P. Mann

Hi - I'm a self-taught guitarist and singer; through a combination of wanting to get the fullest sound possible from one guitar and constantly misplacing my pick, I've become a fingerstyle player, or at least that's what I believe it can be categorized as. (two-string lead-ins, syncopation, picking/strumming combos).

For years, I played an inexpensive Sigma DM-2 dreadnought until finally treating myself to a Larrivee OM-03R (sitka spruce top, rosewood back and sides). Although the Larrivee has great balance of sound and nice playability, I'm considering getting a larger body guitar, or at least one with greater projection and perhaps a little brighter, but not too much.

I'm also wondering about moving to a smaller scale length. I'm pretty dextrous, but have small hands and thought that going to a smaller scale would be good for fingerstyle playing, in general, and to reduce hand strain.

Many claims are made as to the best body size for fingerstyle: orchestra (aka 'concert'), auditorium, grand auditorium, round-shouldered dreadnought.

Any thoughts regarding body size, scale, or specific models to check out?

Budget for used guitar would be under $2,000.

Thanks for the help!

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Feb 07, 2011
Thoughts on buying a new guitar
by: Anonymous

Hey P. Mann,
Great thoughts on looking for a new guitar. Something I've learned more about is altering your guitar to play and sound better. Of course you need to be a good DIYer. I'm a full time musician and don't really have the budget for top notch gear so I've learned to work with what I have. Some of the cheapest alterations you can do is take out that plastic bridge saddle and replace it with bone or micarta. The only thing you need is some sand paper and maybe a hack saw to shape the saddle. This will give you significant volume out of your guitar.

Some other more challenging changes you can do are replacing plastic nuts with bone or micarta. This also improves the volume and sustain of the instrument. You can level and polish your frets for a smoother feel and this might help with any fret buzz you might be getting. The last thing that I actually haven't tried yet is scalloping the braces inside the guitar. I've done some research on this and you can really play with the tone of the guitar by shaping the braces in different ways. That's what gives each guitar its signature sound. A lot of cheaper guitars are overbuilt in the bracing so there is room to shape them without weakening the guitar too much.

Hope this helps

Jan 28, 2011
New Guitar
by: Jim P.

New guitar time is pretty exciting. Especially if you like the guitar after you get it home.

Consider how you hold the guitar. The guitars size, combined with how you hold it will impact comfort. If the guitar is held on the right knee, a tall person might hunch over an OM. A dreadnought might be hard to hold for a shorter player.

As far as scale length goes, I believe that the common wisdom is that a shorter scale length is easier to finger but a longer scale length has better note to note separation.

As far as hand strain goes, how your fretting hand intersects the fingerboard could be a factor.
If you're trying to fret big chords and the fingerboard isn't in front of you like a classical player's is, you might be straining to reach something.

It's hard to judge projection when you're sitting behind the guitar. A lot of times people will think that a guitar projects better or is louder just because it has a more pronounced bass response.

If you're playing for your own enjoyment, projection shouldn't be a big issue. If you're performing in public, you'll probably be using a mic or pickup.

You might consider buying a used guitar. The previous owner will have already taken the depreciation on it.

If you decide that you don't like it, you should be able to get most of your money back out of it. The used guitar page on the site has some pointers on buying used.

I hope this helps, feel free to ask more questions if you haven't gotten the info that you need.

Also, everybody else feel free to chip in.

Two (or twenty) heads are better than one!

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