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GOOD INFO: A good article on choosing an acoustic guitar. Aimed primarily at beginners but there’s a ton of stuff experienced players may not be aware of. Go here for the good read. Thanks for the info Ray!

Accoustic Accessories

1.     Bill Lawrence Soundhole Pickup, older model by one of the legends in pickup design. Mounts easily in soundhole with a long cord attached, 1/4" jack, and volume control mounted to pickup. $75.

2.     BBE Acoustimax Acoustic Instrument Preamp, (close-up), (back panel). Excellent studio or stage tool to tweak your acoustic tone, while providing BBE processing to your tone. I could write a 500-word essay trying to describe the BBE process but just know that it makes your guitar sound crisper, cleaner, with each note sounding more distinct, while making your guitar "jump" out of the mix if desired. Here's a simple video recorded direct, and with the BBE on, using no EQ'ing, just the BBE. The Acoustimax has a 3-band recording-console-quality EQ with sweepable mid and low frequency notch filter, as well as phase reversal, ground lift, line level out, dedicated tuner out, TRS effects loop, and a pre/post switchable DI output with pad. This adds up to a unit that shines in both the studio or stage. This unit lists for $392, selling well discounted to $199. This one's mint in the box for $125.

3.     Aphex Acoustic Xciter, (pic2). Excellent sounding acoustic preamp and DI. Doesn't have quite as many features as the Baggs I posted last week but is much more compact and the fidelity is just as good. Features built-in Aphex Aural Exciter with "Big Bottom" technology. Active/Passive switch, Lo Tune - Lo Blend - Hi Tune - Hi Blend controls, 1/4" or XLR outputs. Like other Aphex units, your acoustic voicing will be clean and open, with better articulation, clarity, and projection with the feeling of a fuller reach to the lowest notes. This will probably go to a guitarist but please note that it's made for ANY acoustic instrument including violin, cellos, saxophones, flutes, accordions, xylophones, and keyboards. In Harmony-Central reviews (link), scored a 9.2 overall, 9.4 on sound quality. Click here for a YouTube demo by Tom Bresh on how he sets his Xciter. Perfect condition, not a scratch, but it does have two strips of Velcro on the bottom. Very nice unit for the money, $99.

4.     Aphex Aural Exciter 204 with Optical Big Bottom, (front), (back). Don't confuse with other Exciters - Aphex is the original and the best. I remember when the first Aphex Aural Exciter came out in the 80's; a 1/2 rack unit that did magical things to a recorded mix. These units sold themselves at Hotlicks. We'd tell customers to bring us their demo tape, inevitably a cassette, play it in the bypass position, and then when we would engage the Aural Exciter their eyes would bug and they'd inevitably buy it on the spot. In fact, I have one of the original 1/2 racks and the later full rack in stock for you old-schoolers. As with the original 1/2 rack units, professional audio engineers use the Aural Exciter to increases loudness and clarity - brighten up sound dulled by analog equipment, got lost in a wash of effects, and now to liven up the mix during an analog to digital transfer. Now, with the Model 204, Aphex has brought back the Aural Exciter in an enhanced, 2-channel version PLUS included the Optical Big Bottom. While the Aural Exciter works on the whole mix, the Big Bottom focuses on the low end, providing deeper, more resonant bass with little or no increase in peak output. Briefly, the 204 increases presence and clarity of highs and lows, extends high frequencies with no added noise, gives low notes greater resonance, and does all this with no increase in peak volume. With a list price of $399 the 204 sells new for $249, but this one is barely used, in original box with manual, and a good investment in your tone at just $159 - and this unit is made in America.

5.     Dean Markley West Coast La Jolla Active Acoustic Guitar Pickup System. Very good sounding complete active unit, with soundhole pickup plus under-saddle transducer, and preamp built into the end-pin jack. The La Jolla Active pickup system perfectly unites the Gold River Accelerator Jack with two world-class pickups, the Dean Markley Tahoe magnetic sound-hole pickup and the Barstow Gold-Plated transducer pickup. The Barstow transducer pickup is connected to a discrete Class A preamp housed inside the Gold River Accelerator Jack. The Tahoe (a passive pickup needing no preamp) is wired to the passive channel of the Gold River, going directly to your amplifier system. This specially designed Gold River Accelerator Jack increases headroom, expands tone and output, and is completely internal. We have several of these in stock which we're using as an affordable mod to transform any of our acoustics. With a list price of $259 but we can install these on any acoustic in stock for $150, including parts and labor.

6.     Taylor Prints, original dealer displays. I have the set of 5 (each one different) that I bought around 5 years ago. You can buy them unframed - or I can also include a solid oak frame that I purchased for each one. This was a very successful ad campaign that ran from late '99 with just a subtle reference to the advertiser being a Taylor headstock pictured in the corner. These are very high quality on thick poster stock, 23.5" X 16.5", large enough to be a center piece in your jamming room or den. Email me if you want pics of the 3 that aren't pictured here. Price for a poster and frame is $35 (you cut the mat).

7.     Taylor X-12 Luggage Case, for your X-12 (312, 512CE, W12, etc.). Very heavy, very plush, and the best protection around for your prized Grand Auditorium size acoustic. Mint condition. $165.



1.     1976 Alvarez Yairi DY57 "Winchester" Dreadnought w/BB Pickup, (front), (back), (side), (headstock), (catalog), (label/serial), (appointments), (output), (case and acc.). Most of you know this but don't confuse the Kazuo Yairi guitars with the "Alvarez" brand. Alvarez are generally decent utility guitars made in Korea or China, but there is no comparison to genuine Yairi's. Kazuo Yairi builds lifetime guitars in a dedicated factory in Japan. Much like the USA's Martin guitars, these are heirlooms which can be handed down through generations. The K Yairi company has a history of guitar making that goes back to 1935. Kazuo, now 75 years old, took over the company from his father in 1963 after spending three years in the USA learning how the Americans were constructing & voicing their guitars. He personally oversees around 30 guitar makers in his workshop and their yearly output is in the region of a modest 4000 guitars. Yairi sets very high standards for the timber they use. All woods are naturally seasoned - no timber is kiln dried. Other than the sawmill, no machinery is used in the manufacture of the guitars; no CNC machines or UV spray booths speed up the process. Many guitars are made by a single craftsman; others are made by a team of 3 or 4 makers. The D57 features a solid Canadian spruce top with special hand-sculpted parabolic X-bracing, African mahogany back and sides, noted for its beauty and tone quality, mahogany neck, ebony fretboard with inlaid pearl dot markers, rosewood bridge and headstock overlay, top and back bound in ivoroid binding, soundboard trim and hand-laid wood markquetry rosette in sort of a herringbone pattern, inlaid Yairi headstock logo, Pat. Pending Grover tuners, black teardrop pickguard, plus bone nut and saddle. It has a slender mahogany neck with adjustable truss rod which is set in a magnesium channel for extra strength and stability. This is one of those guitars that just speaks to you when you pick it up with a very warm and natural tone. It also has an pickup under the saddle which is clearly labeled "Barcus-Berry", which I'm guessing was the factory option listed in the price list, with a 1/4" endpin jack (pic). Although a passive system, it has a higher output than most and sounds very good amplified. Acoustically, it has a lovely, full-bodied sound and with very comfortable action it's a joy to play. It reminds me, in all regards, of a nice old Martin D-18. It has a lovely golden, aged patina and some innocuous light dings and scratches in the finish; definitely no cracks or repairs. The DY57 sold for $741 (with case) in in the '78 price list, including pickup installation, which based on the inflation calculator would be $2645 in today's dollars. Yairi's are probably the best value in a true lifetime guitar. Own this one for $899. Includes original hardshell case as well as an old sealed pack of Washburn "Slicks" 12 ga. strings, capo, steel slide, and pitch pipe. You can read all about this model by looking around alvarezyairi.web, the best site in the world for Yairi guitars.

2.     B.C. RICH U.S.A. ACOUSTIC - THE ULTIMATE GUITAR FOR THE B.C. RICH COLLECTOR: (Bernie Sr's. Last Guitar), (pic2). More pics and full description at this link: www.chrisguitars.com/bernie.html. Owned by Martin Miranda, my world-class tech, who was a close friend of Bernie and this was the last guitar that Bernie ever built, albeit not quite finished, and he was working on it the very day of his untimely passing. Click the link for a full description and feel free to email Martin Miranda directly at the address on the page.

3.     Breedlove CM/W - CM Classic - Asymmetrical Concert, (front/back), (headstock), (side), (binding), (case). Described as "ultimate expression of the Breedlove aesthetic." The CM Classic is part of Breelove's flagship series, the Master Class. It's an asymmetrical Grand-Concert body, with Sharp Cutaway in the Breedlove style, with beautifully figured Walnut back and sides, Western Red Cedar top, Master Class Bloodwood binding and abalone rosette. It's one of those guitars that are nearly as much a piece of art as it is a world-class acoustic guitar. Most of you are familiar with Breedlove by now but, if not, click here for their Master Class page, and have a look around the site. To most who have played them, they're clearly a cut above nearly all other USA manufacturers. Retail price on this guitar is $6799, sold with little discount but this one is immaculate, and a remarkable deal on a Master Class at just $3599.

4.     Ibanez Artwood AW20CE, very good quality acoustic electric at a price that's unmatched for a solid spruce top with Fishman system. The AW20CE has an attractive Antique Violin finish, Ibanez/Fishman preamp system, solid Spruce top with maple back and sides. Appointments include multi-ply body binding front and back, maple headstock overlay that matches body, and Venetian cutaway to allow easy access to the upper frets. One really nice appointment is an Earvana nut, usually found on higher end guitars and makes a huge difference on proper intonation. List price is an amazing $499 and sells in stores for $345, but if you can live with a cosmetic flaw that I can't even find, grab this one, fully setup and ready to gig, for just $275.

5.     2001 Samick Greg Bennett Design D-9 Dreadnought with Baggs pickup, (front), (headstock), (back), (pickup/endpin jack), (case). Samick "Imperial Series" maple dreadnought equipped with a Baggs M1 soundhole pickup ($139 new) connected to an endpin jack. The M1 clamps down without alteration to the guitar so it's easily removable if you don't want it for some reason. It's a passive pickup so no battery is required, and the pole pieces are individually adjustable to match your guitar's frequency response. For a passive system it has very good volume and works great plugged into a hi-z input on your amp. I find it much more warmer and more natural than a saddle Piezo system. The D-9 is one of the acclaimed Greg Bennett designs. Although Samick is the largest manufacturer in the world, their own brand was lagging behind until they brought Greg onboard and he has turned the company around with the Samick-branded instruments. The D-9 features a solid spruce top with laminated maple sides and back, with a maple neck. It's nicely appointed, with abalone trim along the entire soundboard edge, as well as an abalone rosette, cross inlays, and Grover tuners. Tonally the solid spruce contributes to a lively sounding tone. It's also fairly warm sounding for maple, not too far from mahogany to my ears. Set up is very comfortable throughout the register. Cosmetically it's in very nice shape with the only flaw being a 1/4" crack (shown here) in the sound hole that we've glued and will never be a problem. They only made this model from '01 to '03 so there aren't a lot of them out there. For a nicely appointed solid spruce dreadnought with the Baggs M-1 and a hardshell case, this is an excellent value at $329(HOLD-Mark D 2/2) or if you just want the guitar without a case or pickup, $215.

6.     2003 Tacoma DM9 Dreadnought, (front), (back), (headstock), (case). 9-Series Dreadnought. The DM9 is probably the most basic of Tacoma's line and just your basic spruce and mahogany dreadnought - but the tone and playability are anything but basic. It's a wonderful sounding D-size, with remarkable bass response and not as mid-range heavy as many mahogany models, and the satin finish contributes to a very lively sound with good sustain. Again, all solid woods here with a solid Sitka spruce top; solid mahogany sides and back; plus one-piece mahogany neck; rosewood fretboard and bridge; chrome tuners; wide 1.75" nut width; 25.5" scale; 4-color herringbone rosette; tortoise shell top binding; abalone dot fretboard markers. This one hasn't been a case queen and has some honest playing wear, plus one repaired center seam crack (shown here), which has been professionally glued and cleated so it poses absolutely no future problems at all and has not affected the tone. Also, the clear pickguard has been removed. This is a nice playing, excellent sounding flattop for just $549. Includes TKL hardshell case and original paperwork. Made in Tacoma, Wash., USA.

7.     Washburn EA8-Red Acoustic-Electric Cutaway (Cherry), (front/back), (headstock). Sold out of blue and green but I just found another one of these in a cherry finish. If you're looking for a decent acoustic-electric for under $200, look no further. The Washburn EA-8 offers killer looks in a good quality import with some nice features such as multi-ply body binding, bound neck, die-cast low-friction tuners, spruce top, and mahogany back/sides/neck. These come from the factory with so-so set-ups but after Martin does his voodoo, the result is a beginner-priced acoustic that plays like a much more expensive instrument, which is especially important for someone just starting out on guitar. This Festival Series guitar lists at $599 and is a good value in a budget acoustic/electric at just $199.

8.     Washburn D6S Dreadnought - Solid Spruce, (front/back/side), (headstock). Excellent buy in a solid spruce dreadnought with a very nice in-house setup that puts it head and shoulders above anything in the stores or online superstores. Features solid spruce top with laminated mahogany back and sides, mahogany neck with rosewood fretboard, tortoise body binding, tortoise neck binding, genuine dovetail neck joint, 1 11/16" nut, 25.5" scale, rosewood bridge, flat 16" fretboard radius, die-cast tuners, satin finish. Although a cosmetic second for reasons we can't find, this guitar is immaculate condition and not pre-owned. With a list price of $350, a very good buy at 50% off, just $175, set up and ready to play.

9.     1999 Yamaha APX-4A Acoustic-Electric, (front/back), (headstock), (preamp/battery comp.), (binding/rosette), (gigbag). Yamaha's APX series are designed as both a good quality acoustic guitar but really shines as a stage guitar, built for comfort and a quality amplified tone. I've had the earlier version, model 4 with composite body, and this 4A provides a far acoustic tone. The APX-4A is basically a cutaway dreadnought shape, except more shallow than a standard dread - plus the cutaway make playing the higher notes a lot easier. Features include spruce top, nato back and sides, unique oval soundhole with attractive wooden inlay rosette cap, 5-stripe bound body, 22-fret rosewood fretboard, pearl dot inlay, rosewood bridge with white pearl dot pins. A simple but versatile preamp includes 3 Band EQ with AMF (adjustable mid-range frequency), volume, battery light, and mute. An access door on the upper bout makes changing 9V batteries a breeze. Click here and here for a few YouTube clip of the APX-4A played straight acoustically, and here plugged in, although a bit buried in reverb. This is a well built guitar in the tradition of Taiwanese Yamaha's and a very good choice for a moderately priced stage guitar at $299.