Art and Lutherie Ami Guitar: Acoustic Guitars Under $500 Review Series

Published Categorized as Art and Lutherie Acoustic Guitars, Beginner Guitars Under 500, Cedar Top Wood, Guitar Reviews, Guitar Reviews under 500, Laminate Back and Sides Wood, Small Size Guitar Reviews, Solid Wood Top Wood, Wild Cherry Patterned Laminate Back and Sides

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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.

Table of Contents

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.

The Materials

  • 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.

Videos of the Ami

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.

The Action

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.

The Size

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.

Fretboard

The fretboard is made from rosewood – definitely no complaints there. The fretboard felt nice under the fingers.

Nut width

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

Disclosure: Links below are affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you.

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

value for money tick

Absolutely!

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 learn more about the Art & Lutherie Ami, or if you’re ready to buy, or want to research current prices and availability, check out: Art and Lutherie Ami at Amazon.com.

If you want to check out some other under 500 acoustic guitar options or want to see how the Amicompares to other guitars in this price range, check out my Top 5 Guitars Under 500.

FAQs

How good are Art & Lutherie guitars?

The reputation of Art & Lutherie guitars is generally positive, especially considering their price range.

By Nate Pallesen

Nate is just your average (above average) guitar player. He's no Joe Satriani, Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page - wait this site is about acoustic guitars (sorry) He's no Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, or Michael Hedges, wait? who!? He's no Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton or Ben Harper - more familiar? Anyway you get the point :-)

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