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el borracho

Budget Acoustic Guitars

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A friend has asked me for help buying a cheap (sub £100) steel string acoustic (6 string) to learn on, an area in which I have no recent knowledge - I'm 30 years out of date! I was initially looking at 2nd hand but knowing the quality you can get on basses at the low end of the market nowadays I have started looking at new ones. It also avoids having to visit anyone's house which I shouldn't be doing anyway.

There's the likes of J&D, Stagg & Vintage  - gak have Ibanez & Fender - all under the £100 mark. I imagine most of them are perfectly playable with a little tweaking but does anyone have any recommendations?

I also know there's a Harley Benton for £51 but seems to be issues with ordering from Thomann (or any EU based) at the minute

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I went to a local jam where a number of people turned up with Crafter acoustics...seen them on ebay for under £100

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I bought a Freshman years ago and it's still going strong. It needed a bit of a set up but it plays and sounds lovely.

Lindo are ridiculously cheap, extremely playable and great value. 

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Posted (edited)

You should be able to get a Yamaha F310 for a touch over £100. Whilst nothing can be guaranteed, there's a good chance the Yamaha will be that bit better value-for-money than something that's costs just a few pounds less: it should be well-finished and will probably play quite well straiht out of the box and also sound half-decent. Worth considering if you are buying online.

If your friend decides that guitar is not for him, he'll hopefully get a reasonable amount back for the Yamaha.

Edit: Also budget for a tuner (unless you can len him one?), packet of spare strings, a few picks. Also maýbe a stand so the guitar is out and handy to grab and play (and prevent it falling over).

Look at justinguitar for lessons, get the basics nailed!

Edited by KevL
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Cheers guys, Some good advice & a couple of different names to look out for.

I do remember the Yamahas being very consistent  - I've still got an old APX myself. Good thinking about the tuner as well. He can have my old one.

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Mate of mine has a Tanglewood Crossroads. It’s a no frills basic Martin shape with a funky stained mahogany finish, and plays / sounds great. Amazing value as I believe they start at just under £100 so fit your needs perfectly.

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I bought a gear4music acoustic, about £75, it was nearly unplayable, I sent it back

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2nd vote for the Tanglewood Crossroads. I was teaching a group which had a few and they sounded good and played easily. There is a seller on the auction site that offers Tanglewoods  by auction. They say they are preowned but they are new and you can pick one up cheap.

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i think i would be looking more towards secondhand but most of the brands listed so far are pretty good, i've played loads of budget guitars over the years while helping friends buy their first guitar.

Vintage - not played a bad one yet,  Yamaha - i would try and get an FG rather than an f-series, they are a step up and you should still find something under 100 fairly easily, i've even seen the odd APX go for 100 quid locally in general thouhg Yamaha don't make anything bad.  Tanglewood - again if you can get an older secondhand one then they're great, Freshman  - again i've played a few and have been impressed.

another brand to keep an eye out for is Aria, i have played quite a few of these and they all impressed me, i actually picked up an AW-20 a couple of months ago for a friend who wanted to learn and it was a fantastic guitar for the 70 quid i paid. all it needed was a set of stings and it played and sounded great.

 

the guitar that's getting a lot of use at the moment in my house is actually a Chord csc35 that i got for nothing on a local recycling page, it needed a little work on the nut and a clean but it's a sweet little thing, (i will say that it gets so much use as it sits right next to my desk, it's obviously blown out of the park by my McIlroy but they are more than 20x your budget!) I also have a Gretsch Jim Dandy that i paid about 80 quid for that's a blast to play blues on ( i keep it detuned one tone with 13 gauge strings to help with the bluesy old feel)

 

Matt

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If you can find one that has a solid spruce top, rather than a laminated top, that's a great starting point. They tend to sound a bit less "boxy" than one's that have laminated tops.

Vintage used to do a solid top with a laminated mahogany back & sides for about £100. Good little guitars.

An Auditorium or Parlour size would be a good choice for a non player, as size-wise they're a bit more manageable.

I'd also recommend that your friend buys a set of wooden bridge pins rather than the plastic ones that come with the guitar. They really do liven the sound up, especially on cheaper acoustics.

Taylor Guitars Bridge Pins, Ebony at Gear4music

Another thing to look for is a "pure" acoustic guitar (no on-board pre-amp & pickup). At that price point, the pre-amp tends to be not the best.

EastCoast G1S Grand Auditorium Acoustic Guitar - Andertons Music Co.

Taylor Bridge Pins Ebony (Set of 6) - Andertons Music Co.

 

Edited by Skybone

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i've just realised that you are just the other side of the river to me, if you aren't already a member then i'd suggest joining the Guitar mart NE and Musicians mart NE on Facebook, that's where i found the last few bargain acoustics.

Guitar mart NE

musicians mart ne

 

Matt

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I'd also suggest looking at second hand in the Facebook marketplace. If it's anything like down here you'll be spoilt for choice. There's always a healthy turnover of fresh ads for reasonable acoustics. 

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Up the budget a little and look for a used Art et Lutherie, budget guitars that are handmade to an very good standard in Canada and sound like it too. New prices have crept up over the years but you can still get used ones for around £150-£200, in the odd moments I get an urge to play 6 string guitar I regret selling mine.

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Some great suggestions in this thread! Cort, Crafter and Tanglewood are great for the money, especially used. I'm not familiar with Vintage acoustics, but I like their electrics and basses. Art & Lutherie is indeed great too, and I'd like to add their sister brand Seagull. I own a Crafter D7L dreadnought with a solid cedar top that I like a lot. It plays and sounds great, and looks and feels very solidly built. I've had it for over 10 years now and even though I don't play it much (I grab my Taylor GS Mini most often) it's not going anywhere any time soon :)

I'd like to underline @Skybone's suggestion to look for a solid top! They really do tend to sound better, and will only improve over time.

 

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Have look in pawn shops, I got a fantastic Ibanez for a friend who was starting out. Only paid £60, cleaned off the spilled beer, new set of stings and he had a very playable guitar that was originally £350.

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A lot of great advice there. Give me a day or two to do some research based on it & I'll update with what I eventually get. Budget unfortunately won't go up - I had to push to get him that far.

At least doing this means I'm not looking at basses I don't need although I have seen one or two acoustics I'm tempted by!!😁

Cheers

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You probably already know this but you can usually tell solid or laminate tops by looking at the grain inside the soundhole:
top-laminate-guitar.jpg

top-solid-guitar.jpg

Edited by lemmywinks
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I really think a solid top is pointless on a cheap acoustic. To get a solid top guitar down to near that price point corners will have to be cut elsewhere. There are many mighty fine laminate top guitars.

Two cheap but excellent guitars for about £100 are a Fender and the Gretsch Jim Dandy parlour (small body) guitars. Neither is fancy but both are ideally proportioned for beginners and pretty well set up as new (unlike some brands e.g. Tanglewood IME). Both guitars will leave a smile on the face of more experienced guitarists, it's the same appeal as picking up a short scale bass - they are so much fun to play.

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I bought a Washburn many years ago, made in china but superb quality. I will post the model number when I stops raining and I can get to the mancave. I have also played a lot of Yamahas and always found them top notch. I am not a great fan of the Fenders I have seen or played and really did not like the Gretsch Jim Dandy's I have tried but that was a tonal thing rather than playability.

When buying an acoustic secondhand you must be very careful, even the high end acoustics can suffer form big problems as they age, especially around the bridge.

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My thoughts were based on the original question:

On 08/01/2021 at 15:56, el borracho said:

A friend has asked me for help buying a cheap (sub £100) steel string acoustic (6 string) to learn on

For a beginner seeking a budget instrument a well set up, comfortable and relatively compact instrument is far more important than nuances of tone or long term value.

Equally, I'd suggest using strings a gauge or two lighter than normal. For a beginner the key is to avoid any unnecessary obstacles to learning.

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+ 1 for Crafter, Yamaha and particularly the Gretsch Jim Dandy Parlour, just so much fun and really easy to play.

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Already got an Ibanez AW10 on order. See what it's like when it arrives although before that I was veering towards the smaller body Parlour type guitars. He's not that big so might have been a help.

It's going to be hard work with him though - yesterday he was telling me about a mnemonic to remember the tuning & insisting it was EADGEB & that I was wrong...I suppose you could but don't expect me to help!!🤨

Edited by el borracho

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54 minutes ago, el borracho said:

It's going to be hard work with him though - yesterday he was telling me about a mnemonic to remember the tuning & insisting it was EADGEB & that I was wrong...I suppose you could but don't expect me to help!!🤨

I remember my wife going around chanting 'Eddie ate dynamite good bye Eddie" like a mantra...

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To update, the Ibanez was a no go - arrived damaged so went straight back. Shame as it played quite nicely.

After spending hours looking at all sorts of options - not much S/H was available with postage & I was by then leaning towards the smaller bodies - I went for a new Vintage Statesboro Parlour guitar. It's not bad at all - it played OK straight out of the box - with lowish action and the only things I did were to change the strings, polish the frets & tidy the fret ends up. I spent a couple of days playing it myself & it's now away to it's happy new owner.

Cheers for advice & ideas

The search has rekindled my interest in acoustic guitar & made me dig out my APX after what has to be 12+ years languishing unloved in it's case. I was probably gigging it last time it saw the light of day & it needs work, not to mention a good clean!

 

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