Try many guitars or have one built?

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RenaissanceStrings
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Try many guitars or have one built?

Post by RenaissanceStrings » Sat Jun 08, 2019 10:35 am

Hi all,

I hope that this message finds everyone in good health. I'd like to ask a question in relevance to purchasing a new instrument and see where people stand on it. Basically, the two choices are; have an instrument built by a reputable luthier or try as many instruments as possible and choose one which stands out. Which option would you choose and why?

With the luthier built instrument there is of course the advantage of having the instrument built in the way one wishes, but this means that regardless of how well the instrument is built, you might not like it.

With the other option, there are a lot of choices but one may not find what one is searching for.

I find myself in a difficult situation, so I thought that i'd ask for some help. If any of you have some time, i'd love to hear your insight on the matter.

Thank you.

Mohsin

celestemcc
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Re: Try many guitars or have one built?

Post by celestemcc » Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:27 pm

If budget's an issue, try used luthier-built instruments. But if you have specific needs (eg, short-scale) you may prefer to go the custome-made route. If you can afford it, why not?

While you're deciding, play as many guitars (all makes and luthiers) as you can get your hands on.

If you go the custom route, might you not like it, once it's built? Yes, that's possible. It's a calculated risk. If you go that route, play as many of the luthier's instruments as possible to narrow down what you want, preferably in his or her workshop. A good luthier will help with your choices.
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Beowulf
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Re: Try many guitars or have one built?

Post by Beowulf » Sat Jun 08, 2019 3:01 pm

The answer to your question will depend on whether or not you know exactly what you are looking for in an instrument. Even if you have an instrument built by a luthier, it will still be very helpful to have a clear idea of what you want with respect to character, tone colour variation, dynamic range, scale, robustness of the build, etc. Playability goes without saying. It is a good idea to become as well acquainted as possible with the characteristics you want and the characteristics of a particular luthier's guitars so you can make an informed choice...if you decide that you love a particular builder's sound, etc., go for it (2nd hand will be cheaper). If you can't settle on a particular luthier, then I would suggest playing a number of different instruments and pick the one that suits you best.

I chose an instrument without ever playing it or even one similar (as it wasn't possible) by listening to recordings of the model, knowing what I was looking for and trusting the work of the luthier shop...as I had played an earlier model for 45 years. Not the usual route I know...but it worked for me: viewtopic.php?f=107&t=108170
Last edited by Beowulf on Sat Jun 08, 2019 7:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Ceciltguitar
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Re: Try many guitars or have one built?

Post by Ceciltguitar » Sat Jun 08, 2019 3:39 pm

If one wants standard classical guitar specifications, I would find it advantageous to "try before you buy" - probably get a better deal buying used and buy the guitar that you fall in love with playing before you buy it.

If custom specs are paramount, such as custom scale length, string spacing, particular woods, body modifications etc, then I would go with custom order.

Just my 2 cents

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RenaissanceStrings
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Re: Try many guitars or have one built?

Post by RenaissanceStrings » Sat Jun 08, 2019 3:49 pm

Thanks for your responses, they were very useful. In regards to playing the luthier's instruments, I don't have that luxury as I am currently working and living in China. My only option is to listen to audio/video files as well as read the reviews of his instruments. This issue added to the fact that i'll only be in the UK for two weeks, leaves me with little time to get my affairs in check as well as find the correct instrument. So, for this reason I am trying to get as much information from the web and forums before making a decision. The issue is also that there are no little to no classical guitar shops near me, so I have no option of even testing out a few instruments.

I do however know what I am looking for and I have explained it to the luthier who says that he will be able to create a similar sound. It really is a difficult situation, which I find myself in. I have a budget of around 3000GBP and after searching all the usual places in England (London guitar studio, Ivor Mairants, Kent guitars, Nugent guitars, Classical guitar centre), I still am not convinced by what is available for my budget. I want an instrument with a "darker" sound, but still have balance and retain clarity. Ramirez instruments fit into this but I can't afford an SPR model and I feel that paying 2750GBP is too much for a 4NE. There are other options such as the Alhambra Linea Professsional, Felipe Conde CE4, Burguet 1a, Yulong Guo (cedar), Pappalardo S1, but I am not sure if they are the best value for money, especially if for a little bit more money I could get an instrument made to the specific sound I am looking for (that's what I am told by the luthier).

So there's the issue.

Mohsin
Last edited by RenaissanceStrings on Sat Jun 08, 2019 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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RenaissanceStrings
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Re: Try many guitars or have one built?

Post by RenaissanceStrings » Sat Jun 08, 2019 3:52 pm

Ceciltguitar wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 3:39 pm
If one wants standard classical guitar specifications, I would find it advantageous to "try before you buy" - probably get a better deal buying used and buy the guitar that you fall in love with playing before you buy it.

If custom specs are paramount, such as custom scale length, string spacing, particular woods, body modifications etc, then I would go with custom order.

Just my 2 cents
That hit the nail on the head. I don't really need anything custom built, the standard specs suit me fine. It is just about the tone and action (which is pretty easy to adjust on most instruments). So, thanks a lot for that.

Mohsin

Conall
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Re: Try many guitars or have one built?

Post by Conall » Sat Jun 08, 2019 4:07 pm

Ideally find a dealer who sells new and 2nd hand luthier built concert guitars. Try them all & choose your favourite. At least that's what I'd do if I wanted a standard 6 string guitar. The extra few hundred quid a dealer charges isn't that much more than going straight to the maker or private seller but being able to try many guitars in one place & compare them & buy one there & then & not having to wait for a luthier to build one for you or worse, wait longer on a waiting list is worth the little bit extra the dealer chargers.

It's only really when one wants a non standard guitar such as extended range / unusual design etc that you have little choice but to order one from a luthier IMO.

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Guitar-ded
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Re: Try many guitars or have one built?

Post by Guitar-ded » Sat Jun 08, 2019 4:44 pm

If you're looking for a darker sound then maybe take a look at Kohno/Sakurai guitars. They can be picked up used in your budget.
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Re: Try many guitars or have one built?

Post by Lovemyguitar » Sat Jun 08, 2019 4:52 pm

RenaissanceStrings wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 3:49 pm
...I do however know what I am looking for and I have explained it to the luthier who says that he will be able to create a similar sound. ... after searching all the usual places in England..., I still am not convinced by what is available for my budget. ...Ramirez instruments fit into this but I can't afford an SPR model and I feel that paying 2750GBP is too much for a 4NE. ...
There is a danger that if a person has an extremely specific sound in mind, which they cannot find after playing a vast range of guitars in some of the best shops in the UK, then, it won't matter how many guitars they play, nothing will satisfy them except that one instrument that they believe to be the holy grail of guitars.

I mean no offence whatsoever, but it sounds to me as if you have your heart and mind set on a Ramirez (or, on what you believe to be the sound of a Ramirez), such that nothing else will do (no matter how good another guitar may be in and of itself).

Considering your clearly narrow bias, you might as well fork out the cash for the Ramirez (or find a better-priced one online), since it is obviously the guitar you want. Buying something else you probably won't like (because it will never be that Ramirez) will just cost you more money in the long run, because you'll probably end up selling it and losing money, and then buy a Ramirez anyway.

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Re: Try many guitars or have one built?

Post by Trev » Sat Jun 08, 2019 5:21 pm

a suggestion, if and when you are in the UK, to contact Guitarras de Luthier in Madrid and start a conversation to see how they might help you.
For instance, if you narrowed the choice down to a couple of guitars it would be quite feasible for them to send them up for you to try. Obviously shipping costs are involved.
I would have suggested David Merrin in Olney, Bucks as he does sometimes have a couple of finished guitars but it may be over budget.
Beowulf makes a good point, taking the plunge with a trusted luthier.
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quixilver
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Re: Try many guitars or have one built?

Post by quixilver » Sat Jun 08, 2019 6:07 pm

There is no specific answer to your question but seems like you already have some preferences in mind, which brought you into few options and somehow you are pretty much drawn into cedar top Ramirez.

If that what really is, then you need not spend more time dealing or trying out other guitars. However, you need to bear in mind that not every Ramirez has that "Ramirez sound" of your perception. Better still, if you have the opportunity to try different Ramirez guitars out there and find the one you really like. This process will help you to get more convinced towards your Ramirez direction along the way.

In any case, I wish you good luck and hope you enjoy the journey!
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Re: Try many guitars or have one built?

Post by robert e » Sat Jun 08, 2019 6:11 pm

What Lovemyguitar said makes a lot of sense to me, except I'd suggest looking at used Ramirez if you can for possibly better value and settled sound. I think that your needs may be specific enough that a trustworthy dealer might help you find the right instrument, though it may take time.

This probably isn't helpful, but I wonder how much affect string choice has on the sound of a guitar, whether in a shop, a recording, or once you take it home.

I'm probably being naive about how trade and markets work, but I assumed that with several classical guitar workshops having been established in China, there would be some options there.

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RenaissanceStrings
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Re: Try many guitars or have one built?

Post by RenaissanceStrings » Sun Jun 09, 2019 3:01 am

Thank you guys for your responses. After considering your opinions I have decided that I will be going to all the aforementioned guitar dealers and trying out the options, which they have available in my budget or even a little over it. For example, Ivor Mairants has some preowned Kohno's in cedar and spruce as well as a few Ramirez guitars and an array of other instruments. This will allow me to actually play the instruments and buy an instrument that feels right, rather than hoping a luthier whose instruments I am only familiar with through audios and videos manages to captivate a sound in my head.
Again, I am very grateful that you guys took the time out to give me your opinions on the matter.

Mohsin

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Re: Try many guitars or have one built?

Post by DerekB » Sun Jun 09, 2019 8:55 am

I too love the sound of a good Ramirez 1a but when I tried one over a weekend I found I couldn't play it. The 664mm scale means it is too big for me. I have tried a Ramirez with a 650 scale but it didn't have the sound that won me over. Have you ever tried a longer scale guitar? It may well be that this is not a problem for you but I would suggest that if you are attracted by the Ramirez/Kohno sound you should start by finding out if you could get on with one.
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Re: Try many guitars or have one built?

Post by simonm » Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:19 am

Unless you know of a luthier who consistently produces the sound you want it would be more reliable to just keep playing new and used guitars until you find the one that "talks to you".

Depending on where you are in China it should be possible to get either an instrument built there or locate one that meets your requirement. There area number of chinese members here who might be able to point you in the right direction. But of course China is huge and it would depend on where you are located. A new thread asking members about makers/shops in the specific region you are in might produce some results.

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