I am a beginner guitarist and want to buy a new guitar for simple stuff (campfire songs, some easy blues, mostly flatpicking with some fingerstyle). Based on the reading I've done, a great choice is a Taylor. I've been thinking of a DN3, their least expensive solid body dreadnaught.
Do any of you think there is a difference in the ease of play between the different guitar types, like a dreadnaught vs a grand concert?
There can be significant differences between manufacturers, considering that they all have their own unique neck shapes, but within a single manufacturer, I think the differences will be tiny. A dreadnought and a GC have slightly different neck lengths, which means the length of the strings is going to be slightly different, resulting in a small difference in how they feel. I can't vouch for other manufacturers, but I know Taylor puts light-gauge strings on its GC and mediums on the dread. Right there is a difference in how the two guitars will feel. In general, light-gauge strings are easier for a beginner to finger than are mediums.
You didn't ask about the differences in sound that the two body sizes produce. The GC is the smallest standard-size guitar Taylor makes, while the dread is one of the largest. One of the greatest factors in the overall sound of an acoustic guitar is the size of the body cavity. A dread will be much louder than a GC. That may or may not be important to you, depending on where and with whom you intend to play. I think a GC is great for home use or when plugged in to an amp. If your plan is to play with other people, where your guitar will be fighting to be heard alongside theirs, I'd go for a bigger body than a GC -- unless your GC will be plugged in. Another consideration is your size as a person. A dread is a big guitar, and it's typically more comfortable for larger people to play.
But the best resource is your local Taylor dealer. Play some GCs and dreadnoughts, and see which ones speak to you.
In my small town of Exeter, NH, there is a guitar repairman who is certified by both Martin and Taylor to repair their guitars. He receives guitars from all over the US for the purposes of repair. I happen to know him from circumstances that don't involve guitars, so I stopped in one day to check out his shop just for grins. I happened to mention that I was inerested in buying a Taylor guitar, and I asked him what he thought about that. He recommended a DN3. As a guy who knows Taylor guitars literally inside and out, he probably knows what he's talking about.
My first guitar was a seagull Mini-jumbo and it is a great beginner or advanced player guitar. It is a great beginner guitar because it has a thin neck and smooth fretboard that will help you with you fingering and hand position. The thin neck makes it much easier to maintain the low claw like position with your left hand. It is also a great beginner guitar becuase they are very affordable without giving up on a great sound and very well built solid top guitar. It is also a great itermediate and advanced guitar because once you move beyond the begginer stage, you can put thicker guaged strings on it and this really brings out the beutifull sound of this guitar.
I love the Taylors as well as they are fantastic guitars, but when I wanted to upgrade I went with another Seagull ( the Flame maple cut-away) because it was just as playable and sounded just as sweet to me as the hi-end Taylors for over half the price.
I have an auditorium size Martin 000-15 and it is plenty loud enough, and very comfortable for strumming campfire songs. The dreds are larger and can be a bit more cumbersome for smaller folks. I would take Dennis' advice and go down to the store and pick up as many as you can and give em' a go. Which one feels better in your hands, which one sounds best to your ear, which one has a neck that is comfortable for your style of playing. This is just one of those questions that only you can answer. All of us have our preferences and brand suggestions, but ultimately, you are plopping the cash down and have to be happy with your purchase. Taylors are great guitars (looking into buying one myself), and you probably would be very happy with the model you are talking about. However, I have read a few threads around here of hw folks had a certain make/model in mind and went down to the store and left with something completely different after test driving them. Pick a couple of songs that you would want to play and go sit in the room and give them a try. You will know it when you find something that you like.
Thanks guys. Good advice. I will of course try a few in the store. Wish I could go play a couple of songs I know, but alas, I am too much of a beginner; don't know any songs. I can strum and pluck though.
All these guys gave you great advice but they didn't answer your question! lol! Playability, or ease of playability, in a guitar is really controlled by only two things; neck shape and action (the height of the strings above the fretbaord).
A $5,000 Taylor with a high action (sounds like an oxymoron!) will be harder to play than a $300 Yamaha with a low action.
As everyone knows I am a huge Taylor fan because of their build quality, bright forward sound and especially because of their necks. The necks on all Taylors are exactly the same, cut by the same CNC milling machines. It's simply a difference in woods, finish and adornments.
The DN3 is a great little guitar and made for entry-level players. If you can handle a dreadnaught I'd definitely go that way because of the sound. But regardless of what guitar you buy, make absolutely certain it has an adjustable truss rod running through the neck. All Taylors do and all reputable brands do as well. Without an adjustable truss rod you will never be able to adjust the neck shape and get the action set low enough to play easily without causing buzzing.
Every guitar I've ever bought, new or used, has gone straight to my favorite luthier or repair tech for a good set-up which adjusts the neck and improves the action. It's the best $50 to $75 you will ever spend on guitars!
Most guitar brands set their actions high when leaving the factory because they know that their necks will move as they age and hang on the rack and they don't want them to buzz. So don't judge a guitar by its action when it's hanging up at the guitar shop because they can all be amde easier to play with a good setup.
So a long answer to a short question but buy a good neck on the guitar you like and get the action setup properly and you will be off to the races! Then join the TARGET program and you will be on the fast-track to years of guitar enjoyment and progress!
These are always such fun threads. And I haven't purchased a new guitar in at least 2 weeks, so I have to go look up what you guys suggest/recommend. Gosh, Taylors aren't cheap, are they? I just purchased a Taylor nylon string, and I agree that it is VERY easy to play, more so than my Yamaha (cheap) and my Breedlove (not so cheap). Now I want to sell my Breedlove acoustic and get the DN3. So in my limited experience, you couldn't go wrong with a Taylor.
One thing I will suggest when going to the guitar store - I have said this before in another thread. Since you are a beginner, you can have someone play the guitar while you face them so that you can get a feel for the sound. However, most guitar store guys like to get really carried away and make the sound really big, so I have to ask them to tone it down and maybe fingerpick something, because that is how I play, and that is what I want to hear.
But you do have to put it into your hands as well - sometimes just listening to someone else play will allow you to narrow down (a little) the sound you like. But you don't need to be an expert. Do you know 2-3 chords? That's enough.... The hard part for me is what Andy and Dennis were talking about. Yes the strings can be changed from medium to light, and the action can be adjusted. So that makes it hard, for me anyway, to judge whether or not I can really play this guitar. But if you love it but it seems a little hard to push down the strings, ask about the gauge, and whether or not an action adjustment can be made.
It is a little scary, and very intimidating, when you are just beginning, to purchase a guitar. Trust your instincts, and make sure the store has a good return policy. Take it home and play it privately if you need to. Good luck and let us know what you find.
I would suggest that even if you are a beginner player, I am sure you can recognize a decent sound. So if you cannot play it, ask a sales guy to play the same songs on different guitars. Of course if you already have a model in mind, or any of the excellent models that the good people above as auggested , go ahead.
My last piece of advice, then I'll leave you to your research: when you're in the store comparing a GC to a dread, don't confuse loudness with better sound. A dread will be significantly louder than a GC or another smaller body size, but the sound won't necessarily be more clear or vibrant or have as wide a frequency range. The sound quality -- as opposed to loudness -- would be a good thing to discuss with the salesperson while you're listening to him/her play.
By the way, when you're all done with this, come back and let us know what you decided on.