Let me preface this by saying this post is entirely my own. I’ve never been in contact with the manufacturer and am receiving no compensation for this from anyone. I just want to turn other guitar players on to a great, inexpensive guitar.

Teton guitarI’ve long been unsatisfied with the acoustic guitars I’ve owned — cheap pieces of shit that played and sounded as bad as you’d expect for what I paid for them; they were useful only for songwriting and for practicing when I couldn’t use an electric for fear of being lynched by the neighbors. (These junk guitars included a 1967 or ’68 Gibson LGO [very good action, lousy muffled sound] — with that brand, you’re paying for the name — which I had to sell about 15 years ago when I was broke; I haven’t missed it for a second.)

A couple of years ago, I wandered into one of the local guitar shops, Lessons n’ More, and told the owner I wanted to buy a decent acoustic-electric but didn’t want to spend a lot of money. He said, “Try this.” He hauled out a Teton, a huge, made-in-USA, strangely shaped, single-cutaway dreadnought acoustic-electric (considerably deeper toward the tail end of the body than the neck). I took it, went into a practice room, started playing, and went “Damn!” It sounded and played great, but I was near broke at the time, and was reluctant to spend the $375 (plus approximately $30 tax) for the guitar. So I put it on the back burner.

Eighteen months ago, I could afford it, bought one, and fell in love with it.  It’s easy to play, bright, projects like crazy, and sounds just as good, maybe better, amplified than unamplified. I’ve changed the strings once since I got it, and people still remark on how bright it sounds. This pretty much says it all: I prefer playing it to playing my Strat (which I’ve had for over 20 years, have used on innumerable gigs, and which I love).

Yesterday, I got together with friends for a few hours. We started off with bass, drums, and yours truly on acoustic-electric, and it totally cut through. After an hour, another friend showed up with his Strat, and I decided to stick with the Teton. (We were both playing through Peavey Classic 30s — probably the most cost-effective working bluesman’s tube amp [I greatly prefer them to Fenders] — so this is a good comparison.) It held its own with the Strat.

To put it back in acoustic terms, the Teton acoustic-electric (model STS105CENT) will more than measure up against purely acoustic Martins and Taylors costing four times as much.

There are, however, downsides to the Teton. The first and most serious is that the finish on the body is very soft (satin finish — the neck has an acrylic finish) and it scars easily. I use light gauge strings (.009s on electrics, .011s on acoustics), don’t pick hard, never break strings, and I’m still scarring up an area around the sound hole. That’s aggravated by the Teton’s lack of a pick guard. I’m thinking about gluing one on, but am concerned that it will muffle the sound — so I probably won’t do it, and will just accept the cosmetic damage. There are also some dings that wouldn’t have appeared on a guitar with an acrylic finish. Another telling fact: my Strat is near perfect despite 20+ years of heavy use, while the top of the Teton is already getting close to Willie Nelson territory.

The other downside is that the Teton can be awkward to play, even sitting down. I find it sliding further and further down my leg, within minutes. and the only sure way to stop that is to put my foot up on something. There’s no strap button at the base of the neck, so that’s not a solution. (I just looked on YouTube, found a safe way to drill into the neck and add a strap button, and will do it after trying it first with the old p.o.s. [Rogue] acoustic-electric I was using  prior to upgrading to the Teton.)

Enough said. Despite its minor drawbacks, if you’re looking for a great, reasonably priced acoustic-electric guitar with easy access to the upper frets and don’t mind probable cosmetic problems, try a Teton. They’re probably the best buy in the world on acoustic-electrics.




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