The Holiday Gear Guide 2016

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Holiday Gear Guide

TAYLOR 712E ACOUSTIC-ELECTRIC GUITAR (left)

(Street: $2,949)

If you’re looking for a versatile acoustic/electric with smaller body but a big sound, Taylor’s 712e might be the ticket. This 12-fret (meaning the neck joins the body at the 12th fret) guitar, with a body in the neighborhood of a 00 size, is good for players of all sizes. The guitar is responsive and louder than one might expect for its smaller size when playing rhythm, but it also cuts for lead and is perfect for fingerstyle picking.

The 712e features a Lutz spruce top with Indian rosewood back and sides, and those woods, in concert with the mahogany neck and ebony fingerboard and bridge, make for an axe with a broad tonal range. Electronically, the guitar features Taylor’s top-notch ES2 system with an end-pin jack. And it looks as good as it sounds, with Hawaiian koa binding, a herringbone-style rosette featuring Douglas fir with maple/black accents, slotted headstock, and a new “weathered brown” pickguard design. Modeled in part after some of the great guitars of old, it’s still as modern as it gets.

FENDER PM-1 PARAMOUNT DREADNOUGHT ACOUSTIC GUITAR (right)

Part of Fender’s Paramount acoustic guitar series, the PM-1 Dreadnought all-mahogany acoustic guitar is everything a good Dread should be, while at the same time being one of the most lightweight such guitars on the market. It’s plenty loud with great bottom, mids and highs, but it’s also responsive for those quiet passages and for nuanced picking and strumming.

The PM-1 has mahogany neck, top, back and sides, and the top’s open-pore finish – a thin finish that allows the wood to “breathe” – provides a natural-to-the-touch feel of the wood itself, as well as a warmer and earthier tone. It has a rosewood fretboard and bridge, ebony bridge pins, bone nut and saddle, a ’60’s-style headstock with nickel open-back tuning machines, and ’60s checkerboard rosette and purfling that look great with all the mahogany. It also has a dual-action truss rod and a forward (as in just above the heel cap) strap button for playing standing up. With no onboard electronics, this is truly an acoustic player’s guitar. Comes with a deluxe hardshell case and humidifier.

Holiday Gear Guide

GUILD JUMBO JUNIOR ACOUSTIC-ELECTRIC GUITAR

(Street: $399)

If you like the body shape of Guild’s Jumbo but not its size, or just want a smaller acoustic-electric with that cool Jumbo look, you’re in luck with Guild’s new Jumbo Junior. It’s got a 14 and a half inch lower bout, similar to a 00 body size, with a little shorter 19-fret-total neck that joins the body at the 14th fret. It’s got a Sitka spruce top and your choice of either mahogany or maple back and sides, and has uniform action and good tonal balance with a bone nut and saddle, mahogany neck, and rosewood fingerboard.

The Jumbo Junior is also a winner aesthetically, with a tortoiseshell pickguard complemented by a mother-of-pearl rosette, cool black-and-white top purfling and white ABS binding. The chrome tuners are the vintage open-gear type and the headstock has that iconic Guild lettering. It also sounds great plugged in, with the piezo pickup’s tone and volume controls discreetly hidden inside the top of the soundhole. This guitar is especially impressive for the price and comes with a padded gig bag.

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