Siempre 210L

Guitar

Made by Siempre

Description The 210L is a nylon-stringed acoustic guitar with active onboard preamp with volume and tone controls. It has a cutaway and is LEFT-HANDED, and I purchased it off eBay for about $100.
Posted By James Pierson (206)
Directory Equipment: Guitars
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Overall Rating: 3.0 (of 5)
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On 1/11/2011, James Pierson (206) posted:
Overall Rating:
Given that I already had two Staggs (one electric and one classical) you can see that I hover around the low-price end of the market. That's one way I can have a variety of lefty guitars available to me without going into debt forever. But it also has made me fairly tolerant of imperfect instruments (and why not? I build imperfect instruments myself!). The Siempre 210L is a great-looking lefty classical with a cutaway and electric capability. Its playability is extraordinary, but its sound has a major flaw -- the honk note. Still, I play this guitar all the time. Go figure a crazy man! So because I like the guitar so much in spite of its flaw, I'm giving it an average rating. Just beware of resonance phenomena like honk notes on these cheap Asian specials. EDIT: I'm still a net positive on this Siempre guitar, but only because I have the skills and interest (and patience) to undertake corrective work on the stuff the factory left undone in order to keep the instrument cheap. But I have lowered some of my ratings above since basically the guitar has shown some of its true colors that didn't show initially. DON'T BUY one of these unless you like lutherie projects!
Price: $100.00 (new)
Where Obtained: eBay/Guitars Amps and beyond
Features:
I have heard these are made in China, but I am not sure about that. Here are the specs as given in the ad: Cutaway Design; Rosewood Fingerboard and Bridge; Solid Spruce Top; Handmade Rosette; Laminated Headstock; Custom Machines and Replacable Knobs; Multi Layered Binding;7 Layer Center Back Binding; Booked and Matched Overall Length 39 1/2"; Width at Widest Point 14 1/2"; Body Depth 3 7/8". Active electronics.
Playability:
The BEST thing about this guitar is its playability -- action, neck, etc. The finish on the fretboard is only fair in some places but somehow they gave this thing top-notch playability -- in spite of it having a concave bride saddle! Yes, where most bridge saddles have convex upper (string-contact) surface, this baby has a concave one. Never seen anything like it. But it works! This guitar is so playable that I enjoy using it very often in spite of its honk-note issues (see below). EDIT: One area they cheapened this instrument is in the finish of the fretboard and the frets. I have raised the grain on the fretboard with naptha and scraped smooth with a razor, leveling the fretboard and the binding at the same time. I used a fret rounding file to take the edges off the fret ends, then re-crowned all the frets with a crowning file, and then polished the frets. I am interested to see whether the playability will still be so stellar when I've done the setup myself. I'm kind of sorry to see that concave bridge saddle go...
Sound Quality:
I would say the sound is good, but there's a big caveat there -- this guitar has the mother of all honking notes in the bass strings about 2/3 of the way up the neck. The resonance is so strong that it vibrates whatever wiring connects the pickup/active electronics inside. I noticed the same thing (though not nearly so pronounced) in a Stagg guitar, also Chinese, that has an almost identical profile to this one. Chords sound good and there's a nice warmth to the sound overall, though I think the spruce top will take a while to settle into its best acoustic nature. But because of the honk note I can't give it a neutral rating...EDIT: I should mention that the onboard pickup/EQ didn't work; not a big thing because I don't plug in my nylong strings very much (ever); the reason it didn't work (I think) is the cheap plastic bridge saddle did not in fact come into contact with the undersaddle piezo transducer! I am replacing the bridge saddle now and will make sure it's in contact with the transducer! Am using bone but may re-do the saddle in Micarta as I understand this is better for use with a piezo. I'm replacing the nut while I'm at it -- bone. I hope this will improve the sound...in any case, this is all good lutherie practice!
Durability:
I have not had this guitar long enough to assess its durability. EDIT: The guitar seems durable enough, but it was hard on strings -- another reason to replace the cheap plastic bridge saddle. It breaks strings a lot right at the little divot in the top of the saddle. On the durability subject, I also bought a case (inexpensive, natch) from the people I got this guitar from and thought I had a steal unti one day I tried to close it and found the top all warped. Takes real strength to force the metal tabs home so you can lock the buckles. So I'm taking the durability rating down a notch.