The OM, Parlor, and Travel guitars are slightly smaller and because of this you’re going to lose a bit in the sound department unplugged. If you play for yourself and like a guitar that’s easy to get your right arm around and don’t need a lot of volume to cover a room then you would be happy with the smaller guitar. Playability is identical on all our guitars as the neck size is the same. I have many customers who feel a full size dreadnought is just too bulky and uncomfortable to play for very long. Denny plays an OM because he likes to lounge on the couch and play all afternoon. The smaller Parlor and Travel guitars are fun and portable, although the OM will have the best (fullest) sound of the 3. If you read through the testimonials for the Travel and the Parlor, their sound is enormous for the size compared the a Baby Taylor, for example. The Parlor is a nice in-between model that is about the same size as the OM but bigger than the tiny travel model. If you want the smallest acoustic possible, go with the Travel.
You can see all of our guitars side by side with measurements on this page: http://zagerguitar.com/sizes/
Also check out this brand new video we did on the topic “Which size is right for me?” because it includes sound demos and you can see the comparison in sizes while Denny plays:
When the guitar is really big they end up spending more time wrestling them than playing them and you don’t want the learning process to be frustrating for them. I would recommend the Parlor as it will have a bigger sound but yet be small enough for them to get their arms around. Here’s a link to see it: http://www.zagerguitar.com/guitars/parlorsizemahogany
You can see all of our sizes with measurements on this page: http://zagerguitar.com/sizes/
If the child already has a guitar, say if they are a little older, go by what they play now and if they are ready to upgrade in size. Bottom line you don’t want to overwhelm any beginner, especially a younger player, because it hinders them from wanting to practice and get over the initial hump until they can play “real” songs and music and enjoy the playing. I’d say go off of what he has already played and held and what has and hasn’t been comfortable for him so far. That should help decide if he wants a smaller guitar or full size.
My father’s guitars are designed for large handed and bigger fingered players. Many large handed or bigger fingered players think that a large neck is what they need for their big fingers and that’s true to a point but what really makes a difference is a wider string stance…more space between the strings side to side. This extra space between the strings creates room for your fingers so when you’re forming chords you’re not accidentally bumping into other strings creating buzzes, mutes and rattles. Combine this with lower string heights, lower string pressures, and a multitude of other features that my father builds into his guitars and you can see why large handed players love his guitars. Follow this link to some of our reviews from customers…many of which are larger handed and or bigger fingered: http://guitarreview.net/reviews.php
I also have a video on large hands here:
My fathers guitars are made for players with small hands and short fingers. If you look at our guitars you will notice some key characteristics that you will not find on other guitars. One of those is a very slim front to back neck design. When I say slim I mean the distance from the back of the neck to the front of the fret board. What this means is people with smaller hands and or short fingers are all of sudden able to put their hand around the neck and form chords with ease. It allows you to come down on the strings from a more perpendicular angle so you’re no longer having to reach over other strings muting them out causing buzzes and rattles. One other difference you will find with our guitars is the space between the strings side to side. This custom spacing creates room for your fingers so when you’re forming chords you are not accidentally touching strings that you don’t want to creating buzzes, mutes and rattles. Combine this with lower string heights, lower string pressures, and a multitude of other features that my father builds into his guitars and you can see why his guitars receive the ratings they do. It might also have to do with the fact that he works on each guitar personally unlike other guitar manufacturers that use assembly lines with people who don’t have 60 years of experience.
I also have a video about this here:
If you’ve ever watched my father play you will see that all he does is finger style, in fact he invented his own finger style system over 40 years ago. Here’s the links for more: Zager Pro Guitar Instruction and About Denny Zager
It’s for this reason he designs all of his guitars exclusively for finger style play meaning there’s a little more space between the strings for easier chording and the strings set a little higher over the sound hole which makes right hand finger movements easier as well. All of his models are designed this manner so as far as a recommendation it comes down to more size and whether you want an acoustic or acoustic electric. You can see all of our models here: zager.com
We have many bluegrass players who use our guitars…I think we have more bluegrass players then all others. If you go through our testimonials and reviews I think you will find some good feedback about how our guitars work with this style of music. The 2 guitars I would recommend are our ZAD50 or ZAD80. There is really no standard for bluegrass music according to the things I’ve read and heard, although I hear that spruce is pretty popular among bluegrass players. Rosewood, the wood used in Martin D-28’s and our 80 series, is very resonant and has a deep bass response that many Bluegrassers also prefer. This tone is sometimes described as being “darker” than spruce. Both the 50 and the 80 have extreme playability levels as my father works on each guitar by hand using his String Science system. Both guitars also incorporate the use of solid woods which mature with age giving them a deeper more powerful sound that gets better year after year. The main difference between these guitars is the woods. The 50’s have a Sitka spruce top with mahogany back and sides which gives them a slightly louder, brighter sound. http://www.zagerguitar.com/guitars/zad50cespecial
The 80 Series has Indian rosewood on the back and sides with a red cedar top which produces a more mellow, slightly richer and deeper sound. The 80’s also have full inlay around all edges of the face, a rosette around the sound hole, inlay on the fret board, along with gold plated Grover tuners. http://www.zagerguitar.com/guitars/zad80ce
Playability wise both guitars will be the same so if that’s your primary concern the 50’s a bargain. If you read magazine reviews and customer testimonials you will will see a lot of players who used to own higher level Taylor and Martins going with the 80 Series because it matches those guitars esthetically but playability is anywhere from 20-50% easier and price is about half since you’re buying direct bypassing the retail store. We also have many customers choosing the 50 Series because it offers that same great playability for a lower price. If I have a customer who can’t decide this is what I tell them. If you want the look, feel and sound of a $1500+ guitar, but with better playability go with the 50 Series….it’s a lot of guitar for the money. If you want a guitar that outperforms many guitars in the $2500+ range and plan on keeping it forever passing it down to your children go with the 80 Series.
Regardless of your decision remember that we’re the only guitar company in the world who offers a 100% money back guarantee that pays shipping fees both ways if you choose to return it meaning you can try one in your home without risking a penny.