Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

My next guitar :::

Hi everyone,
Im new here…
So, i finally sold my 214ce Taylor, and im looking for some recommendation for upgrade. My budget now is 1200$ but i could wait i try to save a bit more
Take in advance that im not from U.S so they prices are diffrent. for an example my old Taylor cost me new 1450$ and i sold it for 1200$.

For now my options are:

1.Used Seagull s6 2000’ - solid Spruce top, Mahogony b&s - which i believe its lamin. for 450$/

2.Used Toaki Cats Eyes 1979’ - Spruce top, lam. Mahogony b&s for 900$.

3.Used Martin D16RGT -as new. all solid ofcourse. for 2150$.

4.Used Takamine EN10 - all solid dread. for 1200$.

5.Used Gibson Hummingbird - 2150$

6.Used Gibson J-45 - 2300$

7.New Gibson J-45 - 2700$

8.New Walden D2040 - all soild, made in china. which play very good. for 650$

I must say i love that martin folky sound. with a lot of bass and boom. i want to learn more Bluesgrass flatpicking but still to have the option to fingerpick easily.
Yes i know that i have to play them first. but i cannot go and play all of them. i need to focus first.

Thanks a lot.


The biggest thing is to play as many different guitars as you can and find what works for you. Often, buying used allows much more bang for the buck. I am not sure where you are located, but the UMGF often has instruments listed in various parts of the world:
theunofficialmartinguitarforum.y … tP-NNJDtBk
It’s pretty amazing what you can pick up there. I purchased a Martin CEO-5 (12 fret slot head dreadnought) for a friend for $1350 and that is a lifetime keeper guitar. It has a bigger bottom than anything I own and is just a fun guitar to play.

Don’t get too hung up on looking for a particular guitar when you have a tight budget. When I have done that, I often ended up with a stinker. Play the guitars, make sure they play well (unless you do set ups and can evaluate what is needed) and sound good too.

I play fingerstyle as well as flatpick, and I love doing both on dreadnoughts and smaller guitars. In my experience, some guitars do certain things better, but a good steel string guitar will be enjoyable for a wide variety of playing styles.

If I were looking for models in that price range, a few I would also be looking at (in the US anyway) are Eastman and Recording King. You can get all solid models for well under $1000. I played a Recording King dread with adirondack on mahogany for $800 that was great. I also like the new Gibson J-35 and I have seen those for sale used around the top end of your price range. I am not familiar with Walden, but the Walden you mention may well be similar to the Eastman and RKs (which are made in China). In my experience, plan to do a set up, especially on the Chinese guitars. It’s well worth the time or $50 spent.

With all that said, if I was in your shoes, I would probably be looking for a good D18 (or another CEO-5 like I previously mentioned). You might need to save a bit more, and it might take a bit longer to find a real good one, but if I had to pick one guitar in that price range, I think that is where I’d end up. The D16 is a great guitar as well, but that price you listed seems pretty steep.

Best of luck and let us know what you find.

I’ll add Blueridge guitars to Mike’s suggestions. We have almost as many Blueridge players as Martin players at my local jam. The BR-160 seems to be particularly popular.

I would also add Blueridge to the list as Larry did.

— Begin quote from "Jorje"

So, i finally sold my 214ce Taylor, and im looking for some recommendation for upgrade.

— End quote

I’m not sure some of the guitars you mentioned are upgrades. (no offense)

My question is: how did you like your Taylor? Most people it seems either hate 'em or love 'em. If you liked your Taylor and are simply looking to upgrade, you may want to consider another Taylor but in a dreadnought model. I agree with Mike in buying used. You can get a 510 (mahogany), a 710 (rosewood) or an 810 (another rosewood, just fancier) for anywhere between $1100.00 and $1800.00. These are great, well built guitars, all solid woods and high gloss finish. Taylor guitars are very consistent and are very reasonably priced both in the new or used market.

If you’re looking to get away from a Taylor and try something else, you’re on the right track with Martin and Gibson. I would also add Collings and Bourgeois to the list. I’ve seen several D-1’s and Country Boys sell for $2300.00 or less even. These are all over your budget, but any one of these may be worth the wait after saving up some more money. Mike’s right, the D-16 is steep. In fact it shouldn’t be much more than half that amount. Once in a while you can find a D-18 Golden Era for around $2200.00 used. Then you’d have a keeper with any of these.

As mentioned, play as many as you can. One or two will stand out that you keep going back to. Have fun in looking and take your time. Good Luck and let us know what you end up with.


+1 on what others have said about BlueRidge. I didn’t mean to leave them out. I have no personal experience with them, but have heard enough from others to be convinced.

Thanks you so much guys for your replies.

About my sold taylor 214ce. it was my first “good” guitar i had in my life. she sounded amazing and lively to me at the shop, it vibrated in my hands, it was light and very easy to play. Than i play it for a year,while listening to a lot of old blues, bluegrass and folk’ and of course played on other good guitars, i found the Taylor sounds metalic to me,and it feels a bit like a toy to me…
Its just wasnt giving me what i expect for. so i sold it. I must say that i know that Taylor making a very good instruments, but i guess im not a Taylor guy.

Just saw some nice looking used Recording King and Blue Ridge guitar on Musician Friend that fit to my budget.
can someone explain to me please about this brands? are they asian?
is it a good alternatvie for Martin?

And last, is it not a huge risk to order a guitar without playing it before…
Since im from israel, I just cant put my hands on this kind of brands …
I dreaming about good all solid dread. with a old school sound and feel.

And again thank you so much…

In reference to the steep price on the Martin D16, it may be important to let you know that Martin does not allow distributors to advertise their lowest sale price. Most times you need to contact the supplier to request their low price and then you get that good number. Phone or email works fine. A D-16 should be around 16 to 1700.00. John

To the best of my knowledge, Eastman, RK and BR guitars are all made in China. You get alot more materials for the money compared to a typical US made guitar. They are generally considered to have great value. In some cases, the cost of the tonewoods is about as much as a completed guitar. Others may argue, but in what I have seen, the quality control in setup is more in line with what you see with bargain guitars as opposed to what is typically seen with US made solid wood guitars.

I think you run a significant risk in ordering a guitar site unseen. The first reason (and I don’t mean this as an insult in any way), is that it doesn’t sound like you know exactly what you want. For example, if you had played a BlueRidge BR-160A and you loved it, then it would be a pretty straight-forward process. Honestly, it takes alot of time to figure out what we want in an instrument. I could pick what I think is a great guitar for you and it’s possible that it’s just not a good match for what you want. If you can play some more guitars and figure out what works for you in your hands, that would be a huge step forward. The second problem is that with ordering from a big box store, who knows if the individual guitar will be a good one or not. I can play a bunch of different brand new examples of a given model and they have significant differences in tone and playability. For that reason, I’d consider contacting some of the shops that are big enough to give you a good price, but yet can still give in-hand evaluations and do quality setup work. Some of the shops I would buy from in the US include (links are to BR pages for the first two):
another shop I like where I played the RK with Adirondack is

I have bought instruments without first playing them from both Elderly and Gruhn and have never had a disappointment as I received what was described. I haven’t bought from Maury’s but I know people who have and received great service.

I just talked to Billy at Gruhn’s and shipping to Israel is ridiculous. The last guitar he shipped there was a D-18, and it was $600. Basically, if there is a pearl fret marker, that alone incurs a $150 tax/fee/whatever they want to call it. He said that they would of course be happy to sell you an instrument, but you would probably have better luck from European dealers. I suspect there are shops similar to Elderly, Gruhn and Maury’s in Europe, but unfortunately, I don’t have any information on where or if they exist.

I don’t know if there are guitar shops in Israel, but I would suggest looking for them, even if you ultimately order a guitar. The more guitars you play in hand, the better of an idea you will get about what you want (and what you don’t want).

Best of luck and let us know what you find.

Mike and everyone gave you some great information. The models mentioned are all very nice instruments. However, I have read a few bad things about European models of the Recording Kings.

As has been said many times, your best bet is to get to some of the larger guitar shops in your area and play to your heats content until you find the one that speaks to you. Barring that scenario and having to buy “sight unseen”, you really cannot go to far wrong with nearly any Martin model. The 15s, 16s and all the series above are all great instruments. The 16s are particularly great “bang for the buck” models. And consider that most large Martin dealers (in the states) will give you about a 40% discount over the MSRP if you speak to them directly (like Maury’s Music listed above). I do not know whether such a discount can be found on Martins in Israel. Keep in mind that Martins (unlike most of the other guitar in your list) have a very long history of doing things right when it comes to building acoustic guitars. Their fit and finish generally stands up to the best guitars made. If you look around, you may even be able to get a Martin D18 either new or barely used in your price range (if it is the difference of just a couple of hundred dollars, always buy new for the warranty).

No matter what, don’t be in a hurry to buy. Have fun. Play a lot of guitars. Find the one that wants to go home with you. That is always the best way to get a guitar or a dog. :wink:

Thanks a lot guys, especially mreisz and drguitar of your detailed comments and tips.
I played a lot of guitars this year, and i intend to keep doing that.
My problem is that we just have small variety of choices, since that in Israel we have a just a few importers that of course asking for very high prices for the guitars. especially of Martins.
In the past week i read a lot played a lot and watch a lot of YouTube videos, and it helped me to get more focused of what i want.So for now i know that im intending to buy a martin style dread with a 1 3/4" nut, traditional sound, and it should be my High end guitar that will serve me for years on. From the research i made i like a lot the blueridge Br-160a for the sound and look and of course value for money. Its seems to be a good choice to have that martins sound without paying that much, since im not a pro yet. and i think it will grow with me and open up. All that thoughts its without try it by myself…we doesnt have a blueridge. I even found a way to deliver it to israel safely.

What do you think? is it toooo risky?
What would you do?

I just dont want to pay that much buying a guitar in Isreal, and i really cant find this vintage sound im looking for in guitar models in the level im looking for.

Doc is a smart fellow with some wise words.

If getting a Martin in your range is a possibility, then I might hang out for a bit and see what pops up. The “new” (2012 and beyond) D18 sure sounds like a good match for your desires and budget. It has the 1 3/4 nut and it sounds exactly like a Martin dread. However, if you can’t get a Martin in Israel for your price range, then it makes that part of the decision easier… it just can’t happen.

If you can get a Blue Ridge BR-160A in your range, then that’s sounds like an appealing way to pursue the tone you are looking for. If there is any way that you can get the option to return or reject the guitar upon initial inspection and playing (a fairly standard practice in the US when ordering a guitar), then it seems a safe and appealing option. I’d budget for a setup as well. A well setup guitar is a totally different animal.

One note on Adirondack (the “A” of BR-160A)… it’s not for everyone. Many people prefer the sound of sitka. I happen to like both, but they are different. If you get a chance to compare some similar models with sitka and adi, I’d recommend it.

The BR160A is a nice instrument and certainly worth every penny if you get a good one. I purchased a BR180 sight unseen from an US distributor (Online Guitars), and had a terrible experience. The guitar sounded amazing but came with a bad neck set and poor fretwork. Although I returned it immediately, they took months (4.5 months) to send me another (while they held onto my money). The second one I received was in much better condition and sounded very nice (and very loud).

I have since purchased several Blueridge guitars and a couple of Martin guitars from Maury’s Music (see Mike’s post on previous page). They are exceptional at checking out the instruments before they send them out. In addition, if you request certain traits for the guitar (low action, loud voice, more bass…etc) they will pick through their stock to send you one that fits your needs and set them up per your request. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

As Mike mentioned, the A in BR160A stands for Adirondack spruce top. These tops tend to be slightly stronger (harder?) spruce compared to Sitka and Engelmann. As a result, Adirondack can often stand a heavier right hand stroke before sounding compressed (and in turn can be slightly louder than other spruces). However, Adirondack can take longer to open up (sometimes much longer) and can sound “tight” and a little brighter than Sitka and other spruces. I also like both, but if I were planning to play with a moderate (normal) right hand stroke, Sitka might be a better fit as it will often sounds fuller and opens up more quickly compared to Adirondack. As a plus, it tends to be cheaper.

As a side note, I just sent my Recording King RD316 out to my favorite luthier to have the frets replaced. I found that the treble side of the frets were slightly popped and causing some of the high E string to sound slightly dead. The Recording King RD316 is a Martin D18V knockoff with Adirondack top, hog back, sides and neck, and all ebony fittings (fingerboard and bridge). You can get them pretty cheaply right now on eBay because a large first run of the guitars had poorly attached bridges (I had to re-glue mine). So if you have a local luthier that can reglue a bridge for you, these are a steal at just under $400. I do not believe they have a 1 3/4 nut width (they are 1 11/16), but they have lots of really nice bluegrass appointments like:

Solid Adirondack Top
Solid Mahogany Back and Sides
Solid 1 piece Mahogany neck (with volute)
Dovetail neck joint
Ebony Fingerboard
Ebony Bridge
Grover open back butterbean tuners
Tortoise binding (I put a tortoise pick guard on mine to match)
Bone saddle and nut
Forward shifted, scalloped bracing
Nitrocellulose finish

That is a lot of guitar for under $400!

Just a thought.

Not to disagree with any other poster because I don’t. I think you have a lot of good advice. But if I go back to your first post I like the Martin D16RGT. But is the Acoustic/Electric? If so do you want the electronics? And is it a cutaway? I ask because all mine are Dreads and electric my two 6 strings are cutaway. I bought electric for ease of recording but now I find myself using mic’s instead. It just sounds so much better.

On Taylor guitars I don’t think you should dismiss them because you had a 214. But also the prices I saw for used seem very low even here in the States $1100 to $1800? I wish I could find that shop.

Have you made a choice on Mahogany or Rosewood? I mean a Spruce top is a given I would think. I like Rosewood over mahogany like I think most do. But I don’t play with a group. mahogany has a reputation for "cutting through the “mix”. A lot of singers choose it. On Bluegrass it has a very nice I guess I would say “penetration”. Also remember I have both so I don’t have that dilemma.

All three of my steel strings are Seagull. I have an Artist Studio, Spruce/Rosewood/Ebony fretboard, Maritime Spruce/Mahogany/Rosewood fretboard. Both have cutaways and all Solid Wood. I have a 12 string with Cedar/Wild Cherry Laminate/Rosewood fretboard no cutaway. All have electronics The artist has QII which is a mic and saddle. The other 2 are QI just the Saddle.

I like them all and I payed much less for my Solid Woods than many other brands. I would not switch from your Taylor 214 to any guitar or brand other than Solid Woods.

Good luck.

Hi to everyone,
Did a lot of research in the past month.
There is a chance for me visit New york city in April, so i think i will wait for than, instead of ordering a guitar via internet without seeing it. As at seems to me im going for : BlueRidge 160A or the Recording King RD316 or even the Gibson j-35. What do you say?
Does anyone have any recommendations for a nice shops there. any other tip?
Im so excited about that!!! wooooooo wooooo.


Some nice shops in NY. I would bet you will find the best price at Guitar Center. I believe it is on 14th St. Manhattan Not sure if they will have what your looking for at that location. Good Luck! Happy For You!

That’s great news! I’ve never been to NYC to shop for guitars, but if I were going the first place that comes to mind is Mandolin Brothers. It’s a very well known shop, and I’ve never heard anything but positive reviews. Unlike their name would suggest, they have an extremely nice guitar selection. It looks like they carry Eastman, Guild, Martin, Taylor and others. The cool thing about going to a shop instead of ordering by mail is you will get to try different instruments and see what fits you the best.
Here’s a link. Take a browse and see if they have things that interest you: … =20&Page=3

I don’t know as much about other brands, but for Martin, there is a defined minimum price that can be advertised (MAP). Many shops will sell below that. For a new Martin, I wouldn’t spend more than 65% of list. There are stores where one can always get 60% off list (such as Maury’s and My Favorite Guitar). Oddly enough, the big box store Guitar Center seldom discounts near this level on Martin unless it’s a “clearance” item.

I just called Mandolin Brothers to get some information for you. First thing, if you purchase a guitar while here you will still have to pay fees at customs upon returning to Israel. Second thing, the prices they list on the website are the minimum they can advertise according to agreements with the manufacturer. They said they typically sell Martins at 60 to 65% of list. Using those numbers, that would put a Martin D-17M at a price range of $1200 to $1300. I would certainly be inclined to test drive one of those if they had one (which they currently do).

I’m excited for you. Even if you don’t buy while you are in NYC, you will get the chance to play a bunch of instruments and figure out what works for you.

+1 for Mandolin Brothers.

You may want to add this guitar to your list if you go there.

It is the new Martin DRS2. Solid Sitka top with solid sapele back and sides. The neck is made of stratabond wood (a type of laminated wood that is very strong) which has a unique look (the back of the neck is striped).

If you have no problems with the look of the neck, it is probably the best inexpensive deal in Martin Dreadnoughts at this point. To make it a better deal, it comes with a Fishman pickup installed (with volume and tone control). They are MAP priced at $799 (probably a little better price if you ask in the store) and it INCLUDES a hard shell case! Keep in mind that this series of Martin guitars are not manufactured in Pennsylvania, but are manufactured in Martin’s dedicated Mexican factory. Considering that the other two instruments you are looking at are manufactured in China, this may not be of any concern as it is still a Martin guitar. Take a close look when you go there. If the one there speaks to you, it may find a new home.

Have fun!


One last thing. If you do purchase a guitar at Mandolin Brothers (or any other American guitar shop) make sure you ask and get a shipping carton for the guitar. Most large guitar shops have lots of cardboard shipping cartons for you to take (they generally throw away most of them). This way, if you cannot take/fit the guitar on the airplane with you, you can pack it carefully inside it’s hard case and then pack the hard case carefully inside the shipping carton. If done right, you will significantly lower the risk of damaging the guitar on it’s homeward trip.

I purchased my first martin drs1 I’m real happy with it . Great sound !!

Nice thought on Mandolin Bros. I have been there and you won’t get to see many places with a selection like that. One thing I found really interesting was it was a Father and Son (the owner and his son) running the shop. Great people and real down to earth. May not have the absolute lowest price but I agree go there even if you don’t end up purchasing now.
BTW, while I was there I remember being told Martin is the #1 guitar dollar for dollar. Tough to argue that one!

That DRS-2 looks interesting. I haven’t played one, but I do like sapele. It has a surprisingly warm sound from the few I have played.