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thinking of getting a guitar.i have been playing my banjo for some 48 years

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Oct 13, 2019 - 8:09:32 PM
186 posts since 11/21/2015

ok trying to learn some new instruments, all I play and have been for 48 years is banjo, I do play a little harmonica, since banjo does not go with the harmonica too well, I would like to try the guitar or mandolin. I am thinking guitar, whish one to get and where, I was looking at taylor 314ce or a martin but kind of spendy for something I may not stick with it, although I have spent over 3000.00 on a banjo I just want to make sure. I like the Yamaha guitars, priced right and sound very good guitars 3 times there price, there are a lot of good used guitars on the market it seems but not sure that I am getting a guitar that does not need a setup. I am just not familiar with budget is 1200.00 but I do not think I need to spend that much. I found a real nice taylor ce314 for 1400.00 and I am sure I can get it for 1200.00 or close... can you help... I like the cut away style in a full body or I think they call it a drednought... being I am only 5' 6" I was told to buy a 3/4 size...any truth to that...

thanks in advance,

Oct 13, 2019 - 8:57:31 PM
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10260 posts since 2/22/2007

Check out Seagull guitars. They sound very nice and are not expensive, way under a thousand. Go to a music store and see what size fits your body. Get light gauge strings and be prepared for some finger pain at first as those larger high tension strings require much more pressure than our banjos. Or go for the much softer nylon strings depending upon just what you want your guitar to sound like. I'm trying to come back to guitar after years of just banjo and I'm finding it painful.

Oct 13, 2019 - 9:14:33 PM

186 posts since 11/21/2015

ok thanks for the info, I was told that nylon are actually harder on your fingers by a professional musician... I was not aware that it is harder on our fingers. thanks for the headsup... maybe I will try mandolin...

Oct 13, 2019 - 9:40:09 PM
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3173 posts since 2/20/2016

In my 50+ experience playing guitar, both nylon and steel string, I would have to strongly disagree that nylon is harder on the fingers than steel.

I'm the same height as you and feel more comfortable with smaller instruments. When I play a D size for a long time, my shoulder lets me know it. My preferred size is 14" to 15" at the lower bout.

Seagull is a good low-priced guitar. I've been using one in my teaching studio 20 years or more. In a pinch, I could play a gig on it if I had to. You might want to start out in that price range, and upgrade only after you get your sea legs and play many different guitars, and find out the differences between various makes, models, and sizes.

I would think that if you've played banjo for 48 years, you should have no major problems with a well set-up guitar with light gauge strings, unless your hands are starting to give you trouble on the banjo. You might have to develop a little extra endurance if you play for long stretches.

Oct 13, 2019 - 9:58:49 PM

186 posts since 11/21/2015

ok thank you for that info... of course a music store told me get the best guitar you can afford? I can afford a 3000.00 one but I feel I do not have to spend that much right now but would certainly spend 1200.00 because it would have real good playability therefore you would want to actually play it more rather than making it tough on your fingers and having a tendency not to pick it up and practice...

Oct 13, 2019 - 10:09:28 PM



52808 posts since 10/5/2013

I’d go Seagull, Recording King, or Blue Ridge,,,,all very good-sounding guitars at under $1000

Oct 14, 2019 - 4:45:17 AM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)


24972 posts since 8/3/2003
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Gary, I decided years ago to learn guitar so I could lead a slow jam. I made the mistake of purchasing a Martin dreadnaught. Oh, it was a wonderful guitar, sounded fantastic, played good but...... being a small lady, the dreadnaught was just too thick for me to pick around. It put my arm to to sleep. I traded it off for a Martin 00-16 and that fit my small frame so much better. It still sounds good in a jam and it doesn't put my arm to sleep, is much easier to pick and fret.

My suggestion if you're going to get a guitar? Try several out, see how they feel when you are trying to pick them. Is it comfortable, does your arm feel stretched or uncomfortable? If so, try a smaller body and see if that feels better.

If you're thinking about a mandolin, I also bought one of those and learned to play it. Again, try out different ones, different styles. I tried the "tater bug" and didn't like it for me, too thick. The regular mandolin fit and was easy to play and fret.

As far as what kind of guitar to get, you might look at the Blue Ridge, it's not really expensive but sounds good and is easy to play.  You might also look at the MIchael  Kelly for mandolin, mid range, nice sounding, easy picking.

Edited by - Texasbanjo on 10/14/2019 04:46:34

Oct 14, 2019 - 3:16:12 PM

2590 posts since 4/16/2003

You might consider an 000 style body -- 000-18, 000-28, etc.

I'd look at Eastman, Blueridge and Recording King (if they're still selling them).

Oct 14, 2019 - 5:46:17 PM

1257 posts since 1/31/2011

First, what kind of playing to you want to do? 

I took up guitar about 15 years and these days is my primary playing instrument. It's much easier on the ears. I see in Minneapolis there's a few of Music Go Rounds. Check them out.

I've bought a bunch of guitars at my local one. Different body styles and brands I have in a rack. You can check inventory on their website. I have a 2015 D18 but prefer the old Fender I found there for my main finger picking style without fingerpicks.

I'm 5'6 also.  The only guitar I had a problem with was a jumbo as it put a weird angle on my shoulder that hurt after a while. 


Edited by - Disco Kid on 10/14/2019 17:51:09

Oct 17, 2019 - 6:54:13 PM
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22 posts since 9/20/2019

So, I've been playing guitar for almost 25 years, and do I ever have a TON of them.

Though I started playing Punk and Metal, I eventually drifted into Country, Folk, Shoegaze, Dream Pop, Indie Rock, half of which don't have much in the way of effect pedals applied to them, and the other half which are drenched in them. Naturally acoustic guitar lends itself well to practicing music you need to be precise with as there is no way to mask mistakes.

I own everything from a $1600 Ovation Acoustic/Electric, to a fairly wrecked and abused when I got it Made in Korea Epiphone beginner's model.

I spent years playing my dad's Seagull, so I agree with others' on that particular company BUT

As much as I love playing my fancy Ovation or my better-than-the-original Japanese Hummingbird copy, the guitar I play the most is a crappy little Epiphone parlor model that cost around $139 at Guitar Center. I set it up myself, put some Elixer Polyweb lights on, and I just play it. Everyday, on the couch, on the porch, at BBQs, camping, drinking coffee in the morning, piss-drunk on the back porch at night.

It sounds great for what it is, I don't have to worry about it getting damaged(my 2 year old niece likes to "strum") or stolen, it takes up minimal space, and with light gauge strings and properly filed nut, it plays easy.

For me, each guitar has its particular use, so I can justify having something like 18 at this point, but my advice is to check out some cheap low-end beginner's models.
If you decide you don't like playing, or don't want to invest the time, you haven't spent a load of money, you can keep it around for your friends to back you up, whatever.

But if you like it, and it plays well and sounds good, you've made a good investment towards your learning, and if you get to the point where it's limiting you, then you can level up to something more fancy, and sell your old guitar to some kid who is just starting.

I think the same applies for banjos, or really any instrument you're starting on. Don't be afraid of trying something low-end.

Oct 17, 2019 - 7:28:03 PM

2176 posts since 1/16/2010

Check out 1950’s and 60’s Harmony guitars. $150-$300 guitars made in the USA out of the same choice woods as the $1000+ guitars today. I play “gut-string” or “nylon” string Jerry Reed style, and it’s definately easier on the fingers than steel strings.

Good luck and have fun.

Oct 18, 2019 - 4:27:54 AM

4898 posts since 5/14/2007

I think that Taylor would be an excellent guitar. The body is not too big. Is it in a store? If not, perhaps you could bargain down a bit.

Should you decide guitar isn't for you, the Taylor would be easier to resell at a good price than a Seagull. They aren't in the same class.

Oct 18, 2019 - 9:23:37 AM

186 posts since 11/21/2015

I agree, I was also looking at the br40ce blueridge for 600.00 a year old and very nice. Also the blueridge 140ce for about 1014.00 I think.. I would love taylor ce314... looks like a nice guitar... is it smaller than a drednought?


Oct 18, 2019 - 1:30:08 PM
Players Union Member



13880 posts since 6/30/2015
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I don't like the word cheap, when inexpensiveness will do. Cheap seems to speak about quality, inexpensive speaks about price. Today's inexpensive guitars are much better than the inexpensive guitars in the '60's and '70's. CNC machines are very accurate, and can often build better than hand made. The guitar store that said get the most expensive one you can afford had their interest in mind, not yours. I've found some very playable guitars for under $500, and for my first guitar, that is where I would start. Find one that sounds good, feels good, and is easy to fret and you are on your way. Lately I've been looking at thin bodies as reaching over my 2 hurts my shoulder after awhile. Found a nice Ibanez a few years ago that was under $500, and I'm kicking myself for not buying it. But I'm also thinking that maybe even a shorter neck is not such a bad idea, and besides, the journey is sometimes more fun than the destination.

Oct 18, 2019 - 1:48:26 PM

186 posts since 11/21/2015

Well said... thanks, gary

Oct 18, 2019 - 2:12:49 PM

515 posts since 2/6/2018

It's worth looking into a used Breedlove too.

Oct 19, 2019 - 9:50:32 AM
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2160 posts since 2/10/2013

Eastman has a the E10D which sounds very good. Made of the same materials as the Martin D18. Sell for less than $1000. I have seen some for sale for around $800. If I buy a different guitar, that is what it will be.

Oct 19, 2019 - 2:15:31 PM

1508 posts since 4/29/2013

Seagulls are great. I have an ‘03 S6 model I was given used that I’ve had for about eight years. 

They also make a smaller parlor size body with a shorter scale length, known as the Entourage Grand model.

Edited by - Noah Cline on 10/19/2019 14:17:10

Oct 20, 2019 - 11:32:41 AM

1194 posts since 8/7/2017

When testing guitars in a store, wipe the strings first. If you get a lot of red rust or black oxidation, then the sound will not be comparable with what they'd sound like with new strings. I played a new Martin HD-28 and it sounded like total crap...then I wiped the strings and got the red and black. I was just looky-louing, so did not purchase strings for it, but it was an ear-opening experience. I have a 40yr old D-28, and know they can sound really nice.

Martin and Taylor guitars sound quite different to me. I like them both, but there is a difference in company philosophy/musical destination. Don't buy either just because someone told you to, use your own musical taste. I imagine it's the same with the other guitar builders, but have no personal experience to say.

If you are getting serious about a particular model, might be worth while to buy a set of strings and have them install them (that way if the guitar falls off the bench, it won't be your fault and expense). This is particularly true if you are comparing 2 models in the same store; you don't want to chose one just because it's strings were not so beat up as the other contender's strings.

Hope this helps.

Nov 4, 2019 - 6:40:41 PM

1724 posts since 4/10/2005

You might consider a sub-variant of the dreadnought, the "slope-shoulder" dread. They look and feel smaller and more compact than the full-on "square-shoulder dread," but still have a nice full sound with good bass.

With patience, you can find a very clean, excellent-condition all-solid-wood Gibson J15 slope (maple neck, walnut body/spruce top, walnut board through 2018, richlite thereafter) in your price range. Or, a very clean, excellent-condition all-solid-wood Gibson J35 (mahogany neck, mahogany body/spruce top, rosewood board) in your price range. Both models are based on the iconic (and more expensive) Gibson slope-shoulder, the J45.

Gibsons have a "short" scale of about 24.9" as contrasted with the Martin 25.5." Shorter scale is another nice thing for the feeling of compact size, and another nice thing if you are starting out (some of us prefer it, period).

Nov 5, 2019 - 5:52:47 AM
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Players Union Member



396 posts since 9/10/2014

Alvarez Artist series.

Nov 13, 2019 - 10:58:54 AM

9666 posts since 8/22/2006

You know you want one just Do IT!!

Edited by - 5B-Ranch on 11/13/2019 10:59:29

Nov 18, 2019 - 3:25:49 PM



99 posts since 2/18/2012

Yes! Give Yamaha a test play. Don't let the low price throw you off. They might be inexpensive, but, they are not cheap.
I just love my Yamaha FS800, solid top and all. After playing a dreadnought this smaller size is perfect for my style.
And, like you, the poster, the banjo began to bother my ears.

Nov 18, 2019 - 11:14:33 PM

Jim Yates


6674 posts since 2/21/2007

Eastman has some lovely guitars in your price range. My brother bought one mighty like a J-45, but with a rosewood back and sides, all solid wood. It was a little over $1000 and he loves it.

Edited by - Jim Yates on 11/18/2019 23:15:20

Nov 19, 2019 - 12:18:41 AM

473 posts since 2/5/2014

I also am a banjo player who
decided to play guitar as well. I have a wonderful Martin 00–15 mahogany that I bought second hand at UMGF, for about $850. You should check that site out. Reverb also has used Martin 00-15 for around your price set.

I started out with a nice small body Yamaha. Then one day my luthier played a Martin for me in his shop. The tone, specifically the bass, stunned me, and I fell in love. I now own the 00-15, as well as a D-18, and about OM-21. Each has it’s own voice.
Good luck on your research.

Nov 19, 2019 - 7:02:26 AM

186 posts since 11/21/2015

Thanks so much for your input.

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