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Discussion Starter #1
I did a search on the forum for the word "Garrison" before I posted this so I know that some people are either aware of, or use, Garrison guitars. For those that aren't aware of them, they're a company based in Newfoundland and they were founded by a man named Chris Griffiths. The unique thing about these guitars is the fact they use something called the Active Bracing System. Here's what they say on the website about it:

"The Griffiths Active Bracing System is a revolutionary method of guitar construction that took over 6 years to perfect. Our entire company is built on this more intelligent way to build guitars. By integrating the binding, kerfing, bridge plate and all the braces into one glass fibre component, the top is activated by having all parts vibrate in unison. It also provides enhanced structural stability that would normally take hours to construct using traditional production techniques. We do it in just 45 seconds by employing unique projection molding technologies. The technology is not designed to cut corners, but add value. A single-unit brace means no matter where you create a vibration inside your guitar, the resonance has an uninterrupted path to travel throughout the instrument.

The Griffiths Active Bracing System and other innovations improve overall sound quality, but also vastly reduce our production costs. That’s right; we can produce a high quality acoustic guitar at a lower overall cost!

We pass these efficiencies on to you allowing us to use SOLID WOOD on every Garrison Guitar we manufacture. We use many traditional and non-traditional tone woods such as East Indian Rosewood, Sapele, Western Red Cedar, Englemann Spruce, Sitka Spruce and Canadian birch. In addition, every Garrison Guitar comes with the Buzz Feiten Tuning System, D'addario Strings, TUSQ nuts and saddles and optional Fishman Electronics."

I did get a chance to play a Garrison at a music expo here in Toronto a few years ago but there was so much noise coming from the other booths that I didn't get to hear it properly so for those that have a Garrison how would you describe the tonal quality in comparison to say a Martin, Gibson, Taylor, etc?
As for their new endorsee you can "Rush" over and read about him here: http://www.garrisonguitars.com/news.asp?id=20 :wink:
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I've been hearing some good things about them. I read his description of the tonality on the website but would it be closer to a Martin than a Gibson for example? I really wish I could have heard that guitar properly at the music expo. I'm planning on trying one out this weekend but it's always nice to hear from somebody else who plays one.

KHINGPYNN said:
Garrison guitars are great... there is no surprise that a "Rush" was made to endorse these awsome acoustics!

Khing
 

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I kept reading great things about these but everyone I have tried sounds really boxy and stiff. Kind of like a really thick poly finish is killing tone but I have no idea if that is what is happening.

TG
 

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I'm not much of a Garrison fan but it's great to see a fellow Newfoundlander succeeding. The shop is just down the street from my house. Chris is a good guy and deserves every success. nice to see a few big names on that list.
 

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My experience with these guitars was last spring...I found the sound quality and "feel" to be somewhat hit and miss...actually more miss than hit. All things being equal (and I know they are not due to variables such as strings, room design and even how I am playing/perceiving things on any given day) I found the guitars for the most part did feel somewhat stiff and blocky in hands, as opposed to vibrant, light responsive and resonant. Of all Garrison guitars I played in all the different music shops, only one or two really struck me as having a great sound, and they were not even the higher-end (price) models.

I ultimately decided to go with a Washburn jumbo guitar to get the sound I was looking for, but that was a short lived relationship (refer to earlier posts). I think its like anything else...if you play one and she calls out to you, then go for it!
 

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I bet we played some of the same guitars! They didn't really resonate when strummed and reminded my of those cheap, import, plywood acoustic guitars from the 70s and 80s: just dead.

Everyone Norman I picked up was a league above the Garrisons. I wanted to like these guitars but didn't.

TG


lolligagger said:
I found the guitars for the most part did feel somewhat stiff and blocky in hands, as opposed to vibrant, light responsive and resonant. Of all Garrison guitars I played in all the different music shops, only one or two really struck me as having a great sound, and they were not even the higher-end (price) models.
!
 

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I've played a few in stores. The $900ish ones were nice, nothing really grabbed me but no complaints either. In their cheaper ones ($500ish) I found that I couldn't get any dynamic contrasts. It was like when someone uses a compressor pedal too much. I was doing some finger picking and trying to bring out a bass line with my thumb, while playing really gently with my fingers, and I just couldn't get any notes to be louder than the others. Another friend tried the same thing but with hybrid picking and had the same results.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for your responses and it does sound like it is a little "hit and miss" with these guitars. I've got a nice Simon and Patrick acoustic but I'll be trying one of these out on the weekend just for comparisons sake. I find that most Martins and Taylors seem to have more of a consistency to them but then again not every one is a gem either. BTW I'll bet Alex probably has a top of the line model as well. :smile:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Here's my mini review. I went to Dave Snider Music today in the Yonge/Lawrence area of Toronto to check out a couple of the Garrison guitars they have in stock. At first the guy wanted me to check out one that cost over $800.00 but I told him I was looking for something in the $500.00 range. I figure if a lower end guitar sounds pretty good then the more expensive guitars probably sound amazing. He handed me one that cost $320.00 without tax. I looked at the tag on the guitar and it arrived in the store in February of 2006. So I look it over a bit before I start to play and it does look like it's a well made guitar but one thing I saw on a sticker in the soundhole had me a little concerned. I see the phrase "Made in China". So I'm guessing they're assembled there? Anyway I started to play it and it seemed to be a little hard to play for some reason. I also noticed the "compression" that Kat was talking about. There are no dynamics to the guitar at all. It seems like no matter how soft or hard you play the notes don't seem to increase or decrease in volume.

This would be good for a recording guitar I suppose but it kind of threw me off. My Simon and Patrick responds very well to dynamics and has a nice full, sweet sound to it. So anyway, I tried another Garrison which also arrived in February of 2006 and the good news is it was easier to play but it also lacked dynamics and cost the same as the first one I tried. I guess the more expensive ones have better dynamics to them. You can bet Alex isn't playing one that cost under $500.00! :smile: Another strange thing I noticed when I finished trying out the guitars and left the store, when I went to look at my watch to check the time I noticed some blackness on half of the palm of my left hand. It was like I was handling charcoal instead of trying out a guitar. I've been to a lot of music stores and tried out a lot of guitars but I've never had that happen before. I guess they didn't bother cleaning them up when they arrived at the store last year. Oh well. I wanted to hear what these guitars sounded like and at least with the sub $500.00 ones now I know. Personally I wouldn't pay a lot of money for an acoustic. I like my Simon and Patrick because it's a good "bang for the buck" guitar. I bought that in 1995 for around $250.00
 

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Discussion Starter #12
You're welcome. If you have any near you, try one out and let us know what your experience was like with them.

GuitaristZ said:
those look like some really neat/nice guitars. thanks for the information.
 

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Kenmac said:
So I look it over a bit before I start to play and it does look like it's a well made guitar but one thing I saw on a sticker in the soundhole had me a little concerned. I see the phrase "Made in China". So I'm guessing they're assembled there?
Interesting...

I do know that Griffiths branded electrics are made in China (except for the custom units they build in house). The Garrison acoustics were assembled in a local facility here, and as far as I know they still are. I haven't been paying that much attention to be honest.

The Garrisons I've played sounded nice, but I agree the Normans were a little nicer (Griffiths used to carry Norman also, BTW, and Godin/Seagull for a while).
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I'm just wondering if maybe the wood is from China, because as you say, they are made in Newfoundland and it would be interesting to find out where China comes into the equation.

Emohawk said:
Interesting...

I do know that Griffiths branded electrics are made in China (except for the custom units they build in house). The Garrison acoustics were assembled in a local facility here, and as far as I know they still are. I haven't been paying that much attention to be honest.

The Garrisons I've played sounded nice, but I agree the Normans were a little nicer (Griffiths used to carry Norman also, BTW, and Godin/Seagull for a while).
 

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I tried a few out a couple years back. I liked the cheaper ones better oddly enough. I agree with the hit or miss comment, but it may have been the batch I was gander-ing (harhar, ya like that one :banana: )
 

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The other player in a duo I was in had a Garrison - one of the more expensive ones. I wouldn't have really wanted it myself as - like others have noted - wasn't a really live sounding guitar. But, plugged into the PA it sounded okay and with the frame they have, it didn't get affected much by changing temperatures, unlike my Takamine. So for a Canadian gigging musician a Garrison might be a good idea when you don't want to risk a really nice guitar.
 

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3 years ago, bought a Garrison G40 i believe, on sale. It's the glosssy one with spruce top and sapele B/S. Dont remember exactly the model. Ended up returning it the next day for a Taylor 214. The garrison sounded dead, didn't have enough dynamic range, and just sounded very stiff in general. I tried medium strings, new light strings, but didnt' help. Just couldn't warm up to it, and after taking it back, thought the Seagulls more cheaper were nicer. Anyway, after comparing between seagulls, garrisons, ended up with a taylor 214.
garrisons were nicely built with nice materials however, but just not for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
That's exactly what I found. The sound has kind of a "compressed" feel to it. It doesn't seem to matter how softly or loudly you play. I think it has to do with that plastic bracing they put in it. They would however, probably be good guitars for recording. I agree with you regarding the materials and I really wanted to like this guitar but after trying two of them in the store I found them lacking in dynamic response. I really didn't need another acoustic anyway, I wanted to check them out to see to what they sounded like.

Guitarsam said:
3 years ago, bought a Garrison G40 i believe, on sale. It's the glosssy one with spruce top and sapele B/S. Dont remember exactly the model. Ended up returning it the next day for a Taylor 214. The garrison sounded dead, didn't have enough dynamic range, and just sounded very stiff in general. I tried medium strings, new light strings, but didnt' help. Just couldn't warm up to it, and after taking it back, thought the Seagulls more cheaper were nicer. Anyway, after comparing between seagulls, garrisons, ended up with a taylor 214.
garrisons were nicely built with nice materials however, but just not for me.
 

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Hi folks.. my first post..
I own a Garrison AG-200 which I bought in Oshawa for under $400. I really like it, mind you it does take some gettin' used to.
My understanding is that higher end Garrisons ($650 and up) are indeed made and produced in St. John's, whereas the lower ends, like mine under $650 or so, are assembled in China.
The higher end models employ the the injection-moulding framing throughout, the lower use the injected piece only as a main brace.
I've managed to comandeer the sound and tone to my liking by not worrying about highs - I don't use a pick and often direct in. I have noticed, however, that when I play standing up I have to play it off my hip moreso than any other acoustic I've owned, because of its resonance - it's pretty fat and it starts to beat on my tummy.
On a side note I have a Canadian Mechanical Engineer mag (or some such thing c.2003 maybe) that marvels at and promotes the newfangled injection-moulding approach to guitar bracing.
I like the Garrison and still plan on purchasing a "made-in-Canada" model.
I didn't know that they were back at it - I thought they went out of biz about a year ago. Good to see.
Oh yeah, nice place - I like it here. Any steel players?
 

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I seriously considered Garrison guitars when I was shopping for a high end acoustic. I was not sold on the Active bracing. I was not convinced that solid wood expanding contracting was a good marriage with material that does not expand. I also found the tone a little flat. I ended up buying an HD28 instead. I tried the G50, which was their flagship dreadnought at the time.
 
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