What would you recommend for a quality acoustic guitar under $1,000,
that is not deep and bassy like a Martin, nor bright and trebly like a Taylor,
but has just the right balance?
Tonal subtleties like "just the right balance" are pretty subjective. Takamine guitars might be to your liking. Then again, there are models of Martin that really aren't all that deep & bassy... as well as Taylors that aren't shimmering-bright.
I'd recommend making a list of local music stores with a good selection of guitars. Then spend a fair amount of time with each guitar until you find "the one".
Ditto to what Mike said.
Arthur, when you do your instrument evaluations, make a mental note of the condition of the strings. A set of dead strings will make even a Taylor sound dull. Same with the bass, dead strings go 'thud' and mask the crispness in the low-end response of the guitar.
Once you narrow your selection down to 2 or three guitars, it's not unreasonable to ask the store owner to string them all up with your preferred set of strings so you can level the playing field in order to help you with your final choice.
Personally, I'd take a serious look at Blueridge and Tanglewood guitars. Their ranges have a LOT to offer in the under $1K range. Both brands are made in China but are built on par with many USA made acoustics. They play beautifully right out of the box too....at least that's been my experience.
The Blueridge BR-43 streets for around $400 and is a superb, feather light solid top acoustic that plays like a dream and has the exact sound spec's you mentioned.
The Tanglewood TW170 AS is a step up the ladder (more fauxbaloney inlays & a solid back) and sounds very much like the Blueridge. It streets for around $450.
Both guitars are 000 size (the next size down from a dreadnaught) and IMO, the best values on the market today.
So if you don't mind ONLY spending around $500.....there you go. BTW: I own both models and play them all the time while my Taylor 714 stays in its case. Why? They sound & play better than my Taylor.
Best of luck with your new search my friend (-:
Paul, I'm glad you are having good luck with your Blueridge and Tanglewood, but I see a LOT of these with varying neck angle issues, some worse than others, but all sharing the same basic flaw: they are unrepairable because of the epoxied neck joint. When they are good, they can be excellent players and certainly on par with offerings from Taylor and Martin, but they lack the consistency which these US brands possess in spades, and at some point, like most guitars, they will need a neck reset. When they market a guitar with a repairable neck joint, be it dovetail or bolt on, Taylor and Martin will have another serious competitor to contend with.
I'm reminded yet again of one of my favorite bits of wisdom from John Ruskin: "When you pay too much for something, you lose a little money. That is all. But if you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because what you bought is incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do."
I saw a brand new Tanglewood at a local music store yesterday. Couldn't believe how badly the neck angle was set! I would check out Eastman Guitars or Larivee Guitars.
Here is a video of the Eastman Factory that is pretty interesting. http://www.12fret.com/content/2012/03/16/eastman-factory-tour-video/
Both builders offer great guitars and good value
That's the store's fault. The instrument should've been rejected & a replacement demanded. Sometimes I think music store owners are only in business to keep US in business by selling shoddy instruments(:
Mark, I think the reason I like mine so much is that I took a long time waiting for the 'right ones' to come in. Doesn't everyone? I think that we can agree that no single brand is immune to problems.
I recommended those to Arthur because:
He's NOT a professional player nor is he looking for an heirloom instrument;
Based on his posting history; $$$ is tight and
Those models fit the playability & sonic spec's he set forth.
I agree that Eastman and [especially] Larivee are a step up, but will probably be out of Arthur's price range.
I actually forgot to reiterate my suggestion from a previous post: The Taylor GS mini. It's just too cool for $500 and with the Taylor NT neck, a reset, when needed, will be a 10 minute job.!
Thanks for sharing your experiences guys. I appreciate your enlightening info & input, especially about the epoxied neck joint.
Have a great week (-:
Yea, I agree, the store should send the instrument back and should never have accepted it. I actually own a Tanglewood and its fine.
I totally get where you are coming from :) It's a drag when a store sells a clearly defective guitar to an unknowing player. Neck angle inspection isn't the first thing most folks are thinking about when looking to purchase. Our store takes pains to explain as much to the customer about the importance, among other things, of proper geometry, if they want to listen. When asked, I always steer people to the offerings of Martin and Taylor because of the quality, and more importantly, the lifetime warranty and excellent track record of customer care.
Thanks! Those are great choices, price-wise. I don't have much money,
and a $500 guitar is better for me, financially, than a $900 guitar.
I really like the new Yamaha A-Series. Excellent quality for the cash!
While you are evaluating guitars, take a look at the 00 and 000 size guitars. I would describe many of the guitars that I've played in that size range as sounding pretty much as you requested. Beside, the smaller size may help with the pain problem you've been having.
Guild acoustic design series
I would go for a Seagull or a 000-15 Martin (000 make it less bassy than a dreadnough and 15 series are sweet sounding), but I'm not sure the latter is in your price range in the USA.