NGD: Chinese OOO size cedar / rosewood ... yes you did read that correctly

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sookwinder
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NGD: Chinese OOO size cedar / rosewood ... yes you did read that correctly

Post by sookwinder » Tue Sep 25, 2018 2:19 am

New Guitar Day.
I have only had this new acoustic for less than 2 hours and I have to write up a quick thread.
Yes I am excited.

Two or three months back a colleague at work who shall remain nameless (yes you Brian) mentioned to me a youtube vid of a guy in the UK talking about 12 fret acoustic guitars. Guitars where the neck joins the body at the 12th fret, rather than the standard (these days) 14th fret. It was quite an enjoyable vid ... I like vids where the presenter gives you evidence, ideas, humour and doesn't demand you change your opinion or demands you drink the cool-aid. While the vid will never get me to give away my various 14 fret Gibson/Epiphone acoustics he did allow me to add another "item" to look for whenever I was surfing the interwebz. Here is the vid:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfpMciG92oY

Move forward a month or so I was looking at various guitar sellers on Aliexpress and found a couple who seem to (a) have good product and (b) were not just "middle men" or at least were not middle-men who also sold toilet plumbing, car radios and colanders on the same website.

I then notice a couple of styles of acoustics that were not in my current collection and eventually I decided to dip my toe in the water and purchase a cedar topped rosewood back and sides OOO size 39" acoustic. What's more it is a 12 fretter.

A couple of other reasons which pushed me to this model were the fact that it has a solid cedar top... yes cedar is softer and doesn't last as long, but on the other side of the ledger cedar is already far more malleable than spruce and won't take as long to start to sing. I also will not be throwing it around on stage so the somewhat more softer nature of the wood should be in situations it will be damaged easily. I also do not strum vigorously so that's ok. The other factor is that it has rosewood back and sides. Don't have a rosewood acoustic either.

It has an ebony fingerboard and bridge. The neck is mahogany and the headstock has a volute. (given I am not a LP wanker, I have no issue with a volute).

I have bought Chinese electric guitars and basses before (directly from China) and have been overwhelmed by the quality and value for the hard earned buck. But acoustics are something different. Anyone can through a pickup, some tuners, a bridge, strings onto a plant of wood and produce an electric guitar that will sound like something close to what we expect an electric to sound like. Where as acoustics to be better than just ok need some thought in the design, the woods selected, the methodology of construction and the quality of the workmanship. Hence my dipping of one's toe and the choice of a smaller bodied acoustic.

I also went for a model straight off the production line. No changes, no extras, nadda ... As you can see by the photos there is an abundance of bling. Abalone shell inlay everywhere and I mean everywhere. I was a little uncertain about this. My preferred acoustic finish are the 1960s Epiphone and Gibson sunbursts. So a natural with a boat load of abalone inlay is not my usual suit. But it works!

The abalone inlay is not over the top in anyway. Yes it is everywhere, but it is all real abalone and there is a subtlety to how real abalone looks. A softness to the colour, only portions of a section lighting up as the light flickers on it . I am quite please with how it looks.

Now to the guitar.
Ordered on the 2nd September, shipped on the 18th September, arrived on the 25th September. Given how the instrument smelt when I opened up the shipping box, I suspect the guitar has literally just come off the production line or maybe I should say out of the hands of the wood worker who built it, just before it was shipped to me. The cost a whopping US$345. Shipping to my front door included. (I paid US$380 because we in Oz have to pay a GST on these items these days) But still US$380 for this instrument is the best value for money on an instrument (where the instrument is of real quality) I have ever purchased! There was the option of two different EQ/pickup systems that could be fitted, but I did not want either.

The guitar arrived in the usually foam coffin style shipping box set up that every other Chinese guitar/bass I have bought directly from China comes it. To our eyes that are expecting a cardboard shipping carton with foam beads inside, these tape cover foam coffins look a little cheap, a little too easily damaged. But I can tell you I have never had any issues with this method of shipping a guitar - and remember there is no case.

I have ordered a Silver Creek Vintage Archtop 000 Auditorium Acoustic Guitar for this guitar from the States and should arrive tomorrow... perfect timing.

There is not one blemish on the guitar, the finish is mirror like. The wood looks and feels sublime. The fit and finish is perfect. The frets are a little thinner than say are on some of the dreadnaughts I have, but still perfect. The fret ends are perfect. As a side note every guiyar and bass I have received from China directly have had THE BEST fret ends. Smooth, rounded, finished perfectly. The compensating saddle, bridge pins and nut are bone. Tuners are smooth with nice looking, feeling black buttons.

I gotta say that quality of the inlay work is magnificent. One cannot feel (or see) any joins or miss-alignment. Everywhere you look it just shouts quality. Who ever made this acoustic guitar, where ever it was manufactured, they must have desire to build quality instruments. The wood selected doesn't have any blemishes or marks.

The neck is straight and I have no need to make any adjustments with the dual truss rod system (will have to work out how this actually works sometime...)

The only item I would have changed if I had the opportunity would have been to not have had the neck strap button fitted. I don't use straps on acoustics and I never fit neck strap buttons myself. But as I was buying an "off the shelf" model, you get what you get. And seriously if the necvk strap button being fitted it the only issue then it is a damn fine instrument.

The nut width is 43.9mm (just a tad less than 1 3/4". While this is quite wider than I usually like in an acoustic, for what ever reason it works for me.

How does it sound and play.
Straight out of the box the guitar sounded awesome. The playability is perfect.
The set up is perfect. Yes perfect. the action is perfect. No buzzing, no fretting out anywhere.
Currently there are the Chinese string on it (and yes it still sounds great) I am letting the guitar settle before I change to my usual acoustic strings.

I will give a better description about the sound in a few days.
A couple of interesting observations: the guitar is heavier than similar sized Gibson B25s or Epi Cortez guitars. Must be the rosewood.
Also when one strums harder the guitar seems to have an 5th or 6th gear (I was going to use the term overdrive, but we all use that term for something completely different) What I mean by this is that the extra loudness produced by the harder strumming is far greater than when I do the same with my J50, Hummingbird, Frontier, Cortez, Texan etc..... maybe this is the 12 fretter factor ?

Right now after having this guitar barely 4 hours I would recommend it to anyone, especially given the value for $$$ cost.
This Chinese manufactured acoustic guitar is as good as any new guitar I have played from the big name brands over the years

Couple of last comments (need to cook dinner I am starving) ...
The cost stated on the shipping documents was US$80, which would be handy if I paid import duty when the item landed here in Oz ... but we don't as the item is under $1000 (plus I already paid the GST anyway when I bought it off Aliexpress) .. but it maybe beneficial for people in other countries.
There was no reference to the fact that the vast majority of the guitar is made of Indian rosewood !

Any apparent marks or similar in the pics are not actual marks or scratches but stuff from the garden that had blown onto the guitar.
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Re: NGD: Chinese OOO size cedar / rosewood ... yes you did read that correctly

Post by UlricvonCatalyst » Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:01 am

Looks like a finely crafted instrument. This is just compounding my misery as I've been after a somewhat similar Recording King ROS-647/627 - which are reputed to be the equal of guitars costing several times their original price - for some time. Over the last couple of weeks I've had two Amazon links sent to me, both pointing to sellers in Italy who, it transpires, don't have them for sale after all. (Payment refunded the next day in both cases.)

The RK models have spruce tops, but are otherwise much the same as yours (without the fancy inlays). I wonder if yours could be produced by whoever was making the now-discontinued RKs...?

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Re: NGD: Chinese OOO size cedar / rosewood ... yes you did read that correctly

Post by sookwinder » Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:16 am

In the second link below, these is the same guitar (but with not as much bling) in both spruce and cedar top models,
And yes RK guitars are great as well.

This is the Aliexpress store I bought it from:
https://www.aliexpress.com/store/136578 ... 2a6aE1XtkW

This is the guitar manufacturer website which is referenced in the above Aliexpress store:
http://www.caterina-music.com/
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Re: NGD: Chinese OOO size cedar / rosewood ... yes you did read that correctly

Post by MatthewK » Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:17 am

Dear god that's lovely. What incredible value.
I have a cedar topped K Yairi which is pretty amazing, it's 37 years old but it had a not-quite-perfect neck reset before it got to me.

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Re: NGD: Chinese OOO size cedar / rosewood ... yes you did read that correctly

Post by Despot » Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:24 am

Looks fantastic David.

Interesting to hear your take on the sound too. I've had a cedar topped guitar myself - a Lowden (cedar/walnut). I've also had a lot of experience with my friend's rosewood/cedar Lowden O style. Both guitars were quite different to what you've described with yours - there was a very defined 'ceiling' to the volume that I had been told by others, who were more familiar with acoustics, was due to the cedar top.

Established wisdom (for what it's worth) suggests that cedar is better for definition of individual notes, whereas spruce (of any stripe) is better at volume and letting notes blend together (i.e. perfect for strumming). I never noticed my old Lowden being a slouch at strumming, but it wasn't nearly as good at it as any J45/J50 I've ever played - what it did excel at was fingerstyle, open tunings ... anything with drone strings. Maybe that's the Lowden design (their cedar tops were very thick - double the thickness of a vintage Gibson spruce top I'd say!) more so than the cedar.

When I see guitars like this one I yearn to be a better acoustic player. I'm a reasonably decent electric guitar player, but acoustics expose my lack of technique and self-tutored way of playing.

It's interesting to see how Chinese makers have really started to make great instruments. I recall getting a Korean made Epiphone Sheraton in about 2003 ... out of the box, unplugged, that guitar floored any Gibson ES model. You'd only notice it lacking when you plugged it in - but after a pick-up-ectomy and some decent switch/pot replacements that guitar could go head to head with any equivalent modern Gibson. Chinese made Epiphones have already gotten to that level (as evidenced by that '61 reissue Casino I had a few years back - that guitar was insanely good and it's one of the few that I regret selling ... including vintage!) - so there's no reason in the world that their acoustic makers can't turn out to be just as good at what they do.

What's really interesting about your guitar is that the internals look clean. The only issue with that Casino I mentioned above was that the internals were a bit rough and ready.

Really nice guitar.

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Re: NGD: Chinese OOO size cedar / rosewood ... yes you did read that correctly

Post by MatthewK » Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:28 am

Spot on re the sound of cedar, despot. I had to learn to play more gently to get the best out of the Yairi.

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Re: NGD: Chinese OOO size cedar / rosewood ... yes you did read that correctly

Post by UlricvonCatalyst » Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:40 am

Was very tempted* till I looked at the (trackable) shipping cost to the UK - cheapest is $984.

Bizarrely it's free by China Post, but comes with the warning/proviso "Parcel may not be tracked and may result in delays or lost parcels". A CITES disaster waiting to happen? Quite possibly.



* Though I'd probably prefer to hold out for something with a plainer fingerboard and spruce table.

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Re: NGD: Chinese OOO size cedar / rosewood ... yes you did read that correctly

Post by sookwinder » Tue Sep 25, 2018 4:23 am

The item was tracked the entire way from Qingdao all the way to Sydney and finally delivered to me in Melbourne.
It is tracked via China Post and at the same time EMS, plus also Aussie Post.

The way Aliexpress works is if you do not receive the item you get your $$ back.
Once you receive the item, you log in and click that you have received it , then the seller gets his $$. Not before you receive it.

I had no qualms about the shipping/payment side.
My initial hesitation was "do they make decent acoustics?" well the answer is a definite yes.
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Re: NGD: Chinese OOO size cedar / rosewood ... yes you did read that correctly

Post by UlricvonCatalyst » Tue Sep 25, 2018 4:31 am

Right, so I'd be crazy not to go for the free shipping option, then? No experience with Aliexpress (which means they're offering me a discount voucher too), so that just leaves the question of whether they're built by children on starvation wages or not. Those would have to be some pretty talented children....

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Re: NGD: Chinese OOO size cedar / rosewood ... yes you did read that correctly

Post by UlricvonCatalyst » Tue Sep 25, 2018 4:34 am

For the record, I had a cedar-topped Seagull S12 for a number of years and it was beyond bright; that's what made me lean towards spruce. Maybe it was the fault of the cherry back and sides all along.

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Re: NGD: Chinese OOO size cedar / rosewood ... yes you did read that correctly

Post by sookwinder » Tue Sep 25, 2018 4:45 am

I have very little experience with anything but spruce tops. However in all the reading I have done over the past 3 months I do not get the impression that cedar is bright, rather it is often described as more mellow that spruce. Maybe it was the cherry that caused that.

If you want spruce, send the seller on aliexpress a message and ask whether you can get a spruce topped guitar. They certainly have them on the other manufacturers website.
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Re: NGD: Chinese OOO size cedar / rosewood ... yes you did read that correctly

Post by UlricvonCatalyst » Tue Sep 25, 2018 4:52 am

I think I'm ready to revise my opinion on the basis of individual notes having added clarity. The whole reason I want a OOO is because finger-picking.

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Re: NGD: Chinese OOO size cedar / rosewood ... yes you did read that correctly

Post by sookwinder » Tue Sep 25, 2018 5:03 am

yes yes yes... the individual notes have clarity in spades....
obviously given the other acoustics I have, I prefer the Gibson style of acoustic, but I had been looking around for a finger picking style acoustic and this fits the bill perfectly.

This maybe obvious to those who understand, but given this guitar is a OOO size, it doesn't have the booming bass that a J200 or dreadnaught would have... but then again I never wanted it to have a booming bass response, that is what dreadnaughts are for.
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Re: NGD: Chinese OOO size cedar / rosewood ... yes you did read that correctly

Post by zhivago » Tue Sep 25, 2018 12:44 pm

Very cool guitar...must be great for fingerstyle playing :)

I love the Martin flavour with the slotted headstock and the inlay on it, it's a lot like a Style 45 Martin (add to that the crazy fretboard inlays - I'm a sucker for this sort of thing!) :?

Looking forward to more thoughts as you play it more, David. 8)
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Re: NGD: Chinese OOO size cedar / rosewood ... yes you did read that correctly

Post by sessylU » Wed Sep 26, 2018 11:13 am

That looks great. I'm silently devastated that the same people who quickly crafted such a gorgeous instrument did such a shonky job of putting strings on.

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