May I ask for opinions on different guitars for a newbie?

brandydan
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2019 3:17 am
Location: Coos County, NH

May I ask for opinions on different guitars for a newbie?

Post by brandydan » Wed May 22, 2019 11:57 pm

Hi everyone - I hope that this is the right place to ask this question (and if not, mods, please let me know and I'll delete it).

A few years ago (okay, it was 16), my husband bought me a S101 C29460, brand new, and when it came home it stayed in its case until a few months ago, when I FINALLY was able to find an instructor that clicked with me. I then stopped after a few months because I sliced my left pinky and needed it to heal (which it has, whew!). I recently pulled out the guitar and have begun relearning what little I had already learned.

In the interim, my husband finally pulled his Fender Strat out of hibernation, and when I took it to the local (well, 100+mile drive) GC for it to be restrung, cleaned, etc, I made the mistake of walking into nirvana...the acoustic room, which has a lovely selection of classical and acoustic guitars.

There are two there that caught my eye: Cordoba C5-CE, in absolute perfect shape, with a single cutout (I think that is the term), and what the store has labeled as Vintage, a 1970 Garcia No.3 classical (I've done some research, and this is the one put together in Japan), also in really good shape considering its age, and this one does not come with any electronics (which is not a dealbreaker since I have no idea how to use the electronics anyway).

Both sound lovely, though to my untrained ear, the Garcia has a slightly deeper sound. Both 'feel' right, the necks are - to me - slightly thinner, which might help me since I have been having 'issues' reaching my smaller fingers across the neck.

My (at last!) question would be that along with my basic S101 (I can find ZERO information about online), can anyone give any opinions on not so much the Cordoba, but the Garcia? I'm looking for something decent, perhaps an instrument that I will not need to upgrade as my skills increase? I'm not looking for resale value, but perhaps input as to what I should look for in either instrument. Pricewise, they're both close.

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated :D

User avatar
souldier
Posts: 1392
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2015 4:45 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: May I ask for opinions on different guitars for a newbie?

Post by souldier » Thu May 23, 2019 3:44 pm

Looking at pictures online it appears to be a typical low end vintage japanese guitar with cheap laminate back and sides. There are thousands of these vintage japenese guitars from the 70's floating around, some which are more higher end than others. The garcia no. 3 would be on the lower end. The garcia no.1s appear to be their higher end models.

If you don't care about resale value and such, then the main question is how does it sound and play compared to your current guitar and the Cordoba C5? My personal philosophy when buying an instrument is to put aside biases and try to judge the instrument purely on sound and playability, without being swayed by price, maker, woods, used, etc. There have been too many times where the cheaper, lesser known guitar has outperformed more expensive instruments.

So if I were you I'd make the trip again and play as many guitars side by side with your current one, then see which one is best. Doing a blindfold test may help as well. If your skill level doesn't allow you to really notice a difference, then it might be best to improve your playing ability before investing in an instrument you'd like to hold on to for a long time. By then you might be able to increase your budget as well.
"Success grants its rewards to a few, but is the dream of the multitudes.
Excellence is available to all, but is accepted only by a few." - Christopher Parkening

User avatar
Keith
Posts: 1525
Joined: Sun May 06, 2012 5:48 pm
Location: Back living in the Moonbat State

Re: May I ask for opinions on different guitars for a newbie?

Post by Keith » Thu May 23, 2019 4:39 pm

brandydan, cutaways generally have a narrower fretboard which might be good for your small fingers (as you describe them) and they generally have thinner bodies which can decrease the bass response. As to the Garcia, the guitar was the brainchild of Jim Sherry, the guitar world's version of P.T. Barnum. Do a forum and internet search for the plethora of posts about Jim Sherry (of Sherry-Brener), Pop some corn and pour a beverage and enjoy. Whatever you do, do not fall for the line they are worth hundreds if not thousands of dollars. The guitar sold for about $200 way back in the day. Jim Sherry lists them on his website for several thousands of dollars. Yet another Jimbo Sherry marketing ploy.

The Garcia is a good factory built (Japan not Spain--good job on doing your homework!) guitar patterned after the Ramirez guitars of the day. That said, one issue with older guitars is neck angle--especially those in the Ramirez/Ramirez-type camp. You can tell if there is a problem if the action is high and there is little if any bone showing in the saddle slot. No bone showing means the action cannot be lowered to a desirable height. The ratio is 2x mm lowered at the saddle = 1x lowered at the 12 fret (for example, 2mm lowered at the saddle = 1mm lowered at the 12th fret). If the action is good and there is enough saddle bone to lower then all is well.

If the Garcia neck feels comfortable and you are OK with the neck width then I would vote for the Garcia assuming the neck is straight, the neck angle is good and the guitar is in reasonable to good condition. These things I mentioned given the guitar is close to 50 years old. The tuners may need to be changed but for about $30 one can get Chinese machines " from the Taiwan dealer located at the Bay. Owning a Jimbo Sherry guitar give you added prestige, will be a great conversation piece at a cocktail party and probably has the same magic as the 3 wolf moon t-shirt sold at Amazon (google it to find why).
be true to the one you love but have many flings with different guitars

guitarras en la espiritu de la:
Marcelo Barbero
Jose Ramirez III

brandydan
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2019 3:17 am
Location: Coos County, NH

Re: May I ask for opinions on different guitars for a newbie?

Post by brandydan » Thu May 23, 2019 7:51 pm

Thanks so much for the fast, honest responses. I ended up bringing the Cordoba home (it's used, but still under the GC 30 day return), and have been tinkering with it compared to my sturdy S101. Suddenly, my S101 feels heavy and fat, especially around the neck. I actually feel guilty, since this guitar is pretty decent. The Cordoba feels lighter, and has a lovely sound, though I am definitely heading back to the GC next week with it to put it up against the Garcia (and I am definitely going to print out these responses so I will know what to look for in the Garcia, especially with regards to the neck angle.

My ability to differentiate between playability of the guitars is pretty much nonexistent. My instructor was training me in the Parkening Method, but I barely made it to lessons where I use more than one note at a time when I injured my hand. Honestly, plinking open string arpeggios is as far as I can go at this time.

The Garcia looks to be in very good condition considering it's age, and it's been well-taken care of by apparently by someone who played flamenco (there are very faint scratch marks on the sides of the strings). Maybe it's the look - it resembles what my untrained eyes see as what a 'spanish/flamenco/classical' guitar should look like while the Cordoba is more modern. The Cordoba looks and feels like a new instrument. Pricewise, they're both in the low 200s, though for all I know this is typical big box store markups (and no, I haven't been able to find an actual luthier that has anything below $1K which I can't justify considering I'm just beginning to learn to play this instrument.

I guess I need to tinker around with the Cordoba until next week, and in the meantime I'll research as much as possible about this Sherry guy. Should be an interesting read, lol.

User avatar
souldier
Posts: 1392
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2015 4:45 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: May I ask for opinions on different guitars for a newbie?

Post by souldier » Thu May 23, 2019 9:07 pm

Personally I would of went for the Cordoba as well. I enjoy cordoba's for their thin, c shaped necks, easy action and playability. They are built thin and light, giving them good responsiveness/volume, while having a traditional tone. I remember playing a C5 that had noticeably more horse power than several other guitars with a much higher price tag. Since it has a solid top, be sure to keep the humidity levels around 45-60%.

With the Garcia, be sure to check the scale length as well (the length from the nut to the saddle). Many guitars from the 70's have a 660mm scale length which also affects playability and resale value. Not sure if you have repertoire to really test playability, but a song as simple as spanish romance with its stretches could be a good indicator.
"Success grants its rewards to a few, but is the dream of the multitudes.
Excellence is available to all, but is accepted only by a few." - Christopher Parkening

GerryM
Posts: 50
Joined: Sat Jan 26, 2019 5:33 pm

Re: May I ask for opinions on different guitars for a newbie?

Post by GerryM » Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:00 pm

I owned a Garcia #3 many years ago while in graduate school and for a few year after. I did not like it because the bass was overpowering, I mean it had a strong resonance on the 5th string at the second fret (B). It just boomed out and overpowered all the other notes. In addition, the treble was weak. It looked very pretty and nice but the sound was lacking.

I have had several (3) Cordobas. Nice workmanship and playability. The sound was only so-so. One was a thinbody spruce topped rosewood flamenco. At first I liked it but soon found the sound too thin and clear. Lacking in overtones and character. The cedar 45R was a little muddy and the ebony 45 spruce too bassy and thumpy.

Personally, I would look for a Cordoba C10 if you can swing it.

Return to “Advice on buying, selling or valuing a guitar”