Get an intermediate guitar now, or save up for a luthier-made, in the future?

Agelastos
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Get an intermediate guitar now, or save up for a luthier-made, in the future?

Post by Agelastos » Sat Feb 03, 2018 5:54 pm

Hello,

It's been only a year since I bought my Alhambra 4P (used) for 320 Euros, and I have been happy with it. The other day I went to see my teacher, with some Villa-Lobos pieces that I had prepared for the lesson (the first two pieces of the Suite Populaire) and he asked me if I had not thought about getting a better instrument, given the repertoire that I choose to play. He mentioned a Paco Castillo 205 S (emphasizing the "S") that he had seen on sale in a local shop. He went there the other day with some of his students, helping them to choose a new guitar, and he said that he was very impressed by that particular guitar. Then we briefly talked about luthier guitars, which is something that I can really not afford right now, nor justify such a purchase since I haven't been playing for that long, to appreciate the difference - I guess.

So I went to the shop the following day, and asked to try the Paco Castillo 205, out of curiosity. There were two of them, both cedars, one brand new and another one which was a return by a customer who bought it there a year ago, but since moved on to a luthier guitar. There is no S in the model, so I don't know what he meant, but he mentioned that the guitar he told me about had a price of 1200 Euros - which was the brand new guitar. The used one had a price tag of 780 Euros and still under warranty (2 more years).
They were both very different guitars, I don't know what to think, but I don't remember being blown away by either of them.

I am interested in your opinions, which one makes more sense to you?

Buying an intermediate instrument now,
a Paco Castillo 205 1200 Euros (New)
a Paco Castillo 205 780 Euros (Second Hand, 1 year old)

or save up for a luthier guitar some time in the future, on a budget of no more than 4000 Euros, for example?

Thank you!

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Rick Beauregard
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Re: Get an intermediate guitar now, or save up for a luthier-made, in the future?

Post by Rick Beauregard » Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:17 pm

If, as you say, it is difficult to tell a difference in tone quality with your experience, take the one which is the most playable for your hands. Which one feels best to you, easiest to play? If the more expensive one feels the best to you, it’s worth the extra money if you feel good playing it. If they’re identical go with the used one. Bring your guitar with you and play each one to compare. Maybe you’ll find your guitar is not so bad after all. To me playability is the key for a student.
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robin loops
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Re: Get an intermediate guitar now, or save up for a luthier-made, in the future?

Post by robin loops » Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:26 pm

I don't know about that particular guitar but S often means spruce (as opposed to cedar which often has a C in the model no.).

In would say definitely get an intermediate guitar for two main reasons. Firstly if you wait until you upgrade to a lurhier made guitar you will have long outgrown your present guitar. That could result in a lot of frustration and perhaps even hinderance to your advancement. Secondly, when you do get a lurhier made guitar you'll need a backup guitar you can use when you don't want to bring along a very expensive guitar. At that stage your current guitar might be fine as a beach guitar but not as an alternative to taking the lurhier guitar (say at a gig at a busy chaotic wine bar where you might not want to bring your concert guitar).

And thirdly you can always sell off the intermediate guitar if you don't find a need for a backup/alternative guitar (the one you are thinking of buying now for example). If you get a good deal on a used guitar and take good care of it, there's a good chance you can recuperate most, if not all, of the money invested.
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dta721
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Re: Get an intermediate guitar now, or save up for a luthier-made, in the future?

Post by dta721 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:37 pm

Agelastos wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 5:54 pm
...
They were both very different guitars, I don't know what to think, but I don't remember being blown away by either of them.

I am interested in your opinions, which one makes more sense to you?

Buying an intermediate instrument now,
a Paco Castillo 205 1200 Euros (New)
a Paco Castillo 205 780 Euros (Second Hand, 1 year old)

or save up for a luthier guitar some time in the future, on a budget of no more than 4000 Euros, for example?
...
I'd buy a used intermediate instrument that blows you away now; even if it is at the top end of your current budget 1200 Euros, and regardless of brand name!

Rasputin
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Re: Get an intermediate guitar now, or save up for a luthier-made, in the future?

Post by Rasputin » Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:48 pm

If you have been happy with the Alhambra and weren't blown away by either of the Paco Castillos, I say stick with the Alhambra. It doesn't sound as though you would even be thinking of changing if it wasn't for what your teacher said. It also sounds as though he may have meant a better instrument for that kind of music (tone-wise), rather than a better instrument full stop - but if so then you have to think about all the music you want to play and not just what you are working on at the moment.

I can see that you might be held back by a really bad instrument, but I don't think the Alhambra is in that category.

Kent Classics do have some spruce 205s but they are quite a bit more than €1200

Philosopherguy
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Re: Get an intermediate guitar now, or save up for a luthier-made, in the future?

Post by Philosopherguy » Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:53 pm

I know that everyone is always on the quest to find the best guitar for their price range, but have you tried to put a different brand of strings on your Alhambra? It's not ALWAYS the guitar that is holding the tone of the guitar back. Strings are a cheap thing to try out different sounds from the same old guitar. I don't think I have ever played an Alhambra 4P, but the Alhambra's I have played have all been quite nice. I think people always just get it in their head that the guitar is the problem. I realize that you can't polish a turd, but I would doubt that the Alhambra 4P is likely that bad.

I would try some Augustine Blue or Red Regal strings on the Alhambra and see if it comes to life at all. This kind of test will only run you around 6 or 7 euros or so.

If you are serious about the guitar, the used PC205 would likely be an alright interim investment, if your guitar with new strings doesn't help. You could likely sell the 205 later and get most of your money back to upgrade to a luthier guitar when you are ready. It's likely you will get most of your money out of your current guitar too, as long as you took care of it. Sell it to upgrade if you really think it's worth it. But, it sounds like you don't really think it's worth it. So, that will be a choice you have to make. If that 205 doesn't sound any better to you, keep your eye out for something else. I would recommend to try and find a used Ramirez 125/130Anos or a 4NE.

Martin

Agelastos wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 5:54 pm
Hello,

It's been only a year since I bought my Alhambra 4P (used) for 320 Euros, and I have been happy with it. The other day I went to see my teacher, with some Villa-Lobos pieces that I had prepared for the lesson (the first two pieces of the Suite Populaire) and he asked me if I had not thought about getting a better instrument, given the repertoire that I choose to play. He mentioned a Paco Castillo 205 S (emphasizing the "S") that he had seen on sale in a local shop. He went there the other day with some of his students, helping them to choose a new guitar, and he said that he was very impressed by that particular guitar. Then we briefly talked about luthier guitars, which is something that I can really not afford right now, nor justify such a purchase since I haven't been playing for that long, to appreciate the difference - I guess.

So I went to the shop the following day, and asked to try the Paco Castillo 205, out of curiosity. There were two of them, both cedars, one brand new and another one which was a return by a customer who bought it there a year ago, but since moved on to a luthier guitar. There is no S in the model, so I don't know what he meant, but he mentioned that the guitar he told me about had a price of 1200 Euros - which was the brand new guitar. The used one had a price tag of 780 Euros and still under warranty (2 more years).
They were both very different guitars, I don't know what to think, but I don't remember being blown away by either of them.

I am interested in your opinions, which one makes more sense to you?

Buying an intermediate instrument now,
a Paco Castillo 205 1200 Euros (New)
a Paco Castillo 205 780 Euros (Second Hand, 1 year old)

or save up for a luthier guitar some time in the future, on a budget of no more than 4000 Euros, for example?

Thank you!
*************************************************************
2013 Ramirez 130 Anos - Spruce
2013 Ramirez 4NE - Cedar
1998 Dean Harrington - Spruce
1977 Kuniharu Nobe - Spruce
1971 Yamaha GC3 - Spruce

Agelastos
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Re: Get an intermediate guitar now, or save up for a luthier-made, in the future?

Post by Agelastos » Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:56 pm

When I bought my Alhambra, I was lucky enough that the seller had LOTS of other guitars that he also wanted to sell, in fact I originally contacted him for an Antonio Sanchez that he had put an ad for. After trying the Sanchez, a Cuenca and couple more of the same price range I remember that I really liked the Alhambra best. I even preferred it over a Picado 49 Spruce that was also on offer for the same price (!), I remember the Picado not being at all easy to play.
Now, used instruments are always a gamble, isn't it? You don't know their history and there's no warranty. Also, they are not easy to find, around my area. Yesterday I saw an ad for a Hanika (Helmut/the father) from 1982, model number 27, and the asking price was 500 Euros. However interesting it might be, it's more than three hours drive away from where I live...

Lovemyguitar
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Re: Get an intermediate guitar now, or save up for a luthier-made, in the future?

Post by Lovemyguitar » Sun Feb 04, 2018 3:35 am

The amount of time you've been playing is not relevant: people progress at different rates. If you are playing Villa-Lobos' Suite Populaire Brasilienne with any competence, then you really should have a better guitar than an Alhambra 4P. And, if you can truly play at that level, then you need to choose your own guitar, not buy one recommended by your teacher or anyone else.

However, if you really don't think that you can tell the difference between your 4P and a luthier guitar, then you are either playing pieces well above your level, or you are simply not ready to upgrade (or both). Beginners and those without sufficiently developed skills often will not be able to maximise the potential of a fine instrument, preferring entry level guitars for their ease of playing and lack of finesse, but once one's skills increase, the shortcomings of an entry-level guitar will start to become more apparent. If you've not notice that yet with your 4P, then you may wish to wait a bit longer, until you know for certain what you are missing (and, until you know what you want from a guitar).

Incidentally, I don't entirely agree that used instruments are "a gamble" -- on the contrary, they are often the best bang for the euro.

Whatever you choose, best of luck, and most importantly, enjoy!

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prawnheed
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Re: Get an intermediate guitar now, or save up for a luthier-made, in the future?

Post by prawnheed » Sun Feb 04, 2018 4:04 am

Save. You are more likely to regret buying a mid-range guitar than you are to regret not buying it.

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souldier
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Re: Get an intermediate guitar now, or save up for a luthier-made, in the future?

Post by souldier » Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:45 pm

If you tried those potential guitars and they didn't seem like much of an improvement over your current guitar, I'd definitely pass and wait a bit longer. In the mean time, you can continue to improve your skill, expand repertoire of different genres, save money, and travel to different guitar shops/luthier shops to get a good feel for what is actually out there and what the classical guitar is capable of. Sometimes we have this idea that if I spend X amount of dollars, it will be 10 times better than the guitar I have now, only to discover they aren't too far apart. I remember comparing my Cordoba C9 with some luthier instruments costing many times more with big expectations, only to discover I preferred the C9. I'm not sure what guitar shops you have up there in france, but it would be well worth the time and money to travel to try as many guitars as possible.
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Sharkbait
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Re: Get an intermediate guitar now, or save up for a luthier-made, in the future?

Post by Sharkbait » Tue Feb 06, 2018 5:35 pm

I think the Paco Castillo 205 is a fully-solid guitar while the Alhambra 4P has laminated B&S. There may be an appreciable difference in sound, but whether it’s significant enough for the price is really a matter of your choice (& pocket).

Having said that, you said you weren’t blown away by the PC205, but have been happy with the 4P. Now, having heard the PC205, are you still happy & satisfied with your 4P? If so, and if you’re not too flush with cash, then it may be wiser to save your pennies and give time for your ears to develop, so that you can hear the appreciable difference between the 4P and a luthier guitar and its worth spending the extra money for the luthier guitar.

Your ears may develop faster than you expect, so what sounds good/fine now may, 6 months later, sound somewhat under-whelming. In which case you may be very glad to have skipped the intermediate guitar purchase.

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Re: Get an intermediate guitar now, or save up for a luthier-made, in the future?

Post by CathyCate » Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:41 pm

I am with Sharkbait and Philosopherguy. There is no need to rush into a purchase.

Unless there is a concert on your calendar, take your time and experiment with a string upgrade while you are waiting for the right guitar to come along. You may be surprised by what the right strings can accomplish. That move alone can save you lots of money and extend the time for your instrument search.

Meanwhile, play as many guitars as you can. That will help you decide what Y o u want.When you find T h e guitar, you will know. No one will have to tell you.
It is nice your teacher is looking out for you, but patience will be rewarded all around.

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Re: Get an intermediate guitar now, or save up for a luthier-made, in the future?

Post by Laudiesdad69 » Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:39 pm

Agelastos wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:56 pm
When I bought my Alhambra, I was lucky enough that the seller had LOTS of other guitars that he also wanted to sell, in fact I originally contacted him for an Antonio Sanchez that he had put an ad for. After trying the Sanchez, a Cuenca and couple more of the same price range I remember that I really liked the Alhambra best. I even preferred it over a Picado 49 Spruce that was also on offer for the same price (!), I remember the Picado not being at all easy to play.
Now, used instruments are always a gamble, isn't it? You don't know their history and there's no warranty. Also, they are not easy to find, around my area. Yesterday I saw an ad for a Hanika (Helmut/the father) from 1982, model number 27, and the asking price was 500 Euros. However interesting it might be, it's more than three hours drive away from where I live...
What strings do you use on it now, and what is your action at the twelfth fret?

Agelastos
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Re: Get an intermediate guitar now, or save up for a luthier-made, in the future?

Post by Agelastos » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:10 am

I’m using D’Addario EJ46, hard tension. The action is a little over 3mm.
I find it a little tiring, because I have small hands, but I prefer the hard tension. Less buzzing.
Laudiesdad69 wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:39 pm
Agelastos wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:56 pm
When I bought my Alhambra, I was lucky enough that the seller had LOTS of other guitars that he also wanted to sell, in fact I originally contacted him for an Antonio Sanchez that he had put an ad for. After trying the Sanchez, a Cuenca and couple more of the same price range I remember that I really liked the Alhambra best. I even preferred it over a Picado 49 Spruce that was also on offer for the same price (!), I remember the Picado not being at all easy to play.
Now, used instruments are always a gamble, isn't it? You don't know their history and there's no warranty. Also, they are not easy to find, around my area. Yesterday I saw an ad for a Hanika (Helmut/the father) from 1982, model number 27, and the asking price was 500 Euros. However interesting it might be, it's more than three hours drive away from where I live...
What strings do you use on it now, and what is your action at the twelfth fret?

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Re: Get an intermediate guitar now, or save up for a luthier-made, in the future?

Post by joachim33 » Wed Feb 07, 2018 8:30 am

Agelastos wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:10 am
I’m using D’Addario EJ46, hard tension. The action is a little over 3mm.
New Alhambra’s ship with D’Addario EXP44, extra hard. So you went down one notch.

If you use lower tension, I assume you tried EJ45 or EXP45, where does it buzz? Is the action to low?

I tried the 4P when I bought my current guitar but it was beyond what I was prepared to spend for “dipping the water”. I liked it better and am considering Alhambras for the next step up. Always wondered whether Alhambras need a high tension to work well, which would be a downside to me.

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