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Author Topic: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?  (Read 5116 times)

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Offline slimchancer

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What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« on: March 23, 2010, 03:16:24 PM »
What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars? while I wait for that elusive KG11(which would be my second Kalamazoo) I need a good pokey blues picker and general workhorse.
Currently have a Nat Res El Trov - friends for life, just lovely - we're two years into our romance now and going from strength to strength ;D. Also own a new Martin standard 000-18 - completely useless piece of firewood, on it's way out the door as we speak! I was on Todd's waiting list, but got tired waiting.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2010, 03:28:43 PM »
A BAD triple 018? Really? They're usually such sterling little guitars. Used to be my first choice for my serious students back in the day.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline GhostRider

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2010, 05:36:08 PM »
Howdy:

I like the 9 Series. I have a C9 florentine cutaway. General workhorse guitar, 'though not "growrly". Rather slim neck, 'though 1 3/4" at the nut.

For the price, no better. Bigger body also good for use with a pick.

Alex


Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2010, 01:52:50 AM »
As a Larriv?e Parlor Picker, I can recommend them. They offer the same kind of workmanship and woods as guitars which cost a lot more. The only downside is that if you get a new one they take a bit longer to play in. The bracing is quite sturdy, and combined with a sitka top, they don't open up very quickly. My Parlor has got better over the years and has improved with lots of hard playing. Contrary to standard preconceptions, I find it good for picking and strumming.

The Larriv?e Guitar Forum has a lot of useful information to offer.

(Coincidentally, I have a Kalamazoo as well - see picture to left.)
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline slimchancer

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2010, 03:21:25 AM »
Yes I've recorded plenty of excellent Martins over the years, and this was intended as no-brainer addition to the recording guitars for players to use at the studio. So just ordered it on-line (not a good idea I know). Anyway, what arrived was nothing like the 000-18's I'm used to. This thing looked like it came from Argos. It actually reminded me of a cheap ?20 guitar I got as a kid. It had glue (with thumb print) on the neck, and the neck was set at the wrong angle... Nice! It also had no projection at all.

I think Martin need to wake up & smell the coffee.

Still looking for KG 11, or 14 if anyone has any leads?

SLIM B

Offline Pan

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2010, 05:27:50 AM »
Still looking for KG 11, or 14 if anyone has any leads?

SLIM B

I don't know if it fits your budget, but Retrofret has both to offer:

http://www.retrofret.com/catalog_guitar_flattop.asp?Page=4

Also, keep an eye on Vintage Blues Guitars, as they seem to have KG's coming and going:

http://www.vintagebluesguitars.com/

But maybe you knew all this already?

Cheers

Pan

Offline Stuart

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2010, 07:37:25 AM »
Hi Slim:

So why did you keep it, instead of returning it to the place you purchased it from? If you bought it new, it comes with a warranty against defects in materials and workmanship. Both of the problems you mention, especially the wrong neck angle, are manufacturing defects. If you are the original owner, you should get in touch with Martin Guitar.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2010, 08:26:54 AM by Stuart »

Offline slimchancer

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2010, 05:32:13 AM »
I didn't keep it - It went back to the dealer, who will no doubt send it to the folks at Martin, who will no doubt shrug their shoulders.


Offline slimchancer

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2010, 05:35:31 AM »
Thanks for the feedback all - most helpful. I think I might have bagged me a stunningly clean KG14 - will report back when it arrives!


Offline Stuart

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2010, 09:00:26 AM »
I didn't keep it - It went back to the dealer, who will no doubt send it to the folks at Martin, who will no doubt shrug their shoulders.

When I was at Martin Guitar in the summer of 2005, they said that they were shipping 1,100 guitars a weeks. They tune them up and let them sit for a couple of weeks before inspecting them one last time before they go out the door. But movement can occur after an instrument leaves the factory.

Martin has had a "no seconds" policy as far back as I can remember. If a guitar isn't up to spec, it gets recycled. Given the price of materials and labor costs, it only makes sense to get it right the first time. There have been problems in the past, but from what I have heard, since Chris Martin has been in charge, there has been a strong emphasis on quality control and customer satisfaction. There is always going to be the occasional problem as everyone hits a clunker from time to time, but it's how the problem is resolved that counts.

Even custom builders can run into problems down the line. A friend of mine who builds guitars and also teaches guitar building told me that you never really know until you string it up and let it sit. No matter how good someone is, there's always some uncertainty in the process--it goes with the intangibles of the wood and the building process. Some of the guitars that come out of the factories are as good as any custom guitar--and the opposite is true as well. A small builder or custom builder does everything right and then the end result is less than satisfactory, so they start all over from scratch.

This is why it is important to play as many guitars as possible in the flesh before making the final decision. Obviously, this is not always feasible, but if you buy from a reputable source, your odds are much better of resolving any problems if they should arise, even at a distance.

I don't know if it is fair to say that the people at Martin Guitar would merely shrug their shoulders. They will probably try to determine what went wrong and try to make sure that it doesn't happen again as neither Martin Guitar nor their customers stand to gain anything from this kind of thing.

Offline slimchancer

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2010, 05:22:53 PM »
I beg to differ, and respectfully, I have a great deal of experience with recording quality acoustic guitars - Regardless of the issues with this particular guitar, the build quality was absolutely disgraceful. The choice of materials was shockingly bad. While I may yet purchase a vintage 000-18, I would no longer consider a new Martin - I'm not alone in this opinion and there is a general consensus of opinion out there that what Martin are up to is a bit naughty - you simply can't trade on a name alone. Sure, spend ?3.5K + and you will probably get a decent machine. But that's an awful lot of cash when you will get a far better instrument from Atkin, Larrivee or perhaps Brook at half the price.

Sorry to all the Martin Devotees out there - I like them too, but just go into your local store and try a new standard model out and let us know, maybe I was sold a complete dud - but I doubt it somehow.

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2010, 02:38:07 AM »
I've tried a few Atkins and they were all superb instruments - beautiful sounding and very well made. In fact, I'm off to see a trio tonight featuring an Atkin J45 copy which plays like butter and sounds fantastic.

From your Weenie name, I guess you might be in the UK (Blighty). If so, I reckon the likes of Atkin and Brook offer guitars of the same quality as the better-known American "boutique" guitars, but at approximately half the price. I've met Alister Atkin and he's also a really nice guy.
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline slimchancer

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2010, 03:06:14 AM »
Yep - Blighty alright. Well I'm just about to invest in a KG14, although prices have gone up somewhat since I bought my last Zoo for about ?250 some 20 years ago. But when my wallet recovers I'm seriously considering a trip up the M11 to visit Alister's workshop.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2010, 09:06:50 AM »
Thanks for the Atkin tip. I'd not heard of them. They look very nice although their sunbursts need improvement imo, a weak sunburst, like Martin is apt to do is a phlucking crime!  Just take a look at the mysterious deep beauty of an old J-200 or j-45 Black to cadmium yellow deep....beautiful! Some of the old Loar Black to reds are wonderful too. I do have a problem with luthiers turning out near copies of Martins particularly, and Gibsons too. Where's the creative spark? Why can't they come up with their own designs, or better yet considering how wrong many of those designs go, hire an actual designer to come up with a signature look?
The aesthetic range usually goes from post, post hippy sentimentalizing native American motifs like soaring eagles, some ridiculous overbearing mop rosette that occupies the face of the guitar like a serious case of acne, terrible proportions, clueless attempts at Martin style headstocks or much worse (fer chrisakes, their are books full of architectural, and furniture details from Chippendale and many others, have a look! Loar and D'Angelico certainly did!). End of rant. Just checked out Brooks' guitars. These are more thoughtful and successful designs imo and have obviously drawn from sources other than Martin- Gibson. Older sources, as revealed in the top curve of the upper outs in some models which have a distinctly eighteenth century association. Nice. Also the "smiling" bridge is intelligently applied and integrates nicely with the faces. impressive. Don't get me wrong, I applaud anyone who sets out to do something constructive like make guitars, but expand or retrench but no more Martin-Gibson clones!
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2010, 09:48:01 AM »
There is a school of thought that says the Martin and Gibson designs have proved so successful over the years, that if it ain't broke don't fix it. I tend to agree with you, however, O'Muck, although I'm not keen on the really weird designs with the sound hole half way up the neck and so forth. If I'm honest, I'm not over fond of the square dreadnought shape - I think acoustic guitars should have nice rounded curves.
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #15 on: March 26, 2010, 09:54:56 AM »
I'm with you on dreadnaughts. Even though my main guitar is a D-18, I think they are not terribly appealing visually.  I'm a big fan of j-185-j-200 shapes..y'know sort of the Sophia Loren, Anita Egbert school.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline slimchancer

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #16 on: March 26, 2010, 12:12:15 PM »
second that Parlor Picker - No harm in a bit of rant MrOmuck!

Offline Stuart

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2010, 10:36:04 AM »
Hi Slim:

The best thing is to agree to disagree. My disagreement is not about the Martin guitars you have played. After all, I haven't played them and you haven't played the ones that I've played, or do you have access to the information that I have. And I'm not a Martin devotee?the last time I bought a Martin guitar was in 1970. Even then, they were getting a bad rap and at that time they were only making 75 guitars a week, as I recall.

I think that when you say that, "what Martin are up to is a bit naughty - you simply can't trade on a name alone," you are saying something that is understandable, but not entirely accurate, as it sounds like you are questioning their intent. I agree 100% that any company or individual cannot and should not trade on a name alone, but again, that's not their intent, as I understand it. Martin has enjoyed a great reputation, but in many ways, that reputation is "based on a daydream," as a friend of mine who worked for Martin for a decade in various capacities put it. It has been a long, long time since Martin was a "guitar maker" as opposed to a "guitar factory," if you catch my drift. Chris Martin and those in management do their best to maintain a level of quality that goes with the reputation. But it's a task that is both difficult and complex. When I was there last (I was visiting friends in the area and took my daughter to the factory to see how Martin makes guitars?a reality check--I was not paying homage to a shrine), I asked why they made so many guitars. The person I talked to said it was simply to meet customer demand. I remember when dealers would complain that it took a year to get a guitar from Martin, but that that was improvement over the two+ years that it took before they moved from the old factory and expanded.

In any event, there are a zillion things that can be discussed here, but in the end every guitar is an individual instrument and for me it comes down to how it sounds and how it plays, no matter who made it and how much it costs. As for the topic heading, I've played Larrivees, and I liked what I played, but I can't recall anything about the 09 series specifically.

And to Mr. O's semi-rant: Ten plus years ago I was looking for a guitar and must have played almost everything in the Seattle area. The guitar that jumped out at me was one made by Ted Thompson (up in Vernon, B.C.), which I bought. He doesn't have a website, but a few places have pix. Curvy.

Now back to Slim: I'd second Parlor Picker's recommendation re: Alister Atkin and pay him a personal visit. I've never played one of his guitars, but word of mouth counts for a lot around here. It's very important that the same pair of hands be involved in building a guitar from start to finish--something that even some of the boutique guitar builders don't do. Plus there's that specific attention to detail that it often overlooked, but can end up making a big difference, such as selecting the very best bridge plate for the specific instrument and the correct tuners (weight, design and material really do matter).

My final thoughts on Martin are that it's not intent on the part of the ownership and management as much as it is that production has been scaled up to the point where things have drifted from where they ought to be. Write Chris Martin and tell him what you think. Quality should not take a back seat to quantity, even for one guitar. In guitar making, just like any other endeavor, people earn their living?and reputation--one customer and one sale or order at a time. It can take years--or even decades--to get someone to become a customer, but only seconds to lose that same customer. Point this out to him.

Offline slimchancer

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2010, 02:52:45 PM »
Interesting stuff Stuart, and your reasoning is intelligent and considered. I did write a little note when I returned the guitar and made a request that the dealer pass this on to Martin. I honestly think you would agree with me though if you saw this thing ? seriously, go into a guitar shop and ask to try a standard Martin out and then get back to us! I think you?ll find they?re not the same as they were back I the early 1970?s.
I still want a 000-18, but looks like I may need to wait and source a good vintage example.

Offline Stuart

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #19 on: March 27, 2010, 04:19:51 PM »
Hi Slim:

I don't doubt your word or your ability to judge an instrument. Last fall I stopped in at a few shops and played several guitars, including Martins. That day I was focused on the John Miller model at the Folkstore in Seattle, which I've posted about here in the past, but I played several other Martins at other shops as well. My impression was that not much has changed, but that was just my impression as a casual player that day--I wasn't really "drilling down," so to speak.

I'm old school, and I think that company and employee pride should be evident in a product, especially in a product that has a tradition such as Martin Guitar. You have to build quality in, because you cannot inspect it in, as W. Edwards Deming once said. Nevertheless, I'm also a realist, and given all of the individual steps, component parts and people that go into building 1,100 guitars a week, total quality control is not going to be easy. But quality control to the point where very few clunkers slip out the door is certainly attainable.

Best of luck with finding the right guitar for you. Alister Atkin sounds like a luthier worth working with. There are still people out there who build high quality--but very affordable--player's guitars for musicians and he sounds like one of them.


« Last Edit: March 27, 2010, 04:34:34 PM by Stuart »

Offline slimchancer

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #20 on: March 29, 2010, 10:58:45 AM »
Hmmm, yeah sure, but I'm not talking just build quality here Stuart - the materials used for standard Martins are clearly not what they should be given the price. I just don't understand it - well I do actually; economics/survival - but at what cost!

I had the option of a brand new martin 000-18 replacement - but no thanks, I could get a Chinese import of better quality at half the price - but I wouldn't go there either.

I'm quite sure that I may well source a good old vintage model in the future. Actually I've recorded & played some great examples from the 1980's, so you don't need to go too far back.

Actually, it also occurs to me that I recorded an album a couple of years back and hired in a selection of flat-tops, and if memory serves me right, we had a new Martin Dred (can't remember model now - but would of been a higher-end creature) anyway, had some kind of problem with the neck as well and we sent it back.

Oh dear, sounds like I have it in for Martin - it's not personal ;D My home is not adorned with pictures and cuttings of Martins with black-cross's scrawled  across them... >:D

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #21 on: March 29, 2010, 02:14:25 PM »
Well what with former martin employees manufacturing guitars in China which are unbeatable at the price I guess the game has changed dramatically for Martin. A solid rosewood and spruce guitar with fancy inlays for $650.?!@#@!? If I had any money at all I'd buy a couple of thousand of them, put them in storage or in an aging chamber, and leave them sit for twenty or thirty years. I don't like the necks of Blueridge guitars as much as Martins but otherwise....at those prices? Still not being a law of the jungle type of guy i would like to see Martin survive and thrive, while keeping its workforce here in the USA.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline Stuart

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #22 on: March 29, 2010, 02:44:28 PM »
Hi Slim:

The next time that I have some time to spend in the local guitar shops, I'll make it a point to give the resident Martins a thorough going over. I'll approach the critical evaluation process with an emphasis on "critical" and attempt to be much more thorough and rigorous. One thing that crossed my mind is that when I have been in the local shops (there are about a half dozen that I can think of off the top of my head that carry quality instruments within driving distance) and have had discussions with the owners, several have said that if they get an instrument in that they are uncomfortable with or consider substandard, they send it back. There is no reason to pay for inventory that won't sell or that they can't try to sell with a clean conscience, whether it be Martin, Taylor, Gibson or one of the boutique makers?labels makes no difference. So it just may be that the sample of guitars that I have played is not representative of everything that comes out of the factories or from the smaller makers, as the instruments in the local shops have already been filtered by the gatekeepers.

Like I said previously, I don't doubt your word or your ability to judge an instrument. For all I know, if I played the same guitars, I just might be a much tougher critic and my opinions much harsher.

Best of luck in your quest for the 000-18 that is right for you?vintage or otherwise. Be patient and play as many as you can before rendering the final verdict. My inclination, however, is for you to pay a visit to Alister Atkin and work with him so that he can build the right instrument for you. Even though it may take a little longer and perhaps cost a little more, you'll most probably get exactly what you want. Parlor Picker's word counts for a lot around here.

And don't worry about voicing your opinions here. We're not the Martin Guitar Forum.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2010, 02:50:18 PM by Stuart »

Offline slimchancer

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #23 on: March 29, 2010, 04:21:34 PM »
That's a very good point regarding dealer maintaining good stock Stuart. Over here in the UK it's becoming increasingly hard to come by a good dealer who know what they're selling - too many mail order guys out pricing the serious high street dealers, a real shame!
Alister's instruments look very promising and I'm sure I'll pay him a visit next time I'm Canterbury bound.
In the meantime I just bought a KG14 from the US and await it's arrival. Not at all intended as a substitute for the 000-18 of course - a very different old lady all together - just been meaning to replace a KG11 that I bought about 20 years ago and like a fool let go in a moment of madness, so may have finally replaced it. May need to wait till I've earned the right to make my next purchase now.
I feel the same way about supporting US guitar makers MrOmuck, and I'm not even an American - but Martin are not making it easy for me to find sympathy, and perhaps that's a little sad. Anyhow - time to move on.

p.s. has anyone seen the new Nat Res Black Rust Duolian homage - looks pretty tasty!

Offline Johnm

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #24 on: March 29, 2010, 04:49:48 PM »
Anyhow - time to move on.



I absolutely agree.  This particular horse has been whipped long past death, especially since it was a digression in the first place.  New guitar brand/gear = new thread.  Thanks.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: March 29, 2010, 04:54:36 PM by Johnm »

Offline slimchancer

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #25 on: March 29, 2010, 05:16:45 PM »
indeed!

Offline Big River

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #26 on: April 08, 2010, 09:04:02 AM »
 Larrivee's are a great value where you can get an excellent guitar without breaking the bank. As far as the 09 series goes the question is what model as there are many to choose from. You have got the Parlor, OM, D and L. Most fingerpickers prefer smaller bodied guitars, so the Parlor or OM might be a good choice. If you can put up with a satin finish their 03 series offers the most bang for the buck. These are in the $1,000-$1,100 price range last time I looked and it would be hard to find a better guitar new at that price.
 I own a mahogany backed Larrivee OM-03 with a K&K Pure Western pickup installed that I really like. It has a nice full midrange and a crisp (but not overbearing) top end. Maybe it is their fan bracing, but Larrivee's have a different tone than most brands. I have been using my Larrivee OM for most of my gigs as my late '30's Gibson L-00 is taking a beating out there and needs a break now and then. The Gibson has a warmer, more complex midrange, but the Larrivee has a slightly brighter over all sound (longer scale), but not too shabby in the midrange (it can growl a bit when pushed). Their 000 12 fret guitars are worth checking out as well. The most important thing is to get a guitar that floats your boat and makes you want to not put it down. Don't buy one to please us on the Forum, but grab that one that says something to you. I know a lot of players who spend all their free time on the web researching gear and little time actually playing music, which is what it is all about. Good luck in your quest. James Clem

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #27 on: April 09, 2010, 01:27:08 AM »
A minor technical point, James: Larriv?es are not fan-braced, but feature Jean Larriv?e's trademark symmetrical X-bracing, as opposed to the more common "Martin-style" asymmetrical X-bracing.

You are quite right about Larriv?e guitars offering amazing value for money. A little time spent on the Larriv?e Guitar Forum also throws up evidence of people going to buy much more expensive brands, even so-called "boutique" guitars, but coming away with a Larri simply because they preferred it. A few people here on the Weenie play Larriv?e guitars, me included.
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline slimchancer

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Re: What's the general opinion on Larrivee 09 series guitars?
« Reply #28 on: April 15, 2010, 04:26:41 PM »
All very useful feedback guys, many thanks!

I'm now leaning toward an Atkins, though till feeling that Larivee OM 09.

Currently waiting on a restored L-00, as the KG14 I was about to buy went a little pear shaped - I can say no more than that - but hey, I'm gettin what looks like a super playable L-00 instead!!!  :D Will report back soon with a show & tell!
Happy pickin!

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