Larrivée OM-3S Silver Oak
There’s never been a better time to buy a quality acoustic or electro-acoustic guitar. Here’s our pick of the best from 2014 to get you strumming.
All of the gear here was reviewed in Guitarist magazine from January 2014 onwards or featured in the wishlist section, representing outstanding performance, build quality and value. First up, it's the Larrivée OM-3S Silver Oak...
Larrivée OM-3S Silver Oak
This brand has impressed us constantly over the last couple of years, not least with this delightful 12-fretter.
It features its maker’s favourite tonewood for back and sides - Indian solid silver oak, or ‘lacewood’ - a wonderful alternative to the more common (and heavily forested) mahoganies and rosewoods. A very palatable price for this quality, too.
Taylor 214CE K DLX
The ‘14ce’ Grand Auditorium cutaway represents Taylor’s heartland, albeit with a slightly simplified shape in 100- and 200- Series guitars.
This upgrade over the standard 214ce adds beautiful laminated koa back and sides, an all-gloss finish, subtle aesthetic tweaks and - for the first time on a guitar in the 200 Series - Taylor’s ES electronics.
The model has been around since the 1960s, but the latest, New Hartford-built Guilds are the best the company has ever produced.
This breathtaking 12 is one of those dream guitars you have to have in your collection if that big ol’ jangly strummy business is what you love: wonderful.
Superb bang-for-buck here, with this all-solid cutaway folk-sized electro.
Points of note are the cedar top - a welcome tonal and feel variation on the ubiquitous spruce - and the impressive B-Band electronics with under-saddle and soundboard transducers. Chuck in solid rosewood back and sides, and there’s a lot to like.
Martin 000-18 Retro
This traditionally made, vintage-style 000-18 has an ultra-modern electronics system that features Fishman Aura digital imaging technology alongside a regular under-saddle pickup.
Martin worked with Fishman to create sound images of a genuine 1940 000-18 model, that are loaded into the guitar. A compelling take on old-meets-new.
Gretsch G5034TFT Rancher
Want to get noticed? Well, with pure acoustic performance compromised by heavy bracing to accommodate the Bigsby and a humbucker at the neck, this really shouldn’t work.
Plugged into a Deluxe Reverb with a bit of drive, tremolo and reverb, however, nobody can put it down. Cooler than Christmas itself.
Martin D-15M Burst
Subtle upgrades and a new finish option underline the Gold Award status of this mid-priced marvel.
Every penny of its build budget goes into the stuff that matters for tone - solid genuine mahogany throughout, Martin’s new ‘simple dovetail’ neck joint, bone nut and saddle, rosewood fingerboard and bridge - with nothing ‘wasted’ on fancy adornments, inlays or what have you.
The only concession to looks is the subtle ’burst finish that costs extra over the regular D-15M. All-mahogany construction means it’s not as complex sounding as the latest D-18 model (spruce top, full dovetail), but the 15s have a sound all of their own, and much loved it is too.
This high-quality, purposeful instrument chimes perfectly with contemporary trends in tones and aesthetics: play it till you drop.
Yamaha LJ6 ARE
Yam’s range-topping L Series was redesigned for 2014. Folk music inspired the first ones 40 years ago, and it’s ‘new folk’ that’s the inspiration now, meaning traditional designs, tones and feel.
The ‘6’ variants are the start-up models, with laminated backs and sides; they also receive Yamaha’s ARE-treated, solid Engelmann spruce tops for the first time (Acoustic Resonance Enhancement is essentially pre-ageing for the tops, using temperature, humidity and pressure).
We like the new, passive pickup system that removes the confusion, batteries and messing about that often go hand-in-hand with big, ugly preamps. A volume control wouldn’t go amiss for convenience, but there are no moans about the plugged-in sound.
The jump to the 16 Series (around £800) brings solid woods throughout; either way, the L Series means serious value for money.