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Thread: Dreadnought and steel strings.

  1. #1
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    Default Dreadnought and steel strings.

    My wife has a guitar down it the basement, and I got it out a couple of weeks ago and messed around with it. It says Dreadnought inside on the label, and it is my understanding that is the size. Also it has steel strings. My first thoughts were, "this thing is gigantic, and boy these steel strings suck." But then on Monday I went off lookin' and touchin' at a couple of music stores in the city, and almost all the guitars that I saw were Dreadnought size with steel strings. I guess that must be the standard. Anyway, I was just browsing and I didn't want to get anymore than passing in my interest, so I didn't talk to anyone about them.
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    Dreadnoughts are cool, but I prefer playing the OM/OOO size. Yes those are all steel string acoustics. Classical guitars are nylon string. I am sure that is pretty standard, you wouldn't find nylon on a dreadnought or OM/OOO because the bracing is completely different.
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  3. #3

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    It's a very popular guitar shape invented 100 years ago by the CF Martin Company and named after a british battleship. The dreadnought is particularly well suited for ensemble play and produces excellent volume and clarity. When I purchased my guitar (over 40 years ago) there was no choice, it was a dreadnought or nothing. I can't imagine putting any thing other that a good set of steel strings (mediums if you want to play loud and attack hard or lights if you want to go easy on the fingers) on your dreadnaught guitar. I recommend that you go back to the music store, but a set of Martin Marquis Lights, string up the old beast, and have some fun filling the room with great strumming sound. Then hit the hot tub for some therapy because your body will be in shock from manhandeling the big old battleship.
    Last edited by KanePono; 12-01-2016 at 06:06 AM. Reason: More detail

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by KanePono View Post
    It's a very popular guitar shape invented 100 years ago by the CF Martin Company and named after a british battleship. The dreadnought is particularly well suited for ensemble play and produces excellent volume and clarity. When I purchased my guitar (over 40 years ago) there was no choice, it was a dreadnought or nothing. I can't imagine putting any thing other that a good set of steel strings (mediums if you want to play loud and attack hard or lights if you want to go easy on the fingers) on your dreadnaught guitar. I recommend that you go back to the music store, but a set of Martin Marquis Lights, string up the old beast, and have some fun filling the room with great strumming sound. Then hit the hot tub for some therapy because your body will be in shock from manhandeling the big old battleship.
    I will admit a passing interest in the guitar in the basement, but I'm not ready to take on a new instrument right now. Maybe when I get tired of the ukulele, but for now I have my hands full just learning to play the ukulele well.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rllink View Post
    My wife has a guitar down it the basement, and I got it out a couple of weeks ago and messed around with it. It says Dreadnought inside on the label, and it is my understanding that is the size. Also it has steel strings. My first thoughts were, "this thing is gigantic, and boy these steel strings suck." But then on Monday I went off lookin' and touchin' at a couple of music stores in the city, and almost all the guitars that I saw were Dreadnought size with steel strings. I guess that must be the standard. Anyway, I was just browsing and I didn't want to get anymore than passing in my interest, so I didn't talk to anyone about them.

    I felt the same after I picked up my own old steel string acoustic guitar after having played the uke for a while...HUUUUGE

    The lower bout on most dreads is about 16-18" wide, with the body about 4.5" deep, similar to a Martin D-28, whereas even a baritone uke the lower bout is usually no more than 11" wide (but typically close to 9.75") and the body maybe 3" deep in the extreme...

    Tenors, et all, all smaller than that, so coming from your concert uke, going to a dread is going to seem relatively insane.

    When trying to play the dread again, what killed me more than the ginormous body size compared to my tenor ukes, was the scale length. On tenor I can span 8-9 frets from pointer to pinky. but on the guitar I felt crippled by only getting about 5 frets, unless I put a capo on the 4th fret, and then you are basically playing a guilele in Bb flat tuning.

    If you want to get into steel strings, with 6-strings, Ibanez has a 17" tenor scale, steel string guilele, called Ibanez EWP14OPN/Piccolo Guitar that is tuned up a 4th from standard EADGBE guitar tuning to ADGCEA tuning, so it's the same pitch/key as a ukulele but with two more bass strings, and all your chord knowledge will transfer, but you add some fingers/frets to the 2 newer strings. Sells for about $170 online - http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/EWP14OPN


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    I recently traded in a ukulele for a Pono UL Terz guitar, which is a 21.4" scale designed to be tuned GCFA#DG, and I absolutely love it. Even though it's tiny for a guitar (MUCH smaller body than a dreadnought!), it still feels like a monster compared to my little soprano uke, but it's an absolute joy to play. It didn't take long to get used to the steel strings, and I'm really enjoying having the extra bass

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    Here is an interesting article that talks about the different sizes of acoustic guitars and how they may be used best (setting, style).

    Personally, dreadnoughts don't appeal to me because they are so loud, so uncomfortably large, and they are "too full" sounding. I'm more interested in fingerstyle, and the smaller sizes are more suitable for that. I bought a parlor guitar that I hope to get by middle of next week. Parlor isn't a standardized size, but basically it's about the size that people referred to when they said "guitar" before the first world war. Then guitars just got bigger and bigger, presumably so they could compete with banjos, volume-wise.

    The one I bought has a 24" scale (shorter than this and I feel that standard guitar tuning won't work and you have to tune it up), with a relatively wide nut (1 3/4") for an acoustic guitar, and it was relatively inexpensive. It's this one here (without the pick guard as the new ones don't have it, luckily):



    I think this is as big and as loud as I want it, and it has the right sound. I'm conditioned by several years of playing and listening to ukuleles, so the "spammy sound" of larger guitars is almost uncomfortable to my ear. I looked at OM/folk sizes, whose bodies are a bit bigger and the scale is around 25.5", and I found the sound to be too full already with those. It would work for me, but the parlor size's sound texture appeals much more to me. I also think the 24" scale will be easier to play - less string tension. Plus I think 12 frets to the body is perfect. Certainly prefer my 12-frets-to-body tenor to the 14-frets-to-body ukes I had.

    If I'll get on with it in the long run, I don't know. I just wanted to experience steel strings. I also plan to apply the lessons I learned from the ukulele journey here and not repeat the same mistakes: stick to something that costs between 300-700, buy one properly set-up instrument only and then play it for at least a year before thinking about replacing it or getting a second one, embrace laminate sides/backs to avoid fretting over humidity (with a solid top), remember that skill is my chief limitation (not the instrument), replace strings only when new ones are needed, don't buy too many books, be patient with myself.
    Last edited by Mivo; 12-01-2016 at 08:07 AM.

  8. #8
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    My acoustic is strung with basis daddario .10's and it feels great.
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    Stansell Myrtle and POC flamenco baritone
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  9. #9
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    Mostly I wanted to know if my wife's guitar is standard, or if it is something that her parents bought her that was off a bit. Everyone knows how that goes. Thanks Mivo for the article. It actually explained things pretty well, and if I do decide to play the guitar I'll just use that one to start. I'm not much for blurring the lines when it comes to stringed instruments, so I won't be trying to make a guitar into a ukulele, or get a ukulele that somehow is more like a guitar. I know that people like to do that and I appreciate the suggestions, it just isn't me. It is interesting though. If I do decide to learn how to play the guitar, I guess that I'll play the one in the basement to start out. Who knows where I'll go with it from there.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.
    There's more than one road into Richmond. Lil' Rev
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LEY9E_W5sw

  10. #10
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    Sounds good. Yes dreadnoughts are all steel string and are a specific steel string design. Guitars that use nylon/flourocarbon are typically going to be classical guitars. There are other sizes and types of steel strings guitars such as parlor, O, OO, OM/OOO, etc.
    Koaloha Tenor 2016
    Hoffman ML ebony/red spruce tenor
    Mya-Moe redwood/walnut tenor
    Stansell Myrtle and POC flamenco baritone
    Hoffmann A style cedar maple tenor

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