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Cutaway on an acoustic? Really needed?

Flash Bazbo

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Cutaways look cool on most acoustics, but (since they cost as much as 35% of the total cost of the guitar) I'm wondering if I really need one. I'm a bass and electric guitar player who has a sudden urge to buy a good acoustic/electric.


Acoustic players, would you recommend buying a cutaway body? Do you really use the frets above the 14th? (I never have on an acoustic, but I'm not an experienced acoustic player, yet.)


I guess I figure if I'm playing something that high up, my electric guitar would do a better job of it. Am I wrong about this?


Thanks for your help!

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Cutaways unquestionably compromise the acoustic performance of the box itself. But when you're playing an acoustic/electric, you've already accepted bigger compromises anyway (the piezo bridge stuff, the cutaways & misc. internal protuberances for the electronics, usually much stiffer top bracing to avoid feedback, etc.). So why not?
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Tommy Tedesco, the most recorded guitarist in history, once said, theres no money past the 5th fret. I always thought that was funny. You probably dont really need a cutaway, its just a matter of wanting one. Classical guitarists dont use them because they know that, with the exception of the notes on the first string, everything else can be found in another position. Its pretty easy, with a little practice to get the first string too. That said, I use a cutaway on my main acoustic... because its easy. Funny thing is I got it because of just one chord in one tune I just couldnt get consistently without it.
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My Ovation Celebrity Deluxe has a cut-away, but I never really play anything past fret 12 or 14, the tension of the strings are too tight. I can't fret the notes well above fret 12, so I mainly play chords in the open position, or second position bar chords (damn, did I just use a technical term?) :D


I hardly ever use the piezo pickup anymore either, since the original battery died. I just took the old battery out and play it like an ordinary acoustic. :)


a.k.a. "El Guapo" ;)


...Better fuzz through science...



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John McLaughlin has a cut-away on his Wechter, but then, he's all over the place anyway and makes good use of it.


Me, on the other hand, would have no need for one most times.


But if I did, I'd insist on a Florentine. Not those "scoops" you see on most acoustics, like the ones prominent on Takemines.



I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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I know the comment is biased, since they sell more cutaways than non-cutaways, but Bob Taylor noted a while back that they did extensive "blind" tests trying to see if there were sound differences between the two styles.


Their verdict, there wasn't a difference that could be noticed.


I'm sure some will dispute this.


If you're personally curious whether YOUR ears can tell... take a friend with you to a guitar store.


Pick a few cutaway and non-cutaway models and have your friend play the same thing on them with you back turn.


Can you "tell" the difference.


Didn't think so.


(If you CAN, there's your answer).



I'm still "guitplayer"!

Check out my music if you like...



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I don't play lead at all. (Mine is strictly rhythm I don't know how to make it cry or sing.)

But all my acoustics have cutouts. Why? Because once in a while it comes into play.


For example, even a Gm played at the 10th fret can be easier with a cutout. Sometimes it's cool to play an E or D chord an octave higher (letting the open strings ring in their lower octave), especially when playing with another guitarist.


And I don't hear a difference. And if there is one, it's obviously very subtle--since most players don't have an issue. And it would only apply when unplugged anyway.


One more thing to consider: a larger body with a cutout is going to have an overall larger area to resonate than a smaller body with no cutout.

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Forget about the sound difference. You're going to have to play each acoustic to determine if the sound and feel are right for you.


I, for one, have a voice that requires I change keys on quite a few songs. It's not uncommon for me to capos up to the 5th or 7th fret. A cutaway was invaluable to me when I was gigging. I also like using voicings of open strings plus fingerings that are high on the neck. There are plenty of examples of songs that require you to fret above the 12th or 14th fret. For example, Never Going Back Again by Fleetwood Mac and Wanted Dead Or Alive by Bongiovi. I manage with my current acoustic, which is not a cutaway, but it's very difficult. In addition, barring chords at or near the 12th fret is cumbersome. I also like to play acoustic versions of rock songs. Often, I'd like to play the recorded solo but can't reach all the notes with dexterity.


If you pick up an acoustic that sounds good, plays well, and has a cutaway, forget the naysayers and buy it. If, on the other hand, you do hear a sonic difference in favor of a full bodied acoustic, decide for yourself whether you'll be playing high on the neck and choose accordingly. Every other opinion besides your own is useless. You have to live with the decision.


Happy hunting! :thu:

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman




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I too have checked out a few Taylors side by side and thought I could hear a difference between non-cutaways and cutaways of the same model. I felt the the cutaway guitars sounded bigger, contrary to what I would have guessed. I think maybe the cutaway moves more sound pressure into the lower bout. Just my two cents anyway.
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I have seen many people play high on the board on non-cutaway models. It don`t look like a lot of fun. It`s not just about lead-at the risk of stating the really obvious, every inversion lends a different flavor to a chord. It`s better to have the widest available pallette. I haven`t heard anything about compromised sound but if you`re hearing a difference, it`s a matter of what`s more important to you.
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