Posted by: kubiakl | December 9, 2008

Off The Beaten Path

Gibson.  Taylor.  Martin.  Fender.  Epiphone.  Ibanez.

All well recognized guitar manufacturers.  But at times you want to take the road less travelled.  I wanted to take some time to spotlight a few manufacturers that are a little off the beaten path.

Walk into the acoustic section of your nearest Guitar Center and you’ll see the same thing – a lot of Martins you can’t afford, a lot of Taylors you can’t afford, and a few Gibsons you can’t afford.  After you wipe the drool from your chin and look a little lower you’ll see Epiphones, Ibanezes, and Yamahas.  Mostly you’ll see dreadnoughts with gloss tops and a scattering of OMs and jumbos.  Occasionally you’ll find something great among them (like my Epiphone Masterbilt) but normally it’s just the same old.

One of the largest manufacturers of musical instruments is the Samick corporation.  They even build instruments for some of the major companies like Epiphone, Washburn, and Gibson.  Their own line is the Greg Bennett designed series of guitars, which includes acoustics and electrics.

I found my favorite on the Greg Bennett website – the Rio Grande OM 15 CE.


Yes, it’s a large image, but I wanted to highlight the details.  The basics of the guitar – a solid quarter sawn cedar top, scalloped braces for better sustain, Ovangkohl back and sides for enhanced bass response, and Fishman electronics.  All excellent parts.  And it’s quite a looker as well – I really like the wooden pickguard and rosette.

You can find one for a little under $500.  Compare that to $1,000 for a plain, unadorned mahogany Martin 000-15.

I’ve also heard good things about Walden guitars.  After searching around, I found the G630 CE to compare.  Again we have a solid cedar top (Western Red Cedar), but with rosewood back and sides.  Fishman provides our electronics (Fishman is one of the leaders in acoustic pickup manufacturing).  The scalloped bracing is still there to help our top vibrate more freely.  In terms of looks it’s a little more understated:


But still an all around nice looking guitar.  The satin nitrocellulose finish gives it a nice smooth feel and allows the wood to breathe.  Street price is still just under $500.

I just heard about Tanglewood guitars the other day, but the specs sound solid and they look very classy.  Here is there TW170 AS CE model:


Interesting fret markers.  It has a solid spruce top (spruce is the most common wood for acoustic guitar tops), mahogany back and sides, and a B-Band pickup system.  It has a gloss finish which I’m not partial to, but most of the guitars you’ll find have gloss finishes.  It’s a matter of preference.  The only downside to Tanglewood is that they’re hard to find in the United States – Tanglewood is based in the United Kingdom.  The reviews I found were overwhelmingly positive, and the kicker: priced well under $500.

There are plenty of other great less well known manufacturers out there (which I might get around to researching).  Hopefully when you’re looking for your next guitar you’ll think outside the norm a little and try one of these brands out.  If you happen to already own one, let us know what you think of it.  Adios until next time!



  1. I enjoyed this post very much. There are a lot of great guitars out there no matter the price range you just have to pick the one made for you. Send me an email so we could chat. I have a favor to ask of you.

  2. I’ve always been quite fond of the Martin’s most. Some guitars give you that tickling feeling when you play them which is why they say your guitar is like your girl I guess. Richie Valens even Slept with his! : )
    Excellent Post!

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