Larrivee vs Martin

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Been playing a lot of acoustics lately... 

The GS Mini is good but I have come across better! 

Tried a PRS Angelus which was good (sounded great) but action was a bit high and it felt tough to play. Good sound, though.. 

Tried a L'arrivee D-02 which sounded AMAZING. Being all-wood the sound was so rich, I couldn't believe it! Going to try an OM-02 model next weekend... £800 and includes hard-case. 

Tried Martin GPCPA4 and GPCPA5 guitars... Nice cutaway, looks great... plays VERY well (feels easier to play than the L'arrivee). The "4" sounded better than the "5" due to being all-wood and being made in USA ("5" is made in Mexico and uses HPL). The electronics included seem pretty good but not sure how often I'd use them. I'd go for a "5" but for £800 no hard-case is included which is a bummer. The only thing is, the sound of these guitars wasn't as good as the L'arrivee, but they did play better. 

Guitarguitar's own brand, Finlayson, was also surprisingly good. All-wood and they cut out the middle man, so can sell them for a good price. Sounded REALLY good (like the L'arrivee), but perhaps not the same finish as a Martin. 

Any thoughts?
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  • noisepolluternoisepolluter Frets: 142
    edited May 2014
    Larrivee to my ear have a kind of 'hi-fi' sound - lots of definition to the bass and treble - from what I know of your playing style and tastes I'm sure you'll like the OM-02 - lots of very crisp note definition going on for intricate stuff. 

    Buying a posh acoustic is really exciting - more so I'd say than electrics, amps etc as each guitar has its own personality which takes a while to really come through. 
     
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  • thomasross20thomasross20 Frets: 2609
    I agree with your second paragraph there!

    I'm going to try a martin gpcpa5 again tomorrow. Next weekend I will be able to try both an om-02 and om-02e. The main doesn't come with a case at £800 but it's electrics are meant to be great. The 02e has electrics and a case for £950. The larrivee sounded better to me but I think the martin played better.

    What do you own?
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 2454

    If you can get a train down to Runcorn, Frailers have a room full of used upmarket guitars, including many Larrivees and Martins

    I think you'll get a better guitar for the same cash from Larrivee, used or new

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  • thermionicthermionic Frets: 3210
    Larrivee seem to be the best-kept secret in acoustics right now. I suspect that you won't reap any benefit from the Martin name until you something like the D18 and upwards.
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  • thomasross20thomasross20 Frets: 2609
    Just checked that out, thanks! Though wont be getting a train down any time soon!
    Wish I could get a Larrivee and the Martin - I could, but I wont lol... 
    The Larrivee parlour gets even better reviews than the OM-02 but I don't think I'd like how the body meets the neck at fret 12 as opposed to 14 for the OM-02. 
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 2454

    About 5 years ago, the Reverb chain sold lots of Larrivees cheap for a few months, some issue with the distributor? Other dealers followed suit, I bought a lovely one from a Scottish shop (Kennys I suspect), plenty were sold up there I think, so keep an eye on local used sales up there, and just check there's still none for sale in any smaller dealers

    I had an OM-50, it was lovely, sold it mint for about £1000 in 2012

    Also had a D-05, and and LV-05E

    The one I kept was an SD-60, Stunning, this is the one that I kept when I went further upmarket

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  • crunchmancrunchman Frets: 1827
    In that kind of price range I'd look at Furch/Stonebridge.
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 2454
    crunchman said:
    In that kind of price range I'd look at Furch/Stonebridge.
    yes, I tried some and they are good - as always though, buy used where possible
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  • noisepolluternoisepolluter Frets: 142
    edited May 2014
    I agree with your second paragraph there!

    I'm going to try a martin gpcpa5 again tomorrow. Next weekend I will be able to try both an om-02 and om-02e. The main doesn't come with a case at £800 but it's electrics are meant to be great. The 02e has electrics and a case for £950. The larrivee sounded better to me but I think the martin played better.

    What do you own?
    Gibson J-45. Which sounds nothing like any of the above :)  Very middy and thumpy. You'd like the neck though - short scale length, and actually surprisingly similar in feel to their chunkier electric necks. Pickup is an LR Baggs Element - nothing amazing but sounds perfectly respectable through a PA/mixer etc with minimal tinkering. 

    To be honest, electrics and are very much a secondary consideration for me - I'd personally buy purely on the strength of the guitar itself, as electrics can always be installed later, and you can take your pick of the market once you've sussed out which option is best for you.  

    If one acoustic guitar sounded better but another played better, assuming they both had fairly fresh strings, I'd be looking at how the better sounding one could be made to play better with a setup from the shop, especially if it's a larrivee as all the ones I've tried have played very nicely. I very much doubt I'd go for the one that didn't sound as good.

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  • thomasross20thomasross20 Frets: 2609
    edited May 2014
    I'll look into Stonebridge and Gibson acoustics.. 
    NP, thanks for the advice! 
    Check out this vid of Simon demoing the Larrivee OM-02e - sounds incredible!

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  • richardhomerrichardhomer Frets: 11787
    edited May 2014
    thomasross20;229809" said:
    I'll look into Stonebridge and Gibson acoustics.. NP, thanks for the advice! Check out this vid of Simon demoing the Larrivee OM-02e - sounds incredible!
    That sounds very Taylor-like to me; lots of tinkly high-end.

    I suggest a used 312 (which is smaller than an OM) or 314 (which is slightly bigger). These are entry-level US models, with spruce tops and solid Sapele backs and sides. To my ears, they sound better than many of Taylor's higher priced guitars.

    Second hand prices (if the classifieds on here are anything to go by) are bargain-basement low for everything at the moment.

    If you buy a used one of these and decide to move it on, you shouldn't lose money. A new Larivee would be likely to depreciate more than a comparable Martin or Taylor.
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  • thomasross20thomasross20 Frets: 2609
    I hate to say but Taylor never felt right with me - I would always go for a Martin over a Taylor (personal preference) - but thank yuo for the recommendation, regardless!
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  • richardhomerrichardhomer Frets: 11787
    edited May 2014
    thomasross20;229829" said:
    I hate to say but Taylor never felt right with me - I would always go for a Martin over a Taylor (personal preference) - but thank yuo for the recommendation, regardless!
    You are welcome.

    Martins generally sound VERY different to the Larivee in the clip you posted.

    They are characterised by a thicker mid-range and a much less prominent high end - they don't have that 'sparkly' quality to them. In short, they have a much mellower tone.

    If you will forgive me for saying this - I mean this in a kindly, not a critical way - you seem quite inexperienced around quality acoustics. Unlike an electric where after-market mods can allow you to adapt it, you are stuck with the sonic characteristics of an acoustic, once you've bought it - different string brands/gauges/types will subtly tweak the sound but not fundamentally alter it.

    Again I mean this in a kindly way, you also strike me as very keen to buy. I would slow the process down. Visit more shops, play as many as you can and spend time with each individual instrument. Quickly swapping between guitars can only give you a snap-shot (eg: it is easy to dismiss a Martin as 'dull' sounding, if you play one immediately after a Taylor, yet after 15 minutes you might consider it to be 'balanced' and the Taylor overly bright).

    I hope this does not come across as patronising - it is certainly not my intention. A good acoustic should be a life-time purchase, if you get it right.

    @ToneControl's suggestion of a trip to Frailers is a very good one. They are happy to let customers spend hours in there....
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  • thomasross20thomasross20 Frets: 2609
    edited May 2014
    No offence taken! I've always admitted that I'm more of a player than a gear hound, despite having played for something like 15 years now (crikey!). I'm definitely taking my time and playing as much as I can (without p!ssing off shop owners!). 

    Agree about the Martin sound - I always preferred it over the Taylor sound - muddier in the mids for sure... (I always felt the Martins played so much better, too) .. and as ironic as it sounds, the brightness of the Larrivee really has me in awe - it was so amazing it sounded like it had a bit of 12-string in there... 
    I'm going into town again today to try some more out - I appreciate the thought of going to Frailers but it's maybe a bit far when there are plenty guitar shops in the vicinity (I'm near Edinburgh) :)

    I spent about 2 hours in guitarguitar yesterday - tried several Martins (realising just how better all-wood guitars sound), a couple Taylors, the PRS Angelus (sounded good but didn't play anywhere near as well as the Martin), some Yamahas etc... then tried Kenny's music which was good, however I felt they tried to push the sale too much...

    I've typically always gone for playability but now I seem torn between the playability of the Martin (which I do like the sound of) and the sound of the Larrivee (which is great value for an all-wood guitar including a hard-case which the Martin doesn't). I'll try not to impulse buy, but I can't promise!
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  • noisepolluternoisepolluter Frets: 142
    edited May 2014

    As has been said, the basic sound of Larrivees and Martins are very different - warm vs crisp. What sort of sound will work best for you? 
    (Also, the setup might have an influence on the sound - some acoustics are better suited to a higher action and/or heavier strings - I'm particularly thinking about Martin dreadnoughts here for instance)

    If nothing you've tried yet is a runaway winner, I'd keep looking. The electrics/case etc shouldn't influence you unless you're trying to decide between two very similar guitars which you like equally. 

    Also, if a guitar has really old and manky strings but you have an inkling that it might sound amazing with new ones, don't be afraid to ask the shop to fit a new set for you to try - if the guitar sounds better it will be more likely to sell. If they're arsey about it, or try to get you to commit to buying before you're ready or pay for the strings, move on.

    Admittedly Frailers is a fair way to go - but a quick look at their current stock shows some extremely tempting things - Avalon A100 for £1099, anyone?




      
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  • thomasross20thomasross20 Frets: 2609
    It's a bummer of a decision... and it really depends on what "ear I've got on" - the Martin can sound really warm and classic but on the other hand it can sometimes sound boxy when compared to the Larrivee. The Larrivee really rings and is bright, but then comparing to the Martin, can sound less-classic and perhaps too bright (but never boxy). 
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  • noisepolluternoisepolluter Frets: 142
    edited May 2014
    It's a bummer of a decision... and it really depends on what "ear I've got on" - the Martin can sound really warm and classic but on the other hand it can sometimes sound boxy when compared to the Larrivee. The Larrivee really rings and is bright, but then comparing to the Martin, can sound less-classic and perhaps too bright (but never boxy). 
    As a new guitar ages, it's likely to pick up more warmth (and volume) to the sound. You can also tailor it to a certain extent with choice of strings (and how often you're prepared to change them!)

    Further thoughts - plectrum material, fingernail length, playing style will all affect the brightness of the sound. If you like having the option of the brightness sometimes but not always then there are things you can do to take the top end off, whereas it's harder to make a mellower sounding guitar sound significantly brighter. 


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  • thomasross20thomasross20 Frets: 2609
    I am knaaaackered! Two days through in Glasgow trying out different guitars; so tired. 

    I played a Taylor 214ce which was ok but BLOWN out of the water by a special rosewood (?) edition of the same guitar - this guitar actually sounded REALLY good. But it didn't play as well as others I tried. Preferred the look of the Martin GPCPA5 BUT the Martin sounded really dull in comparison (I'm kicking myself because the one thing I didn't do was try the Martin through the amp as the electronics are meant to be ok). I think this was the Taylor:

    Also tried out a really good Stonebridge guitar (can't remember the model) - it had a cutaway and some REALLY good electronics on-board. Sounded absolutely fantastic and blew the Taylor out of the water. The trebles didn't come through as well unplugged as they did plugged in, but it was epic through the amp. Easier to play than the Taylor, but not the Martin. 

    As an aside, I can really see why acoustic players went for capos and alternate tunings... after hearing open-strings ringing in standard-E all day it gets pretty repetitive..

    I tried a Guild which sounded great but was way too heavy and bulky for my liking.. Yamahas didn't agree with me. Faith's were ok but not in the same league as the others I tried. Sigma guitars didn't cut it with me. I tried several Larrivee guitars... there is something magical in particular about their B strings - have you noticed!? The B sounds amazing! Very-well made, incredibly light, all wood. I got to try a whole bunch, including the OM-02e which I wanted to try. Electrics are minimal (sounds the same through the amp as it does unplugged which isn't a bad thing) and the battery access is on the underside of the sound-hole. It did sound good, but not as good as the D-02 I played the other day. One thing that really annoyed me was that I felt it was tough to play. Maybe it was just the string gauge but I had dents on my fingertips after digging in to play properly. Would it sound the same with lighter gauge strings? How no Earth are you meant to get a true feel for it if it's not set up to your liking? No chance I'd buy something with the hope of it feeling better after a set-up. In conclusion, the Larrivee did sound good and you get a lot for your money (especially compared to a Martin Taylor - you'd never get an all-wood guitar at this price from them!) but it just didn't feel magical enough for me to warrant a purchase. 

    Next weekend I should be trying the Larrivee OM-02 non-electric version at another shop and I just hope it plays a bit better. I feel I should try more Martins, and perhaps some Taylors (will see). Stonebridge were also excellent. 

    I'm definitely learning a lot and trying lots out prior to a purchase!
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 2454

    Best to buy used as you can then change your mind as you learn

    I was silly enough to buy a Taylor 314ce new, and sold it at a loss once I bought some Larrivees.

    Cheaper Taylors have a brittle sound, and limited dynamics - they sort of sound distorted. Good pickup sound though.

    Larrivees vary from dark to bright, depends which model and which wood. I found that OM size guitars and parlours don't work for me - can I ask what draws you to an OM if you are new to Pro quality acoustics?

    What styles do you intend to play in: damping the strings a lot like John Mayer acoustically, strumming, letting lots of strings ring on for ages in a DADGAD style?? Play with nails, skin, pick?

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  • thomasross20thomasross20 Frets: 2609
    edited May 2014
    I prefer OM/parlour for the size... I don't like the size of dreadnoughts.
    I will play some fingerpicking, some tunes with strumming (plectrum and/or hands), maybe letting some strings ring but perhaps not alternate tunings like DAGDAD (not my thing). I wont be growing my nails so it will be playing with plectrum/skin of fingers. 

    I have to admit... I've never had more fun playing an acoustic (probably a guitar in general!) than I have playing my Little Martin. Yes, it rattles a little and is boxy compared to more expensive instruments... but I love the size and you can get away with murder on it (low action, can legato my way all over the place). I do like Martins, always have and always will.

    I suspect I will be playing my Little Martin for some time to come until I find the "right" slightly larger-sized acoustic. Electrics on it really don't matter - I'd be find having a mic pointed at the thing if I ever went up to play (is that more common than plugging in, by the way?). 

    Oh... I agree, I would prefer to buy used if I could...! So what guitars do you own right now?
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 2454
    edited May 2014

    I think you should visit the acoustic music company in Brighton if you can, that's the place to find out what kind of guitar really works for you (well, it's best to live with a guitar for a bit and see how it develops you, people talk about guitars breaking in, I reckon it's often the players who get broken in by the guitar )

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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 2454

    check out these guys http://www.soundpure.com/c/acoustic-guitars-flattops-/38

    they do a test in 3 different ways for each guitar on sale, with really good players - youtube videos on here. They will send hifi recordings on request, but they expect you to be a genuine customer to get those

    These show different styles of playing very nicely

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  • richardhomerrichardhomer Frets: 11787
    ToneControl;230293" said:
    Cheaper Taylors have a brittle sound, and limited dynamics - they sort of sound distorted.
    Not my experience at all. Every 300 Series (Sapele back and sides) Taylor I have played has sounded less bright than the equivalent 700/800 guitars with Indian rosewood backs and sides.

    Dynamically I have never found them wanting either, in fact straight out of the case, they always seem 'looser' than a brand new Martin to me.

    None of this really helps the OP, I suspect. Clearly acoustics polarise opinion!
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 2454
    ToneControl;230293" said:
    Cheaper Taylors have a brittle sound, and limited dynamics - they sort of sound distorted.
    Not my experience at all. Every 300 Series (Sapele back and sides) Taylor I have played has sounded less bright than the equivalent 700/800 guitars with Indian rosewood backs and sides.

    Dynamically I have never found them wanting either, in fact straight out of the case, they always seem 'looser' than a brand new Martin to me.

    None of this really helps the OP, I suspect. Clearly acoustics polarise opinion!

    I have never tried the upmarket Taylors for more than a few minutes

    Certainly acoustics are completely personal, that store in Brighton had £6k guitars that sounded awful to me, and others that were amazing

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  • thomasross20thomasross20 Frets: 2609
    It's amazing how many expensive guitars I've tried (electric or acoustic) that to me just didn't feel as good as cheaper models! Maybe I'm too much of a buffoon to realise the quality lol..
    Thanks again, guys.
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 12721
    edited May 2014
    It's amazing how many expensive guitars I've tried (electric or acoustic) that to me just didn't feel as good as cheaper models! Maybe I'm too much of a buffoon to realise the quality lol..
    Thanks again, guys.
    It all comes down to set up- a lot of factory-made guitars leave without being set up as well as they can be.
    Part of this is how acoustic guitars are made and part of it is to leave final setup to the retailer who can liaise with the buyer and tailor the setup to suit.
    This hardly ever happens today with the box-shifter mentality though, so perhaps it needs to change.
     
    Try ti find a well set up acoustic guitar of each type- not just a straight from the factory new guitar.
    Or try to find a really well-made bespoke instrument- from Eggle, Atkins, Benjamin, Forshage, Somogyi, Sobell and the like.
    You might be surprised how much of a difference there is.
    Unsmited Anonymous.
    Trading Feedback
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 2454
    octatonic said:
    It's amazing how many expensive guitars I've tried (electric or acoustic) that to me just didn't feel as good as cheaper models! Maybe I'm too much of a buffoon to realise the quality lol..
    Thanks again, guys.
    It all comes down to set up- a lot of factory-made guitars leave without being setup as well as they can be.
    Part of this is how acoustic guitars are made and part of it is to leave final setup to the retailer who can liaise with the buyer and tailor the setup to suit.
    This hardly ever happens today with the box-shifter mentality though, so perhaps it needs to change.
     
    Try ti find a well set up acoustic guitar of each type- not just a straight from the factory new guitar.
    Or try to find a really well-made bespoke instrument- from Eggle, Atkins, Benjamin, Forshage, Somogyi, Sobell and the like.
    You might be surprised how much of a difference there is.

    All correct of course

    Also remember the old trick - that some shops selling mostly cheaper guitars often keep a badly set up expensive brand guitar on show to make punters the cheap brand is just as good

    An  easy way to avoid the issue is to go to a shop full of used pro-level guitars, they will almost all be setup properly

    Unless you can find a shop that does setup guitars properly - there are a few good acoustic shops around the UK: Frailers, Mairants, Acoustic music co in Brighton, Sounds great and Coda have a few, although picking a quiet moment is hard in Coda. Big box-shifter shops are not the best place to try acoustics. Some classical shops stock a load: Forsyths in Manchester has plenty of Atkins usually, etc 


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  • crunchmancrunchman Frets: 1827
    If you are in Scotland then Moon would be worth a look although they may be outside your budget.
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  • 1nten5e1nten5e Frets: 234
    I agree about the lack of set ups at dealers...I have spent a good chunk on a couple of acoustics over the past 2 years, my Martin was absolutely faultless (for me) right off the rack....conversely the J200 was an absolute dog, how Gibson can send anything out that's set up so badly is beyond me......although I loved the guitar and after a couple of days with my usual tech, it's a dream to play, you shouldn't have to do that though :/
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  • thomasross20thomasross20 Frets: 2609
    Just tried a martin ooo15m..... Wow is all I can say
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