Seagull S6 Review: High Quality, Reasonable Price

A review of the Seagull S6 beginner acoustic guitar

To call the Seagull S6 a beginner guitar is a joke. As I hope to share in this Seagull S6 review, this acoustic guitar has become a standard for entry-level acoustic guitars and has earned a placed to be known as an intermediate guitar.

Handmade in Canada (one of the few guitars at this price point that are even made in North America!), Seagull Guitars was established back in 1982 as a sub-brand of Godin Guitars.

If you’ve been searching online for a good beginner acoustic guitar, chances are you’ve run into the Seagull S6 on many “Top 5” lists. It’s definitely not the cheapest beginner guitar on the market, but it certainly deserves a place on all of these lists.

And really, who cares about a guitar that makes a “Top 5” list when it’s already won numerous industry awards?

The Seagull S6 Acoustic guitar for beginnersSeagull S6 Review

There’s nothing truly extraordinary about the Seagull S6 when you first look at it. There’s no fancy inlay, no cutaway and the design is fairly traditional.

So what makes the Seagull S6 so special?

In a word: quality. I can’t see the quality as much as hear it when I play the guitar. It’s obvious from the tone that a lot of time has been spent crafting a beautiful guitar that fits a market need: a quality guitar within the budget range of many entry-level guitarists.

Part of what makes this a quality guitar is the materials Seagull chose to use. Instead of the typical laminate spruce wood tops that you find on most beginner guitars, the Seagull S6 uses a pressure-tested solid cedar top. It is widely accepted in the guitar-making world that the guitar face is one of the most important factors in creating the tone of a guitar, so this solid wood top is a difference-maker.

Seagull used Canadian Wild Cherry for the back and sides of the S6.  You don’t find this wood often on a guitar at any price range and it is beautiful in its own right. Pretty much the only “traditional” part of this guitar is the fretboard, which Seagull makes using rosewood – pretty standard with all guitars.

Cedar instead of Spruce

The thing about using a cedar top instead of the traditional spruce top is that it’s hard to compare apples to apples when searching for a guitar. Cedar has vastly different tonal qualities than spruce and may cause your ear a bit of confusion.

I’ve heard some people talk about how cedar is better for fingerpicking while others claim that the guitar opened up more with strumming. Regardless, there’s only one thing that will truly “open up” the sound of a guitar: age. This is true for any guitar.

My point is, don’t expect this guitar to sound like every other beginner acoustic guitar…but take that as a good thing. It may take a little while for your ear to adjust to the sound. But, as every owner can attest to, you will eventually love it.

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Importance of the Saddle & Nut

The GraphTech saddle used on the Seagull S6

The Seagull S6 is the perfect example of how small details – such as an acoustic guitar saddle and nut – can make a huge difference on a guitar.

The S6 uses a Compensated Tusq by GraphTech, a saddle which essentially compensates slightly on certain strings to improve playability and tone on the guitar.

Most people probably won’t notice this at first but when you change your strings you’ll see that the saddle grooves in different directions for different strings. This is something that is common among high-end guitars but you rarely, if ever, find on an entry-level guitar.

Thick in the Neck…Small in the Head

It’s worth noting that the Seagull S6 is a bit thick in the neck. You may notice that your hand doesn’t wrap around the neck quite as much as other guitars you pick up. It’s a preference thing mostly, but I got used to it quite quickly.

Also the headstock of the guitar is a bit smaller than most acoustic guitars out there today. This is actually built this way for a specific reason.

Seagull claims that by putting the tuners in line with the nut, they have been able to improve tuning stability. Again, these are the details that make the Seagull’s S6 such a quality beginner guitar.

Seagull S6 Review - the Quantum electronicsPlugging in with Electronics

Finally, the Seagull S6 has the option for electronics, although it’s cheaper to just get the acoustic version. The acoustic-electric version of the S6 comes with what they call the Quantum I, a proprietary design for Seagull.

The electronics include volume, bass and treble controls for a transducer located in the saddle. A bonus feature that is becoming more common nowadays is that there is an on-board tuner as well.

Overall Impression

I really have very little complaints with this guitar. If you’re expecting a high-end, hand-made acoustic guitar you might be slightly disappointed but if you’re in the market for a new beginner guitar or an addition to your collection, you’ll love the Seagull S6.

The sound is excellent – and seems to get better with time – and the feel is smooth. Like I said, there is nothing “extraordinary” about the way the guitar looks.  But, for the price, it’s hard to argue with all the benefits.

Grab a Seagull S6 and take it for a spin. I’ll bet it becomes an often-used part of your guitar collection.

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40 thoughts on “Seagull S6 Review: High Quality, Reasonable Price

  1. ive been playing guitar for aruond to years and im considering bu.ying a 12 string.Im now playing a seagull mini jumbo f/maple performer and looking at a seagull excursion 12 string with spruce top and walnut back and sides. I dont see any reviews on line, i guest where there new out this year.Have you played a seagull excursion 12 and whats your opinion on it

    1. The one I checked out in a guitar store a few years ago was a pretty good playing, great sounding straight acoustic 12 string. However, I wouldn’t pay more than 799 USD for one that wasn’t acoustic / electric.

      1. i got the seagull excursion12 string,acoustic-electic model a couple of years ago and its a great guitar for around 500 hundred bucks here in newfoundland .Its the spruce top and walnut back and sides,i put elixer strings on it and it sounds great.i would recomend this guitar for the price.

  2. I just purchased a coastline s-series 12+ and a fund raiser silent auction,and if i was able to play it before purchasing i would not goes out of tune and when you play chords on it,it sounds awful.always wanted a 12 and not very happy.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Wayne. I’m sorry you had a less-than-stellar first impression of the Seagull brand. Personally, I think there’s a big difference between the S6 guitar and the Coastline S-Series, namely the solid wood top. The S6 has been highly praised for a reason and if you have a chance you should at least give it a try!

      1. I would like to apoligize for my last reply on the seagull coastline s-series 12+.i never owned a 12 string guitar and i tuned all the strings as i do a 6,i did not tune it the octave higher that i should have,my mistake and i hope that all seagull owners will forgive me,for now that it is tuned properly i do enjoy playing it,and it does have a nice sound.again i apoligize for my mistake..

      2. Wayne, Thank you for your follow up reply. Honesty and willingness to admit a mistake are something normally lacking in reviews. Thank you again, you have helped me make an informed decision.

      3. Glen you sent this email to the wrong wayne. Ihave the seagull perfomer m/j f/m and was wondering if anyone had the seagull excursion 12 string.Any way i now have the excursion 12 and its a excellent sounding guitar with a near perfect action. The one i have is A/E and for $400.00 its a good deal here in canada. THANKS…WAYNE S

    2. Get a setup done on it. Any guitar store can usually do it. I had my S6 Cedar for about a month and noticed a tuning problem. Spent 30 bucks on a set up and man you wouldn’t believe the difference. Sounds perfect in any key and stays in tune. When I get a new guitar now after 30 days I get them checked. Some need it some don’t. Seagull is still my favorite!

  3. I have had a Seagull for 15 years. It’s taken a beating. But I’d advise anybody now not to buy one.

    The folks at the company decided to use a bolt on neck but add epoxy. With a bolt on neck epoxied you get get zero benefits of a bolt on neck.

    Although you probably won’t have any problems for a very long time…buying a Seagull now is a mistake. They need to stop using epoxy on the bolt on neck.

    I also had bad customer service. They told me that the lifetime warranty would not replace or repair my neck. They wouldn’t even look at it. I told them my serial number and they pretty much said, sorry no service, it’s too old.

    Don’t believe all the hype. They are great guitars, probably the best for the money. But the new epoxied necks are the dumbest method of production possible.

    1. Whenever you see one and only one neap gating email, you immediately think ” this must be someone with an axe to grind”. Absent of any other negative comments, you become skeptical. However, as someone who once had a heckuva problem with a bum neck on a Gibson SG Special made back in the late 60’s, I would not want to hear that a company offering a Lifetime Warranty would not honor it. IF you are the original owner, they should honor it. period.

      1. Be careful thinking that “Lifetime Warranty” means a whole lot. I believe under US Laws, there are many ways out of a “Lifetime Warranty” – I think for guitars it is about 2 years. I don’t like the warranties on guitars being called “Lifetime Warranty” but all of the guitar makers do it. When you think about it, with all of the guitars being made, if the warranty was truly good for a lifetime, guitar makers would be swamped with returns. Guitars take beatings (they are fairly fragile), and it would be very difficult to tell at times what was a fault of an owner and what was the makers fault. But, I do agree, if they are using epoxy in the neck joint, that is not a good idea.

  4. The 1992 s6+cw electro with cutaway is the best guitar ive ever had ..i play celtic tunes in various tunings and ive been unable to reproduce these tunes on any other guitar..tomorrow i’m buying another one..ive been searching for one in N.Ireland for 10 years..they’re rare now as people realise the quality of the way they were made then,withs Baggs pick-up and beautiful Parquetry to reinforce the erosion at the sound-box..its a pity cedar erodes like that,but i wish they’d have kept making one hasnt been hardly played so i’m looking forward to 20 years plus out of that one too..Please that model in all its perfection..i’d buy a third tomorrow..they hold their tuning so well,and i would have 3 on stage with me for every set i play

    1. Jimmy, it’s probably a bit late in the day but I have a 2004 s6+cw electro with cutaway for sale if your interested

  5. Hello,

    I bought my beloved Seagull acoustic with the cedar top and cherrywood in 1996 at McCabe’s Music Shop in Santa Monica California. It is my pride and joy, my only guitar, and the rich tones just get better and better.
    I have played Taylor 800 series at music stores and unplugged my Seagull leaves them in a cloud of dust in terms of big richness of sound hands down. I love my guitar deeply and she she is a part of my soul.

    Here comes the painful part. Day before yesterday I had an awkward accident while travelling. Seagull fell and landed on a hard floor, bang. In a gig bag, yes. Only when I got home and took her out did I see the devastation. Fractured neck at the top just below keys. So bad it’s an open gash — you can see the metal inside the neck.

    I just wrote to Seagull asking their advice and if they could repair it. I will go to a luthier I know in Brooklyn today. A place called Retrofret. They are honest and dedicated.
    But I am wondering if anyone out there can help me with solutions? Any ideas?

    I couldn’t think of even looking at another guitar. She is my pride and joy and very much a part of my soul. I read a out thos epoxy business and can’t imagine that’s the case with her neck — I bought her new in ’96. Paid around $700. She is a fine fine guitar and I love her deeply. I am hoping the whole neck can be replaced as lne unit. The hardware inside doesn’t appear to be damaged from what I can tell.

    Thanks for your feedback Only positive hopeful helpful comments please! I am very upset and fell to my knees when I saw it.

    1. Sorry to hear that, buy another 1 and get a hard case! Not being mean at all. Help support this great company and I never understood the soft case idea Sorry you lost your baby, I really am

      1. Hi Ben,
        Your timing is perfect!
        So I had the neck lovingly repaired by a master luthier in Brooklyn at Retrofret, my friend’s shop.
        Did I switch to my hard shell case? No. Like a fool I put her right back in that flimsy gig bag. Dropped her again. Neck snapped again. It was bad. Top of neck is now detached. Game over. Dumb Dumb Dumb. My lesson in self care. And you are not being mean at all. You are so right.
        I bought a used Seagull S-6 ” Coastline” Cherry back, rosewood neck, sunburst ( cedar neck ). It’s an ’02. Good shape.
        Have it on 45 day trial form Guitar Center. Only $300 bucks. It’s pretty resonant but no pick up like mine had and it feels heavy and stiff. I’m on the fence about it. Mine was made in ’94 or ’95. I tell ya, it was Kismet. If a guitar can be a soulmate, she was. Magical sound, wasy to play, unbelieveable rich resonance. Leaves high end Taylors in a could of dust ( unplugged) . Cherry, Rosewood, Sprucetop. I wonder of it would be worth it to replace her neck.
        She was made pre epoxy so the neck could come off quite easily. Anybody know about this? Or someone who’s a genius at this sort of thing?
        Anyway, Ben, thanks for writing. After a year of grieving, this subject is very much at the forefront of my mind.
        By the way, The soft case made by Seagull that came with the one I just bought is solid! Tremendously protective. Either way, I’m keeping the bag!

        All the best,

    2. I just read your post and realize it’s a year old. I hope your luthier was able to repair your beloved guitar. I had similar experiences and have the most wonderful repair person just outside Philadelphia who has worked on all three of my seagulls including my old friend the S6.

  6. Hello,
    Would just add that about 7 years ago I bought a seagull m6 cedar top which I believe is the same as the s6 only for the fact it has mahogany sides and back and after playing the guitar for a month or two I have to say i was very sorry I had invested my hard earned money in a seagull guitar,I tried changing to several different string brands and even asked everyone I knew who could play guitar (much better than me I might add )for there opinion on its sound and everyone agreed it wasn’t good and I have to say I nearly sold it for spite I was that disapointed but since it was my first real guitar and the most expensive piece of wood (that’s how I felt about it) I had ever bought I stuck with it and played it everyday……and here is were the narrative goes from negative to positive because after sometime, I can’t quite say exactly how long but the sound seemed to sweetened and mellow and mature fantasticly.My brother who is a very successful musician picked it up a while ago and after ten seconds of playing I observed him taking an admiring look and a gaze into the sound hole to see what kind I guitar it was and then commenting on how beautiful it sounded and how easy it was to play(he had thought it was rubbish when i first bought it)and i know he has acouple of gutars that cost a lot more then my baby.Today as I sit here and write this its hard to believe I ever had those harsh feelings for for my beautiful seagull,people have played it and ask me if I’d sell her but I rather go blind that part with her.Hopefully seagull and me are going to be together for many years to come for when we’re together it all about the love,slan.

    1. I agree completely. I have a M6, not exactly sure of the year. I bought it new in 2005. It was a great intermediate guitar. I knew one day I’d finally get a Martin. Now, 14 years later I wouldn’t trade it for a pre-war Martin! The thing is absolutely amazing. The sound is unique and full and projecting. I play a lot of shows and am VERY protective of it. I wish I had the original bridge pins. Everything else is original but I put new bridge pins in a few years back. It’s all beat to hell but it plays like a dream. I can’t imagine parting with it. Bravo Seagull. I go to open mics and if a get a chance I play new Martin’s and Taylor’s and they definitely don’t sound as good. Maybe it’s the age. But anyway, I do love my Seagull M6.

  7. I have the cutaway model Coastline S6 Folk Cedar QI

    I am very disappointed with the tonal qualities of this guitar.
    It sounds almost closer to a mandolin and I think it must be because of the shallow depth, it’s only 104mm at the deepest (measured at the butt).

    Granted, it’s a small guitar, but other parlor guitar of about the same size width/length sound much fuller. So I think it must be the depth of this instrument.

    I’ve tried different strings to no avail. No one seems to mention this and I wonder why.

  8. My 12-string Seagull [serial no. 4452050, no model name] made in Canada is an exceptional guitar with an action equaling a good 6-string. The tones are excellent and have matured with time. I added a Fishmans bridge pick-up which further brings out the quality of the instrument.

  9. It appears that a very high percentage of Seagull guitar owners who choose to stick by their original decision to buy are, after some time, rewarded manifold for their wisdom, faith and persistence. I, too, am the fortunate owner of such an enigmatic instrument, mine being a 2002 Seagull marked “S6 Mahogany Cedar” (and which therefore may be an M6), and truly love the warm, full, resonant, light-to-the-touch, musical sound produced by fingerstyle playing; this contrasts perfectly with the equally full, perky and assured sound produced by flatpick on anything short of Bluegrass, which certainly doesn’t carry with cedar.
    This instrument has only improved with very regular use over time, and may well resist maturing without such a combination; it is played along side a Yamaha LJ16, which is many times more beautiful, and a Martin D15 which is also more commanding and handsome in equal parts, but the Seagull still remains the favourite child, cared for the most, loved the strongest, turned to first when the frantic day needs to be closed with a sigh and when nothing is sought in return. A lifetime friend!!

    1. Not sure about the “except for blue grass” comment. I’ve seen a video of an S6 cedar top and a spruce top jamin blue grass on YouTube and they complimented each other very well.

  10. Long story short … I bought a Seagull S12 Coastline about a year and a half ago. Liked it so much I bought an S6 (w/QIT). There were three key factors in my purchases of Seagulls – i) the positive reviews, ii) the price and iii) both models that I purchased were available left-handed :). I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

  11. I have owned a Seagull S6 for about 9 months. I love it! I have owned and played Martin, Gibson and a host of other guitars. This is the easiest playing box I have ever owned. I still own a Martin, but it seldom gets played as I love the Seagull so! I would be interested in reading the best strings for this guitar, although it sounds great with just about any brand. The sustain is awesome.

    1. I’ve had an S6 Origional since 1997 and the best strings I’ve found for it are Martin monel retro custom light gauge. Wonderful tone and easy to play. I too have a Martin D15 but it rarely gets played as I’d rather play the Seagull. I used to own a Martin D28 too and still preferred the S6.

    2. We have many Seagull guitars in our home; 2 Coastline Grands (2011 & 2012), an M6 (1999), 2 S6’s (1996 & 2006), a Maritime GT (1998), an SWS Rosewood (2008), a SWS mini-Jumbo (2013) and an M4 Merlin (2014). I use D’Addario EJ16’s for all but the M4 and have found them to be nicely balanced and hold up quite well. But the BEST strings, after all, are the ones that sound best to you. I usually pick one or two of our Seagulls as my favorites at any time (and neglect the rest), but when I change it up, I am always amazed that even if I haven’t played one for months, its tuning is still spot on.

  12. Interesting discussion thread. Like others, my high appreciation for Seagulls grows over time. My everyday player is an S6 Cedar Concert. The best sounding is my Artist Peppino. I’ve played high-end Taylors and Martins, the playability of the Seagulls matches them step-for-step. As others have mentioned, straight out of the box, these guitars are a bit shallow with respects to tone. However, after several hours of playing, they really start to pop. I have had to lower the action at the bridge on each of them but for fingerstyle playing, you would be hard-pressed to find anything comparable at their price point. My ears prefer to string them with Elixir Nanoweb customs. Finally, the Seagull TRIC case is the best standard-issue case going. In short, Seagull doesn’t offer much glitz, but they spare nothing in terms of quality. That’s the way I roll, substance over flash. Keep on pickin’!

  13. Thanks for the great review. I am looking for a first acoustic. I have gone from looking it bigger brands (Fender, Epiphone, Ibanez, Yamaha) to looking at the entry level guitars by specialty brands (Bristol by Blue Ridge, entry level Taylors, Takamine..ect). The bang for the buck factor with Seagull is fantastic though. Like the fact that they are made in Quebec as well!!!

  14. So…I purchased a Seagull S6 CW with the LR Baggs pickup almost exactly 20 years ago. (Just found the invoice in my filing cabinet) At the time, I was teaching general music education to elementary aged students. I needed an acoustic guitar to assist me in my classes, but wanted to get something that would adapt well to the stage. I remember going out to audition guitars at several music stores in the area. I had a budget and nothing I picked up in my price range sounded particularly great. Normally I am stoked about buying a musical instrument, but this was depressing. Then I picked up a Seagull cedar top. I was blown away by the tone and how easy it was to play. Was this price tag wrong??? I must be out of my mind to think that THIS guitar could sound better than just about anything I could find for double the price. I fretted about it (pun intended) a good bit and finally decided that I needed to trust my intuition. I ended pulling the trigger on one. I ended up moving halfway across the country a few years later and ended up changing professions. I still play music on the weekends, but most of the time this involves playing in a horn section. I pick up the guitar only occasionally. Recently, I found myself with some engagements that required me to dust off my guitar (with the same set of strings that have been on it for at least 10 years, no less) and the thing was still reasonably close to being in tune! I have probably played more guitar in the past month than I have in 15 years! Just changed the strings on it last night (Ernie Ball Medium Earthwoods) and I am so loving the sound that is coming from this guitar! So sad to see that this particular model (with the cedar top) is no longer in production.

    1. This is such an old thread but I was hoping I could get some advice. I have the chance to get a 1992 S12 or a new coastline s12 qit.
      Any ideas on what the best option is? It’s all about the sound. Pickup is nice but this is more for recording.
      Thanks for any thoughts

      1. Too late for you, I know, but if the older guitar looks loved and yet “played in” as well, I’d personally go to the older one, especially if I get to try before I buy.

        I have a very old “S6 Folk” (which was the name Godin gave to the ones with the cedar top and the wild cherry back and sides – the “S6” back then was the one with cedar top and mahogany back and sides). How do I know this? I have the original promo leaflets that were in the music shop when I bought mine, and there’s a rundown of the range available back then!

        Godin also produced another leaflet about the care of the guitar, and as directed I’ve kept mine close to a speaker (home AV setup for maximum soundwaves, even when watching movies!) when it hasn’t been in my arms. What with the playing and the speaker exercising the woods over the years it is as sweet as a nut, a really beautiful sound that can be fingerpicked or strummed to perfection, and an action only a mm or two higher *at most* than my various electrics. It has a set of Martin .10-47s on it, most people say to use D’Aaddario EJ-16 .12s.

        Two years ago I looked at a couple of old Martins (the benchmark for comparisons, apparently), a D18 and D29 both decades old, and I’ll attest to the fact that while the Martins sounded different, they didn’t necessarily sound better. Tune-for-tune it’d be a case, had I bought one or both of the Martins, of trying all three to see which best suited a particular situation. I expected it not to be a contest, and I’ll admit that I’m very fond of my S6 Folk, but I really wanted to justify one of the Martins and left feeling that I couldn’t. If I’d felt there’d been anything “extra” in the Martins – there’s a lot of “authority” in their sound and a definite sense that you’ve heard that sound before almost everywhere – it didn’t justify the expense when I already had my venerable S6 Folk.

        Mine’s the straight acoustic but I’m considering, for recording, moving to a soundhole pickup – Fishman, Baggs, etc – to supplement the mic sound, which is great through condenser (Audio Technica) or dynamic (AKG, Shure) mics.

        If the finish on the instrument is oil – as mine is – and not laquer, the sound should really have opened out on an early 90s instrument, especially if the woods have been worked eitehr by playing or at least being close to a sound source for as much as possible.

        So, to anyone coming across this thread in 2030, you owe it to yourself to try out that early 90s Seagull S6. It’s an intermediate players instrument that in my experience plays right up there with the big boys. For a fraction of the price.

  15. Greetings from England- I seem to be having the ‘Seagull experience ‘ too- my local guitar shop owner suggested I try an S6 he had on the rack: It didn’t look that inspiring and didnt grab me with its feel but I decided it was worth buying as a back up:
    I had the action lowered and a Fishman onboard pick up fitted:
    It felt hard to play for about a year until I put Elixir 10s on it and used it every day for 3 weeks in advance of some recording:
    It now feels like a new guitar- I run it through LRBaggs Align series pedals and it just seems to sound better all the time.
    Finger style, slap, strumming – it just does the job:)

  16. Just purchased a new Seagull s6. Plays well, great neck and top. But even though the guitar appears to be all wood on the inside the so called cherry finish on the out side appears to be a fake print on vinyl like laminate flooring. My other laminate body guitars like my Ibanez 54 still have real wood veneer on out side. Any on else experience this, feel somewhat dupped. I was expecting cherry laminate veneer not formica .

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