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?
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.
Importance of the Saddle & Nut
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.
Plugging 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.
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.