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

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

Post by Mr.Rain » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:13 am

I think the issue is that a spruce guitar, when new (even used) can be "sleeping". That is the gamble with Spruce, it may change and open up or stay the way it is.Maybe your teacher has seen potential in that individual guitar (thinking it will mellow after some use, but when new being still too bright..),Again this is a gamble.

Regarding the Picado 49, maybe the neck shape was not for you, I had/have several and their normal necks are too chunky for my "currently weak" hands (i prefer thinner necks)or the string tension was too high.

Do not want to play the devil's advocate, but... maybe you should give a go to short scale instruments. I used to play normal scale instruments for a long time, now I mainly play 630mm (with hard/extra hard tensions) and I can get way more from a short scale instrument(with a slim neck), than from a 650 strung with low tension strings...(stretches and having to open the left hand was not good for my work caused RSI..)

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joachim33
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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 9:18 am

Regarding your original question, did you get back to your teacher, to make sure the guitar you saw is the one he was speaking about? The way you write it leaves some doubt with me.

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 12:47 pm

joachim33 wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:18 am
Regarding your original question, did you get back to your teacher, to make sure the guitar you saw is the one he was speaking about? The way you write it leaves some doubt with me.
I didn't, yet. My lessons are quite sparse, once a month or so. But there's only one PC 205 at €1200 (€1180 to be precise) at that shop. The other is a second-hand, at €780. They are both cedar, made sometime during the last couple of years.

I went back there yesterday, and brought my 4P along to compare. I spent nearly two hours in a little booth, having four guitars in front of me, the two Paco Castillos 205, a Kremona at €1500, and my Alhambra 4P. The Kremona was eliminated, and out of the way fairly quick; not my taste. But even though both PC 205 sounded much better than my current guitar I couldn't really tell if the new Paco Castillo was worth the extra €400. And this is also something that puzzles me, I mean we are constantly talking about how the Alhambras are like this or like that and how the Paco Castillos are recommended over, say, another brand. But there I was with two examples of the same model coming from the same factory/workshop and - I am not joking - they couldn't be any more different in sound!

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 1:02 pm

Mr.Rain wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:13 am
Do not want to play the devil's advocate, but... maybe you should give a go to short scale instruments. I used to play normal scale instruments for a long time, now I mainly play 630mm (with hard/extra hard tensions) and I can get way more from a short scale instrument(with a slim neck), than from a 650 strung with low tension strings...(stretches and having to open the left hand was not good for my work caused RSI..)
When I started playing I got myself a small Yamaha CS40 thinking that having small hands, it would fit me better. It didn't take long for me to start feeling that there wasn't enough space for my chubby fingers to move around :lol:

Maybe the Picado had indeed a neck that did not conform with my hands, although I really think that the action was set way too high on that guitar. It was hard work to play a couple of bars of barré on it. Not good when you want to progress but your guitar doesn't want you. She has at least be inviting you to pick her up, I think. My Alhambra 4P does that better, and I prefer the mellower sound she gives.

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

Post by Michael.N. » Wed Feb 07, 2018 1:53 pm

Agelastos wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 12:47 pm
joachim33 wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:18 am
Regarding your original question, did you get back to your teacher, to make sure the guitar you saw is the one he was speaking about? The way you write it leaves some doubt with me.
I didn't, yet. My lessons are quite sparse, once a month or so. But there's only one PC 205 at €1200 (€1180 to be precise) at that shop. The other is a second-hand, at €780. They are both cedar, made sometime during the last couple of years.

I went back there yesterday, and brought my 4P along to compare. I spent nearly two hours in a little booth, having four guitars in front of me, the two Paco Castillos 205, a Kremona at €1500, and my Alhambra 4P. The Kremona was eliminated, and out of the way fairly quick; not my taste. But even though both PC 205 sounded much better than my current guitar I couldn't really tell if the new Paco Castillo was worth the extra €400. And this is also something that puzzles me, I mean we are constantly talking about how the Alhambras are like this or like that and how the Paco Castillos are recommended over, say, another brand. But there I was with two examples of the same model coming from the same factory/workshop and - I am not joking - they couldn't be any more different in sound!
That can be the problem with taking advice from people in respect of factory guitars. It can only ever be a generalisation. These are factory guitars built to a price. The density and properties of wood varies (sometimes enormously) even within the same species. A factory guitar at this price level isn't going to take into account those variations, instead they tend to thickness so that it gives a secure amount of headroom. Consequently you'll find that the odd guitar of that particular model might sound extremely good (hey! sometimes all the stars align) and the odd guitar that might sound poor. Most will be floating in the average category - no doubt good for the price that you are paying.
Historicalguitars.

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

Post by Mr.Rain » Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:01 pm

Agelastos wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 1:02 pm
Mr.Rain wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:13 am
Do not want to play the devil's advocate, but... maybe you should give a go to short scale instruments. I used to play normal scale instruments for a long time, now I mainly play 630mm (with hard/extra hard tensions) and I can get way more from a short scale instrument(with a slim neck), than from a 650 strung with low tension strings...(stretches and having to open the left hand was not good for my work caused RSI..)
When I started playing I got myself a small Yamaha CS40 thinking that having small hands, it would fit me better. It didn't take long for me to start feeling that there wasn't enough space for my chubby fingers to move around :lol:

Maybe the Picado had indeed a neck that did not conform with my hands, although I really think that the action was set way too high on that guitar. It was hard work to play a couple of bars of barré on it. Not good when you want to progress but your guitar doesn't want you. She has at least be inviting you to pick her up, I think. My Alhambra 4P does that better, and I prefer the mellower sound she gives.
There you go :), high action and a thick neck. Regarding the Yamaha CS40 a 3/4 in 580 is almost a requinto :D (the space in the frets must be tiny once you go under the 5th)

Maybe a 630/640mm,a 51-52 nut and a 21mm neck (1st fret) could be near enough to your current 650 but a way easier in the first frets stretches.

BTW i have Picado 45 (630mm/51mm nut/21mm neck) setup to 3.25/2.75 from factory, is almost the easiest to play instrument I have,way over a same dimensions made Concierto made by Picado... cos of a higher action..
(i do not compare it to my Torres as it is an even smaller guitar with low tensions..)

spruceman33
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Re: Get an intermediate guitar now, or save up for a luthier-made, in the future?

Post by spruceman33 » Sat Feb 10, 2018 4:40 pm

Save/Buy a luthier-made instrument used. Used cost $1000s less and you get a well-played-in instrument to boot.
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MaritimeGuitarist
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Re: Get an intermediate guitar now, or save up for a luthier-made, in the future?

Post by MaritimeGuitarist » Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:04 pm

Have you asked your teacher what specific aspects of the Castillo he/she feels would be an improvement over your Alhambra and in what ways the new guitar would help your development as a player? Your Alhambra is a fairly decent instrument--unless you got a dud--and I don't see how an instrument costing around a $1000 more will be that much of an improvement, unless there' s something I don't know about the Castillos (there may well be as I've never played one). I find that for most student guitars in the under $3000 range are very similar in terms of sound. They do sound different than one another, but, for most, you will have to sit in a room for hours listening and trying figure out which one you like best. In my experience, when I put a good concert instrument up against ANY student instrument the difference is quite profound and the choice, at least in terms of sound, is obvious and takes only seconds to make. I will admit there are exceptions to every rule and perhaps the Castillo is one of these exceptions, but, if I were you, I would save up for the concert instrument. Additionally, if you put a pickup in it, your Alhambra will likely be more than sufficient to gig with later on.

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

Post by Agelastos » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:36 am

I don’t know why my teacher made that comment, but he seemed to be sincere. He is the head of classical guitar studies at the conservatoire, here, and he also gives concerts. I’m only a part-time 41 year-old amateur student - I see him once a month or so. He told me that occasionally he accompanies his students to the shop, when purchasing a new instrument, to help them choose. He told me of one Paco Castillo 205 that impressed him and that I should be looking to buy a better guitar which would help me improve, especially given the pieces I choose - like Villa-Lobos. When I went to try the Castillo I took my Alhambra with me, to compare. It was clear that the Castillo was the better guitar, no doubt about it. It had a much fuller sound, deeper basses and lots of presence/louder, but it wasn’t any easier to play. Also, to my ears the Alhambra sounded great before that test. Now I’m beginning to see that yes there is a difference between my guitar and an intermediate level, “étude” instrument, buy as you say maybe i need to go over €3000 to really be making it worth the jump. I don’t think I can ever justify that amount of money for a musical instrument, solely for my pleasure. So perhaps a second-hand luthier guitar might be the answer?

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

Post by Lovemyguitar » Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:44 am

I don't know who says that you "need" to pay "over €3000" to get an upgrade (do note that "MartimeGuitarist" was talking dollars, possibly Canadian, not euros: $3000 Canadian is only €2000). You are playing a near-entry-level Alhambra, and so most guitars will be an improvement. You admit that the Paco Castillo was noticeably better (not easier to play? Action can be adjusted/lowered on almost every guitar, if that was the issue). There are a vast range of very good (if not excellent!) guitars available that will be a significant improvement over your Alhambra, but that are considerably less than €3000. No offence, but you do not seem to be very knowledgeable about guitars or about what you, personally, want in a guitar, which is why I suggested earlier that you ought to wait until you've learned a bit more about them (and the differences in sound from one guitar to another) before spending a lot of money. Second-hand luthier instruments are often great buys, but they still aren't cheap, and you should really know what you want first.

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

Post by Laudiesdad69 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:53 am

If it were me, I would split the difference and check out a Ramirez 3NAE in spruce. There is a new one on Amazon right now for just over 2 grand, like 2014 dollars. And they are similarly priced almost everywhere you look. I think it would take you a while to outgrow it. Like years. You would of course probably want to have the action lowered.

They sound pleasant, and if you are unfamiliar with factory guitars, you cant really go too wrong. The resale will be better than a lot of brands, when you decide to get a luthier built instrument. Oh, and if you find one used, or even a 4NE which is cedar, they can be a real good buy.

In my case I bought my 4NE new, at just over 2 grand. It had hung up new for a few years at the local mom and pop music shop. He discounted it almost a grand just cause he wanted it to move. I am about a grade 5 player, and my previous guitar, a Cordoba C9, was holding me back. As I didn't really gain much with the C9 over the C5 I had started my classical guitar journey with, it was suggested that I throw some cash at the situation and get a better guitar.

There were 3 Ramirez guitars in town that I could play, and they sounded better than the few brands at the big box music store. It was my first real, traditional, classical guitar. I tried a couple of Luthier built guitars, and the Ramirez was more bang for the buck, a fairly safe investment for me, a guy that didn't really know what to look for in a quality classical guitar. Now that I know what to look for, I really want a Jeff Elliott guitar. I'll be saving up for a really long time, as it would probably cost me two years pay.

The point is that I could get a really great guitar without spending three thousand dollars. I've had a few other Ramirez guitars come and go, and they were all good, and the used ones were really reasonable. I bought my daughter a used 2NE that I only paid $850 dollars for it with Humicase. That would still be miles better than your Alhambra, and would mean more money to put toward an upgrade to a Luthier built guitar.

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

Post by Mr.Rain » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:49 pm

Agelastos, I agree with others you do not need to spend 3k to get an upgrade.

Some "student" models from luthiers/small workshops deliver a lot for very little money (less that 1k) I think in your case is a matter of keeping an eye open and checking 2nd hand guitars. I just talk based in my personal experience, I have the cheapest and the most expensive guitar from the very same workshop/luthier, and their cheapest guitar(under 1k new), is already a way better instrument than other "all solid" instruments coming from factories I had/tried.

For instance, I used to own a Camps sp6c and a Raimundo 148c and both are were way worse instruments than my current cedar top (with a laminated back! but properly built!),actually I think I do not "need" other cedar top guitar,as this studio delivers all that i was searching for in a "traditional" cedar top (opposed to spruce clarity and trebles).

Again if you like your current guitar maybe you do not still need an upgrade...

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

Post by georgemarousi » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:23 pm

Hi Agelastos,

It looks that though Alhambra 4 is good to start with, your repertoire would benefit from a more descent instrument.

At the stage you are, what I would advice is to go for a used middle level instrument, that you can later sell / trade for a luthier one, when you will need it more and also when you will know better what suits you more
Paulino Bernabe Especial 2009
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MaritimeGuitarist
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Re: Get an intermediate guitar now, or save up for a luthier-made, in the future?

Post by MaritimeGuitarist » Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:26 pm

I never meant to suggest that your teacher was giving you insincere advice and I apologize if my post came across that way! You really do have to take my comment with a grain of salt as, like I mentioned, I've no experience with Castillo guitars. I do have a great deal of experience with student guitars, however, and I have played or owned many student models by Ramirez, Raimundo, Almansa, Alhambra, Hirade, Aparicio, Austurias, Aria and so on. All were fine instruments, but all of them lacked the power, projection, and fullness of a good concert instrument. I went through a phase where I was always searching for that great, affordable guitar and ended up spending thousands on various student instruments. I was not satisfied until I purchased a concert level guitar. I am fully willing to admit that the Castillo may be an exception and I would certainly place trust in your teacher's advice! Also, if you feel that the Castillo is a far superior instrument than your Alhambra and that you will be happy with it in the long run, then go for it.

My own experience with my former professor at college was similar to what your going through now. He too was a well-known, world-class guitarist. I showed up to my first lesson with a Ramirez R1 (costing around $1200 CAD at the time) and before long he suggested I upgrade. When I mentioned I was thinking about purchasing a 4R or 4E, he responded with, "why would you do that?" (he was a very blunt man). He made it very clear that he felt the next step was a luthier built concert instrument rather than a better student one. After college, I did end up purchasing a 4E to gig with (I had a pickup installed). It is a great instrument and has a more balanced sound than my old R1, but I don't think it's anywhere near worth the extra $1500 I paid for it--it was quite disappointing actually. In retrospect, I wish I had kept the R1, it would have been just as good to gig on as the 4E.

Anyway, I hope that gives you an idea where I'm coming from.

*Edited for grammar--darn double negatives!!*

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

Post by Agelastos » Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:04 pm

MaritimeGuitarist wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:26 pm
I never meant to suggest that your teacher was giving you insincere advice and I apologize if my post came across that way!
No, of course not, no offence taken here! :D
In fact I fully appreciate your comment, you say exactly what needs to be said. And I think that your personal story is also very apt concerning any upgrade and goes to the heart of my question, should I invest instead on a really good second-hand luthier concert-level instrument at that current stage of my development? The problem is that there aren't that many opportunities to try good second-hand guitars, I see a couple of them on this generic French site for ads (orange colour scheme on their website - in case anyone knows it) but that means taking long distance travels, just to try one guitar.

For example - and I would welcome any input anyone can give me on any of these - I have saved three ads that are not that far from me (that means less than 2 hours drive :|)

An Ignacio M. Rozas Concierto 2a from 1995, asking price €2000 (after being reconditioned by a luthier)
An Esteve Adalid 1GR12, asking price €1500
A Maurice Dupont Etude 2 from 2016, asking price €1000

All three of them are in opposing directions from each other as well, which makes combined visits impossible. There are also a couple of Paulino Bernabe M5 for €1250 each but they are totally on the other side of the country, on the borders with North West Spain / Pays Basque.

I guess it's a longtime endeavor the quest for a decent guitar...

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