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What is the Loudest Steel-String Acoustic Guitar on the planet ($1200 or less)?
Old 10th March 2014
  #1
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What is the Loudest Steel-String Acoustic Guitar on the planet ($1200 or less)?

I'm looking for a really LOUD 6-string, steel-string acoustic to allow me to match (or approach) the volume of my friend who is an accomplished Classical guitarist. When we jam, he drowns me out (me on my generic, dull, plinky sounding Fender dreadnought. I play with a pick. I like the low action, but the guitar has a really wimpy sound). My preferences :

1) HUGE bass, boomy, crisp or otherwise, with as much low end resonance & sustain as possible.

2) Highs and mids as penetrating as possible.

3) Any size, design, color or shape. Jumbo totally cool.

4) Would prefer new over used.

Having the most beautiful tone in the world is not important, I just want something that sounds decent (5+/10 for tonal quality, separation & balance in your opinion) and is as brutally loud and powerful as humanly possible. Maximum blast for the buck.

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
Old 10th March 2014
  #2
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Lenzo's Avatar
Well I haven't played every make of guitar on the planet, but for that kind of money you can get a Breedlove Atlas Jumbo. They are the 350 series. I had a 12 string version I bought new for $900. I have several high end Taylors and a Rainsong Jumbo to compare it to. The Breedlove Atlas are pretty impressive both in build and sound. That said, the Rainsong Jumbo is quite a cannon. It has the biggest bottom of any guitar I've ever had. And it has this clarity that is really different from a wooden guitar. In a good way. New they are twice your budget, but used they go pretty low if you can find them. And speaking of used, I know you said you weren't interested, but that's where you're dollar works best if you know something about guitars and can inspect them well. I've bought 5 800 series Taylors in the last year or so at about 60% of new price. They were all like new, barely played and were all great guitars once I had my set up guy go through them and dial them in.
L.
Old 10th March 2014
  #3
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allphourus's Avatar
 

I can't point you to specific makes or models, I think Tone verses Loudness is a compromise form the luthiers perspective, you sacrifice one for the other. There might be something inexpensive out there that has achieved a higher output by default but I'm not aware as my personal preference is skewed towards good tone. That said I'd look at round neck Weissenborn design type guitars as the increased internal volume from the hollow neck produces a slightly louder guitar and Resonator guitars can cut through pretty well, have a increased sustain but don't really sound like a normal six string .A Weissenbrn guitar can sound really sweet tuneful and I've seen some in your price range but never tried them.
Old 10th March 2014
  #4
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Lenzo's Avatar
Another one that just came to mind..Alvarez AJ60SC. These really vary in quality. You have to play them if you can find them at a local shop. I played one in Santa Barbara one day. Not a bad guitar. Only around $500 new. But Alvarez necks in this price range can be really good or pure crap. Also it's not a great guitar...I doubt there is a great guitar at that price. But the one I played had a good neck, was well built and intonated perfectly. It also sounded pretty good and had real decent projection and bottom end being that it was a jumbo.
L.
Old 10th March 2014
  #5
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I think 1 and 2 are hard to get in the same guitar.

Booming bass and loud = Martin

Sweet highs, soft = Gibson

When trying out guitars looking for a nice acoustic, I picked up a Martin, and it was louder than I sing.... not for me. I went with a Gibson J50, soft and warm.

There a tons of handmade guitars these days, tough to comment without actually playing the individual guitar.
Old 10th March 2014
  #6
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I now realize I've wanted too much quality in that price range, so I've edited the OP accordingly. I can't change my budget due to concerns about mortgage rate increases.

Thanks for the insightful responses, and to alphourus for informing me about the Weissenborn design.
Old 10th March 2014
  #7
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Well, let's go down the list...

I'm looking for a really LOUD 6-string…

Yep.

1) HUGE bass, boomy, crisp or otherwise

More crisp than boomy, let's say.

2) Highs and mids as penetrating as possible.

Beyond penetrating.

3) Any size, design, color or shape. Jumbo totally cool.

Easy.

4) I'm not interested in used guitars at all.

Brand New.

Having the most beautiful tone in the world is not important<> as brutally loud and powerful as humanly possible.

Roger that. Here you go. $299 out the door.
Attached Thumbnails
What is the Loudest Steel-String Acoustic Guitar on the planet (00 or less)?-rogue.jpeg  
Old 10th March 2014
  #8
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scrubs's Avatar
 

What string gauge are you using on your current acoustic? Switching to a heavier string may give you more volume and a less "plinky" tone (will require a setup also). Otherwise, get a jumbo. Maybe something like this: Guild GAD Series F-150R Jumbo Acoustic Guitar Natural | Musician's Friend
Old 10th March 2014
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scrubs View Post
What string gauge are you using on your current acoustic? Switching to a heavier string may give you more volume and a less "plinky" tone (will require a setup also). Otherwise, get a jumbo. Maybe something like this: Guild GAD Series F-150R Jumbo Acoustic Guitar Natural | Musician's Friend
I use .012's (with medium picks) and everything is perfectly fine with me at home, but going up against my Classical friend who has serious rasgueado knockout power on chord strums, I really am starting to think it's "Go Jumbo or Go Home". See, we play the guitar duo style, like Paco De Lucia and Al Dimeola/John Mclaughlin did in their duets. His guitar just has such a deeply overpowering tone, it's uncanny, and I need something that doesn't get so overpowered, especially in the low end.
Old 10th March 2014
  #10
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scrubs's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by eldon2975 View Post
I use .012's (with medium picks) and everything is perfectly fine with me at home, but going up against my Classical friend who has serious rasgueado knockout power on chord strums, I really am starting to think it's "Go Jumbo or Go Home". See, we play the guitar duo style, like Paco De Lucia and Al Dimeola/John Mclaughlin did in their duets. His guitar just has such a deeply overpowering tone, it's uncanny, and I need something that doesn't get so overpowered, especially in the low end.
I would suggest trying a set of mediums before you drop a grand on a new guit. The Fender acoustics I've own can sound thin, but tend to project better with a thicker string.
Old 10th March 2014
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scrubs View Post
I would suggest trying a set of mediums before you drop a grand on a new guit. The Fender acoustics I've own can sound thin, but tend to project better with a thicker string.
I understand you fully on that point, but I really lose left hand stamina with any gauge heavier than .012's.
Old 10th March 2014
  #12
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TurboJets's Avatar
Personally, I think the loudest acoustic I ever played was a Gibson Hummingbird but they're twice the price of your budget.

The Washburn WSD5240 has a nice projection but it's way under your budget at like $600. Rosewood back and sides.
Old 10th March 2014
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboJets View Post
The Washburn WSD5240 has a nice projection but it's way under your budget at like $600. Rosewood back and sides.
Thanks for that. I don't mind going well under $1200, it's all about maximum sonic blast for the buck.
Old 11th March 2014
  #14
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An odd post. For one, the steel string acoustic is so much louder than a classical guitar is to start with. I have to wonder how he is drowning you out, if he's actually playing his classical guitar.

Then I have to wonder why. Why don't you two learn how to play together properly? It's not a competition to be the loudest or anything. You're going out to buy a whole new guitar to be louder than him because he's louder than you now? What's wrong with you people?

I can only thank God that you characters are playing acoustic guitars and not electrics... what a drag that would be for even more people than whatever it is you're doing now.

A big part of playing an instrument is doing less, so that others can fill in their space, with the overall whole being better. This is as true with a couple of geezers on acoustic guitars as it is with a rock and roll combo as it is in an orchestra.

Your Fender is probably a terrible guitar, their acoustics aren't good usually. Some say otherwise... let's not clog up the internet with a bunch of debate about that. Just get a good, name brand, well made dreadnaught with a solid top and hopefully solid sides and back also. You'll probably be fine.

And then the two of you, just learn to not walk over each other and it'll all be better.
Old 11th March 2014
  #15
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I would disagree with the above. A concert quality classical guitar is pretty loud.... it is also $10k.

The $2 nylon string guitar sitting in your moms attic barely deserves to be named the same instrument.
Old 11th March 2014
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Mal View Post
An odd post. For one, the steel string acoustic is so much louder than a classical guitar is to start with. I have to wonder how he is drowning you out, if he's actually playing his classical guitar.

Then I have to wonder why. Why don't you two learn how to play together properly? It's not a competition to be the loudest or anything. You're going out to buy a whole new guitar to be louder than him because he's louder than you now? What's wrong with you people?

I can only thank God that you characters are playing acoustic guitars and not electrics... what a drag that would be for even more people than whatever it is you're doing now.

A big part of playing an instrument is doing less, so that others can fill in their space, with the overall whole being better. This is as true with a couple of geezers on acoustic guitars as it is with a rock and roll combo as it is in an orchestra.

Your Fender is probably a terrible guitar, their acoustics aren't good usually. Some say otherwise... let's not clog up the internet with a bunch of debate about that. Just get a good, name brand, well made dreadnaught with a solid top and hopefully solid sides and back also. You'll probably be fine.

And then the two of you, just learn to not walk over each other and it'll all be better.
We do play together properly. When we switch guitars, it's me drowning him out.

The Fender isn't terrible, just rather thin sounding. It's average. I think the small/thin neck might be a factor in the overall resonance.

My guitar duo partner is drowning me out because he has a custom built beauty of a guitar, which is extremely sonorous. It's like a bass boost on every note. Not only that, he has the hands and technique of Paco De Lucia, and what must be graphite nails.

We can attain balanced musicality in the high end, when doing simultaneous lead lines, but in chord work, my guitar is wafer thin like a Kazoo X Ukelele and his is like a tenor saxophone going through a bass guitar amp.
Old 11th March 2014
  #17
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e3p0's Avatar
 

Have you tried the non electric solid wood Taylors (DN3, DN4 et al)? Bang for the buck and loud. It looks like the DN4 is discontinued, but if I found a closeout or something I would buy with confidence.
Old 11th March 2014
  #18
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WinnyP's Avatar
My guild gad-30 has hot clear mids and a crisp bass. Its an OM with a slightly shallower body. You should try one. Some taylors and d28s also get loud
Old 11th March 2014
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by e3p0 View Post
Have you tried the non electric solid wood Taylors (DN3, DN4 et al)? Bang for the buck and loud. It looks like the DN4 is discontinued, but if I found a closeout or something I would buy with confidence.
I haven't tried them, and don't exactly know why I've tended to avoid Taylor acoustics in the past, but thanks for the suggestion and I'll be giving 'em a try, if possible, at many different music stores over the next 2 weeks.
Old 12th March 2014
  #20
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e3p0's Avatar
 

Most of them tend not to carry the acoustic only ones. I own a 410e (no cutaway dreadnaught) and I may trade and sell other gear, but not that.
Old 12th March 2014
  #21
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You could find a Martin d18 for that price. Those can be plenty loud and penetrating. If you really want loud, I'd play every adirondack topped dread I could find. D18 style and advanced jumbo style tend to have great volume and cut.

Edit: you could also just raise your action and put heavier strings on and see where that gets you. sorry I missed the no used mandate. That makes no sense.
Old 12th March 2014
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G.I.B. View Post
You could find a Martin d18 for that price. Those can be plenty loud and penetrating. If you really want loud, I'd play every adirondack topped dread I could find. D18 style and advanced jumbo style tend to have great volume and cut.

Edit: you could also just raise your action and put heavier strings on and see where that gets you. sorry I missed the no used mandate. That makes no sense.
Your post has jolted me a little.

I had locked myself into the no used thing, because I really felt I wanted my own guitar, in an abstract sense and a concrete way too. No dirt from someone else, no scratches or wear and tear from someone else, I wanted to see and hear it morph over time. I must reconsider now.

I know about the Martin d18 reputation, full bass and sweet highs. Still considering that.

But then I Googled "advanced jumbo", leading me to this :

Gibson Advanced Jumbo - Vintage Sunburst - Long & McQuade Musical Instruments

$2,500



After reading the reviews :

"Wonderful punchy tone with tons of bottom and snappy treble. Looks a hundred years old, and sounds a hundred year old too."

"Great build, plays easy and is possibly the loudest acoustic I have ever played."


...I realized that is the acoustic guitar of my dreams.


Gear Review Gibson Advanced Jumbo - YouTube


Sounds massively powerful, full and rich.
Old 12th March 2014
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Well, let's go down the list...

I'm looking for a really LOUD 6-string…

Yep.

1) HUGE bass, boomy, crisp or otherwise

More crisp than boomy, let's say.

2) Highs and mids as penetrating as possible.

Beyond penetrating.

3) Any size, design, color or shape. Jumbo totally cool.

Easy.

4) I'm not interested in used guitars at all.

Brand New.

Having the most beautiful tone in the world is not important<> as brutally loud and powerful as humanly possible.

Roger that. Here you go. $299 out the door.
I second this. Seriously. Check also the Hofner resonator. Remember we have resonators because acoustic guitars weren't loud enough
Old 12th March 2014
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edoardo View Post
I second this. Seriously. Check also the Hofner resonator. Remember we have resonators because acoustic guitars weren't loud enough
I understand your logic, but I really don't want anything to do with resonators, I just don't like the sound.
Old 12th March 2014
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by eldon2975 View Post
I'm looking for a really LOUD 6-string, steel-string acoustic to allow me to match (or approach) the volume of my friend who is an accomplished Classical guitarist. When we jam, he drowns me out (me on my generic, dull, plinky sounding Fender dreadnought. I play with a pick. I like the low action, but the guitar has a really wimpy sound). My preferences :

1) HUGE bass, boomy, crisp or otherwise, with as much low end resonance & sustain as possible.

2) Highs and mids as penetrating as possible.

3) Any size, design, color or shape. Jumbo totally cool.

4) Would prefer new over used.

Having the most beautiful tone in the world is not important, I just want something that sounds decent (5+/10 for tonal quality, separation & balance in your opinion) and is as brutally loud and powerful as humanly possible. Maximum blast for the buck.

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
This is a silly question. I'm sorry, but it is.

There is no "loudest guitar on the planet" at any price.

The volume of a guitar is determined by many different things, and the same guitar can be set up to be loud or quiet. On the whole, larger bodied guitars that better made (and hence more costly) asre louder than smaller cheap guitars, but I've seen casses where a good quality, large guitar was much quieter than a moderately priced small guitar.

The key is setup and you've given us a couple of clues here.

You're comparing your steel string dreadnaught, played with a pick, to a nylon string classical guitar played with fingers. By all rights your guitar should be louder, but it isn't. Why?

Well, to start with, you say you enjoy your low action, but complain about your dull, plinky sound on your Fender Dreadnaught. What gauge strings are you using? I bet they're pretty light, aren't they? And your action is set quite low.

An acoustic guitar is a mechanical system and the bigger the guitar, the heavier the strings must be to get the top moving. Additionally, having the action too low will kill both the tone (making it "plinky") and the volume by not allowing the strings to move in a fully circular motion. Low action flattens out your string motion into an ellipse and you lose volume and low end fundamental.

Take the guitar to a good luthier and have him set it up for optimum tone and volume. You'll want strings on it that are AT LEAST 0.12s and probably 0.13s. And you'll have to work harder to play it because the action will be noticeably stiffer. You'll also need to change your strings more often - old, dead strings will kill the tone of even a great guitar. When I say "more often" I mean at least every couple of weeks, more if you play a lot or have corrosive sweat.

Also try using a somewhat heavier pick if you're not doing so already.

If you do these things and your guitar still isn't loud enough, in your modest price range I'd look at a Chinese GAD series Guild.
Old 12th March 2014
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Well, let's go down the list...

I'm looking for a really LOUD 6-string…

Yep.

1) HUGE bass, boomy, crisp or otherwise

More crisp than boomy, let's say.

2) Highs and mids as penetrating as possible.

Beyond penetrating.

3) Any size, design, color or shape. Jumbo totally cool.

Easy.

4) I'm not interested in used guitars at all.

Brand New.

Having the most beautiful tone in the world is not important<> as brutally loud and powerful as humanly possible.

Roger that. Here you go. $299 out the door.
HAH! I didn't think of that, although I own two resonators. They certainly are loud! I wouldn't go buying one without trying it out though - not everybody's cuppa tea...
Old 12th March 2014
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by eldon2975 View Post
I understand you fully on that point, but I really lose left hand stamina with any gauge heavier than .012's.
Practice. Squeeze tennis balls. Whatever guitar you have you'll have to raise your action a bit because even a vintage '50s Gibson J-200 will be totally choked by low action. And Jumbos like 0.13s, they do not work well with 0.12s. I used to have a '58 J-200 (stolen 30 years ago ) I know what I'm talking about on this.

I don't get the "no used" thing. New guitars that aren't aged and broken in yet are generally not as loud and toneful as they will be after a few years. And if a guitar has a few dings you don't have to worry about getting the first scratch on it.
Old 13th March 2014
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
in your modest price range I'd look at a Chinese GAD series Guild.
Thanks for your opinion John, I like the way you substantiate your points of view. But I'm getting a new guitar regardless (without dismissing your well reasoned insight) ! heh

Re: The "Chinese GAD series Guild", how do you view it's potential in terms of the quality of the aged wood process ? 10 years form now, do Rosewood back and sides and a solid Spruce top morph into something better sonically, or is it rather insignificant ?
Old 13th March 2014
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by eldon2975 View Post
Thanks for your opinion John, I like the way you substantiate your points of view. But I'm getting a new guitar regardless (without dismissing your well reasoned insight) ! heh

Re: The "Chinese GAD series Guild", how do you view it's potential in terms of the quality of the aged wood process ? 10 years form now, do Rosewood back and sides and a solid Spruce top morph into something better sonically, or is it rather insignificant ?
The main drawback I see to the GAD series is the polyester finish. I have a GAD mahogany body 12 string and it's quite nice, especially for the money I spent on it. The workmanship and materials they're using appear quite good, much better than most other Chinese built acoustics. They totally smoke any of the Chinese Epis I've played, for example. It remains to be seen how the poly finish affects aging, but for the price they go for you could always get the top refinished with nitro. Back and sides won't need it. I paid a fair bit less than $500 for my 12, with the hard case, from Hello Music. According to The Guild Website they use all solid tonewoods in the GADs, no plywood.

With typical discounts you should be able to just afford an F150R jumbo on your budget.
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