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There are several things that stand out in my mind when I am buying an Acoustic Guitar!!!



Ed Roman Custom Shop 2009
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1. I always try to buy a guitar that has been manufactured in the Northern Regions Of The USA.  Preferably Washington, Wisconsin, Oregon, New England, Pennsylvania, & Michigan. There are very few exceptions to this rule!  The only ones I can think of, are a couple of very small companies that specialize in less than 20 guitars per year.

2. When and if you decide to buy an expensive Acoustic Flat Top or Jazz Archtop Guitar always make sure it is made from solid wood (Not Plywood) there are some very large evil companies out there that are still only using plywood on their $3,000.00 plus guitars.  (Overpriced Rip Off's)  (Buyer Beware). Click On  (Overpriced Guitars)

Traditionally the Slimline 335 styled guitars have all been made for years out of plywood, Even some of the better companies like Guild, Heritage, D'Angelico, Stromberg, Gretsch, Sadowsky only make slimline guitars out of plywood. Savoy & Ribbecke were the only ones I know about that actually made all solid wood Slimline guitars.  Now Ed Roman Guitars has come out with an affordable all solid wood slimline guitar (Blues Deluxe) Gibson has the excellent "Johnny A" model but it costs much more than the Eastman and you can customize the Eastman.

3. Make sure the electronics are non invasive. (Never buy a guitar that has a big equalizer cut into the side of the body) You should never buy a quality flat topped acoustic guitar of any kind that has any holes whatsoever drilled into the wood.  We try never to order guitars from the factory with factory installed electronics.  Sometimes they are OK but most of the time there are better non invasive, non damaging, options available for much less money.

If you are buying a low cost or plastic backed guitar like an Ovation or lower cost all solid wood great guitar like a Seagull it's of course OK to include factory electronics.


Observe The Black Lines Drawn On This Map.
Pay  Close Attention To Where The Guitars Are Manufactured At.

Geographical Locations are Critical !!!
When It Comes To Problems Of Finish Cracking,
Neck De-lamination & Fretboard Cracking.

Even Gibson moved their acoustic division to Montana but they still make the Archtops in Memphis & Nashville.  So be careful on the Jazz Boxes.

These lines are straight for visual purposes for example I'm sure you could get away building acoustic guitars in upper Colorado

What We Have Found To Be The Best Acoustic Guitars

See Boutique Acoustic Guitars


Best Steel String Flat Top Dreadnaught, OM, Guitars

 Tacoma V SeriesRainsong   Eastman   Guild 

Best Mid Price Live Performance Guitars

Rainsong  Ovation  Tacoma

Best Jumbo Guitars

RainsongGibson J200  Tacoma V Series

Best Flat Top Parlor Guitars

Larrivee Del-Arte. Tacoma

Best Arch Top Parlor Guitars


Best Classical Guitars

Ramirez   Loriente

Best Flamenco Guitars

Loriente   Del-Arte

Best Low To Mid Price Solid Top Folk Guitar

 Tacoma  Takamine

Best Laminated Lower Cost Guitars

Ibanez   Washburn   Fender

Best Lower Cost Classical Guitars

Takamine   Espana

Best New Technology Guitars

Rainsong  Babicz,    

Best Solid Wood Thinline or Slimline Guitars

Roman Blues Deluxe  Veillette 

Best Solid Wood Jazz Archtop Guitars****

Benedetto     Eastman   Triggs

Best Laminated Jazz Archtop Guitars

    Guild   Ibanez   Stromberg    Heritage   Gibson

Best All Around Flat top Guitar 

            McPherson   Rainsong

Best All Around Jazz Guitar Money No Object

  Triggs     Benedetto

Best All Around Slimline Guitar Money No Object

Eastman Blues Deluxe

Best Marketing & Advertising Strategy  Award

 #1 Esteban    #2 Taylor    #3 Gibson   #4 Martin

Best Customer Service After The Sale

 Tacoma    Guild     Eastman     Babicz   Rainsong

Worst Customer Service After The Sale

Mermer   Heritage    Gibson

Notes Regarding The Above Recommendations

When I say Best Solid Wood Archtop guitars I am not including the 300 or 400 small boutique Jazz Guitar builders that are out there. Many of these guys are really great builders so we could not include them in our comments. Some of these guys are total hacks so always exercise caution when dealing with a garage builder.

When I say Best Solid Wood Archtop guitars you will notice I have left several companies out. These companies may make some very good guitars at their uppermost range but the pricing is almost a crime.  Heritage used to be highly recommended by me. Today however Heritage quality has taken a major dump. Their customer service is deplorable and they regularly lie to their customers about delivery times. In fact I can give you names of many people who waited more than 2 years to get repaired guitars back. Then they discovered they were not even fixed.

On the Best All around Jazz Guitar money being no object, I honestly cannot make that call. I am simply not qualified to make that choice. My hat is off to anyone who can actually answer that question. On the Acoustic version I picked Rick Turners Compass Rose. 
On the slimline, I had to pick the Eastman, I myself have been striving to build the absolute finest slimline blues guitar in the world for 10 years.
 I had some success with Heritage until their quality eroded. Although, I never could make the claim "Absolute Best".     With the Eastman I am confident in the fact that it is the "Absolute Best" sounding guitar of it's type in the world.

McPherson Guitars, The Worlds Best Acoustic Guitar

Acoustic Flat Top Guitar
McPherson Acoustic Guitars

 Martin Guitars, Best Prices In The USA call Ed Roman Guitars In Las Vegas

More Traditional Dreadnaught Styled Acoustic Flat Top Guitar.
Martin Guitars still use the traditional double dovetail design neck joint.
 Unlike some other guitars on the market that has stripped Martin of their snobby title

Martin guitar s will still mellow with age !!!!
We recommend Martin, McPherson, Tacoma V Series, Eastman, Larrivee & Guild's
We truly believe these are the best guitars on the market at any price !!!!

Ovation Guitars Best Prices At Ed Roman Guitars

Flat Topped Ovation Performance Guitar
These guitars utilize carbon bowl backs, They are very strong & reliable.
They actually  sound very good because of Ovation's higher than high tech engineering.
But they will never sound as warm as an all solid wood guitar.
Ed Roman recommends these for live use on a medium budget.

 Rainsong Guitars, Best Selection, Best Prices In the usa

Rainsong All Carbon Fiber, Graphite Flat Top With Cutaway
Excellent sounding, probably the best of all carbon fiber acoustic instruments.
Their top of the line models are exceptional, Highly recommended for live use.

 Taylor Guitars, Breedlove Guitars, Tacoma Guitars Las Vegas, Left Handed Guitars,  Ed Roman Guitars

Classical Flat Top Cutaway With Electronics
This guitar happens to be made by Taylor !!
 We disagree with the built in electronics on such an Overpriced Guitar

Taylor Guitar, & many other Better Guitars at Ed Roman Guitars In Las Vegas

Folk Guitar, Flat top Dreadnaught All Koa, Built in Electronics
Taylor guitars sound best in a loud noisy music store environment.
They are bright & not recommended as a recording guitar.
They play well because the use a slim profile bolt on neck.
The Bolt on neck tends to inhibit aging & mellowing.
Taylor is fully aware of this problem, they are currently planning a new design.
I will test it when and if it ever happens.

They do cost an exorbitant amount so many people assume they are very high quality Read This
Taylor gets extremely high marks for advertising & image promotion.
Many people with untrained ears own Taylor Guitars

Classical Guitars In Las Vegas, Ramirez Guitars, Loriente Guitars, Rodriguez Guitars, Cervantes Guitars

Ramirez Classical Guitar
Considered by many to be the best classical guitar
  Takamine also does a great job for a very fair price

D'Aquisto Guitars, D'Angelico Jazz Guitars, Las Vegas,  Ed Roman Guitars

Jazz Archtop Guitar

Dell Arte Guitars, Gypsy Style, Parlor Guitars Las Vegas Nevada, Ed Roman Guitars

Flat Top Parlor Guitar

Jazz Guitars, Custom Made @ Ed Roman Guitars, Las Vegas

Custom Made Archtop Jazz Guitar

Eastman Jazz Guitars, Eastman Blues Guitars, Eastman Flot Top Guitars,  Ed Roman Guitars Las Vegas

Eastman All Solid Jazz Guitar With Single Cutaway

Eastman Blues Deluxe Guitars

Thinline Electric or Slimline Electric With Double Cutaway
Blues Deluxe



Adamantium A fictional metal used to describe The Rick Turner Ed Roman fretwire released in 2008. I recommend these frets on any high end guitar acoustic or electric. You may want to read the tongue in cheek description on the Adamantium page.  It is impossible to patent a fretwire material. So we opted to call it a fictional name instead.
Arch Top Refers to  a raised or convex center of either a solid body or acoustic guitar.  Some better quality guitars also offer arched backs.
Bent Top Refers to a bent piece of veneer that is bent over a raised radiused top. These should be avoided whenever possible.
Brazilian Rosewood This is the preferred wood for many builders to build their masterpieces out of.  There Are Other Options Available 
Bridge Pins These are the pointy little thingies that hold your strings into the bridge.  First you insert the string then lock it in with a bridge pin
Back & Sides Refers to the back & sides of the acoustic or jazz Guitar.  I know this sounds obvious but people have actually asked me "What are back & sides?"
Binding The binding is usually a white or cream colored plastic on the edge of the neck or the guitar. Better quality guitars use real wood for binding,
Carbon Fiber Carbon fiber is a graphite material from which some guitars are made,  Rainsong for example, Usually these are pretty high quality instruments
CE Short For Cutaway, Electric  (Stay away from the built in electronics unless it's a low cost guitar)    CE also stands for Consumer Electronics be careful if you see a CE sticker on a guitar it tends to mean that the guitar came from China, Vietnam, Thailand, India or Korea.
Classical Guitars Wide necked, nylon strings & Very difficult to play, not recommended to learn on, Classical guitars require a lot more technique to learn to play.  Today the few semi enlightened public schools are giving the kids these to learn on.   BIG MISTAKE  That's Why I said semi enlightened.
Cutaway This refers to the wood that has been removed under the neck where the neck joins the body. It is done to better facilitate reaching the higher frets
Ebony The preferred wood by most builders from which to use to build the higher quality instrument fingerboards.
F Holes Originally used on violins & cello's the two holes shaped like "F's" where the sound escapes (You will see these on Jazz Guitars & Slimline Guitars)   Many guitars use all kinds of shapes but even if they are shaped like Dolphins they are usually referred to as F holes.
Floating Bridge On higher quality archtop jazz guitars the bridge will be held on by nothing more than the string pressure. 
Laminated Top A fancy name for a plywood top, A cheap type of wood used for flooring in homes and for tops backs & sides on lower cost guitars.  Costco, Sam's Club, Guitar Center, Esteban  Etc
Purfling A decorative abalone or wood that goes all around the top of the perimeter of the guitar, Binding goes on the edge of the guitar
Plywood Plywood is made from layers of cheap wood.  The glue between the layers doesn't do much for your tone quality (Try To Avoid If Possible)  (Beware of glue on a guitar)
Rosewood Usually considered to be the best wood for acoustic  guitars to use on back & sides, many builders in an attempt at costcutting  also use it for fingerboards  (Not Recommended)
Rosette The decorative abalone, mother of pearl or wood that is used around the sound hole of the guitar.
Slimline Usually, this refers to a thin hollow body like a Gibson ES335 or a Guild Starfire, or Heritage H-535,  (Most of these guitars are all made 100% from plywood)
Solid Spruce Top This is generally considered to be the best sounding most resonant wood that money can buy. Most of my Blues Deluxe guitars are made with Spruce Tops and Mahogany Backs.
Thinline A thinner acoustic electric. Like Chuck Berry, BB King
Tone Pros Bridge  

I put this Glossary together from memory and I am sure I will be adding to it.
 If you can think of anything I missed please let me know
Ed Roman