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Seagull Artist Mosaic

Acoustic Guitar

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Best Acoustic Guitar (under $1000)

Seagull Artist Mosaic

  • Don Makoviney
  • Last Updated: January 22, 2016

If I wanted a great sub-$1000 acoustic guitar, I'd get the Seagull Artist Mosaic. The solid cedar top with solid mahogany sides and back and sides give it a really pleasant midrange tone. For most people, this means it's a great guitar for anything from intricate finger picking to harder strumming and flat picking.


There are a lot of “top ten best acoustic guitars” lists floating around the web that regurgitate the exact same specs and marketing blurbs you can find on manufacturer websites.

But when it comes right down to it, you’re going to need to make a decision. So, at the very least, get to know what makes a great acoustic guitar, figure out your needs, and adjust accordingly.

Why you can trust my recommendation

I am a guitar player primarily. It’s my main instrument. I have played guitar for over 20 years, taught guitar for many of those years, performed in numerous bands as rhythm and lead guitar player, and recommended plenty of electric guitars to my students, friends, and family.

Since it is my primary instrument, friends and relatives will often ask me to accompany them to the local music store, with a budget, to figure out what to get. The criteria will be something like, “I don’t want to get ripped off, but I don’t want to buy a piece of crap either. ‘I have x-number of dollars. What can we get?'”

So, this guitar guide is right up my alley. 🙂

Ready? Here we go!

What to look for in a great sub-$1000 acoustic guitar

In this price range, we can confidently buy a guitar with solid top and sides, great tuners. We’ll also have the luxury of choosing from various styles, dreadnought, cutaway, thinline, and so on.

Most people will want something that plays a variety of styles, whether that be fingerpicking, strumming or flatpicking.

Research online, but don’t buy this guitar online

With few exceptions (like if you literally live in the middle of nowhere), you really should go try out our picks at your local music store or Guitar Center. There are just too many variables to consider when picking an acoustic guitar you plan on keeping for a long time.

For instance, I am 5′ 10″ tall. But jumbo sized guitars, particularly dreadnoughts, tend to be a little large for me. I also generally don’t like the “boomy” bass sound of dreadnoughts – with the exception of the picks in this guide.

However, had I just blindly chose a guitar from a “top ten acoustic guitars list” and ordered it online without playing one first, I wouldn’t know that.
If you absolutely must buy online, that’s fine. Go ahead and look at the specs of our picks online, maybe ask questions online, look at some more reviews if you like. Just make sure you take it to a local guitar shop as soon as you get it. Let an expert examine it. Sometimes there could be hard to see issues that only an expert can detect. If you do it soon after you receive it, and there are problems, you can always return it and exchange it for a new one.

Our pick

seagull-artist-mosaic-acoustic-ONLY-2If I had $750 – $1000 to spend on an acoustic guitar, I’d get the Seagull Artist Mosaic. What you get is a handmade guitar (made in Canada), with a solid cedar top, solid mahogany back and sides, scalloped Adirondack spruce internal bracing, Martin caliber guitar at a significantly lower price. Yes, that’s an over-simplification, but mostly true.

The Seagull Artist Mosaic also has an electric option, L.R. Baggs Element Electronics, should you wish to upgrade to an acoustic-electric.

In that price range you might be tempted to get a less-expensive brand name guitar. I’d suggest otherwise.

Why I would pick the Seagull over a budget Gibson, Martin or Taylor

There’s a few reasons. First, the fine Canadian folks at Seagull make a really great guitar (and I’m not being paid to say that).  Second, most (if not all) of the Martin and Taylor guitars – while great – resort to laminate sides and backs instead of solid wood, like our pick does. So if you’re obsessed with Martin, Taylor, or Gibson and you are staying under $1000, you can still get one. Just bear in mind you’re paying extra for the brand name, and probably getting a laminate wood as opposed to solid wood back and sides.

(Editor’s note: If price is no object, definitely take a look at our guide for the best acoustic guitars. There’s some Gibsons, Martins, and Taylors that you’ll definitely fall in love with. 😉 )

In contrast, the Seagull has everything you would expect in a great Gibson, Martin, or Taylor – without the brand name. This means you’re getting a completely solid wood guitar.

But how does it sound?

User reviews

One reviewer on the Guitar Center website noted:

Absolutely beautiful tone, simple elegance. I love this guitar. Ever since playing the S6 decades ago, I keep coming back to the soft sound of the cedar top. Of course the artist is a vast improvement, both visually and sound-wise. The harmonics and natural ambient tones present during soft to medium (even to medium-strong) play are mesmerizing. (…) My only concern would be that I really can’t play at more than about 85% strength. Anything played at full strength–especially low strings–gets distorted sounding. This is, of course, by design since the flip side is the supreme harmonic overtones that ring out while fingerpicking (not present with other dreadnought wood types). The guitar is also the most lightly finished (semi-gloss) solid guitar I’ve played (lightly oiled). (…) The flip side to the light finish is, of course, improved resonance and vibration overall. For those looking to warm a room or bathe in the sweet tones of a simple and playable guitar, this is your chance. This guitar sings.

Another reviewer on Amazon said:

GREAT guitar, great value. A beautiful, warm, full sounding instrument. Solid body construction and–for the price–can’t be beat if you’re looking for a cedar top acoustic guitar. Much better for fingerpicking and fingerstyle guitar, but can handle light to moderate strumming.

 

Runner up

If I couldn’t get the Seagull for some reason, or needed to save a little bit more money, I’d grab the Taylor 214 Rosewood Grand Auditorium ($799 on Amazon)

taylor 214 grand auditorium

Music Radar’s review summed it up this way:

The 214 has the grand auditorium sound covered. It’s well articulated and open for picking, while responsive easy-sustaining dynamics give it plenty of body and projection when strumming.

The fairly bright, taut tone, though quite firmly underpinned, perhaps lacks the low-end warmth you’d associate with a rosewood-backed instrument, but since it’s not wholly rosewood, that’s not surprising. Imagine something more mahogany-like, and you’ll get the sonic picture.

All up, it’s a very satisfying all-round tone for any number of playing styles.

User reviews agree. From a Guitar Center customer:

I have owned mine for about 6 months and I am constantly amazed at the beautiful tone. I have never heard another brand come close. It is consistent across the strings for finger picking. Strumming produces a beautifully compressed, even sound. You hear the chord as opposed to the individual strings. I had previously only thought Gibsons and higher martins capable of this. The sound only improves as it ages. The wood gets prettier. This is just a great guitar.

Another Guitar Center customer noted:

I fell in love with the bright Taylor sound. Now this was about 4 years ago, this guitar still sounds as great as the day I picked it up. The guitar stays in tune for days, the fretboard is very smooth, no blemishes on the top.

Wrapping Up

Our pick, the Seagull Artist Mosaic, focuses on solid wood, user reviews, professional reviews, and less on brand name. Sometimes you can get close to all those things, and our runner up – the Taylor 214 Grand Auditorium – is just that.

As I mentioned at the beginning, please go try these guitars out, as well as a few others, before you buy. It’s important the guitar fits your frame, your hand size, and sounds the way you want a guitar around $1000 to sound.

Happy playing!


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Best Acoustic Guitar (under $1000)

Seagull Artist Mosaic

Best Acoustic Guitar (under $1000)

Important Specs

Top Pressure Tested Solid Cedar
Back and Sides Solid Mahogany
Internal Bracing Scalloped Adirondack Spruce
Neck Mahogany Integrated Set Neck
Fingerboard & Bridge Rosewood
Nut & Saddle Compensated Tusq by Graph Tech
Truss Rod Double Function
Finish Semi-Gloss Custom Polished Finish
Case Included? Yes. Includes Deluxe TRIC case
Country of Origin Canada
more specs

Synopsis:

Our pick for best acoustic guitar under $1000 is the Seagull Artist Mosaic. It's a great guitar for anything from intricate finger picking to harder strumming and flat picking due to the solid spruce top, and solid rosewood back and sides. If you're looking to stay under $1000, the Seagull Artist Mosaic acoustic guitar is the one to get.

Taylor 214 Grand Auditorium

Runner up pick

Taylor 214 Grand Auditorium

At my local music store, this and the Seagull sounded very similar in tone, and both played well. One big difference between this Taylor and the Seagull is the Taylor has laminate sides and back, as opposed to the Seagull's solid mahogany back and sides. But the Taylor is a bit less expensive. If you're looking to save a hundred bucks or so, go with the Taylor. You won't be disappointed.

- M
Originally published: January 20th, 2016

Important Specs

Top Pressure Tested Solid Cedar
Back and Sides Solid Mahogany
Internal Bracing Scalloped Adirondack Spruce
Neck Mahogany Integrated Set Neck
Fingerboard & Bridge Rosewood
Nut & Saddle Compensated Tusq by Graph Tech
Truss Rod Double Function
Finish Semi-Gloss Custom Polished Finish
Case Included? Yes. Includes Deluxe TRIC case
Country of Origin Canada
more specs



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