Martin, Taylor and What Else

I’m almost 3 months into the JustinGuitar program. GAS is setting in, and I am ready to get a buddy for my Alvarez RD20S dreadnaught. I’m not in a huge rush and I plan to get out and try several acoustic guitars before making a final selection. I’m still keen on buying a small bodied acoustic guitar. The front runners are the Martin 000CJR-10e and the Taylor GS Mini. I like the cutaway and the more mellow tone of the Martin. As silly as it seems, I don’t like that little cover for the truss rod on the Taylor. To me, it also sounds brighter than I prefer. Both sell for $649 in Houston. The stores really push these two models. What are the other smaller (3/4, travel, etc) guitars that I should consider - or ask if the stores have them for me to try? When I go in and say that I want to spend under $700, I don’t get shown any $400-$500 guitars. Just those that are over $600 with a push towards $1000. I’d love to know what you play and would recommend to a serious, older beginner that would be within budget.

Are you looking for a small body guitar or a small guitar?
Both the GS mini and the Jr are not small body guitars.
They are small guitars. Very short necks which makes the frets
very cramped. Whats the use of having a cut away if the frets
are to cramped to use it.
If you are looking for a small body guitar with a 24 3/4 or 25 1/2
inch scale look at OO, L00 or parlor size guitars. Every
manufacture has these model. My preferred small body is L00
They have the 24 3/4in scale and 12 in radius fret board.

You will get the GS mini crowd telling how great they are, but in
my experience most people loose interest in them very quickly
because of the short neck and cramped fret board and end up
selling them.
Even Justin recommends Not buying a 3/4 size guitar.
Just my 2c

Spend as much time as you can playing these in a quiet space / separate room and if possible compare them at the same time to your dreadnaught. I bought a smaller bodied guitar (mini maton) and was really underwhelmed with it. It really didn’t give me the sound I thought it would when I played it at the guitar shop in their open area with all the ambient noise it was difficult to really tell. They are much better plugged into an amp where the smaller size doesn’t make the same difference as unplugged.

Personally I found the sound I got out of the gs mini better than the mini martin, not sure about the model you are suggesting.

Take a look at an Eastman AC122-1CE-CLA , you might find that could be a better size to look at, the 3/4 size guitars are always going to sound thin compared to anything full size, even a cheap one!

I’m wanting a smaller body guitar. My Alvarez dreadnaught is too big for me and getting my arm to rest comfortably on it almost requires me to have the guitar at a bit of an angle. Part of this is due to me being shorter (5’6”) but the major factor is a type of arthritis in my spine and neck that has me a bit hunched over. I’m convinced that a smaller bodied guitar would be helpful. Just not sure what the best option is.

I love my Taylor Big Baby - it’s not much “smaller” than a full size guitar length wise, but the body is a bit thinner. The reduced depth helps me get my arm around it for easier playing as well as seeing the strings.

I am 5’6”, slightly less as I age… with small to medium hands. I have an OM that I like, although I’m the future I may go even smaller, maybe even parlor size. I do have a conflict that I like the deeper sounds of larger guitars, but want a smaller, better fit.

You won’t get the same dread depth of sound with a smaller body, so listen to some to make sure you won’t regret it.
I have thought of a 12 frets to body guitar for that reason, but don’t need a guitar right now.

I am not a big fan of Martin or Taylor personally, but they have large followings, so they can’t be bad. I like Larrivee personally, but it may be hard to reach your price range. Seagull is nice and often available on the used market. Art & Lutherie (also Godin) has a nice concert hall size. And don’t forget Yamaha.

Lots of choices and I bet the used market in Houston is full of great instruments. I am a fan of used, you get a lot more for your money if you can vet the guitar properly.

You should look at the Lava ME carbon fibre guitar. They do a small one. Mary Spender does a couple of videos on her you tube channel about the carbon Fibre guitar. They are really something different and good.

I love my PRS Tonare parlor guitar. It has a deeper tone than you’d expect at that size. You might want to try some electric acoustics, which ted to be thinner. My Yamaha APX600 slimline is very comfortable to play with a nice tone.

Hi Folks,

Let me respectfully take a contrarian view to this:

I don’t own one, but I got a chance to play a Taylor GS Mini for a week while on vacation last year. Overall, I found it really nice to play, easy to handle and very good sound. I did not feel that the frets were cramped, really, I hardly noticed that they were a little smaller.

And they are barely smaller at all, as it turns out. Using an online fret spacing calculator (yes, such things exist!), I found that the difference in fret spacing for the GS mini (23.5 inch scale) compared to a guitar with 24.75 inch scale, is about 0.04 inches at the 10th fret (as an example). To me, that is a very small difference in fret spacing. You can perceive the difference, but it certainly did not feel “very cramped”.

That’s just my experience, of course, perhaps the slightly smaller fret spacing will have a big effect on other folks. As I said, I don’t own a 3/4 guitar and have no dog in the race, as they say, this is just my experience playing a GS mini for a few days. I thought it was a great guitar (though kinda pricey).

I’m an older new player, on a budget, who knows nothing about guitars or music. After playing for several months on a 3/4 throwaway I purchased a Yamaha LS-TA because I’d read that Yamaha punches above its price category and I wanted something with a smaller body than a dreadnought and a bit of built in amplification. That model is more than your price point, but I think they have several models at your budget. A couple of observations - a friend who plays regularly in a band and owns a Martin at 4x the cost was very impressed with the build and sound, as was the guitar shop where I took it to be set-up. Also, proper setup makes all the difference. I had lighter gauge strings installed and the action was lowered ever so slightly. It is amazing how much easier bar chords are now. Takeaway? Don’t discount the discounts from the tuning fork company, and have a proper setup done. Good luck on your journey

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A Taylor Academy 12, maybe?


Did you looked at Breedlove? Someone on AGF is selling a nice one that fits your thoughts.

I play a Breedlove ‘Concert’ (Discovery line) and have been very happy. Not as large as a dreadnaught and also not as deep as the Yamaha and Epiphone Masterclass guitars i was considering.
I’ve fallen on my shoulders a few too many times in the past and wanted a smaller body to minimize chances of my playing causing shoulder pain.

I too have a Breedlove concert series cutaway, and like it a lot. Check out the photo in my profile, or on their website or at any retailer. It’s a smaller (but not very small) bodied guitar, good for strumming and finger style, and was a nice upgrade from my starter Washburn, at the first onset of GAS last summer…

No, no, and no! You are going to have to do some work. Go to my youtube channel and listen to my acoustic tracks. If there is something that you like, let me know. I can recommend everything that I play. If you dig guitars ending in “…lor”, “…tin”, etc, keep a move on – too rich for my wallet.

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I watched some of your videos on your YouTube channel. You’re very talented - great performances. I really liked them. I am new on my journey with only three months of practice behind me. One day, I aspire to be able to play like you. I am a bit curious as to why spending $700 - $800 on a …lor or …tin as my only guitar is too rich - but having 4 or 5 is totally fine.

Thanks! I appreciate the kind comment.

I’m a guitarist, so I’m going to own a number of guitars for a number of reasons, mostly for different tonal capabilities and possibly to be strung differently. I don’t know many guitar players with one guitar. That said, once I discovered that off-brand guitars are made with the same materials and on the same assembly lines as the name brands, it made sense to budget shop. Name brands add distribution and advertisement costs to the sticker price. Those are expensive markups that don’t add to the playability or quality of the instrument.

Pay less, to buy more. More bang for the buck. Shop around.

That makes sense. I’m never going to be more than a hobbyist but I do understand your point. The research is fun and I’m learning a lot.

I have short fingers with some arthritis and when considering the same two guitars I chose the gs mini. I love this guitar and never tire of playing it. If I remember correctly I chose it because I liked the sound better. A classical guitar was also on my list, Cordoba Dolce.

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