The Holiday Gear Guide 2016

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Holiday Gear Guide
Photos by Mackenzie Moore

CORDOBA MINI SM-CE ACOUSTIC-ELECTRIC TRAVEL GUITAR

(Street: $329.99)

It’s billed as both a travel guitar and as a mini classical guitar. Well, it’s both. As fun to play as it is unique, Cordoba’s Mini SM-CE Acoustic-Electric can serve several different needs. With nylon strings and a neck just a few hundredths of an inch slimmer than a standard classical guitar neck, it works great for the player with classical and fingerpicking chops, as well as for thumb-strumming and for lead playing with its cutaway.

With a 2-band pickup system and an end-pin jack, it’s just as much at home on the stage as it is on the couch, in the back of a car, or around the campfire. At about 30½ inches long, it’s 10 to 12 inches shorter than a standard acoustic guitar. The tuning is a little different, with the sixth string tuned to A instead of E, and the rest of the strings tuned to typical guitar string intervals from that low A upwards. This guitar is a great-sounding, great-looking and all-round enjoyable little instrument.

Holiday Gear Guide

TAYLOR 414CE-R ACOUSTIC-ELECTRIC GUITAR

(Street: $2,199)

Taylor hits a home run again with its new 414ce-R acoustic-electric. With a Grand Auditorium-shape body that has Indian rosewood back and sides and a Sitka spruce top, this guitar is one of Taylor’s most affordable with these types of woods. The ebony fretboard plays like a dream, and the ebony bridge and Tusq nut and Micarta saddle add to the expressive sound of this axe. The sound is well-balanced and the action makes for easy playing all the way up the neck, which joins the body at the 14th fret. The Venetian cutaway allows pretty easy access up to the 17th fret.

Taylor’s ES2 electronics system sounds great. The proprietary pickup behind the saddle involves three individually calibrated piezo-electric sensors that respond naturally to the instrument’s acoustic energy as it’s transferred through the saddle, making for a sound that is more organic and less electronic than some pickup systems. It comes with a five-latch hardshell case to help protect it from both the rigors of the road and nosy kids on Christmas Day.

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