Just wanted to give a run down on the Cardoba O-5 for those that might be interested. I'll A/B it with the Gitane 255 as they are in the same price range.
The O-5 is a welcome addition for the player looking to get into the style. At $400 it is a low priced option for an instrument that can be set up in the way needed to learn the techniques. The over all build is solid and is not over lacquered.
Tone: The tone is on the thin side. But much better then I expected from a guitar in the price range. It is much dryer then the tone of the 255 with more throat and woodieness to it.
The one thing that really needs to be done on this guitar right away is a bridge replacement. The bridge it come with is totally solid... Log like and really kills the volume of the guitar. Also the stock bridge is made from what looks to me to be Purple Heart. It is stained black but I took it off and worked it a bit to find very purple dust coming form the wood. I have never used Purple Heart for bridges and from this I can say it does not make the best bridge. With the proper bridge the guitar's volume increases about 85%. Over all the tone from string to string is well matched. What the tone lacks is a really rich, full sound. It is on the thin side but again much better then I thought it was going to be.
Neck: The neck is great. This is where I feel the guitar gives the 255 a true challenge. The O-5 neck is a nice sized neck and more like the neck form the DG-300 in shape. It's a bit more rounded then the 300 neck but about the same thickness.
Hardware: the tuners work but should be on the top of the list to change out. The tailpiece is about the same as the Gitane tailpiece. Two out of the three O-5s I have worked on have had the tailpiece installed incorrectly and needed to be fixed. It's not a problem with the tailpiece it's self just the installation.
Playability: Plays easier then the 255 but only because the neck thicker and gives you something to hang on to.
Go for the O-5 if:
You are buying your first GJ guitar and don't want to break the bank for a first buy
You want an inexpensive 2nd guitar that can be set up well and has the tone
Don't go for the O-5 if:
You are looking for a step up guitar. This is a starter
You are looking for a full rich tone
What you get with the 255 that the O-5 lacks:
What you get with the O-5 that the 255 lacks:
Better "Gypsy" tone
I'm glad to say the O-5 is another viable option and both the 255 and the O-5 make a good starter instrument!