very rarely you’ll find that these days – usually it is a digital feature. It does also add to the weight of the amp, which will already be heavy enough with all of those tubes.

Laney Ironheart IRT30-112 | MSRP: $1499.99

I feel like I should start this by clarifying two things.

First, ignore that MSRP – you can get these for around $700. Secondly, This reviewer is a Laney user and quite the fanboy.

Let’s proceed.

One of the worst things about the United States is how rare Laney dealers are. They are a British brand, based in the West Midlands. While they do make several models in the east, the Ironheart is their flagship line, so these are designed and made in England.

Their best-known user is Black Sabbath’s, Tony Iommi. It doesn’t get more metal than that! Sabbath hail from the city of Birmingham, which is where Laney’s first shop was before they moved a little bit out the road to Halesowen.

Company history aside, this is a fairly killer amp in such compact housing. I feel like this is a bit of a hybrid between the Marshall and the Peavey.

It’s got three ECC83 tubes in the preamp, coupled with a pair of 6L6s for power. It has a 30 watt RMS, which sounds quieter than the 60 watt Peavey, but this is not a quiet amp!

You’ll have three channels at your disposal: clean, rhythm and lead. It has a line-in for an MP3 player or another external audio source, which I find a little odd on an amp at this price that’s clearly aimed at seasoned players.

A subtle feature the Ironheart includes is an attenuator. Full capacity output is fine for gigs, but if you’re in your living room, it’s likely that you’ll want to tone it down a bit, without compromising on your tone. This will help with that.

Alternative

Laney Ironheart IRT60-212 – If you like the sound of what this amp offers, but worry that it may not have enough “oomph,” it has a bigger brother with 60 watts RMS, and an additional 12-inch speaker.

Engl Metalmaster 20 | MSRP: $1374.99

If you’re not familiar with Engl amps, I’m sad for you. They’re made in Germany, with a focus on quality, and boy, do they make the most of the famed German precision.

Like many others on this list, the Metalmaster started life as a head and was later ported to a tidy little combo.

There isn’t actually too much to say about this amp. It’s very much a case of building a quality amp with outstanding parts and craftsmanship, devoid of bells, or indeed whistles.

The speaker is a 10 inch G10N-40 from Celestion, and the 20 in the amp’s name is it wattage. Duh. Its preamp comes with two ECC83 tubes, while its power amp includes two EL84s. All good.

It comes with two channels, and here’s where I think some players might be put off. You can switch between channels with a footswitch, and that’s lovely, but they have a shared EQ. With the price of this amp, I’d expect more versatility for my dollars.

I know we’re considering this in terms of metal players, and that’s generally a loud and heavily distorted affair. If you literally have zero intention of ever expecting to need a change and use the clean channel, by all means, give this one a go.

Alternative

Engl Metalmaster 40 – like Laney and Blackstars we’ve looked at, this Engl comes with a more powerful big brother if you need.

Diezel Einstein | MSRP: around $2018.53

Whenever there’s a listicle of metal amps, it’s likely to be headed up by Diezel. They’re not a massively popular brand, but I’m very certain that’s to do with the cost. It’s a bit prohibitive to many players.

Diezel is a Swiss brand, and are actually pretty difficult to find in the United States.

They claim this combo version of the Einstein is more vintage sounding than it’s head/cab alternatives. Personally, I think it’s all relative.

The preamp of the Einstein has a 12AX7 tube, but in the power amp section, you’ve actually got a choice of what tubes you want. You can choose from two EL34s, 6550s, 6L6s or KT88s. Picking on the cost of this amp again, I feel like, at this price, a little bit of choice and customization is no harm.

It’s 50 watts strong, and come loaded with a 12 inch Celestion speaker.

The channel options are interesting. You’ve essentially got four options, but I find the way it’s structured pretty weirdly. Within Channel 1, you have three selectable modes: Clean, Texas, and Mega. Texas is intended to give a classic rock sound, while Mega is aimed at hard rock.

Then channel 2 is simply called lead, and that’s where you metallers will want to live, amongst all of its cajones-induced, squealing high gains!

That’s all fine, but I’m not sure why they didn’t treat all of those as four separate channels.

Aside from all of that, it weighs over 68lbs. This is not a light amp. Which is awkward: do you want to spend that amount of money on an amp that’s so heavy it increases your likelihood of dropping it? Tricky…

Comparison Table

Model Blackstar HT Metal 1 Marshall DSL40C Peavey 6505+
MSRP $279.99 (Check out the latest prices here!) $970 (Check out the latest prices here.) $999.99 (Check out the latest prices here.)
Country of origin UK UK US
Speakers 8 inch Blackstar 12 inch Celestion Seventy 80 12 inch Sheffield
Wattage 1 watt 40 watts 60 watts
Tubes 1 x ECC83; 1 x ECC82 Preamp – 3 x ECC83; Power amp – 1 x EC883, 2 x EL34 Preamp – 5 x 12XA7; Power amp – 2 x 6L6GC

 

Model Laney Lionheart IRT30-112 Engl Metalmaster 20 Diezel Einstein
MSRP $1499.99 $1374.99 (Check out the latest prices here!) $2018.53
Country of origin UK Germany Switzerland
Speakers 12 inch HH 10 inch Celestion G10N-40 12 inch Celestion
Wattage 30 watts 20 watts 50 watts
Tubes Preamp – 3 x ECC83; Power amp – 2 x 6L6 Preamp – 2 x ECC83; Power amp – 2 x EL84s Preamp – 1 x 12AX7; Power amp – choice of 2 x EL34, 2 x 6550, 2 x 6L6, or 2 x KT88

Conclusion

If you’re a metal guitarist and want to get the best quality metal sounds in a rig that won’t be a pain to put in the back of your car, hopefully, this list will give you a few ideas.

These amps really are the best of the best, and you will have to pay for that quality. As I said at the start if you’re on a tighter budget, it’s difficult to find a modeling amp that won’t have a metal preset, but you will be sacrificing the warmth of these tube-driven babies.

As always, the best thing to do is to head down to your local guitar store and try them. See how they sound to your ears, and your own style of playing.

Stay In Tune! The Five Best Clip on Guitar Tuners on the Market Today

If you are a guitarist who plays on stage often, whether it be for a small venue or a large crowd, keeping your guitar in tune is imperative. Using a clip on guitar tuner makes tuning your instrument on stage easy and convenient. You’re not going to have to stop the whole concert just to tune down to a drop D; instead, with a clip on tuner, you’ll just need to take a few seconds to drop your tuning and you’re all set to go.

However, using a clip on guitar tuner from just anywhere isn’t going to do you any good. You are going to need a reliable, lightweight, accurate, and easy to use clip on tuner if you want to purchase yourself a clip on tuner that will really put in work. All of the clip on guitar tuners that I have listed here have all been put to the test by myself personally, based upon their accuracy, durability, weight, and functionality.

Clip on guitar tuners are the most popular types of tuner on the market because they are easy to use and are very flexible when it comes to their versatility. A guitar player will clip the tuner onto the headstock of their guitar, which allows the tuner to use its piezo sensors that pick up the vibrations from the notes your guitar is playing. This means that you won’t have to become completely dependent on a microphone to tune your guitar; so if you’re in a crowded venue where there’s a lot of noise around you, you will still be able to use a clip on tuner without it interfering with the quality of your tuning. The biggest complaint that a lot of people have about clip on guitar tuners is that they happen to be fragile, which is understandable considering that these tuners are very small. As long as you handle your tuner properly, you’re not going to have any problems with the tool breaking.

How do clip on guitar tuners work?

Unlike other tuners, clip on guitar tuners work by picking up vibrations. When these types of tuners were first released, they really didn’t work as efficiently as they do now. By using the vibrations that the guitar produces, clip on tuners don’t need to have a microphone or a signal chain in order to function.

If you are a baritone guitar player or a bass guitarist, I would suggest that you stay away from using clip on guitars. Since the vibrations of lower strings are slower compared to higher strings, clip on tuners struggle to pick up the vibrations, which means that the tunings on lower notes aren’t very accurate. Clip on tuners have no problem with accurately reading the low E string on an acoustic or an electric guitar, but any note lower than that, they struggle with. If you are just an average guitarist, clip on guitar tuners are outstanding, especially if you’re used to playing with a tuner that uses a microphone.

Snark SN-2

The Snark SN-2 clip on guitar tuner is one of the most popular guitar tuners on the market today, most likely because of its affordable price tag at $15. For the inexpensive price tag, this tuner packs a lot of unique features into it. The Snark SN-2 comes with pitch calibration which is great to have when you’re trying to match your tuning with another instrument. It also comes with transposition for you to use when you’re trying to change your instrument’s tuning from a standard tuning. Also, this tuner comes with a tap tempo metronome which is great to have around when looking to practice.

It should also be mentioned that this tuner comes with a built-in microphone that helps to support the internal vibration sensor, which assists in assuring a more accurate tuning. One of my favorite features about the Snark SN-2 is that you can use it all average guitars and not so average guitars. You can tune your bass guitar, electric guitar, and acoustic guitar all just with this tuner!

Korg AW2G Tuner

The Korg AW2G is a clip on tuner that has been designed to be able to fit a variety of different sized instruments. This tuner also comes with a clip that has the ability to fit several different types of instruments, all the way from wind instruments to stringed instruments such as guitars. Out of one battery, you can get up to 150 hours of tuning, which is pretty incredible! There is also an internal backlight on the AW2G, which allows players to see the screen, even if playing on a dark or dimly lit stage. The biggest complaint about this tuner is that it isn’t as functional at the Snark tuner, but the Korg AW2G does a much better job tuning low E strings compared to the Snark.

Peterson StroboClip

For $80 you can use a clip-on tuner that’s so precise that it’s used by famous professionals. This tuner is so accurate, that it has a 1/10 cent accuracy. Peterson designed this clip on the tuner to be able to tune acoustic guitars, electric guitars, ukuleles, dobros, banjos, and mandolins with little hassle! Another cool feature that comes with this tuner is the capo setting, which allows players to quickly tune their instrument in between live performances. If you are a professional guitar player who is looking to invest in a high-quality clip-on tuner, the Peterson StroboClip is your best bet.

Boss TU-10 Tuner

If you’re familiar with pedal tuners, then the Boss TU-10 clip-on tuner will be easy for you to work with, especially if you’ve never used a clip on tuner before. The TU-1O has a lot of the same features as a pedal tuner; for example, this clip on tuner has the ability to support flat tuning and has five semitones. One of the best features on this tuner is that the screen is easily viewable, no matter what type of lighting you are in, even if it’s bright sunlight. The biggest complaint that people have about the Boss TU-10 is that the clip and tuner are one solid piece, which makes it impossible to swivel. Since this tuner doesn’t swivel, you will have to put in extra work to be able to find the best angle for you on your guitar.

TC Electronic Poly Tune Clip

This is one of the most expensive guitar clips that we have listed in this list, but it is one of the best clip-on tuners on the market today. This tuner is produced by TC Electronic and will cost you around $50. The main reason that this clip on guitar is more expensive than other tuners is that the TC Electronic Poly Tune Clip on tuner uses polyphonic tuning that allows you to strum your guitar once and it will accurately tune each string. This means that you only have to strum your guitar once and you will have all of your strings tuned. The polyphonic tuning cuts down on the amount of time that you spend tuning, which can really help when you’re trying to move onto your other set.

If you’re not interested in having the clip on tuner tune all of your strings at once, you can also tune your guitar using the traditional chromatic tuning, which allows you to tune your instrument string by string. You can also tune your guitar using the strobe method, which is a very precise method that’s only ever flat or sharp by .02 cents.

Conclusion

It is strongly recommended that if you are a guitarist who plays a lot of live gigs and needs to quickly tune in between each song, you should purchase a clip on the guitar tuner. However, if you are someone who plays bass guitar or a baritone guitar, using a clip on guitar tuner is going to nearly be impossible for you to properly tune your instrument since the vibrations are so low. If you are an average guitar player, you aren’t going to have any problems getting accurate tuning results with your clip on guitar tuners.

The Full Martin DX1AE Acoustic Electric Guitar Review

If you’re looking to purchase yourself a quality Martin guitar without having to pay the Martin price tag, the Martin DX1AE is an acoustic electric guitar you’re going to want to check out. For just under $600, you can purchase yourself an instrument that will provide you with an amazing sound quality and high-quality sound projection. The tone that the Martin DX1AE delivers a loud and bright tone that has the ability to blend in with basically any music genre.

Especially considering the price tag, the materials that Martin used to comprise this guitar are absolutely beautiful and have incredible quality. The DX1AE has a dreadnought body, which helps to ensure that this guitar produces the maximum amount of volume that it can. It also has an A frame X-1 top bracing with solid Sitka spruce top braces. Also, the satin finish has been completed by hand, which really adds a nice touch of authenticity to the guitar.

The back and sides have a high-pressure laminate that has a textured finish, that really helps to balance out the sound of the instrument. The nut width of the DX1AE is 1 and 11/16 inches and is comprised of white Corian.

Why I Love the Martin DX1AE

Personally, I love the sound quality of the Martin DX1AE; it’s my favorite part of the entire guitar. The spruce top of the DX1AE is a bit thicker than most other guitars and having this extra thickness really allows the guitar to produce a loud and bass sound. Martin also made sure to install quality tuners, which helps to ensure that the strings stay in tune for long periods of time, without having the need of constant re-tuning. The tuning pegs are chrome and are enclosed with small buttons.

There are some complaints about the overall build quality of this guitar, but in my personal experience, I have found that it withstands against a decent amount of abuse. By the decent amount of abuse, I mean that I accidentally hit my guitar against a music stand or against a wall. I have heard a few of my friends talk about how they have dropped their guitar and how there was a lot of damage left on the instrument. Just make sure that you’re careful with your instrument, no matter what you buy!

DX1AE has twenty frets in total, with fourteen that are clear for use. The width of the fingerboard is 2 1/8th inches, which really helps to make playing to be comfortable; having this extra width also makes playing tricky maneuvers and progressions to be easier, since you have extra room to work with. The bridge is made from Black Rich Lite, which is what the fretboard is also made from.

The bridge and end pins are white with black dots, but you also have an option to pick a tortoise color. As for the electronics placed in this acoustic electric, Martin installed Fishman electronics, which really helps to add a decent amount of versatility to the guitar, making it great to use for a variety of gigs.

Core features of the Martin DX1AE

The Martin DX1AE is a part of the Martin X Series of Guitars; each and every guitar manufacturer has their own unique naming system for their guitars. Martin tends to name their guitars after their size and body style. Here is a breakdown of the DX1AE title:

D – Dreadnought body style

X- X series from Martin guitars; there are fifteen other models in the X series

1 – This basically means that this is a basic acoustic electric that doesn’t come with any frills and has a basic A-frame.

AE- Acoustic Electric

What are the best genres to play the Martin DX1AE with?

Since the sound that the DX1AE produces is bright, loud, and warm, there is no one specific genre that wouldn’t pair well with this guitar. There are an unlimited amount of genres that would pair really well with the DX1AE; however, I wouldn’t go and say that you play thrasher metal on this acoustic-electric (that would just sound silly).

Does the Martin work as advertised?

Yes, the Martin DX1AE does work as advertised. This is an affordable guitar that produces a professional sound and doesn’t require a lot of skill in order to make the instrument sound amazing.

Pros of the Martin DX1AE:

  • Very light weight
  • Easy to transport
  • Has a balanced sound
  • Provides amazing resonance
  • Produces large, clear sound
  • Built to withstand abuse and doesn’t show a lot of signs of wear and tear
  • Affordable
  • High-quality sound

Cons of the Martin DX1AE:

  • The bottom strap is shallow, which sometimes makes playing uncomfortable
  • I hated having to remove all of the strings in order just to access the battery of the guitar

Some other alternative acoustic-electric guitars to consider:

Seagull S6 Original Acoustic Guitar

The Seagull S6 original acoustic guitar is a cheaper option compared to the Martin DX1AE but is only an acoustic guitar. However, while this only is an acoustic guitar, it produces a very similar bright and warm sound compared to the Martin DX1AE. This is slightly cheaper, mainly because it doesn’t have the Martin name attached to it.

Yamaha FG800 Solid Top Acoustic Guitar

If you’re looking to spend the least you possibly can, the Yamaha FG800 is an acoustic guitar you should look at. This is also an acoustic guitar, without any electronics attached to it. While this guitar does have a warm and bright sound, it does sometimes have some intonation problems, which is why this instrument is aimed towards beginners.

Conclusion

For the price tag on this instrument, I would highly suggest that you purchase this guitar. You can have yourself a name brand instrument that comes with amazing craftsmanship and even better sound for under $600. Not to mention that the Martin DX1AE stands up very well against humidity, temperature fluctuations, and changes in climate. Overall, I would recommend this instrument to players of all levels; I highly recommend that beginning guitarists give this instrument a checkout, but I also believe that intermediate players and advanced musicians give the DX1AE a chance without passing judgment.

acoustic vs classical guitar

Acoustic vs Classical Guitars: What’s the Difference?

Beginning guitarists who are doing research before purchasing their first guitar will probably become confused when trying to make a decision between purchasing an acoustic guitar or a classical guitar. It’s not uncommon to confuse these two instruments, especially since because you can play the same genres and styles of music on each guitar. However, there are still differences between the two instruments and you should care about these differences.

Classical guitars are instruments that use nylon strings; classical guitars are commonly used in classical music. Yes, there are acoustic guitars, but to clarify the difference between classical and acoustic guitars, we identify classical guitars as classical.

On the other hand, acoustic guitars are guitars that use steel strings; acoustic guitars are more commonly found in today’s music compared to classical guitars. Most beginning guitarists tend to choose acoustic guitars over classical, but this decision often isn’t the best one to make for every beginning guitarist out there.

The differences between classical and acoustic guitars can be sound in how easy they are to play, the sound that they produce, how they are constructed, and what materials they are constructed from. At the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of what the differences between a classical and an acoustic guitar are.

Let’s Discuss the Differences

When just glancing in the direction of a classical guitar and an acoustic guitar sitting right next to each other, the inexperienced guitarist will have a hard time spotting the difference. Classical guitars have an older design compared to acoustic guitars; as our technology and times have evolved, the appearance of instruments have changed to fit a faster production time. If you are looking for a guitar that appears to look traditional, you’ll want to think about the classical guitar.

classical vs acoustic guitars

Some other differences are:

  • The size of the bodies. Steel stringed acoustic guitarshave larger sized bodies and take up more space; that is if we’re not including parlor guitars. Parlor acoustic guitars have a similar size and shape to classical guitars.
  • Strings are another component that changes between classical guitars and acoustic guitars. Classical guitars use nylon strings and ONLY nylon strings; any other type of string puts too much tension on the neck and will warp the neck. Nylon strings produce a softer, more mellow sound, which plays a large role in the sound difference between classical and acoustic guitars. Also, nylon strings are gentler on fingers compared to steel strings, which makes them great to use if you are a beginning guitar player. Acoustic guitars tend to use steel strings, which are a bit harder to play because they require more finger strength to manipulate.
  • Classical guitars have wider fingerboards that tend to be flatter; classical guitars also have a wider spacing for strings. Having this wide amount of space for your fingers makes playing a classical guitar more comfortable, especially if you have large hands. However, if you have smaller hands and fingers, you’ll have an easier time playing acoustic guitar.
  • Acoustic guitars with steel strings have strong, more solid bracing; this allows the guitar to have better resonance and projection. The better projection and resonance is caused by a high amount of tension of the strings, which is only found on acoustic guitars. Classical guitars have a lighter bracing, which means that this instrument does not project it’s sound as far as an acoustic guitar.
  • If you don’t know what a truss rod is, it is a steel rod that runs the entire length of the neck on all steel stringed instruments. Steel stringed instruments need the truss rods in order to reverse the amount of tension that the strings put on the neck. Nylon strings don’t put much tension on the neck and therefore, classical guitars don’t need truss rods.
  • Take a moment to look at where the neck and body fuse together. If there is a joint at the 14th fret, this is a newer guitar; however, if there is a joint at the 12th fret, this is an older guitar with a more classical guitar.
  • Classical guitars are also a lot cheaper compared to acoustic guitars. Hence, this is why a lot of beginning guitarists unknowingly tend to purchase classical guitars when making this first guitar purchase.
  • Better to use for strumming
  • Has a thinner neck
  • Better to use for a wide variety of musical genres
  • Has a larger and louder sound
  • Has truss rod in the neck
  • Metal/steel strings
  • Has a solid headstock
  • A lot of modern day music is played on acoustic
  • Produces immense volume
  • Longer neck makes playing higher registers easy
  • Steel strings are very heat resistant
  • Don’t need to tune the strings often
  • Since these are pieces of steel, you will need to apply a lot of pressure on the strings, which can be painful
  • Brand new steel strings need frequent tuning
  • Steel strings are larger than nylon strings, which can cause trouble for smaller players
  • Nylon strings are very easy on the fingers
  • Have smaller sized bodies
  • Wide neck
  • Does not come with a truss rod
  • Produce a soft sound
  • Nylon strings
  • Has a cut-out headstock
  • Produces a soft, mellow tone
  • Really allows players to romanticize their music
  • Has a gentle and mellow sound that’s perfect for Latin music, as well as many other genres
  • Nylon strings don’t require callouses to add character to the music
  • Easy to travel with
  • If you’re looking to complete a lot of covers of today’s pop music, don’t purchase this guitar
  • Lack volume and power
  • Playing higher registers on the neck are difficult to do
  • Nylon strings need consistent tuning
  • Nylon strings are not heat or humidity resistant

The shape of the bodies serves as a subtle difference between the two instruments; classical guitars do not come with a scratchplate, whereas acoustic guitars do. A scratch plate (also called a pick guard) is a piece of plastic that is placed right next to the sound hole to prevent a pick from scratching up the finish and body of an acoustic guitar.

Which guitar is better for beginners?

Whether you choose an acoustic guitar or a classical guitar, learning to play guitar is going to require a decent amount of work and at times, learning will become frustrating. However, starting out with the right type of guitar makes the learning process a lot easier. A lot of beginning guitarists tend to quit playing because of the struggle learning the actual instrument, not the music.

Nylon strings (which are found on classical guitars) are very gentle on the fingers and make a great choice for children who are learning how to play. Acoustic guitars with steel strings are harder to play, but allow musicians to cover a larger genre of music. You can strum acoustic guitars with your fingers or with a pick, but you cannot strum classical guitars with a pick.Classical guitars are mainly made for finger picking, as these guitars are mainly featured in flamenco music. You should solely base your decision off of what types of music you would like to play and your musical goals, not by choosing which guitar is easier to play.

How do I choose my guitar?

You should choose your guitar based upon your musical interest. Before you go and make any official purchases, you need to do some research about the guitar you’re interested in. If you are interested in playing finger picking style only or you are someone who has sensitive skin or sensitive fingers, I would personally suggest that you go with the classical guitar.

On the other hand, if you want to play a combination of strumming and finger picking, play a variety of music genres, and are looking for a louder sound from your instrument, you may end up preferring the steel stringed acoustic.

No matter what guitar you end up choosing, you’re going to need to adjust your guitar. Most guitars are sold in the box and are not taken out before shipping to be adjusted to ensure that playing the instrument is easy. Guitars that are mass produced all have a basic set up; the mass production of these instruments ensures that there the price tags are lower. The lower price tags on these guitars means that there is not an extended period of time spent on each guitar to ensure that it’s easy to play as soon as you receive it. The more you practice, the more your fingers will get used to playing the string, whether it be nylon or steel strings.

The pain that strings cause doesn’t last a long period of time. When you first get your instrument, make sure that you gently start to tune the guitar. While at first, it may seem more comfortable to begin playing on unadjusted nylon guitar strings, they will actually bring you more pain over time. Adjusted guitar strings are the most comfortable strings to play on.

Acoustic Guitars

Steel stringed acoustic guitars tend to have a fingerboard that is more on the thinner side; steel stringed acoustics also typically tend to join at the 14th fret.

Here, I have a small list of a few fast facts about acoustic guitars that will make your shopping experience a bit easier:

  • Better to use for strumming
  • Has a thinner neck
  • Better to use for a wide variety of musical genres
  • Has a larger and louder sound
  • Has truss rod in the neck
  • Metal/steel strings
  • Has a solid headstock

Acoustic guitars can also be referred as folk guitars, steel stringed guitars, acoustics, or dreadnaught guitars. You may hear an acoustic guitar be called these names and they mean all are referring to an acoustic guitar.

The steel strings on an acoustic guitar allow the instrument to be able to play a whole span on musical genres, from rock, to soft rock, to blues, to country, folk, jazz, and many more genres. If you are seriously looking to become a performing artist, you should own an acoustic guitar. You can always compose with the instrument and perform acoustic covers of any song you write with this instrument.

If you’re looking to quickly build up your tolerance to the strings on a guitar, playing the acoustic guitar is a great way to do so. The steel strings on the instrument allow players to quickly build up callouses; once you have callouses, playing any other type of guitar becomes incredibly easy. Acoustic guitars are also very popular in the music world, which makes finding them very easy to do!

Acoustic guitars come in a variety of different sizes and can be made for people of all heights, weights, shapes, and sizes. On top of that, Acoustic guitars can also be converted into different types of guitars, so the sizing of acoustic guitars are pretty inconsistent.

Pros of Steel Stringed Acoustics:

  • A lot of modern day music is played on acoustic
  • Produces immense volume
  • Longer neck makes playing higher registers easy
  • Steel strings are very heat resistant
  • Don’t need to tune the strings often

Cons of Steel Stringed Acoustics:

  • Since these are pieces of steel, you will need to apply a lot of pressure on the strings, which can be painful
  • Brand new steel strings need frequent tuning
  • Steel strings are larger than nylon strings, which can cause trouble for smaller players

Classical Guitars

It is a common misconception that playing the classical guitar will be easier because your fingers won’t have to do as much work compared to playing a steel-stringed acoustic guitar. However, it doesn’t matter which guitar you choose; as a beginner, your hands and fingers are going to need time to adjust to playing the instrument.

Classical guitars are commonly used in some types of pop music, jazz, folk, Latin music, and Brazilian music. It is very important for you to understand that if you are looking to produce a different sound from your instrument, you must NOT interchange strings. You cannot play nylon strings on an acoustic guitar and you absolutely cannot play steel strings on a classical guitar.

Nylon strings will need to be tuned more frequently than steel strings and that is because nylon strings are more sensitive to temperature and humidity changes. Steel strings are more stable than nylon strings and don’t need to be tuned as often. Despite this, both types of strings require frequent tuning to take care of your instrument and your strings.

Here, I have a small list of a few fast facts about acoustic guitars that will make your shopping experience a bit easier:

  • Nylon strings are very easy on the fingers
  • Have smaller sized bodies
  • Wide neck
  • Does not come with a truss rod
  • Produce a soft sound
  • Nylon strings
  • Has a cut-out headstock
  • Produces a soft, mellow tone

Nylon strings don’t work well with acoustic guitars because nylon strings don’t apply enough tension on the neck to produce a decent sound; nylon strings on acoustic guitars produce a sound that is too thin and weak. Nylon strings were designed to fit smaller sized guitars, thus if you place steel strings on a classical guitar, you will warp and break the neck on the instrument.

No matter your build, height, or age, classical guitars are an instrument that any person can learn and play on. Classical guitars are also a great instrument to learn on, because of the thickness of their necks; since these guitars have thick necks, players must be spot on with their technique. Also, classical guitars tend to be a lot cheaper than acoustic guitars, but they are harder to find because they aren’t as commonly played.

Classical guitars are very consistent in their sizing, as these types of guitars can never be changed into a type of steel guitar.

Pros of the Classical guitar:

  • Really allows players to romanticize their music
  • Has a gentle and mellow sound that’s perfect for Latin music, as well as many other genres
  • Nylon strings don’t require callouses to add character to the music
  • Easy to travel with

Cons of the Classical guitar:

  • If you’re looking to complete a lot of covers of today’s pop music, don’t purchase this guitar
  • Lack volume and power
  • Playing higher registers on the neck are difficult to do
  • Nylon strings need consistent tuning
  • Nylon strings are not heat or humidity resistant

In Conclusion

Which guitar is the better choice for you? When making your decision between the two, the price point should not be your main focus, as they both are almost equal price wise. You can purchase an inexpensive model of the classical guitar or an acoustic for under $100 or you could invest in your musical career and spend thousands of dollars on a classical or an acoustic that will last you a lifetime.

guitar options - classical or acoustic guitar

You should base your purchase decision solely off of what your musical interest is; if you want to play a lot of rock music, purchase yourself an acoustic guitar. Don’t feel pressured to choose a certain guitar because one is easier to play than the other; both guitars have their own pros and cons. Every guitar or music store that you go to, they will let you test out instruments to help better make your decision. Take the time to play both a nylon stringed guitar and a steel stringed acoustic to see which one you like better.

The Top 2×12 Speaker Cabinets for Guitar Players Who Want to Rock!

Although guitar cabinets are generally made by manufacturers to be paired with a specific amp head they’ve created, the option to mix and match is always there, and part of the fun.

It’s fair to say that one or two 4×12 half-stacks are the most synonymous amp setup with rock guitarists. Sure, that looks cool but for the vast majority of players, that’s just excessive. In studios and on big stages, only one of those four to eight speakers is going to get miced up anyway.

2×12 speaker configurations are a popular choice for the vast majority of players. They’re bigger than a combo, not as obnoxious or excessive as a half-stack, and have the versatility of being able to take whatever amp head you want.

Let’s look at some options.

Seismic Audio 2×12 guitar speaker cabinet | MSRP: $289.99

I came across Seismic Audio some time ago, and I love their approach to music equipment in general, but especially their guitar cabs.

They mostly sell unloaded cabinets, aimed at happy shed bodgerers to create their wildest amplifying desires, This is actually the only one they sell that includes speakers. It so basic and simple, they haven’t even bothered to give it a fancy name or product number or code.

Seismic Audio’s approach is very much: keep it cheap. And, as I always say, you get what you pay for.

Ordinarily, the first thing you look at in a cab is the speakers. These are unbranded. Mmm… make of that what you will. I think it enforces my last point.

I’ve made that all sound really grim! But don’t get me wrong: this is a great cab, solidly built, and ideal for those on a budget. I’d imagine its main market would be those on a budget, who are likely coupling it with a solid state, or maybe the hybrid head.

It’ll work just fine, but don’t expect any classic tones from it. If you’re experimenting with a head/combo rig, it might be useful to have around or to get a feel for the logistics of gigging with it before committing to the monies of a better-known brand.

As you can see, it’s not going to win any prizes for aesthetics either. This is really about literally being a straight up 2×12 cabinet.

Alternatives

  • Bugera 212TS – Bugera is owned by the same company who bring you the better-known budget brand, Behringer. Like Seismic Audio, the focus is on keeping things as affordable as possible.
  • Laney Cub – I love Laney, and their Cub range is their Eastern-made alternative to their premium Lionheart range – well worth a look.

Marshall MX212 | MSRP: $470

As I always say when writing anything that requires listing amp brands, it’s probably illegal to exclude Marshall, so let’s just get it out of the way!

I won’t dwell too much on introducing Marshall. If you haven’t played one, you’ll have heard of them, and if you haven’t heard of them, you’ll recognize that logo from decades of use by some of the world’s leading guitarists.

A brand like Marshall will have a large number of cabs available, and this is their cheaper one. They tout it as being suitable for any kind of a head. Specifying their own ones of course!

The reason this costs a little more than the Seismic Audio cab we just looked at, is the inclusion of Celestion speakers. No more than with guitars, I feel like it’s a good thing when manufacturers are able to take a step back and say “Actually, this will work better if we get a company who specializes in making this part to do it.”

Either that or buying in such speakers works out cheaper than manufacturing them themselves, even when they’re branded like Celestion.

And the reason it’s not as expensive as some of the cabs we’re about to see is that in the realms of speakers, these aren’t Celestion’s most pristine offering, and these cabs are made in the east. The latter point, in particular, will have a big impact on the production costs. It’s hard to know how much of an Eastern-made piece of gear is actual production, and how much is the brand name that’s put on it.

While this cab will certainly handle any type of head, I feel like it would be favored by hard rocking guitarists. Maybe some blues rock, but it’s definitely not metal enough for… well, metal.

Alternatives

  • Vox 212C – yes, this looks like the AC30! But without any actual amp parts, so you can make it sound like whatever you want. It’s probably better for slightly cleaner tones than the Marshall though
  • Blackstar Venue Series HTV-212– British-made, but universally voiced, there are no doubts about the quality of amp-related products that Blackstar have been creating

Orange Amplifiers PPC Series PPC212OB | MSRP: $829.99

Much like Marshall, Orange is another quintessentially British brand, famed for a quintessentially British tone, especially that of a crunchy blues-rock nature.

With a cab this size and speaker configuration, they’re very much aiming it at their higher end – e.g. expensive – heads, and I guess that’s reflected in the price. It seems a bit silly to get a high-end cab like this if it’s going to be paired with a head that’ll sound nasty through literally anything.

With this in mind, it’s important to note that this is made by Orange themselves in the United Kingdom. That’s a big factor in why it costs a little bit more than the cabs we’ve already looked at.

Like the Marshall, the Orange cab uses Celestion speakers. No more than the country of manufacture, the Celestions used here are Vintage 30s – a little bit higher in the quality spectrum than what’s in the Marshall.

You can play whatever amp you want through this cabinet, but it’s important to be realistic that something with tubes will do it the most justice.

Alternatives

Engl PRO E212VHB | $899.99

My lasting memory of the Engl brand will always be the time I played through a friend’s Engl 50 watt combo.

It can only be described as a brutal savage, in the most glorious of ways!

That brief experience aside, Engl are a higher end of amp manufacturer, based in Germany. That alone gives some clues as to the direction their equipment takes: proudly made in Germany, utilizing the precision and engineering that Germany is renowned for, for heavy music that is also pretty easy to associate with the country.

This is a stereo cab, so you can have a little bit more fun with that. As with the Orange, this comes loaded with Celestion Vintage 30 speakers. In contrast to the Orange, however, is the voicing that these speakers have been made to deliver.

This isn’t really for your crunchy blues-rock. This is very much for hard rock and metal players. This one is meant to be played loud, and played dirty.

It also weighs in at over 72 lbs. This is not a light amp, and you will need some upper body strength for bringing it around to gigs.

Alternatives

  • Friedman 2×12 – one of those brands that aren’t particularly mainstream, but these are US-made and certainly worth checking out
  • Wampler Bravado 2×12– much better-known for their boutique pedals, this cab is loaded with Celestion G12M-65 Creamback speaker

Mission Engineering Gemini 2 | MSRP: $1499 – 1899

I’m generally suspicious towards the most expensive item in a listicle. I’m like “Sure, you cost all of the money, but what are you really offering?”

In the case of the Gemini II from Mission Engineering, it’s actually quite a bit. Do I think it’s worth all the money? Well…

Mission Engineering are a US-based company with all the R&D and electronics being built in California, with the amps themselves being built in Missouri. I’ve spent this list bleating on about the speakers encased in each amp. In this case, they’re not flagging any particular brand, so I’m assuming they’ve made them themselves. Quite frankly, at this price, I’d hope they’ve made them themselves. The speakers operate in stereo.

That’s all very well, but those factors aren’t the reason this cabinet costs so much. Nope. This cab is allegedly the first in the world to incorporate Bluetooth and USB technology. This isn’t just an amp – this is high-tech witchcraft!

So, what are you supposed to do with these things? The Bluetooth is intended to connect to smartphones and tablets, I guess for using the likes of IK Multimedia’s Amplitude app to create the amp sound you want to then be projected through the cab. The USB is likely to be used for achieving a similar thing but through a hardwire.

I get the idea, but I honestly don’t see a massive market for it. Obviously, there’s enough demand for Mission to keep making them, but it’s a lot of money for what it does. It’s an expensive cab to run an amp through rather than a nice tube head.

Alternatives

  • Diezel Vintage — like the Engl we looked at earlier, Diezel amps are supposed to be played loud and heavy
  • Morgan Amplification 2×12 – made with two different speakers: a Celestion G12H-75 Creamback and a Celestion Alnico Gold

Comparison Table

Model Seismic Audio Marshall MX212 Orange Amplifiers PPC Series PPC212OB Engl PRO E212VHB Mission Engineering Gemini 2
MSRP $289.99 $470 $829.99 $899.99 $1499 – 1899
Country of origin China China UK Germany USA
Speakers Unbranded Celestion Seventy 80 Celestion Vintage 30 Celestion Vintage 30 Own-brand
Impedence 8 Ohm 8 Ohm 16 Ohn 8 Ohm mono, 2 x 16 Ohm stereo n/a
Wattage 200 watts 160 watts 120 watts 120 watts 2 x 100 watts

Conclusion

So there we have it. If you’ve been thinking about getting a new 2×12 cabinet for your rig, either in upsizing from a combo, or downsizing from a half-stack, this list should equip you with some information to point you in the right direction for your research.

Obviously, there are plenty of other options available. If you have the patience and money, you can, of course, get custom made models, in whatever specs you need, and any finish at all that you might like.

If you enjoy tinkering with electronics, you can also buy unloaded cabinets, without any speakers at all in them, get whatever combination of speaker you like, and fit them yourself, and finish the cab however you like.

As ever with guitar gear, if you’re going to buy a cab from a store, try as many as possible first.

The Top 10 Microphones for Acoustic Guitars

Sound engineers in venues have it relatively easy with acoustic guitarists: they generally rock up with an electro-acoustic that can be just plugged in.

Granted, this can also be done in a studio setting, but studio engineers are going to want to make use of such a setting to get the nuances of an acoustic guitars properties. It generally offers a much fuller and warmer sound.

Here, we’ll take a look at the best microphones for recording acoustic guitars, across a range of budgets, to suit everybody from bedroom guitarists tinkering about on laptops, to the chief engineer at Abbey Road.

IK Multimedia iRig Acoustic | MSRP: $49.99

It’s going to be difficult to find an acoustic guitar mic that’s cheaper than this, that isn’t completely terrible.

This is a very tiny mic that you can clip onto the soundhole of an acoustic guitar or ukulele. It might be a useful piece of kit for sound engineers in venues to have on standby, should somebody rock up with a regular acoustic guitar.

IK Multimedia have very much been at the forefront of gear that’s firstly very small, and secondly, designed to work in tandem with mobile devices.

With the second aspect of their work on mind, the iRig Acoustic is intended to be used with their Amplitube app, giving the user access to a host of amps and effects before the signal hits their audio interface.

It’s ideal for beginners messing around with the recording process, especially those who don’t have space for a more traditional mic and stand setup. It’s important to remember though, that at $50, you’re going to get what you pay for.

It’s important to note that the Amplitube setup will only work for iPhone and iPad.

Alternatives

  • CAD GXL1200BP – a good option for those who’d prefer a more versatile mic in a similar price range
  • Behringer C-4 – a go-to name in terms of budget brands, for $10 more than the iRig Acoustic, you can get two of these condenser mics – remember that you get what you pay for though
  • Audio-Technica AT829cW – a weird looking hybrid of a condenser mic and a clip on mic


Audio-Technica AT2020 | MSRP: $99

I think this offering from Audio-Technica is a very cool offering for home recording enthusiasts on a tight budget, or who want to get a bit of experience working with microphones before investing in a more “serious” piece of kit.

Like quite a few others on this list, this is a small diaphragm condenser microphone. Unlike the others though, this costs less than $100.

As I always say, you get what you pay for, so while this won’t be the same quality as some of the other mics on this list, it’s a step up from clip-on mics like the iRig Acoustic, because the user can get a feel for positioning the microphone around the acoustic guitar being used, and develop an understanding of how the different positioning of a mic like this can influence the recording.

For a $99 microphone, it’s a very sturdy piece of gear. It feels like you could throw it about a bit. Obviously, that’s not to say you should! It’s noted for its particularly bright output.

Alternatives

  • MXL 770 – a large diaphragm condenser, priding itself on the clarity of its highs and solidity of its low
  • AKG P170 – like Audio-Technica, this is AKG’s effort at delivering an affordable small-diaphragm condenser

sE Electronics 2200a II C | MSRP: $349

This reviewer’s most-used mic, but I’ll try not to be too biased! I first came across one of these working with a studio engineer who was using it for literally everything: acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocals, percussion… whatever!

When I was writing more songs than I could afford in studio time and wanted to invest in some home recording gear, this was the microphone I went straight for.

This is the cardioid version. It comes in a solid metal casing and a dedicated shockmount for your mic stand. It has a frequency range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz, and a pre-attenuation of -10dB, and a whole bunch of other numbers that will only give away so much about the quality of its sounds.

I’d recommend this for intermediate home recording enthusiasts who are prepared to spend a few dollars on a decent sound. Let’s not pretend your recordings with the 2200a II C are going to leave Rick Rubin worried about his job, but for listenable tracking at home, this is the only mic you’ll need.

Alternatives

  • Audix CX112B – a very similar vein to the 2200a, this should cover a lot of bases, and comes with a bass filter
  • Aston Microphones Origin – designed and made in England, this brand is only a few years old, but their mics have won a serious amount of praise
  • Audio-Technica AT4040 – again, very similar specs; touts itself as being exceptionally low noise

AKG C214 | $399

Like the Neumann mic that we’ll take a look at later, the C214 is best associated with vocal recordings, but man, it definitely holds its own for recording acoustics guitars too!

AKG actually tout this mic as an affordable version of their C414 model. That kind of aim is always tricky or brands to do – if they can make the same mic more affordable, why don’t they just make the affordable version?

The C214 is particularly respected for its ability to handle loud strumming, making it ideal for players like this reviewer. It also has noteworthy rugged construction, making it ideal for the mobile engineer, or for hobbyists who might want to bring it to the practice room.

In terms of actual practical performance, the C214 is generally regarded as provided much more bang for your buck than a mic at this price really should. That makes it well worth a look.

Alternatives

  • Sennheiser MD 421-II – similar style and approach, with a five position bass roll-off switch
  • Rode NT1000 – highlights include ultra-low noise and full frequency response
  • Heil Sound PR40 – seems to be designed with the sole intention of being the only mic you’ll need

Shure SM81 | MSRP: $436

Probably one of the most mainstream brands of microphones in the world, Shure haven’t sustained their business since 1925 by making garbage.

Their SM range is one of their most popular, due to the affordability, and the variation of mics in it, and it has built up a solid reputation for being very reliable mics. All of these aspects point towards it being an ideal mic for those just getting started in home recording, as well as one for professionals to have on standby.

The mic is lighter than ones like it, making it good if you bring your recording rig to the musicians. It’s designed to handle a range of sounds, particularly loud ones: ideal if you’re recording an acoustic style more akin to Frank Turner than Damien Rice!

Its smaller diameter will, of course, limit it a little bit in picking out an acoustic guitar’s lower range of tones. But it still retains the warmth of the sound. It makes it good in the right scenario.

Alternatives

  • Audio-Technica AT4022 – a very similar style of microphone, priding itself on its flat frequency response
  • Lauten Audio LA-120 – you can pick up a pair of these for the same price as the SM81 – useful if you’re recording drums as well as acoustic guitar!
  • Rode NT6 – comes with an unusual remote capsule for placing in hard to reach spots

Aston Microphones Starlight | MSRP: $449

OK, this is one of the coolest microphones I’ve ever come across. It’s a mic with a laser on it! A laser!

Readers of a certain age have just made quotation marks in the air with their finger while saying “la-ser.”

Aston Microphones have been on the go for only a few years, but everything they come out with has been phenomenally well-received.

The laser on the Starlight won’t blow up the planet, but it will help in positioning the microphone in the studio. You can mark where it was pointing when you position it where it achieves the sound you want. Mega.

Like a couple of the microphones here, the Starlight comes with a few switches to increase its versatility, and essentially cramming as much as possible into what they can offer you in a single mic, at this price. The main one is for voicing, with setting labeled as Vintage, Modern, and Hybrid, depending on what you’re recording.

All in all, a very tidy mic. I don’t think the laser is too gimmicky either, but I would advise considering your actual practical and realistic needs.

Alternatives

There are no other microphones with lasers, but you can probably find lasers for a couple of dollars that you can duct tape to one of these.

  • sE Electronics sE5P – similar idea, but you can get a pair of them for a little more than what the Starlight costs
  • Lewitt LCT 340 – besides the options made available by the switches on the mic chassis, you can change the top capsule for different uses

Rode NT2A | MSRP: $699

Don’t be alarmed by the price tag – it won’t take much research to find these much cheaper online. And the price quoted here is for a bundle with some other stuff – it seems impossible to just buy the mic by itself.

Like the AKG C214, the NT2A from Rode is particularly renowned for the quality it offers at its price point. If you’re reading a listicle on a review website as part of your research, that’s probably the kind of thing you want to hear. You’re welcome.

I mentioned that this is a bundle with a bunch of stuff. More specifically, the stuff is:

  • shock mount
  • pop filter
  • XLR cable
  • instructional DVD

That’s right. A DVD.

The big and cool thing about the NT2A is the amount of variety in sounds that the user has. So many choices!

  • Three-way selection of direction: Omni, Cardioid, or figure-8
  • Three-way selection of high-pass filter: Flat, 40Hz or 80Hz
  • Three way selection of PAD: 0dB, -5dB or -10dB

That’s fantastic. But it does lead to it being quite a weighty mic. I’d love to investigate whether all these options make it a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none, but alas, that won’t be today.

Alternatives

  • Audix SCX25A – an ideal mic for utilizing the acoustic properties of the room as well as the instrument
  • Aston Microphones Spirit – a similar approach to the NT2A in terms of the flexibility of tonal options

Neumann TLM102 | MSRP: $700

If you’ve ever done any kind of research into microphones before, you’ll be familiar with the Neumann name. You’ll also be aware of how pricey they can be – their best-known model, the U87, retails at the other side of $3k.

In recent years, they made some effort to produce microphones that will be a bit more accessible. Production is retained in Germany, rather than the east, like most companies do when they aim for affordable models, which is why the TLM102still retails at considerably more than other well-known mic brands.

This is a large diaphragm condenser mic. There’s no doubt that this is primarily aimed at vocals, either speaking or singing, but it can definitely pull its weight for acoustic guitars too. Personally, if I was spending $700 on a microphone, I’d like it to be pretty versatile!

This is a smaller scale mic than most Neumann offerings – perhaps this is where the savings come from? It has transformerless circuitry, and it claims a slight presence boost above 6kHz.

Alternatives

Royer Labs R-121 | $1,395

Moving away from the condenser mic for a minute, here we have a ribbon mic. We’re also moving into higher end territory in terms of pricing. Royer tout the 121 as their flagship model. Between that and the price, you should expect a fair amount of awesome to be delivered.

If you’re still reading, this mic is probably best recommended for professionals and advanced intermediate home recording enthusiasts.

Once you pass the $1k mark, you’re going to want a versatile mic, and that’s something the 121 has nailed and is very much one of the things it receives most praise for. The other thing it’s most lauded for is its solid construction, which, when you spend that amount of money on a microphone, is definitely something I like to see.

This mic comes with a figure-8 pattern and is intended to deliver a warmth in recordings that will also capture the ambiance and unique sonic qualities of the instrument being recorded. That sounds cool.

Alternatives

Interestingly, this is the only ribbon mic that seems to be recommended for acoustic guitars, meaning it doesn’t really have any direct alternatives – everything goes back to condenser mics.

Telefunken C12 | MSRP: $8,495

There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Telefunken. That’s because of the price, they’re only used by the very top engineers who are making megabucks from their work. It’s certainly not a brand that would be familiar to home recording hobbyists. They’re almost as much of an investment piece as they are a studio tool!

Anyway, the C12 was actually originally made by AKG, but Telefunken has been making them for some time now. Those original AKG C12s change hands for around $20,000, making this contemporary working of it look pretty affordable!

There are a couple of things setting this mic above others on this list, name that it comes with its own power supply and a tube-driven mic cable. Those are kind of the essentials you need to make it work, but the kit also includes a shock mount, a wooden case, and a flight case that will hold the lot.

A cool feature of the C12 that greatly contributes to its versatility, is that you can decide whether it will operate as an Omni-directional, cardioid or figure-8 mic from the power supply.

Alternatives

This is the first time I can’t suggest an alternative. The bottom line is that if you can afford to spend this amount of money on this microphone, you have peaked. There are no other routes for you to go at this price point.

Comparison Table

Model IK Multimedia iRig Acoustic Audio-Technica AT2020 sE Electronics 2200a II C AKG C214 Shure SM81
MSRP $49.99 $99 $349 $399 $436
Mic type Plectrum-shaped clip on Fixed-charge back plate, permanently polarized condenser Hand-crafted true condenser Large diaphragm condenser Small diaphragm condenser
Directional pattern Omni-directional Cardioid Cardioid Cardioid Cardioid
Frequency range 15 Hz – 10 kHz 20 Hz – 20 kHz 20 Hz – 20 kHz 20 Hz – 20 kHz 20 Hz – 20 kHz
Signal to noise ratio 63 dBA 74 dB, 1 kHz at 1 Pa 80 dBA 81 dBA 78dB

 

Model Aston Microphones Starlight Rode NT2A Neumann TLM102 Royer Labs R-121 Telefunken C12
MSRP $449 $699 $700 $1,395 $8,495
Mic type Small diaphragm condenser Large capsule condenser Large diaphragm condenser Ribbon Condenser
Directional pattern Cardioid Omni-directional, cardioid or figure-8 Cardioid Figure-8 Omni-directional, cardioid or figure-8
Frequency range 20 Hz – 20 kHz 20 Hz – 20 kHz 20 Hz – 20 kHz 30 Hz – 15 kHz 20 Hz – 20 kHz
Signal to noise ratio 79 dB 87 dB 73 dB n/a 16dB

Conclusion

So there we pretty much have it. A round-up of some of the best microphones on the market for recording acoustic guitars, across a range of price points.

I could only list ten here, but remember that there are literally hundreds of microphones on the market. Some may not even be promoted as being good for recording acoustic guitars, but that doesn’t mean to say you won’t like it!

Which leads to another very important point: the concept of a great acoustic guitar sound is entirely subjective. Here, I can only give my opinions. It’s so important for you to get to your local guitar store, talk to the staff, try out some microphones, see what gently caresses your eardrums.

These days, most guitar stores have a department and person for recording. Make use of that!

Get Strumming: The Full Yamaha F325 Acoustic Folk Guitar Review to Love

The Yamaha F325 is an acoustic folk guitar that’s an affordable option for a beginning guitarist to learn on. Out of all of the series that Yamaha has, the Yamaha F325 is one of their most popular series, partially because the F series is comprised of mostly beginning level guitars.

For the price range, I really enjoyed several things about this guitar. For the physical appearance of the guitar, the dreadnought shape was appealing and wasn’t too heavy while holding the instrument. The sound is more on the mellow side, but sound production is neither too loud nor too quiet; perfect if you are someone who enjoys performing in front of small audiences.

Small budget guitars are easy to find too, but finding a quality guitar on a budget isn’t always the easiest thing to do. If you are a beginning guitar player looking to find a guitar that’s going to last you a few years while you grow, the Yamaha F325 is a guitar you should really take some time to look at.

A Little About the Yamaha F325

The feel of the F325 is very rich and luxurious, especially when compared to other guitars in this price range; other guitars that share the same price tag as the F325 and come with an average finish, don’t stay in tune for a long period of time and have very flimsy plastic pick guards. However, this Yamaha F325 stays in tune for long period of time, a sturdy pickguard, and an elegant finish; this guitar has a classic dreadnought shaped body that comes with a non-cutaway with a laminate spruce top that is topped with a glossy finish.

As for the construction of this guitar, the top of the guitar is crafted from the spruce top and the neck of this instrument is of Nato wood; sides and back are made from Meranti wood. There is a dovetail joint that is found on the standard 14th fret.

The biggest complaint that I have about this instrument is the size of the neck. I am someone who has smaller sized hands and I found that playing on this guitar became very strenuous on my hands. After playing for a little while, my hands became tired and achy and I had to stop playing. The F325 width is 11/16 inches wide, there are fourteen free frets, twenty frets in total, and the dot position inlays with a 25 ½ inch scale.

While this guitar is inexpensive, it doesn’t look it! The bridge and fretboard are made from rosewood; the fretboard has an adjustable truss rod. On the end of the neck, Yamaha placed chrome plated die cast tuners, which really makes the guitar look classy.

One of the reasons that the Yamaha F325 stays in tune for long periods of time is due to the truss rod that can be found at the neck of the guitar. As for the tone of the guitar, the rosewood finger board is to name for that; the rosewood finger board really adds to the overall warmth of the sound the Yamaha F325.

If you are someone who is an experienced musician and are looking for a guitar that is an affordable instrument to practice on, the Yamaha F325 will get the job done. While I do suggest this guitar to my beginning guitarists, I also recommend it to my experienced musicians. This is the ideal guitar to practice all of your finger techniques on.

Personally, I would highly recommend this guitar as it’s very versatile. While this guitar has been created with beginners in mind, those who have been playing guitar for years will also enjoy playing this instrument. As an experienced guitar player, you will notice that the action is pretty high on this guitar. However, if you spend an extra $40, you can go get this fixed at any local guitar store. Also, while this instrument doesn’t come with an electric amplifier, this guitar still does produce an incredible amount of volume.

Core Features/Specs of the Product

  • -Weighs 6 pounds and 4 ounces
  • -41.9 X 20.8 X 5.5 inch dimensions
  • -Meranti sides
  • -Meranti back
  • -Nato neck
  • -Rosewood bridge
  • -Rosewood fingerboard
  • -Die cast chrome tuners
  • -Dreadnought body
  • -Gloss finish
  • -Available in three different color options: tobacco, natural, and sunburst
  • -Tortoise shell pickguard
  • -Comes with a limited lifetime warranty
  • -With your purchase of your guitar, you also will receive extra strings, extra picks, a digital tuner, DVD guitar lessons, and a gig bag
  • -Amazing sound production
  • -Stays in tune for a long period of time
  • -Very stable and consistent
  • -A lot of fun to play with
  • -Feels very sturdy
  • -Doesn’t need a lot of tuning when first pulled out of the box
  • -Doesn’t come with an electric output option
  • -Doesn’t come with a strap on the side of the guitar
  • -Doesn’t come with a case

Best Music Genres For

The Yamaha F325Folk Acoustic guitar works the best for folk music, as listed in its description. However, this is a very versatile guitar, so it’s really great for any genre that you choose to play on acoustic guitar.

Does it Work as Advertised?

Yes, it does! This is a very useful guitar that has a beautiful appearance that has a body that has been well built and is certain to withstand some abuse. The glossy spruce top really makes the guitar stand out from the crowd. The wood that Yamaha used on this guitar also makes it very durable but also ensures that it has incredible sound quality and tonal qualities.

Pros of the Yamaha F325:

  • -Amazing sound production
  • -Stays in tune for a long period of time
  • -Very stable and consistent
  • -A lot of fun to play with
  • -Feels very sturdy
  • -Doesn’t need a lot of tuning when first pulled out of the box

Cons of the Yamaha F325:

  • -Doesn’t come with an electric output option
  • -Doesn’t come with a strap on the side of the guitar
  • -Doesn’t come with a case

Other guitars to consider:

Yamaha FG800 Solid Top Acoustic

This guitar is also really popular among beginners, mainly because of the color choices that is offered. This guitar does pronounce the bass more than the Yamaha F325, but it still plays easily and is very affordable.

Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic Guitar

This guitar is one of Epiphone’s best-selling beginner’s guitar, as it’s very affordable and has incredible tonewoods that make this instrument sound balanced and warm. At an affordable price range, ($118 compared to the Yamaha’s F325 $150 price tag) this guitar has a classy appearance.

Conclusion

The Yamaha F325 Folk Acoustic guitar is a well-rounded instrument that is great to use as a guitar to learn off of. Due to the shape of the neck, this guitar really helps beginners learn how to place their finger on the neck of a guitar, how to properly move their fingers on the neck, how to hold a guitar, how to show emotion through the music, how to stand while playing, and how to play while standing. The price tag on this instrument is also unbeatable, considering the quality of sound and feel of the F325.

Top Nine Best Parlor Guitars That You Will Still Love to Play

What is a parlor guitar?

The parlor guitar’s name (also is spelled parlour guitar) originated from wealthy homes playing guitar for guests in their parlor rooms as a form of entertainment. Unless you’re an experienced guitar player or teacher, you’ve probably never have heard of a parlor guitar. Which is actually pretty crazy, considering that parlor guitars have been around since the mid-18th  century and had a peak in the late 19th century.

Parlor guitars were created by guitar makers who didn’t have the machinery to produce very sophisticated guitars; there weren’t different types of strings available for players to choose from, as it was only the 18th century. Matter of fact, the only type of string that was available to string playing musicians were gut strings, which were weak and didn’t take much to break. Guitar makers also didn’t hold volume production too much importance, because most musicians weren’t playing in front of incredibly large crowds with a sizeable band standing alongside the parlor playing guitarist.

A parlor guitar is a guitar with a smaller sized width, a neck-to-body junction, twelve frets, and an elongated lower body. Some people describe a guitar as a parlor when the body is smaller than the average standard size acoustic guitar. However, while this is a definition that describes a large portion of parlor guitars, there are still a few exceptions. Not all parlor guitars will fit into this description and we will talk about that later on this article!

What should I look for when purchasing a Parlor guitar?

When looking to purchase your first parlor guitar, you should look for a guitar that’s solid wood. Guitars that use solid wood compared to laminate sound much, much better. When shopping online for a solid wood guitar, you will need to look for the words “solid wood, solid top, solid back and sides”. These words mean that your guitar is solid wood; if the guitar description does not say these words, then the guitar is made out of laminate.

What’s the difference between a Travel guitar vs a Parlor guitar?

A lot of people assume that travel guitars and parlor guitars are the same thing. However, this is not true! There are several details that make it easy to distinguish between travel guitars and parlor guitars; these details are:

  • The parlor guitar body is longer and thinner compared to a travel guitar
  • Travel guitars have a smaller nut width compared to standard size guitars, while the parlor guitar has a standard nut width
  • Parlor guitars have a smaller amount of frets compared to the travel guitars; parlor guitars typically have 18 eighteen frets

If you aren’t a guitar expert, you will see these as small differences, but they are what make the travel guitar and the parlor guitar different from each other!

So, if there isn’t a huge difference between parlor guitars and travel guitars, why have parlor guitars regained their popularity?

While I don’t think parlor guitars will ever become as popular as when they were in the 1900s. However, over the past decade, they have increased popularity and a large portion of this popularity is due to folk singers! A lot of main stream folk singers use parlor guitars when performing live.

But, why should you choose a parlor guitar?

You should purchase a parlor guitar because of the way that it makes you feel. Parlor guitars have an almost vintage feel to them and they certainly do travel well. The main complaint that a lot of people have with parlor guitars is that they tend to lack in volume production and dynamic range.

If you’re afraid you’re going to be unhappy with choosing a parlor guitar, I would highly suggest that you go out to a guitar shop and try out playing a travel guitar and a parlor guitar. Decide which one you like better and go from there. Which guitar feels better in your hands? Which one sounds better to your musical preferences?

Did you know that parlor guitars were originally created with women in mind? Since women have smaller hands and a smaller frame compared to men, having a smaller sized guitar allows women to grip and play the guitar more comfortably, as well as allowing women to have, their fingers reach higher up on the scale.

Let’s talk Parlor Guitars!

Now that we’ve finished talking about all of the details that involve Parlor guitars, let’s start talking about some actual guitars. Not everybody has the same price range when it comes to looking for guitars, so I have created a list of ten of the best parlor guitars that fit budgets of all levels.

Fender CP-100

If you’re looking to spend less than $500 on your guitar, the Fender CP-100 is a parlor you should look at. However, I should advise you that you should not expect high-quality sound and volume production from this guitar, as it is an inexpensive instrument. With that said, Fender did a really good job at producing a decent parlor guitar that’s great to play on if you’re on a budget.

A lot of players talk about how much they like the sunburst finish, as it adds a vintage look and feel to the parlor guitar. This instrument has a fitting sound and is actually a lot of fun to play! You’re going to be purchasing a laminate wood guitar, which means that the tone quality isn’t going to be as good as a guitar that’s made out of solid wood. However, if you’re a beginning guitarist, this isn’t going to make a big difference to you!

Overall, I would really suggest that you check out this guitar is you are a beginning guitarists who is looking to try out a parlor guitar. This is an amazing first step guitar that’s easy to practice to play on; the Fender CP-100 would also make a great gift for young children looking to play acoustic guitar for the first time. The only main downside about this guitar is that it does not come with a case, so you will have to purchase a bag or a hard case to keep the guitar in separately.

Breedlove Passport

For $500, you can purchase yourself a really nice guitar that comes with a highly reputable name attached to it. This instrument has been built with a solid Sitka spruce top, mahogany back, and mahogany sides. The Breedlove Passport also has a solid top, which is a step up from the laminate top of the Fender CP-100.

This guitar does come with a gig bag, so you’re not going to go out of your way to purchase a bag or case to carry your instrument around in. Also, the Breedlove Passport also comes installed with Fishman electronics, allowing you to either play in acoustic mode or acoustic electric for live performances.

Larrivee P-09

With a street price of $1,500, the Larrivee P-09 is a pricey parlor guitar. Check out the latest prices here! One would think that with a price tag that high, the Larrivee would come fully equipped with a hard case, electronics, and mahogany. However, that is not the case with the P-09; the P-09 does come with a soft case. Instead, this parlor guitar sports a solid spruce top, solid rosewood sides, and solid rosewood back.

The rosewood that is used on the P-09 separates this parlor guitar from the Cordoba C10, as the rosewood really allows this instrument to produce a large dynamic range. You will also find that the P-09 is a bit heavier on the bass side compared to other parlor guitars, which are known to highlight the treble.

If you ever get the chance to play the Larrivee P-09, please do so. It’s very easy to play, feels very luxurious in your hands, and has stunning looks!

Gretsch Jim Dandy

Gretsch is a brand that not many people have heard of; it certainly does not have the same level of fame like Fender, Yamaha, or Gibson does. Just because Gretsch isn’t as famous as Fender or Yamaha doesn’t mean that the quality of the instrument is any different!

The Jim Dandy is an excellent beginner’s guitar that has a remarkable vintage sound that’s almost impossible to find in laminate guitars. The Jim Dandy is a parlor guitar that’s made from laminate. While the sound that this guitar produces is amazing, there are some tonal attributes that aren’t very pleasant to hear.

One of the largest complaints that people talk about when discussing the Gretsch Jim Dandy is how over a period of time, the finish begins to show green streaks; in the more recent years, Jim Dandy has tried to fix this problem by applying a thick finish on top of the guitar.

Overall, if you are looking for a parlor guitar that can withstand some abuse and has a vintage voicing, the Gretsch Jim Dandy is a parlor guitar you should look at. On the other hand, a lot of people talk about how much they like the “C” shape the neck has, as it makes the neck very comfortable to hold. I would not suggest that you purchase this guitar if you are looking to do a lot of fingerpicking, as the nut width is sized more modernly.

Gretsch decided to put a truss rod into this guitar, which is rare to come across on guitars at this price point. There are a lot of “high end” perks that come with this guitar, such as vintage style frets, Pearloid dot inlays, and a warm sound. And as to be expected with any parlor guitar, the Jim Dandy doesn’t have an incredible amount of volume production.

Fender CP-100

Fender is really famous for their electric guitars, but this entry level parlor acoustic guitar is one of the best values on the market today, especially for beginners. If you are someone who is looking for a parlor guitar that has a very refined tone, I would suggest that you look somewhere else.

Due to the way that Fender built this guitar, the Fender CP-1OO really makes a wonderful travel guitar or a guitar that’s great to use for beginners (especially because beginning guitarists don’t know how to take care of instruments). This guitar is made from laminated spruce top, sides, and back; laminate is a great wood to have when using a travel guitar because laminate doesn’t react to changes in humidity and temperature.

At the same time, laminate wood does not provide the same tonal characteristics that real wood does. The laminate wood also does not produce as much volume as a guitar with solid wood does; there is a smaller dynamic range with laminated wood guitars, especially when compared to solid wood instruments. The main purpose of the laminate is to protect the guitar against major damage and to cut costs for the manufacturer.

While Fender did decide to use laminated wood on the guitar, they also placed a compensated saddle in the instrument to help eliminate problems with intonation.

Personally, the most impressive part about the whole guitar is the tuners; for a parlor guitar in this price range, the tuners are very easy to hold while tuning and they tune rather smoothly (as long as your string your parlor correctly). A lot of other users talk about how impressed they when it comes to the durability of this parlor guitar; reportedly, this guitar holds up very well when put under regular playing and traveling. This is very uncommon to find in guitars at this price range, which is why it’s so impressive.

Recording King RPH-05

The Recording King RPH-05 is a great parlor guitar for modern day blues players. When I say that, I mean that the only purpose that this guitar was built for was to fulfill the needs of a blues player who is looking for an affordable parlor guitar. While you can use the King RPH-05 for other genres, I would suggest against it; that is because this parlor guitar has a more hunkier side to it that’s perfect for playing the blues. At the same time, this guitar doesn’t have a milder tone that is popular among many instruments today that is commonly found in modernly produced music.

If you’re looking for a parlor guitar that’s perfect for your blues playing, this is a guitar that I would strongly suggest that you look into purchasing this parlor guitar, as the manufacturer has perfectly captured the sound of an early blues parlor acoustic playing in this affordable instrument.

While the physical appearance of this guitar isn’t anything that you should write home about, the makeup of this guitar is incredible. The Recording King RPH-05 has a solid spruce top, white wood sides, white wood back, forward X-bracing, rosewood bridge, and rosewood fretboard.

Cordoba C10 Nylon

You can purchase yourself the Cordoba C10 Nylon for $1,000; Cordoba is famously known to be an incredibly classic guitar manufacturer that leaves many players happy with their guitars. The Cordoba C10 Nylon is the only Nylon stringed parlor guitar on this list, which makes it special!

The Cordoba C10 Nylon is a solid wood guitar that’s best feature is Indian rosewood on the sides and the back of the guitar. If you’re looking for a moderately priced guitar that has an incredibly pure sound, the Cordoba C10 is a great guitar to look at.

This parlor is very similar to a classical guitar and like most classical guitar, the Cordoba C10 does not come with any electronics installed in the instrument. However, there is the possibility to add electronics after you purchase your guitar- it’s all up to you!

Alvarez AP70

Even if as a professional guitar player, I haven’t heard much from the brand Alvarez. With that said, I did have the opportunity to test out a few of their guitars and the Alvarez AP70 was one that I was most impressed with. This is a mid-priced parlor guitar that is a good guitar for intermediate players.

A unique feature about the AP70 is the slotted headstock; the slotted headstock delivers a different type of effect on this parlor guitar that greatly increases the sustain and resonance of this beauty.

As for the physical makeup of this guitar, the AP70 sports a solid spruce top, laminated rosewood sides, laminated rosewood back, an option to add electric to this instrument for a larger price tag, and a uniquely designed bridge that helps to increase the volume on this parlor.

This parlor guitar is great to use if you are looking to play a wide variety of genres of music, as it has the ability to sound equally great while being strummed and fingerpicked, as it is a very articulate parlor guitar.

Out of all the guitars in this list, this is the parlor guitar that I would highly recommend; this was my favorite guitar to play on and I found that it is an incredible sounding instrument that had a very inviting tone. The only complaint that I had about the Alvarez AP70 was that the nut job was on the shabbier side, but this is an easy fix!

Art and Lutherie Ami

Before we get into reviewing this guitar, you should know that this is a guitar that can be played by all levels of musicians; guitarists who are just getting their start, intermediate musicians, and even highly experienced professionals. The physical make up of the Art and Lutherie Ami is comprised of a solid cedar top, laminated wild cherry sides, laminated wild cherry back, silver leaf maple neck, rose wood finger board, rose wood bridge, compensated saddle, and a truss rod.

The only complaint that I have about this guitar is that it does not come with a case, but it does come with a gig bag. After you purchase this instrument, you will have to purchase a hard case separately; however, considering the price range for this guitar, it is to be excepted.

The overall tone for the Art and Lutherie Ami has a very deep tone, especially for a parlor guitar. Also, this instrument has incredible resonance and doesn’t have the typical bass sound that’s typically found in dreadnought bodies.

If you are looking for a parlor guitar that has a darker, deeper voice compared to other parlor guitars, the Ami is where you want to go. This instrument does a mellow tone and pairs very well with a vocal accompaniment.

Conclusion

As with searching to purchase any type of guitar, it’s highly suggested that you go to a guitar or music store and try out the instruments you’re looking into. Each guitar has a different feel to it and you’ll want to find one that feels the best in your hands. Parlor guitars are great to play with, especially if you are a beginning guitar player with a smaller body, have a small child who is looking to play guitar, or want a guitar that’s easy to travel with but sounds great! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading today’s article.

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