Monday, January 25, 2010

Acoustic Info and Websites

I'm sidling up on the end of a dissertation chapter and trying to decide between rewarding myself with a new tattoo and a new acoustic. The tattoo would be easier, since I already know the design (Viking spirals and a snake somewhat like the one from Marebro, Sweden) and the artist (Adam Kilss). Acoustic...not so easy.

I know that whatever acoustic I get I'm more interested in fingerpicking than in heavy strumming or bluegrass and country flatpicking. Ideally I'd be playing acoustic stuff a la Opeth or Mick Mills' Antimatter material -- some Zep, maybe. Stuff like that. Price wise I'm looking under $500. Sound wise I want something that is less boomy than a Martin dreadnought but still has decent bass response when played softly.

Other concerns -- my wrists and fingers aren't what they used to be before all that typing from academia (and years of IT work before that) tried to cripple me. Plus I've got strong, square hands, but relatively short (and slow and clumsy) fingers. I love my Hagstrom, but ain't no way I want to try to fingerpick on it. The neck is to slim and fast and too tight at the nut even at 1.68". I want something a little more supportive and hand-filling for chords and a tad more space between the strings. Oh, and that lower bout on a dreadnought is an arm killer, too, but I'm not sure I want to go to a 000 despite my earlier post because I don't want to lose too much bass if I tune down a little. I'd say OM or GC, except that those usually up the scale length and my wrists and fingers keep telling me to stick to a shorter scale if possible.

So far this all sounds like it makes me a candidate for a Seagull guitar. They mostly have shorter scales and slightly wider necks and they have a great rep. And they are made in Canada, eh? I'm down with that.

Anyway, what I'm getting to here is that finding and evaluating all this info has made me wish that online music stores did a better job of organizing their stock and informing their buyers of the crucial things. Guitar marketing is straight up stupid most of the time. I love abalone purfling and quilted backs and sides as much as the next guy, but body size, scale length, nut width and string spacing at the bridge are much more important to whether or not I'm going to like playing the damn thing. And if I'm not going to be able to play the thing myself, I'd like to at least see a picture of someone else holding it seated so I can see where that lower bout sits relative to another body size. I know that a mini-jumbo is bigger than a dreadnought, but with a tighter waist does that put the upper bout in the same place, lower, or higher where it hits the arm? It would be nice to know this. For that matter it would be nice to search for guitars by body size rather than by brand and for acoustics and acoustic electrics together with a check box to filter on electronics if that were a deal breaker rather than having to run separate searches and try to aggregate the results.

It shouldn't take much to build a website right for this. If Elderly or Sweetwater were to put a little design time into it they could really put the other companies on their asses. I'd be there.

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