Mudcat Café message #255028 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #9606   Message #255028
Posted By: Whistle Stop
10-Jul-00 - 09:02 AM
Thread Name: INFO/Opinions:Taylor,Larivee,Collings,et al.
Subject: RE: INFO/Opinions:Taylor,Larivee,Collings,et al.
I own a Lowden and a Larrivee, and heartily recommend either. The Lowden is my main guitar -- it's an O32-C that I bought just last year, after drooling over it for quite a while. Spruce top, rosewood back and sides, a jumbo shape with a soft cutaway. It moves a lot of air, and has a unique personality -- you would never mistake it for a Martin, or really for anything else. It's warm, resonant, "big" sounding without sacrificing any sweetness of tone. Not the slimmest neck, or the most playable guitar I've ever owned, but I find that its tone and responsiveness make me rise to the occasion. Street price is between $2500 and $3000 (American), I believe.

The Larrivee is a 1994 OM-10, which is a similar body style to a Martin 000. Spruce top, rosewood back and sides, beautiful inlay (which Larrivee is known for). This one was made before Larrivee got into its current mass-marketing approach, although I don't know if that really means anything (I don't have any reason to believe that the quality of their higher-end instruments has suffered from their recent focus on mid-priced instruments). As someone else mentioned, they are quieter instruments than some others, with a very even, piano-like response; as someone who came to steel-string acoustics by way of the classical guitar, this works just fine for me. In fact, I remember sitting in the shop before I bought it, comparing it to a Martin OM -- I instinctively played the two instruments very differently, because they clearly had different strenghts -- the Larrivee was more suited to quasi-classical fingerpicking, the Martin responded better to a more aggressive attack. I believe I paid about $1800 for it back in 1995. It is my second Larrivee -- I owned an earlier model in the early 1980s, which I had to part with for financial reasons.

I string both the Larrivee and the Lowden with medium-guage phosphor bronze strings, and use both for flatpicking, fingerpicking, alternate tunings, and anything else I can think of. Both have flattish fingerboards -- again, for someone with a classical guitar background this is nice, but others who are accustomed to Martins and Gibsons may find that it takes some getting used to.

I have owned three Taylors, and ultimately sold or traded them all. They're great instruments, very well made, good woods, good design -- I especially like the 14 body style, which is bigger than an auditorium size but smaller than a jumbo. They tend to seem a little generic to me -- that "lack of personality" that others have mentioned -- but that is a very subjective thing, and I wouldn't put too much emphasis on it. I just never really bonded with any of mine to the extent that I have with the Lowden and the Larrivee.

Electronics deserve a separate thread (to my ears the onboard Fishman Blender system on my last Taylor never lived up to its advance billing, no matter how much I fiddled with it). Thanks for starting this thread; I am following it with much interest.