Miscellaneous Rumbles

Great Guitars That Don’t Trip Your Trigger

1

Looking at the "Greatest electric and acoustic you've ever played" thread I noticed a, not surprising, number of votes for various Martin guitars. I know Martin makes great guitars and I have nothing but respect for this historic brand and its legacy.

HOWEVER ...

With possibly 2 exceptions, I've never played a Martin that really tripped my trigger. One of the Martins that I was really impressed with was a Koa model that cost somewhere north of $8,000 and the other was a guitar that had been trashed, found and beautifully restored by my friendly, local guitar guru.

Please understand, I'm NOT dissing Martin in any way. I'm just saying that, for whatever reason, they do very little to me.

So, my question to the class is, have any of you had a similar experience with a major guitar manufacturer? You know it, you've tried it, you've even gone back a few times to try other models and still ... nothing.

No right or wrong answers, I'm just curious.

2

Love strats, but can't play them at all 4+...

K

3

the only Martin i've ever liked is a 1961 D-18 that belongs to my closest friend. i find most Martins unbearably stiff, probably because they're seriously overbuilt. i don't get on with Telecasters at all. acoustic Ovations were horrid, though the electrics are some of the most underrated of solidbody guitars. and Guild flat-tops have never impressed.

4

A third vote for Martin, with an exception for a used slot-head parlor (some number of zeroes) with 12th fret join I played in a now-closed local music store maybe 10 years ago. Maybe the sweetest acoustic I ever, and I should’ve bought it, stupid me. Would’ve been the lifetime keeper. Otherwise, no Martin has ever made me want it. Yes stiff, yes overbuilt - funny how the impressions of those of us who don’t get it correspond. I will accept and acknowledge that they’re great guitars, given the history and heritage and stalwart family commitment to quality.

Similarly, I’d like to like Rics better than I do. The 620/660 body shape makes me weak in the knees, but I wasn’t able to bond with either I’ve owned - the 620 because I couldn’t find a use of the tone, the silly neck width precluded playability, and the lacquer never dried (so three strikes); the 660 12 because, while the neck was wide enough, it was thick and clubby. I have a 360 12 and a 4003 bass which are lifetime keepers. Otherwise, the guitars in shape, tone, and playability just elude me. But I acknowledge the “greatness” of the brand.

I don’t, however, acknowledge greatness on the part of two brands which reliably underwhelm me in every possible way, regardless how many guys strum and shred their praises: Taylor and PRS. No representative example of either has ever interested me. They sound and feel (to me) utterly generic. Dry, flat, dead. I think if they had been the only guitars ever made, I wouldn’t be a guitarist. But general reputation assures me they’re great, so I mention them here.

Similarly to Konrad, Strats. I love’m, I have a couple. Shape, tone, legacy, impact, I agree: greatness embodied. Can’t be a greater electric more worthy of honor. Many of my favorite players are Strat guys. I love everything about the Strat. I just don’t gravitate toward playing one. I seem not to get my best sounds out of them.

Love Teles unreservedly, though, so go figure.

5

PRS. Ovation. Parker. Oh yea, Taylor.

6

When I was a teen, my friend got a Gibby Thunderbird. Everyone was ga-ga over it. I thought it was the ugliest thing I ever saw. Still do.

7

Why does Ric lacquer never dry? I had a 620 once and it drove me crazy.

K

8

i've played a couple of PRS that were quite good. i agree 500% about Taylors, though.

i think that Martins generally need literal decades to break in/dry out before they start to really sound good. i don't have enough time left in my life to sit around waiting for it to mature.

9

OK, I'll say it....Gretsch.

My Fenders, Rickenbackers, my one Gibson, my Epiphones...all make me shake my head in absolute wonder over how special and fantastic those guitars are. But my two Gretsches? Really no thrill. Looks great, yes, but musically...blah. I have come to realize the reason why is because a Gretsch is a very neutral guitar. What I mean by that is a Fender, Rickenbacker, Gibson with humbuckers all have a particular, very recognizable sound. My Gretsches (a 5120 and a White Falcon) are just neutral, nothing particular when you strum them. The great Gretsch sound I've come to discover does not come from the guitar, rather it is created by a top amp and some reverb and delay pedals.

10

Never met a Martin I could get close to in a music store, they always sported cables instead of strings. I have played some that were pretty nice after having a setup and lighter strings. That said, they didn't seem to project with lighter strings.

11

I never found a Strat that I could bond with. I like what other folks do with them, but for me, no. Pointy and neon colored guitars don't work for me, either.

I have a Martin Backpacker. It's the only Martin I'd buy, but I got it for specific reasons mainly because of it's size. Having tried a few, some were stiff, and a few others had sides that were soft enough to push in when touched. All of them seemed overpriced for what they are. Gibsons often seem like that as well.

Gretsch Falcons, Penguins and sparkly guitars aren't for me, either. I like the way they sound and play, but the bling is just far too much for my tastes.

Odd shapes don't do it for me, either. Weirdness for weirdness' sake is pointless. No one needs four pickups, extra holes, funky shapes, mirrors, and other unnecessary bits and pieces.

As always, YMMV. What one person thinks is weird, another might love. Variety is the spice of life. You do you.

12

Long-scale Gretsches don't do it for me. Actually most Gretsches don't really ring my bell - but a 6120 of a Setzer variety or a VS '59 Duo Jet do.

Like many here it seems Martins don't excite me unless they are the tiny short-scale models, and even then I'd probably like my son's Taylor GS-Mini just as much! As much as Taylors are bland and generic the GS-Mini is the exception - chunky, fat, loud - great guitar, especially for the money.

Thing is we all play so differently and expect different things from guitars. I used to work in a guitar store and some of the Gibson acoustics just sounded dead to me. Every once in a while we got a good one but many sounded dud (this was twenty years ago - things have changed a lot in this time!). But then someone would come in, maybe we'd change the strings to suit them (I used to do this a lot because it would make such a difference) and the player would make the "dead" guitar sing.

I LOVE my 6120 SSLVO but you have to have a particular style to get the most out of it. My 6120 would not suit someone who just wanted to strum chords. Especially with how I have it set up it would probably sound muddy or boomy or something. But for a hybrid picker like me it's perfection.

That's probably why I don't get on with Martins. They always seem to suit flat-pickers best.

13

Another vote for Martin, while I recognize that many great players use them, I also find them stiff and unresponsive. I suspect that it's like macphisto mentioned, they can take years to open up.

Rickenbacker electric guitars have never been playable for me. The neck is just too narrow, as well as the lacquer issues. I'm not overly fond of the tone I get out of them, though some other players seem to be able to milk magic out of them, I can't.

I can't deal with Ovation acoustic guitars, the round back is a deal breaker, I'm a sit down player, and these guitars are like a "slip and slide".

I disliked Stratocasters for decades, until I finally got the right one, and spent some time with it. The strings always seemed to be too close to the top for my taste, and I couldn't bond with a 9.5" full fretboard radius. I bought a 2017 Elite Stratocaster (HSS), with the compound neck shape (C to D) and fretboard radius (9.5" to 12"). It was a game changer for me (in the Strat world). It's my favorite fingerstyle guitar, now that I'm focusing on fingerstyle playing. The closeness of the strings to the top keeps my wrist at the perfect angle (for me), and the bridge profile gives me a better tactile string reference sensation. The compound neck and fretboard made a world of difference, it's just a joy to play.

14

Never understood the hype over Taylors. A great playing and sounding acoustic is just that, but every Taylor I’ve ever played was neither. A friend of mine has a Martin but my new Yamaha just sounds better.

15

Strats and Teles -- Fender and otherwise. Never played any that felt or sounded right to me. Taylor acoustics always sound very thin to me.

Martins -- I'm in the "YES" camp. I've been fortunate enough to own a couple of "high end" Martins (D-41 and D-42) and LOVE them. IMO -- very responsive touch and playability and the tones (IMO) are glorious.

16

I always wanted a Ric 330. Got a cool early 90's one in perfect shape in early 2000 for 400 bucks! Never loved it. Never dug the sound, feel, anything but how it looked. Finally traded with a friend for a Gretsch Rally. The Rally is my favorite electric guitar. Weenie neck, weenie output, but always what I end up grabbing for almost everything.

17

Well even when I was doing ok on 25.5 scale, my list would be Martin D-size, any Fender with the contoured back (Strat, Jazzmaster...) I am a slab body guy and this is one reason I am doing well with Duo Sonics. All the narrow neck Ricks. That's most of them. Also Taylors.... "just because" is enough of a reason there.

18

Always been a case of it being me, not you.

I mean, if the guitar is in perfect working order, then there's no reason it shouldn't get on with you...unless it's you.

Blame the guitar for whatever reason, but really, at the end of the day, would you not play guitar because of some 'goldylocks' sensibility you've subconsciously constucted.

19

Ovations acoustics ,never could dig them,never played an electric so can't say.

Duesenbergs ,nicely made,and they feel nice but they sound very bland to me.

I'm sure there are others too....

20

OK, I'll say it....Gretsch.

My Fenders, Rickenbackers, my one Gibson, my Epiphones...all make me shake my head in absolute wonder over how special and fantastic those guitars are. But my two Gretsches? Really no thrill. Looks great, yes, but musically...blah. I have come to realize the reason why is because a Gretsch is a very neutral guitar. What I mean by that is a Fender, Rickenbacker, Gibson with humbuckers all have a particular, very recognizable sound. My Gretsches (a 5120 and a White Falcon) are just neutral, nothing particular when you strum them. The great Gretsch sound I've come to discover does not come from the guitar, rather it is created by a top amp and some reverb and delay pedals.

– ThunderWalker

22

Never had any interest in LesPauls....never could figure out how to play a Tele. Never could get a decent tone out of any Filtertron.

23
  • I don’t like Floyd Rose I’m not using a trem much anyway. Those are the devil.
  • I think most Martin and Gibson acoustics are lackluster as well. I want more resonance than the ones I’ve played.
  • I’ve never fully bonded with a Les Paul. They sound great for others, but I fight with mine.
  • To my ears most acoustics with maple back and sides sound like you put strings on a wet cardboard box.
  • I think most solid state amps sound too compressed and sterile. It colors the sound from the beginning.

As has been said, strings, action changes, etc. can change a turd into a treasure. It is all subjective and subject to change.

24

– Lacking Talent

I like my Gretsch guitars. It's just that they rank fifth place behind my Fenders, Rics, Gibson, and Epiphones. In a world of hundreds of guitar makers, fifth isn't bad, you know.

25

Always been a case of it being me, not you.

I mean, if the guitar is in perfect working order, then there's no reason it shouldn't get on with you...unless it's you.

Blame the guitar for whatever reason, but really, at the end of the day, would you not play guitar because of some 'goldylocks' sensibility you've subconsciously constucted.

– crowbone

no offense intended, but that's just silly. certain guitars just aren't very good, and others totally unsuitable for particular styles. e.g. Jorma Kaukonen ruled on Firebirds in the mid-70s, but more average fingerpickers probably couldn't get a thing out of one. i don't think it's the players job to try and make an unsuitable guitar work for them...why should anybody care that Teles just don't cut it at my house?


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