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SoundGround >> Just got two 'new' guitars


11/14/12 1:19 PM
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whaledog
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Edited: 11/14/12 1:49 PM
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I have been itching to get a small, cheap acoustic guitar that I don't have to worry about and I can take when I travel.

I was looking for an old Stella, but I could not find exactly what I wanted at a price I liked.  Then I came across this 'beauty.' I dug the 'cake pan resonator' and they way the builder laid out the controls, so I snatched it up:

(I plan to change the tuners to "right side up.")

Of course, a few days later I ran across a Stella that was just what I had been searching for. It's in good condition, and it has the tail piece and pick guard style I like. The seller said it's very playable (no small matter for these old Stellas):

The luthier who set this up said that he'd never seen one in such good playing shape. The action is low. The neck is straight and there is no buzzing.

So, of course, I snatched it up, too.

Now I'm just waiting for these two little honeys to arrive.

I can definitely use one of these, but I'm not sure what I'll do with two.  GAS strikes again

11/14/12 1:34 PM
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jman
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Damn that looks like something you would find in an old garage after you great grandmother dies and you're cleaning stuff out. Cool man, have fun!
11/14/12 2:11 PM
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DasBeaver
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Wow, that resonator thing is awesome!
11/14/12 2:26 PM
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whaledog
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Edited: 11/14/12 2:28 PM
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DasBeaver - Wow, that resonator thing is awesome!

 

I just founda video of the builder showing a similar guitar he built:

I fell a little better now that I've heard heard one of these things play.

 

11/15/12 8:02 AM
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DasBeaver
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I didn't realize you ordered it and it was a new custom thing. It looks like you found it in the back of a barn. Post some clips of it when you get it!
11/15/12 10:18 AM
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whaledog
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Edited: 11/15/12 1:01 PM
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DasBeaver - I didn't realize you ordered it and it was a new custom thing. It looks like you found it in the back of a barn. Post some clips of it when you get it!

 

I got it last night . . . very disappointing.

 

The action is SUPER high - good for slide, only.  The hight of the nut is outrageous (probably 1/4 inch), and it is literally impossible to fret a note because you go so out of tune.  I was going to shave the nut, but even when you fret it at the 1st fet, the action get real high real quick.  I think the neck might by bowed.

Looks like the guy took a junk $25 guitar, added the "cake pan resonator" and didn't bother to make it playable.

He packed it in the guitar's origial box, so I did a little searching which led me to what I believe is the guitar he used:
http://amzn.com/B002C02ZP4

I wasn't expecting much, but I was expecting this to be playable.  It's not, and I'm going to return it.

Hopefully the Stella's better.

11/15/12 10:19 AM
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whaledog
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Edited: 11/15/12 1:02 PM
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Oh, and by the way, the "cake pan reseonator" does not resonate in any way (which was not totally unexpected).

11/15/12 10:34 AM
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Ali
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FOILED! That is very disappointing, indeed, whaledog. Looked to be a super cool thing. At least you can return it.... and I don't need to tell you to tell us about the Stella!
11/15/12 1:36 PM
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DasBeaver
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Foiled, ha!
That's a shame, glad you can return it at least. It could have gone either way so it was still worth the gamble.
11/19/12 2:29 PM
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whaledog
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Edited: 01/02/13 6:34 PM
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Winner.
 
I got the Stella this weekend.  Here’s my review:
 
First off, the Stella is a cheap, entry level, mass-produced 3/4 size guitar.  It is not a high-end Martin or Gibson.  Viewed in that context, I consider the purchase to be a home run.  Much better than I expected.
 
The inside of the guitar has no markings, but everything is consistent with an old Harmony H929, which was built from 1945-1970.  Those guitars are solid birch, with a floating bridge and metal tailpiece. 
 
It looks to be all-original, but the tail piece (which is correct for the guitar) is shiny and has just a tiny bit of patina.  It might have been replaced, or maybe the material held up well, who knows?  Who cares?  I bought this guitar so I could play it.
 
Most importantly, the guitar sounds great and produces a lot of volume for its size.  This little baby resonates.  The resonance is a pleasant surprise for me, since I have a vintage Harmony arch top that is pretty low-volume.  I was expecting something similar here, but luckily that isn’t the case.
 
The Stella makes a pretty sound when fingerpicked, and produces a decent bass for fingerstyle blues.  Its voice is well suited for country blues, which is what I like to play.  The sound also holds up real well when you dig in and strum it hard on full chords.  In fact, I think it kinda likes being played hard.
 
The Stella is also easy to play.  The neck is straight and well connected to the body, and the fretboard is totally flat.  The neck is c-shaped and has some girth, but it’s not too big.  The action is low, the frets are small (vintage size) and in good shape, and the guitar makes clean notes all the way up the neck.
 
The only issue I found was that the action on the 6th string was actually too low.  It would snap against the neck when I hit it hard with a thumbpick.   My solution was to cut out a small sliver of cardboard from a pizza box and squeeze it into the 6th string’s slot in the bridge.  This raised the action enough to stop the problem, but left everything easy to play.  I didn’t notice any change in the tone of the string, so I’m happy with the ‘repair.’  I ended up trimming the cardboard so that it’s basically invisible.
 
In case you couldn’t tell, I am very happy with the Stella.  I played the guitar all weekend, and can’t wait to get home and play it again tonight.
11/19/12 5:53 PM
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Demitrius Barbito
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Fun!

 

11/19/12 9:46 PM
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Ali
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Cool you got that success... after the first disappointment that's especially sweet.
12/12/12 11:17 PM
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sreiter
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the cake pan looks like something sea sick steve would build

stella -well, duh! they were cheap, ordered through sear catalogs i believe, which is why old blues dudes used them, so of course they're gonna have the right sound
12/26/12 11:29 PM
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whaledog
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sreiter - the cake pan looks like something sea sick steve would build

stella -well, duh! they were cheap, ordered through sear catalogs i believe, which is why old blues dudes used them, so of course they're gonna have the right sound

Not even Sea Sick Steve would have played that piece of crap cake pan guitar.  It was that bad.

The Stella makes up for it, though.  :)


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