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Thread: Best Blue grass Guitar

  1. #1
    Registered User Nelson Peddycoart's Avatar
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    Default Best Blue grass Guitar

    Hi, I am a mandolin and guitar player who is looking for that ultimate blue grass guitar. Here, the word ultimate means obtainable ($1000-$5000), not some 10K beast that most of us can't afford.

    I am looking at Martin D-28 and Gibson J-45 as my first two candidates.

    Does anyone have any advice on either of these, or want to nominate one they have experience with?
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    Registered User Bluegrassnate's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    Several people who come to the jams that I go to have Martin D-2r's and D-3r's. They sound good and can be had in the price range your looking at. Mabye even Less.
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    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    My advice would be to pick up a Martin D-18V. This is a great bluegrass guitar and can be found for around $2,500 (Martin list is $3,349). I've had one for several years and I recently started playing it again (since I upgraded to a Collings D-3).
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    I really like the Martin D18-GE... it's along the lines of the D-18V like Pete suggested but with a little wider neck and a Red Spruce top.
    You might check out Mike Long guitars, http://trco1.com/mlg/ .... I've seen a lot of guys playing them lately and they're right around 2K brand new.

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    Registered User KanMando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    I would check out the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum:

    UMGF

    Lots of opinions there and lots of great guitars in the classifieds.

    My personal recommendation is a Martin D-18 GE.

    Bob

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  8. #6
    Registered User 300win's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    C.F. Martin dreadnaughts, the kimg of Bluegrass guitar. I also recommend Blueridge, which are Martin copies, at much more affordable prices. The Martin you want is either a D-18, D-21, or D-28, if you go up to the D-41, D-45 will cost you much more, but you are buying fancy looks then. On the Blueridge a BR140, BR160, and so forth are very good instruments. I have a old Martin D-35, and a Blueridge BR140, the Blueridge is very close to a Martin D-18, made of mahogany, the Martin '21, '28 and so forth are made with rosewood backs, a little differant tone. But if you get yourself a good D-18, you will be very pleased, it is a Bluegrass cannon.
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    Registered User barry k's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    The Blueridge series guitars have my vote also, especially the D-18 copies. I have 2 , a tiger striped mahogany body and a slope shouldered mahogany body...love em, sold all my Martins and kept the Blueridge. Dont know how they do it for the price, but who cares as long as it delivers.

  10. #8
    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    Quote Originally Posted by Nelson Peddycoart View Post
    Hi, I am a mandolin and guitar player who is looking for that ultimate blue grass guitar. Here, the word ultimate means obtainable ($1000-$5000), not some 10K beast that most of us can't afford.
    OK, don't poo-poo me here, but I recently picked up a 1980 Takamine "lawsuit" D-18 copy (and I mean copy, right down to the Martin-style decal), and I'll put it up against just about any Martin D-18 I've played, including vintage instruments...

    I have no idea if this one is just some weird anomaly or what, but it just kills...

    200 bucks for mine, but here's another that went for under 4....
    Last edited by Spruce; Mar-18-2010 at 12:35pm.

  11. #9
    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    Spruce, I had a 1978 Takamine similar to yours and it sounded awesome. I should have kept that one.

  12. #10
    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    Yeah, I recently passed this Takamine around a few jam circles at Wintergrass, and folks were commenting on how great of a guitar it was...

    And that was before they saw the decal....

    These things should be going for 1.5K all day long--they are that good...

    No run-out on the solid Sitka spruce top, plays like a dream, and it's 30 years old for cryin' out loud...

    A no-brainer, IMHO...

    Unfortunately, YMMV.....
    Try to play 'em first....

  13. #11
    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    Quote Originally Posted by Spruce View Post
    Yeah, I recently passed this Takamine around a few jam circles at Wintergrass, and folks were commenting on how great of a guitar it was...
    That is a great guitar
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  14. #12
    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Martin View Post
    That is a great guitar
    Whew...

    Now I can sell it on ebay and buy a Strad-o-Lin...

  15. #13
    Horton River NWT Rob Gerety's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    Between the two you mention - and assuming you are talking modern, not vintage, I would definitely be looking at Martins, not Gibsons. Vintage is a different story - some of the old Gibsons are very nice.

    Also, you might want to look at Bourgeois, Collings, and Santa Cruz. If it were me I would be thinking about a good used Bourgeois or Collings.
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    I own a couple Martin dreadnoughts ('57 D-18, '70 D-41), but the guitar I'd recommend for bluegrass rhythm is the Martin HD-28. It's sort of a "reissue" of the herringbone-purfling D-28's that Martin made up until about 1947; lighter bracing, maple bridge plate, recommended for medium gauge strings or lighter only. There are a ton of them around; I think list is about $4K, but you can get them discounted under $3K, and lots of used ones on the market. I got one in the first year they came out, which I think was 1977, and played it for probably 20 years. Now I'm using smaller guitars pretty much exclusively -- Taylor XX-MC, Martin 00-28G/00-42 "conversion" -- so I traded the HD in, but it was a fine country-bluegrass guitar.
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    HD28.
    A D28 Marque would do too.
    I don't like the "V" neck of the vintage style models, but to each their own.
    I've got an HD28 and an HD35. I need a D18 too. I love that Mahagony tone in a smaller group.
    I've heard good Blueridges too. Big Joe says, Recording King's are strong too, though i've not heard one.
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  18. #16
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    I've thoroughly enjoyed my Santa Cruz Tony Rice- they'd be worth a look...

  19. #17
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    My vote goes to the Martin HD-28 but I also have heard some top of the line Taylors that will knock you socks off...It`s all in the ears of the player so play as many as you can and then decide...It`s best to have them all handy at the same time if possible because a lot of them sound as good as a Martin until you get them together in the same room....I don`t think they are available any more but I have an old Kasuga, Jap made, that is a copy of the Martin D-18 and everyone that comes to my house to pick leaves their Martins in the case and plays the Kasuga, I did shave the tone bars exactly like the Herringbone Martins so that has a lot to do with the sound of it....Good luck, Willie

  20. #18
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    My vote is for the D-28. Best of luck.

  21. #19
    Okay, I'm with you fellas tburcham's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    Martin D-18's (and their likeness) to me have the ultimate Bluegrass tone. I'm a fan of the Engelman spruce top with mahogany back and sides. My Eastman AC-520 Dread has this combination and it is a very powerful guitar that has wonderful tone. My friend has a Martin D-28 LSV and its the best Bluegrass guitar I've ever played!
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  22. #20
    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    You have lots of options in that price range. The best advice is to get out to some music stores and play some. the good news is that guitars are much more readily available to try out than most mandolins. That being said, here are some generalities....

    Mahogany guitars (D18 style) tend to be less bassy, easier to mic, and cut a little better for lead work. Rosewood guitars (D28 style) have a big bass presence and make excellent rhythm guitars and can work nicely for lead work as well. You can get a used Collings D2H which is their D28-style guitar for around $2500, give or take a little. The Martin D-18V or HD-28V are also nice guitar which you can find used for $1500-2200 or so. If you watch the guitar forums like the UMGF, Acoustic Guitar Forum, and the Collings forum you can find some pretty good deals. The same for ebay. It's a good time to be a buyer!

  23. #21
    George Wilson GRW3's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    Re: the OPs question between the D28 and the J45. For Bluegrass it's the D28. Now if you were going to accompany a Texas fiddler you'd definately want the J45.

    With the budget you mentioned, $1-5K, you can find 'the' guitar for you. I'm looking myself but I like to take looooots of time so I got a Blueridge 140 (D-18 clone) to hold me while looking. You have to decide what you want to hear and play. While many people swear by rosewood dreads I prefer mahogany.
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  24. #22
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    Many of the mandolin makers who frequent this site build guitars too. A hand made dreadnought surely would be better than a factory one.

  25. #23
    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    There's a nice Collings D2H listed on the Collings Forum for $2300. I have to interestin the sale of that guitar but it's a good example of what's out there!

  26. #24
    Registered User 300win's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    Personaly, I've never seen , heard, or played a Gibson acoustic guitar that was a BLUEGRASS guitar. Always heard the rule of thumb, Gibson mandolins and banjos, Martin guitars, and Kay bass fiddles for hardcore Bluegrass music. Now fiddles are a whole differant animal. I don't know any fiddle players that plays a new fiddle, they always want at least a 100 year old, Italian, German, or French fiddle. But for Bluegrass as far as guitars, Martin is king as far as factory made in my opinion.
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    Default Re: Best Blue grass Guitar

    In the $1k-$5k range, you have plenty of excellent options.

    I'm not a big fan of Gibson flattops for bluegrass, but I have a couple of Advanced Jumbo reissues and a 60th edition Southern Jumbo that are excellent guitars and work well in a bluegrass context. For Martins, I agree with earlier posts about the HD-28 and the D-18 (especially the D-18V or D-18GE). I also like the Taylor Dan Crary Signature Model, the Collings D-2H, most dreadnaughts from Santa Cruz Guitar Company (notably the Tony Rice, but I have an older koa-back-and-sides SC dreadnaught that's a fine BG guitar), and a number of Bourgeois "Country Boy" guitars that I've played.

    Some of the older "Martin lawsuit" Takamines are monster guitars, but I've found they vary significantly. You definitely want an "S" model (solid top), such as the older F-340s (mahogany B&S) and F-360s (rosewood B&S) models.

    As for new lower-end production instruments, I've seen some very good Blueridges.
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