Silent Guitar Buyers Guide
Silent Guitars are acoustic or electric guitars that are stripped down to bare essentials, even the body becomes optional.
As the name implies, Silent Guitars are designed to be played acoustically quiet, while keeping the amplified sound and playability as close to regular guitars possible. This is achieved by reducing the resonating body to minimum, while keeping the neck, pickup and strings in proper positions. Silent Guitars are different from travel guitars because they prioritize playability over portability, as exemplified by the skeletal body frames that allow for standard posture while playing.
Interestingly, Silent Guitars are also being used on stage by many artists, thanks to its low maintenance design, feather like weight and feedback free performance. Yamaha silent guitars are the popular choice because of their relatively affordable price and wide scale marketing, however there are other builders that offer smaller and more travel friendly silent guitars at varying prices.
Yamaha is the Silent Guitar manufacturer to beat, thanks to their impressive price to quality ratio. And big name artists like Brian May, Mike Stern and Lee Ritenour seem to agree. The SLG130NW is the top-of-the-line model designed to give you the true feel and vibe of nylon stringed classical guitars in Silent Guitar format. The neck construction follows the conventional classical method and employs an ebony fingerboard. So you won't miss your tonewoods too much, even the smoothly curved body frame is made of rosewood and maple.
The SLG130NW matches the balance and ergonomics of real classical guitars so that it won't slant awkwardly when you play standing or sitting. On top of its great nylon string sound, Yamaha equipped this guitar with reverb, chorus and echo effects that will be handy when practicing. It requires a 9 volt battery for operation. The Yamaha SLG130NW usually sells for less than $750. For the complete specs and to check out other Yamaha Silent Guitars, head over to Yamaha. Get the latest reviews and price at Amazon.com.
Aria Sinsonido AS-101C
The Aria Sinsonido AS-101C is a nylon stringed guitar designed with travel and convenience as its top priority, resulting in a smaller scale headless design, which is quite unique for a classical guitar. It doesn't give you the same shape and ergonomics as a classical so it may feel awkward in the beginning, but these are necessary trade-offs to make the guitar smaller, making it more convenient to carry around.
The Sinsonido AS-101C uses a SoloEtte pickup which is usually found on more expensive guitars. It has two condenser mics that produce authentic sounding acoustic tones that will surely impress, especially for its diminutive size. Other features include mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, 850mm total length, 52mm nut width, 19 frets and 650 mm scale length. The AS-101C has a detachable padded frame which will make you miss the wood on your guitar, but is comfortable and easier to maintain. Online stores sell this guitar for around $510. Visit Aria Guitars for more details, and to see their other silent guitars. Get the latest reviews and price at Amazon.com.
Miranda Guitars' design philosophy is to build full-sized guitars that are as portable as violins, and the S-250 is proof of their design concept. This high end steel-string silent guitar plays and feels like a full bodied acoustic, while being extremely portable and lightweight. To shorten the length of the instrument, Miranda designed the neck in such a way that the tuners are found at the back of the body.
The side support arms used on the Miranda is made of aluminum, chosen for its convenient weight and rigidity. It is designed for quick setups and can just as easily be disassembled when travelling. This frame is about the same size as a small bodied acoustic guitar, and will let you play the S-250 conveniently as you would a real acoustic. Main features include a mahogany unitary body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, under saddle piezo pickup, gotoh tuners, and an overall setup optimized for sustain. You can get the complete specs and also buy the guitar from Miranda-Tech.com for more details. MSRP is $1395.
SoloEttte SongBird Jazz
The SoloEtte line of silent guitars was designed by a luthier that wanted a guitar which will not require much maintenance or repairs. To achieve this, he eliminated the use of thin woods, which minimizes cracking or warping due to extreme travel conditions. Although his goal was different, the resulting instrument ended up being a sturdy and reliable line of silent guitars.
The Songbird Jazz is a specially designed silent guitar for Jazz musicians. It is equipped with an EMG humbucking pickup that gives it sweet jazzy tones. This guitar did not compromise playability with its standard sized jumbo frets and full 1 3/4" nut width. It comes with an adjustable Schaller bridge for easy string and action set ups. Body and neck is made of Canadian Maple. There are other SoloEtte silent guitars including an electric guitar version with two EMG-HZ pickups. Current MSRP for this guitar is $1,450. For the complete specs, visit SoloEtte.
The Koopal EG100 is an affordable steel string silent guitar that is designed for practicing comfort. It is lightweight and disassembles easily for quick practice sessions wherever and whenever the inspiration strikes. Just take off the detachable frames and put everything inside its compact bag. No one would suspect you were carrying a guitar.
For its price, the guitar's body and neck is surprisingly made of great looking mahogany, although I find the slotted headstock placed at the bottom end of the guitar to be a bit odd for my taste. Other features include a rosewood fretboard, aluminum frames, and it even includes a cable and a headphone for immediate playing out of the box. I found this guitar for sale at an affordable price of around $260. For more details and to buy this guitar, you can visit Koopal.
Good quality affordable instruments are starting to invade the silent guitar market, case in point is the Sojing 020A-U, a welcome new addition to this list. This cheap silent guitar surprisingly comes with a full-sized body, allowing for classical guitar like playability. The nut width is 2 1/16", scale length is 25 3/4" and it is 39" long.
Like the more expensive silent guitars, the Sojing 020A-U comes with detachable body frames for convenient storage. Although a bit more bulky than the other models, the frames look better and the shape better resembles the body of an actual nylon string guitar. The guitar features a rosewood fingerboard and comes with tone and volume control knobs. Usually selling for less than $200, this is certainly a tempting silent guitar for beginners or for those that are looking for budget friendly alternatives. Visit Minjisheng for more information. Get the latest reviews and price at Amazon.com
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