Nice Price
With terms like, recession, economy, and downturn becoming more worn out than Willie Nelson’s Trigger, the current importance of affordability goes without saying. With that in mind—and because of your suggestions—we reviewed a lot of mid-range affordable gear this year. The winners of our Nice Price award provided quality, versatility and features on par with any of our other winners; their pricing was the cherry on top.

Carvin CS6MCarvin C6SM

Chances are you’ve crossed “high-end American-made custom solidbody” off the list of things you can afford this year. Carvin, long known for their affordability through selling direct to consumers, introduced the CS6M this year, bringing that dream guitar back into an affordable range. The CS6M single-cut solidbody (June 2009) features a figured top and a Tune-o-Matic bridge, plus a range of options that allow for 50,000 different combinations—all of which are executed to the highest standard. Reviewer Gary Guzman explains, “I have owned a Carvin DC127 guitar for many years, and the CS6M is leaps and bounds ahead of it, in terms of construction, quality and playability. I honestly couldn’t think of anything I didn’t like about this guitar.”
Base MSRP $1349

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Cole Clark Fat LadyCole Clark Fat Lady 1 AC

Cole Clark is a young Australian company that’s been combining modern technology with sustainable, local wood sources to create beautiful acoustic guitars. The 1 AC (July 2009) is a cutaway dreadnaught with simple styling and a beautiful Bunya top. It features top-of-the-line construction elements that are rare at its price point, and a lightweight, comfortable frame. The guitar’s tone is well proportioned, and, as its name implies, it really sings. Cole Clark’s custom-built electronics are natural sounding and intuitive. “The Fat Lady is one of the finest acoustics you’ll encounter in the sub-$2000 market,” concluded reviewer Adam Moore.
MSRP $1540

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Jarrett Zaffiro XJJarrett Zaffiro XJ

Jarrett is a small shop that hand-builds guitars in Connecticut. Like Carvin, Jarrett sells direct, which keeps the prices down. The model we reviewed, the Zaffiro XJ (November 2009), features a figured top and the customizability you’d expect from a hand-built guitar. The Zaffiro XJ’s tone excels at jazz guitar, with low action and excellent playability, but would fit into almost any musical situation. Says reviewer Pat Smith, “Considering the price, the custom features, quality and just that it is a kick ass guitar, I would recommend it for sure.”
MSRP $1495
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