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Hi all.
I was wondering what people's opinions were in regards to these top makers
of acoustic guitars. Which do you think is better, Martin or Taylor, and why?
Thanks!

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Hi Arthur.

Here are the simplest and most relevant explanations I could come up with:

A forward shifted bracing pattern is simply one of many common styles of bracing patterns used by builders.  That term by itself means nothing (advertising point only). Go to Taylor's website for a full explanation with pictures of examples.

The scarf neck joint means that the neck was made from two pieces of wood.  In normal practice, the headstock is grafted onto the neck at about a 60 degree angle staring under the 2nd-4th fret.  Traditionalists call that heresy but I've NEVER noticed any problems with scarfed neck joints.  Today, it's commonly used to speed production and to conserve natural resources.

IMO, anyone who claims they can hear a difference between a sold neck and a well engineered and crafted scarf joint neck must have magical powers. (The same goes for many similar claims).

Some of the finest Concert Grade Classical guitars ever built have scarf neck joints.  Many high quality imports also have scarf joints. To me, a scarf joint is a non-issue IF the joint is done properly and guitar is priced accordingly, and the 110 is.

In summary, the bracing is simply 'advertising' and the scarf joint is an accepted way of making a strong neck while conserving natural resources.

The Taylor 110 is a good value in the acoustic market.  I still hope you check out their Mini GS.....one that has a double-checked setup and fresh strings and that hasn't been abused to death at GC!   I have a feeling you'd like that whole package(:

Later on (:

Thanks!

But isn't the GS mini a small traveler's guitar? It is neither full size nor full scale.

I am a grown man, 6 feet tall, although my hands are 'kind of' small (large palms,

but relatively short fingers). Would this still be good for me, in your opinion?

I guess the only way to know is to try one out.

 

I'm 6' 5", and the guitar is great. Very playable, very good sounding. I look a bit like Tiny Tim with it, but that's how it goes. :)

I own 2 old Martins and a Taylor 214LE from 2002.

They are all different for different purposes.

I'd say like my Martin Dreds and play them the most although for a smaller guitar the Taylor is nice to play.

They are 2 different animals.

Ro FennWookieepedia: Ro Fenn was a corpulent white Twi'lek male who was a member of the Twi'lek Clan Council of Lessu in 30 BBY. He was the head of Clan Fenn.

Martin, because in my "good guitar" buying days i worked for a store that sold martins. I know its not a good reason, but its a pocketbook issue. I got a very good discount. And, back then buying a Martin was just what you did. Strange thing is, the guitar I grab most often is my Gretsch Americana with the flying saucers on it.

Question:  "Taylor vs Martin who wins?"

Answer:  We do!

More specifically both of these organizations produce some mighty fine products and we all benefit from this. 

As for my own personal opinions regarding Taylor and Martin I'm partial to Taylor for Taylor's innovation which includes their neck joint and some of their other killer products such as the "T" series.  As someone who does time... at a Martin and former Taylor dealer I see lots of both of these brands.  As such it's difficult to not over time form some rather strong opinions based on the stuff that I have to fix....

Taylors are typically much better set-up straight from the factory than Martin.  Where this can be important is since the Mom & Pop music stores are more and more becoming a blast from the past in the Internet age of MusiciansFriend,  Guitar Center, Sweetwater, etc. millions of guitar buyers are receiving instruments that the factory set-up is all that they will get in terms of a set-up.  Nut slots that are WAY too high, action that has not been optimized based on the limitations of the construction of the instrument, etc. all play a roll in if the new guitar buyer will struggle with the instrument or not...  To me anyone who is purchasing an expensive gutiar should have the expectation that it will be set-up better than say a $200 Yamaha but this is not the reality that I see.  Although Martins are set-up OK they are not set-up great from the factory and I have yet to see one in say the past year that could not be dramatically improved in the set-up with 30 minutes on a Luthier bench.

With the new Taylors that come to me for set-ups typically far less needs to be addressed....

As for the Baby Taylors vs. the little Martins I also prefer the Taylors for tone, quality, value, and set-up....

Where Martin shines in my view are the iconic "standards" of which all other guitars are seemingly judged.  The 18's and 28's produced more of the music that as an arrested development teen I came to love and still listen to today.  This makes the Martin sound very much part of my own growing up and it's understandable that I would be partial to it.

But today's Martin is not the same Martin that produced some of the finest guitars perhaps ever made in the pre-war (WWII...) era.  Instead we see offerings such as the 15 series that have that incredibly ill advised glued mortise and tenon neck joint....  Or guitars produced out of counter top with plastic fret boards that STILL command big bucks when one considers that other manufacturers seem to produce far more value at a lower price point.

I spent a little time being a marketing guy schooled in branding and in my humble opinion these days Martin is trying to be too much to too many folks while at the same time making no effort to hone their core competencies which to me clearly are the iconic models the 18's, 28's, 40 series, etc.  Martin has done a very good job though with the Hair Club For Men style of offering customers more than just a tangible.  Martin clients are encouraged to make the Haj (pilgrimage...) to the Martin factory for a tour and other sanctioned and non-sanctioned Martin events.  Burp.... ;)

On the other hand Taylor seems to know what they wanna be when they grow up and as such Taylor has a track record of successful, well engineered and built products that have been incrementally introduced over the years receiving a great deal of market acceptance.

Although the Taylor sound/tone is clearly different from a Martin I like them both.  It's nice to have choices and it's even nicer to have so very many choices from two very fine manufacturers.

So who wins?  We do and my hope is that we will have Taylor and Martin to choose from for many years to come.  If I was making my living from setting up guitars and I had the choice of being a Martin or a Taylor dealer I would choose Martin because there would be more demand for me to set-up the brand-new-inventory....

Hesh,

I fear that we'll be responding to the Martin vs. Taylor question well into the 22nd Century (if we don't run out of phosphor bronze first). Did you ever wonder why there's not a major "Martin vs. Gibson or Gibson vs.Guild" debate? Hmm?

I agree wholeheartedly with the Martin setup issues.  Within the last 2 weeks, I had the privilege of setting up a new HD-28 cutaway with electronics and a new Taylor 710CE, also a dreadnaught cutaway with electronics.

I decided to do a side by side setup comparison as they are the same size and are both sitka/RW/ebony instruments. The Martin took about 40 minutes (mostly nut dressing, fret dressing (minimal), a saddle adjustment and truss adjustment) and the Taylor took 30 seconds (1/4th turn of the truss rod).

However, after they were done, BOTH guitars sounded and played wonderfully.  The only difference?  Their respective signature sounds. They are both fine examples of top quality dreadnaught size guitars available from large scale manufacturers.

But then again, my favorite acoustic guitars are 00 & 000 size instruments and my ab-fav is Taylor's GA body shape with a 12 fret neck and a slotted headstock. But that's a completely diffident subject.

Don't forget to "Spring forward" (:

Great post Paul and this is exactly what I am trying to say here - they are both great brands/guitars if only Martin would do some set-up before baggin and taggin em for shipment.

What never ceases to make me shake my head are the bridge pins and end pins on new Martins...  How long does it take to fit these things with a reamer - 5 minutes?  But Martin won't do it and ships their new guitars with bridge pins and a tail pin that are way too proud, not in the proud of being a pin sense either but sticking out and needing attention.  Such a simple thing for a manufacturer or Luthier to address but not so simple for Mr. and Mrs. Customer/player.

In my best Colombo voice while trying to keep this post "shorter" so Eric doesn't get upset.... ;) seems to me that if anyone is spending $1K plus for a guitar how much is it to ask to fit the stinkin pins???

Rant over....  Happy Sunday all and thanks for the reminder to set my clocks forward Paul!

Hesh,

One major paradigm shift I've espoused is:

If my customers consult me about new acoustic guitar purchase options, and their budget is over $2K, I'm encouraging them to have a guitar built by one of the dozens of superb builders out there today. Of course that will only get them in the door to see the builders' 'entry level' instruments, but the "N/C options" available to them (neck shape, FB profile, scale length, fret size, body size, etc) completely trump the offerings of the large scale guys.....unless you want to feed their custom shops' piggy banks (:

Keeping in mind that I'm a technician and not a builder, if I had the cash available today that I spent on the Taylor in 1996, I'd certainly have "my guitar" custom built.  If I ever have a few grand laying around (ya, right), I'd be getting in touch with several builders just on this forum alone.

btw: same goes for electrics, but then again....there are soooooo many who are content to still want to be in the faceless herd of Tele/Strat/LP players. Personally, I like electrics that do NOT have poor design issues retained for the sake of 'vintage accuracy'. Man, I really have to work on reigning-in my editorial comments(;

In closing... I encourage all of us to do the same.  Send these folks to our trusted brother & sister builders (: It'll be a win-win situation.

thanks for all the replies!

Now, after having owned both,

a Martin Custom D, and a Taylor 110,

I personally like the Taylor better.

I love the slightly slimmer and faster neck

on the Taylor, and I love the brighter/sharper/clearer tone.

I have sold the Martin, and the Taylor is for keeps.


The Martin was a '9', but the Taylor is a '10',

in my humble opinion.

 

 

 

 

Hi Arthur.

Thanks for the update.  It's great to see your post.  I hope all is well (:

Have a GREAT weekend (-:

Martin has a set of specs the same way Taylor does in setting up their guitars.

Martin players are so varied, form Bluegrass to finger style.

Martin gives the original owner a free set-up with the purchase of a new guitar, so the player can get it

set-up the way they wanted.

I've owned 3 Taylors and the 214LE that I have now had to be sent back to Taylor right after purchase

because the neck needed a reset badly. It was way off. I couldn't get the action down to 3/32-2/32.

Anyways, they ended up putting a new body on it and now it plays like dream.

So I think it's a matter of taste and preference.

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