In my recent visit to my local guitar shop I tried, amongst others, the Art and Lutherie Ami guitar.
The first thing that struck me was the size of the Ami. Growing up in a guitar world where the Dreadnought comes standard, the Ami, based on the parlour shape of the early 1900s, felt really small.
But that didn’t take away from the sound of this slightly-different-than-your-average-guitar little instrument.
What this Review will Cover
All of my reviews on SixStringAcoustic.com cover both sound and playability. In particular, this review will:
- Discuss the sound of the Ami, both in terms of its materials and my personal experience of it;
- Provide videos to give you some impression of the sound of the Ami;
- Discuss the playability of the Ami, both in terms of my experience and in terms of the materials used and other specs;
- Provide user reviews to give you other people’s views on the Ami;
- Give you my opinion on the value for money of the Ami and what type of guitarist the Ami would be most suited to
The Sound of the Ami
More so than I was expecting when I first saw the size of this guitar, it actually packed a decent punch.
Which I guess shouldn’t surprise me that much given that a lot of blues artists used this shape of guitar back in the day.
Now it of course isn’t going to be able to produce the volume of say a dreadnought shape but certainly wasn’t lacking attitude.
What started out almost feeling like a toy guitar turned out to be quite a lively instrument but with a warm tone suited well to that bluesy sound.
- Top (soundboard): Cedar. Part of that warm tone comes from the Cedar top – which isn’t the warmest top you’ll ever get (try Mahogany) but is definitely warmer sounding than your typical spruce top. So if you like it warm then this is a good thing but if you prefer a brighter sound then this may not be your thing. That being said, the sound is probably on the brighter side of warm (if that makes sense) so it’s quite well balanced.
- Back and sides: The back and sides of the Ami are laminate wild cherry. This also helps to produce that sound somewhere in the middle of warm and bright. The Seagull S6 Original is made from very similar materials – and that’s no surprise when you learn that Art & Lutherie are a brand of Godin guitars (as is Seagull).
- Bridge: The bridge is made from Rosewood. This is one of the best woods for bridges and does a great job transferring the vibration of the strings into the soundboard.
- Nut and Saddle: The nut and saddle are made from a material called TUSQ by graptech. This is a synthesized material that is designed to imitate bone – but without the potential inconsistencies of bone. My experience of TUSQ has always been positive.
Check out the videos below to get an idea of the sound
Here are 2 videos that demonstrate the sound of the Ami.
Playability of the Ami
Overall the Ami was smooth and nice to play.
But I did have 2 complaints. Firstly the action and secondly the access to the higher frets.
As is almost always the case, especially with lower priced guitars, the action of Ami was set too high for my liking. This made it a bit of an effort to play and it could have been even smoother and nicer to play with a lower action.
That said, some people do like a higher action. And, since it’s easier to lower the action than it is to raise it, I completely get why it is set up this way.
My tastes prefer a lower action so the first thing I would do with this guitar if I bought it would be to lower the action. And then I believe it would be a very nice guitar to play – especially for the price.
Access to the Upper Frets
More so than on most other non-cutaway acoustic guitar’s I have played, I found it quite difficult to play anything past the 12th fret on the Ami.
The big reason for this is that the neck joins the body of the guitar at the 12th fret. Most guitars these days join at the 14th fret. The Ami joins at the 12th as it is based on a parlour shaped guitar.
Not a problem if you don’t tend to play up there but if you do you could find it a bit frustrating.
It was quite a novelty playing such a small guitar. And actually quite fun.
It may not be that suitable to everyone. In one of the videos above it actually appears to be quite awkward to handle. So if you are a smaller person then this would be awesome but if you are a larger person then it may become quite awkward to play.
I am 6 ft, 185lbs. So pretty average size for a guy. I found it a little bit awkward but not too bad. Something to adjust to but quite fun nonetheless.
The fretboard is made from rosewood – definitely no complaints there. The fretboard felt nice under the fingers.
The Ami has a nut width of 1.72” (43.7mm). This is a pretty standard width these days but is also quite a narrow width. This is well suited to the size of the guitar and also makes it nice and easy to play for anyone with smaller hands.
The Type of Guitarist the Ami is best Suited to
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The Ami really excels when it comes to playing acoustic blues, folk, slide & fingerstyle – but don’t necessarily put it into a genre box. You could certainly use the Ami for anything you wanted if you’re looking for a more unique sound.
The Ami would also be well suited to beginners (provided the action was adjusted first). It’s priced right and the smaller size will make the instrument easier to handle for beginners.
The smaller size also makes it a great option for kids – whether just learning or already starting to master the instrument. I would definitely recommend this guitar to any parent looking to get a guitar for their kid.
Value For Money
If this guitar is the type of thing you are looking for and fits into your budget then it’s a great choice.
Yes, I had a couple of complaints, but for a guitar that costs less than $400 there are going to be some things that aren’t perfect.
And to be honest my biggest complaint is surrounding the height of the action. And this is something that can be easily adjusted. In fact some shops may adjust it for you when you buy it. Otherwise you can adjust it yourself if you know how or get someone to adjust it for you after you buy it.
Overall you get a quality instrument for the price.
More Info and Where to Buy
If you want to check out some other under 500 acoustic guitar options or want to see how the Ami compares to other guitars in this price range, check out my top 5 guitars under 500 at the link below.
>> Six String Acoustic’s Top 5 Guitars Under 500