Taylor guitars have become synonymous with high quality acoustic guitars. From the classic feel of the dreadnought, to the mix cutting power of the Grand Auditorium, Taylor guitars has something to offer everyone. A guitar for every application.
So where does a company go from this? For many, this would be enough, but Bob Taylor is not one to sit around and be stagnant. With the idea of always reinventing the guitar, Taylor released the Grand Symphony body. Initially designed by Bob in 2006, the Grand Symphony has quickly become a standard for great guitar tone. A bigger lower bout and wider waist gives this shape a rich deep tone. Yet, as deep as it is, the high end shimmer of the Grand Auditorium is still there. In a way, it is a lot like a Grand Auditorium/Jumbo hybrid.
Now for some time the Grand Auditorium has been Taylor’s main guitar body. It cuts through the overall mix much better than the Dreadnought, making it a top choice for live performers and studio musicians alike. But with the lower bass tones, the Grand Symphony is looking to replace it as the preferred body of many musicians.
The Grand Symphony body was originally only offered as its own line without a cutaway, but now it is available in the 300 series and up. My personal favorites are the 416ce and the 716ce with a cedar top. Both have beautiful full tones that would go great when playing with a group or solo. Of course I am quite partial to ovangkol and rosewood.
Question of the day: What is your favorite Taylor body shape? Let me know in the comments.
This week, I decided to do an individual guitar rather than an entire company. That guitar is the SA260FM, by Ibanez. Cosmetically speaking, this guitar is a beauty. The body is mahogany, with a flamed maple top over it. The binding is white, with binding on the neck as well. The fingerboard is rosewood, and features pearl dot inlays. The headstock is also flamed maple. The whole thing is in an exquisite blackberry sunburst. This is one of those guitars that you just have to look at for a bit before you actually pick up.
Eventually, I did pick the guitar up, and I was impressed even further. This is a true player’s guitar. Before I even plugged the guitar in, I found myself in love with the neck and the feel. As usual with Ibanez, the SA260FM has a sleek and slender neck design, making it easy to play the guitar, fast or slow. The body is also business as usual. “S” bodies are comfortable anyway, and this one is no different. The body is thin and lightweight. The tremolo works great. It moves easily, and the guitar seems to stay in tune nicely. So overall, the guitar is easy to play.
Now, let us plug it in. The SA260FM has single coils in the neck and middle position, and a humbucker in the bridge. It also features a coil tap to split the humbucker into a single coil. This makes the guitar incredibly versatile. You can get the good old Stratocaster blues tone, or you can get that Les Paul rock tone. The possibilities are endless.
I am a big Ibanez fan to begin with. They just simply make very fine guitars. The best part about the company is that none of the guitars ride on the Ibanez name. They are great guitars because they are great guitars. This one is no exception. It is easy to play, easy to tune, and it handles anything you try to do with it. It is a true rock guitar. Come on into Sound of Music, and try this beauty for yourself. Buy this guitar, and you will be certain to get the attention from anyone around you. That is all for now. Happy playing!
The right top wood can make all the difference on an acoustic guitar. But which one is right for you? Today, I am going to compare the two most common top woods—spruce and cedar. Spruce is the most common top wood of them all. An industry standard for a long time, and usually paired with rosewood, spruce is the preferred wood for any musical style. It has a bright tone that is good at cutting through. Cedar is less dense, giving it a warmer, darker sound. It tends to be the preferred wood for finger picking. This is why classical guitars are commonly found with cedar tops. So what is the big difference? I own one of each at the moment, and so I have spent some time comparing the two, and here is what I found.
Right off the bat there is the obvious tone difference. Cedar is much darker, a much lower range of frequencies. Me personally, I like lower range right away. I prefer a darker tone to my guitars, and the cedar top delivers that. When finger picking, this is a big help. The individual tones are all deep and majestic. But the spruce does not just give up the fight. It counters with a sharper tone. Notes are articulated beautifully. When I give it a strum, you can hear every tone clearly. A definite advantage.
The other big difference is volume. Volume is one of the main reasons that spruce is so popular. Spruce has a wide volume range. It can go from quiet, plucking notes, to booming strumming. Cedar, on the other hand, tends to have a more limited range. It has a definite ceiling, and once you hit it there is no getting louder. Cedar also does not seem to get quite as quiet. I think this is partly why it works so well for finger pickers. Finger picking can be pretty quiet sometimes, and so to have a wood that gives you a set base is a good thing.
Both woods offer beautiful sound and bring their own good points to the table. In the end you just need to try them both and hear for yourself. The back and side wood will also make a huge difference in sound, but that is a discussion for another day. If you are wanting to finger pick, go with the warmth of a cedar top. If you want to strum, go with punchy tone of spruce. Having said all this, I do not follow that suggestion because I play a cedar top guitar, and I am a strummer. So it really just depends on what you like. Do yourself a favor, dear reader, and come into Sound of Music and try out some guitars. Hear for yourself. Happy playing!
Question of the day: Which top wood do you tend to prefer? Let me know in the comments!
To see the full range of guitars we have, visit us at soundofmusicstore.com.
It is hard to find a company these days that is truly like-able all around. Debate could be made as to what makes a company “truly like-able,” but I think three things are necessary: Quality of product, quality of service, and quality of image. Few companies succeed in all three of these, but one that comes to my mind immediately is Godin. Being an owner of a Godin guitar (I play a blue Art & Lutherie dreadnought) I can say from experience that is a wonderful company. I love my A&L like a child. Interestingly, everyone who works at Sound of Music has at least one A&L in their collection. Every one of their lines create top-shelf guitars, but I would like to focus attention on their most well known line, Seagull.
I had not heard very much at all about these guitars before working at the store, so my knowledge was initially slim. They seemed like well built guitars, although their tapered headstocks were a little funky looking. One day, John gave me a homework assignment. He wanted me to read up on Seagull guitars on their website. (If you have not done that yet, I would highly suggest it.) There, I learned a lot about the company and I fell in love with their building process.
Building for the better part of three decades, Robert Godin set out to make a guitar that played like a higher end instrument, but was priced for a working musician. All of his guitars feature either Solid Spruce or Solid Cedar tops, meaning the tops of the guitars are solid pieces of wood and will sound better and better as they age. The woods are harvested from their own grounds, and they will often use already fallen timber, versus cutting down still living trees. Being very earth conscious, they use every bit of the tree that they can.
The most interesting part about Seagull guitars is the tapered headstock. It is a strange looking thing, narrowing almost to a point. If I am being completely honest, I was not a huge fan of it at first, but that was before I knew why they made the head that way. When you tune a guitar, you often have to re-tune a couple strings afterward because they have slipped again. This is due to the strings being pulled at an angle towards the machines. The Seagull headstock alleviates this problem by making it a straight shot to the machine for each string. So it makes tuning that much easier.
The best part of the company is that the guitars come out of the box ready to be played. More often than not, little tweaks need to be made to get a guitar ready to be played. Before going on the wall, we usually check for these little tweaks and perform them if necessary. With Seagulls though, or any Godin guitar for that matter, all we have to do is give a quick tune and stick it on the wall. They come from the factory with amazing action, perfect neck angle, and are often pretty close to being in tune. Across the board this is a rarity.
I am truly amazed by this company and all they do. If you have never picked up one of their guitars before, I would say now is a good time. Come into Sound of Music and give one a strum. You will not be disappointed!
Written by Gabe Doucette
Hello music lovers. Welcome to the Sound of Music store blog. This is Gabe (the hairy guy in the store for those of you who do not know my name) and I’ll be writing the “Product Talk” section, as well as the “Apples and Oranges” section. In “Product Talk,” I’ll discuss some of the brands we carry here at the store. It is a great way to not only learn about the company backstories, but also why they are the beloved brands that they are. In “Apples and Oranges,” I’ll be comparing different products and product options to help you better decide what is right for you. In “Andy’s Workshop,” our tech Andy Kennedy gives fantastic tricks of the trade on a variety of musical topics. He’ll also shed light on some common misconceptions.
The point of this blog is to give you practical insight and info to help you further your music playing. Whether you’re wanting to know the difference in tone woods, what makes the different brands we carry unique, or what the actual purpose of MIDI is, we have you covered.
Thanks for reading, and stay posted!