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Thread: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

  1. #1

    Default Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    I am a flat picker but am now learning fingerstyle. I have a lovely and boomy Martin HD28. I have been using it, but it seems I need a guitar better suited to fingerstyle.

    My budget is low. I am considering a Yamaha FS800/820, an Ibanez AC340, possibly an Orangewood Oliver. I currently have a 1 11/16 neck but maybe 1 3/4 might be better. Or is the string spacing more important? The Oliver has 1 3/4 nut and 2 5/32 string spacing. I've also considered a Martin DjR or 000jr.

    Am I going in the wrong direction? Please point me toward a guitar that wouldn't cost much and help me in my learning curve.

  2. #2
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    Is there any reason you cannot play fingerstyle on a D-28? You may not like those budget guitars. You have an excellent guitar. If the scale is is too Long then use a capo. If you get serious about fingerstyle then while you are working on the technique starry saving for the fingerstyle equivalent of a D-28 for down the road. Just my 2 cents.
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    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    I had always played dreadnaughts for both flat and fingerpicking. My main guitar used to be a Martin HD28. As I got more into fingerpicking, I tried out a number of guitars I thought might be better for fingerstyle. I've owned a Martin 00-18, Collings OM2H, a Blueridge BR-63 (I think), and I now have a Taylor 414. Only the Blueridge was a lower-budget guitar. Unfortunately, none of these guitars could match the incredible tone and volume of the HD28, although I do think my current Taylor is really good (better than the Collings to my ears and a fraction of the price). I loved the HD28, but, unfortunately, my right shoulder couldn't take it anymore and I now play mostly mandolin and a little banjo. In my opinion, the HD28 is an awesome fingerpicking guitar, especially if you're into altered tunings. I recommend you try out some of the smaller, relatively inexpensive guitars before buying. Otherwise, you might also be disappointed in the tone and volume of those guitars compared to your HD28, which I think is an incredible guitar. Also, one of my all-time favorite fingerstyle guitarists is Michael Hedges, and he played a D-28 as his main guitar for many years.

  5. #4
    Registered User Steve 2E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    My honest opinion is your going in the wrong direction. A D-28 is a great guitar for any style. I think Elizabeth Cotton used a D-28 on some of her recordings and she’s a great finger picker. I think it’s more about technique than your chosen instrument.

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    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    Agree that you can absolutely FP a D-28, but also believe that a little wider nut width/string spacing helps. Consider also some lower numbered Taylor’s and Seagull guitars. My local shop carries Seagull, and there are some nice smaller bodied FP gems in their line up. I used to own a Taylor 714 (not exactly a budget instrument) that was an exceptional guitar, but I recently sold it and bought a Martin 00-17 1931 Authentic series (built in 2017, not 1931) that has a 1 7/8 nut width. It’s an exceptional FP, but can handle some strumming and flat picking, too. The Taylor was more versatile, I think, because it had a bigger sound and handled strumming/FP very well, but I’ve got a Guild D-40 that handles my strummer/flat-picking needs very well, so I opted for the more fundamental Martin tone.

    The Guild was my only guitar for a very long time, so I’ve FP a ton on it, but that isn’t its strength...good luck in your search. Fortunately, there are a ton of good but inexpensive guitars out there right now. A Blueridge parlor may also be a consideration...
    Chuck

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    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    I like a 1 3/4" nut, it gives you more room for your fingesr to move. I use chord shapes and play melodies so using more fingers at a time than flat picking. I also like a 12 fret neck and small body. The smaller body seems to give a more balanced sound. This is me tho and as others say you can pick a D-28 just fine. I sold my D size guitars several decades ago and can't feel comfortable playing them anymore. There are several smaller sized guitars with wider necks these days and for fingersyle I am not looking for that huge rich sound, balance is what I want, a quality of sound too, but balance. Most dread's are bass heavy to me, but it depends on weather you use a thumb pick or your bare thumb. I like a pick on my thumb for a clean bass, but no picks on the fingers. have fun it's enjoyable and really up to you for what you want and your comfort level.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Registered User TheMandoKit's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    I will echo the comments above. I have played nothing but fingerstyle for a lot of years, but when I made the change from flatpicks and strumming to fingers, I was playing a D35 and an even narrower neck Ovation, and they were both fine. Played them with bare fingers/nails for a long time. I don't see a reason to go for a new guitar unless/until you decide that what you have isn't working for you.

    For me, after playing the D35 for years, I tried a OOO with a 1 3/4 nut and wider string spacing, and the difference in playing was fairly dramatic, at least for the stuff that I play. So, the dread went, and I was playing just OOOs and OMs for probably 15 years, until I discovered the joys of 12 fret necks and short scale guitars. As I have gotten older, I have found that dreadnoughts are just too large for me to play comfortably. But, that's me, not you.

    I think you can certainly play fingerstyle on a D28 quite well. Decide if it's a playing style you like, and if you really need a wider board or string spacing. You may not. But if you do, and I do mean _if_, there are some nice guitars out there at reasonable prices with wider necks and wider string spacings. Recording King makes (made?) a line of 12 fret slotheads that were all solid wood that played and sounded way better than their price. Eastman makes some nice ones as well.

    Hope this makes sense.
    Kit
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    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    I played a D28 and also a Taylor Dread for 20+ years and used them to flatpack, but also to fingerpick a lot of blues, Leo Kottke material, etc. In my 50's it became more difficult to navigate the D28 body sitting down - my right shoulder would get sore - so I made the switch to shorter scale Gibson L00 sized guitars with 1 3/4" nuts and never looked back. Of course, now I mostly play mandolin...

    If you are comfortable with the ergonometrics of the D28 I'd stay with it. When Covid lifts, I'd play a lot of smaller guitars to see if any of them float your boat. You might find that really good ones would require a trade-in of your D28. On the other hand, Recording King and Eastman both make serious guitars with solid (sometimes torrefied) tops that are serious bang for the buck. I particularly liked a 12 fret cutaway Recording King that I played in a local shop last year.

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    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    I note that 12 fret guitars are getting the thumbs up, mostly for comfort of playing, it seems.
    You could include me in that . I have been playing an all mahogany 12 fret Martin for a while now, and find I don't like playing 14 fret ones much anymore.
    And all mahogany guitars are often a bit cheaper, I think. I like them.
    David A. Gordon

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    Registered User Jon Hall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    I own Martin 000Jr. I think it's a great guitar for fingerstyle. It's not very expensive, and it's all solid wood. The model I have has a cut-away and and a Shure pickup. I have several small body Martins, all with 1-3/4" nuts and none of them get played more than the 000Jr.

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    If you got the $$$, you might consider Huss & Dalton slope-shoulder or "concert" models. I've been consistently impressed by H & D construction and sound.

    I'm using a re-topped and re-necked 1940 00-28G Martin classical, now a "00-42" after the conversion. The smaller body just seems to give a better balance across the strings. Can't beat the HD-28 et. al. for bass; I keep my D-41 around for the occasional bluegrass situation, but the 00 size works even for old-time flat-picking as well as finger-style.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    I love my Huss & Dalton DS in rosewood but the OP stated in his first post that his budget is low. Hence all the recommendations to play on his HD-28.
    Jim

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    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    I'll 2nd the above recommendation for Eastman smaller bodied guitars like this one:

    https://www.eastmanguitars.com/acoustic_double_oo

    They're putting out some great sounding and playing guitars. A friend I play with on Saturdays recently picked up the Eastman E10D with an Adi top for just over $600 and it is an incredible sounding guitar. He swaps that with a Martin CEO-7 and I think the Eastman sounds better, but that's subjective....

    Len B.
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I love my Huss & Dalton DS in rosewood but the OP stated in his first post that his budget is low. Hence all the recommendations to play on his HD-28.
    Gotcha. All the discussion of Taylors and Martin OM's went to my head.
    Allen Hopkins
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    So, what happened to the original poster? Hasnt checked in here?
    Jim

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    F5G & MD305 Astro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    I don't know whats wrong with these people. Of course you will need another guitar for finger style. Every style deserves a new instrument. Sometimes even just a new hair style deserves a new instrument.

    For a small budget, I like the Taylor MiniGS. Especially the mahogany one.

    Now, you will need a different hat too. And possibly a mustache.
    No matter where I go, there I am...Unless I'm running a little late.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    You are right! Why be sensible?
    Jim

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    '`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`' Jacob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    "Am I going in the wrong direction?" I think this might be a possibility. I would suggest an investigation of the sound of different string sets, changing gauges, alloys, coatings, manufacturers, etc. My first guess to mitigate boomyness, assuming you are using phosphor bronze, would be to try brass/bright bronze strings that project differently. I would go through quite a few different string sets before I abandoned an HD28. Peace, out.

  22. #19

    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    Quote Originally Posted by Astro View Post
    I don't know whats wrong with these people. Of course you will need another guitar for finger style. Every style deserves a new instrument. Sometimes even just a new hair style deserves a new instrument.

    For a small budget, I like the Taylor MiniGS. Especially the mahogany one.

    Now, you will need a different hat too. And possibly a mustache.
    I think the idea of another guitar is a great idea. Of course, the HD28 stays. It's a killer guitar. But please, no moustache. I'm a female! But I look forward to checking out several suggestions from you kind folks when the stores have some inventory. Right now stores near me don't have much in stock. But maybe in October they will have more to look at. I think Martin is is expected to start shipping more production guitars about then.

  23. #20
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    ooo-15SM
    OM-28
    OM-18
    Taylor x14 shape
    Robert Johnson Gibson (L-1 copy)

    f-d
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    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    There are some great guitars out there in the 000/OM sizes and 00 size that would be excellent for finger picking and won't break the bank. Look at Eastman, they have guitars starting at $300 on up to about $1500. I used to teach in a store where they sold them and I can attest to their sound and playabilty. I would also recommend Larivee guitars as being a good choice. If you are going for the higher end of the range stated above you can look to Martin 15, 16 and 17 series. I have a Martin 000-16 that I gave my wife and she never plays. So I started playing it. It sounds great.

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    Registered User Scott Rucker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    I agree with the "get all the new guitars" you can sentiment. Acoustic guitars are plentiful in the new and used marketplace, there is wide variation in them, and today's cheap guitars aren't bad. Eastmans are nice at any price point, as Mr. Buckingham stated above. I also think lower end Recording Kings are good for the money if they are set up well at the retail level and they are so cheap that it's easy to justify buying one. You aren't going to get a deep sound with a lot of overtones from the lower end RKs but can get that 30s catalog guitar sound that is all over vintage blues and country recordings. The bummer is that the lower end RKs have 1 11/16" nuts and narrower spacing at the bridge. There's also nothing at all wrong with fingerpicking your HD 28. I only have one guitar with decent sound reinforcement in it, a Santa Cruz dread, so it's the only guitar I use to play through a sound system. I go from light to heavy strumming to flatpicking to fingerstyle and back all with it and it works for me. I even change tunings onstage with it.

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  28. #23
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    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    The only cedar top I see mentioned above (though I didn't look TOO closely) was the Taylor 714, which is relatively far from budget friendly by most non-pro standards. Cedar is a great top for fingerpicking, but tough finding on a budget. Seagull and LAG would be decent bets. I had a LAG cedar top until last week that I liked a lot, great sound for the money, but it's all mando now, so the LAG had to go in favor of my new toys arriving today..

  29. #24

    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    Not to discourage guitar acquisitions but here are a few fingerstylists. Notice what they are playing. I have a real nice Breedlove I use for fingerstyle primarily but grab the Martin HD 28 every so often. Mine is an American Breedlove and is top of the line. I am not sure what their imports are like these days.




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  31. #25

    Default Re: Which Budget Fingerstyle Guitar?

    Well, there are certainly a lot of dread lovers here. Two things not considered here by those recommending sticking with the dread:
    1. The way a dreadnaught jacks the right should up makes it less comfortable to keep the right hand hovered over that sweet spot for an extended period of time. It's the same physics that have driven some elderly players to using smaller guitars.
    2. Voicing: a shallower body and tighter waist focuses the midrange and trebles and brings them right up front. Even the difference between a grand auditorium and a dread is very noticeable. Thundering bass is not necessary for fingerstyle.
    *I agree that an OM hits the sweet spot for fingerpicking.

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