A reader asks:
So I am a 37 year old male that picked up guitar for the first time a few days ago. I am going to learn how to play. I see that the majority of your reviews/articles are geared more towards children when determining which guitar to start with. I like the size of the parlor, and concert guitars, but am curious will 12 fret vs 14 frets really matter? and nylon vs steel strings? I have been looking at the Recording King RPS-7-FES-TS Dirty 30s Series 7 Single 0 Electric-Acoustic. I would love your opinion.
Thanks for getting in touch. Have you seen this one? I'm going to guess that it's in pretty good shape and would save you some money. https://reverb.com/p/recording-king-rps ... d=11993062
Most of the "Dirty Thirties" models are designed to look just like the crap student Kay, Harmony, and Stella guitars I grew up with. The focus of the design is actually nostalgia, like the PT Cruiser and modern VW Bugs.
That said, the "Dirty Thirties" models are made BETTER than the student models they copy, but they're made in China so they usually need an inspection and setup as soon as you get them. https://www.creekdontrise.com/acoustic/ ... ing_up.htm
Why the different neck length and body styles?
12-fret nylon string guitars follow the designs of 18th and 19-century Spanish guitar makers whose guitars had wide necks for classical and Flamenco picking.
As guitar moved toward the mainstream in the early 1900s, metal strings and larger bodies helped them to become louder, especially at the low end. Going from 12 to 14 frets helped players who were playing fancy parts to play high notes more easily. (Cutouts are an extension of that development.)
By the 1930s, most professional guitars were larger, and most student guitars kept the smaller profile. The pro guitars also adopted solid tops and new bracing under the top that allowed the top to vibrate more freely, while student guitars all went to plywood tops, sometimes with a veneer of spruce (on metal-stringed guitars) or cedar (on nylon-stringed guitars) to give them the look of pro guitars, but, quite obviously, not the sound.
In the 1970s when piezoelectric pickups and built-in preamps were first introduced on acoustic guitars, they were introduced on pro guitars first, including Ovation Legends and Balladeers, which had a huge, if not a standard body. As that technology has improved and become more affordable, it has moved down the food chain. One of the ironies is that it's hard to tell JUST from the pickup whether you have a large or small-bodied guitar or even if you have a solid top. So a $3000 solid-top jumbo or dreadnought (Gibson and Martin's biggest guitars, respectively) doesn't sound THAT MUCH BETTER through the pickup than a $300 Yamaha student guitar.
Through a real microphone or in the room with the things and you CAN tell the difference.
It has become trendy recently for people who can afford professional-quality guitars to go back to smaller designs. Because they still have solid tops, they have a nice sound in your bedroom or through a real microphone, but they're a lot more convenient to drag around. And when they're amplified, the $2000 parlor guitars sound about the same through the pickup as the $2000 big guitars.
A small plywood-topped guitar like the RPS-7-FES-TS, unplugged will NOT give you the same satisfaction as playing EITHER a larger plywood-topped guitar or a small solid-topped guitar.
Also, if you drag it to a friend's house to play along with other folks acoustically, you'll not keep up in volume.
That said, most people who started guitar in the 1950s and 1960s started out on guitars a lot like this one. If it is set up to be playable, it will be a fine instrument to learn on, and especially to travel with.
Hope that makes sense.
Please let me know how things work out and if you have any other questions,