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#012 PS: Englemann & Cocobolo


Review of the PS #012 – Cocobolo Rosewood / Englemann Spruce with Sound Port

From Michael Parks
April 29, 2013

Parks-PSThe Set-Up
So, I have a couple of confessions to make. 1st, I stalk the custom build threads of the AGF on a pretty regular basis, though as you can see from my post count, I’m not an avid contributor. 2nd, I came to the guitar too late in life, but that hasn’t stopped me from pursuing it with passion, both in terms of my skill as a player and the acquisition of beautiful instruments

The Story
I travel quite a bit for work, and while I’m blessed to have some wonderful guitars, I don’t have anything small enough to fit in the overhead compartment of an airplane. I’d considered a Voyage Air and/or Taylor GS Mini, but for whatever reason had not pulled the trigger. Then, in late November, I stumbled upon this build thread on the AGF:…ight=Burner+PS. I was intrigued to say the least, and began researching Burner Guitars. I read through the website, looked at the reviews online, and sought out their previous build threads on the AGF.

Everything I read was positive, each guitar they had made looked as or more beautiful than the previous, and, personally, I loved the story that Paul and Kyle Burner tell on their website of learning this craft together in 2008 and enjoying the build process as father and son. If you’ve not heard or read about Burner Guitars and Paul and Kyle Burner, as I hadn’t back in November of 2012, than I recommend you do so here:

So, in early December, I contacted Paul Burner and asked if they had any plans to sell their PS prototype. Paul responded to me that they were thinking about selling the guitar, although that was not the initial plan, and we stayed in contact via e-mail, the AGF, and primarily Skype over the next few months.

In early March, Paul let me know that the guitar was officially “mine”, if I was still interested, (of course I was) and so we began talking about strings, pick-ups, set-up, and the like. He and Kyle were waiting to get the guitar back from the finisher, and then they would complete the final voicing and set-up.

The Unveiling
Then the long process all sped up and final delivery happened incredibly quickly. I sent them payment, they shipped the guitar, and on Wednesday, April 17th, I took delivery. Paul and Kyle offered me a three day grace period to ensure that I was satisfied, if not I could send it back no harm done. The pictures of the guitar are beautiful, full album of professional photos can be viewed here:…lemann-spruce/, but they didn’t really prepare me for the guitar. It is simply stunning in person, beautiful; smelled like a woodshop as soon as I opened the case, and I knew within the first few minutes of playing it that someone would have to talk me out of keeping the guitar.

The Review – Both Mine and From Others
I’m not the most poetic person, so please excuse the lack of flowery language  My first impression when playing was, really? As in, is this really mine? I’m not worthy. Just like a beautiful woman, you can only stare at her for so long before you want to have a conversation. I played some simple blues; finger picked a few folk/Americana tunes, pulled out a pick for some strumming and flat picking, and was impressed by them all. The guitar sounded punchy, but not boxy like some small guitars do. It responds well to a light touch, in fact is almost effortless to play, and yet it didn’t break up with a harsher attack. I know it’s a cliché to say of small guitars, but it sounds so much “bigger” than it should. The tone is beautiful, with phenomenal sustain, and the intonation up and down the neck is spot on. After losing my afternoon and most of the night to my new guitar, it seemed unfathomable to me that this was only the 12th guitar that Paul and Kyle Burner had built. There had to be something that I was missing, right?

I called my father-in-law (dad to me); the person responsible for getting me hooked on guitar in the first place, (thanks Dad!) the next morning and told him that the PS had arrived. I asked him to meet me at our local music store, where he and Nelson, my guitar tech, could play the guitar, inspect the craftsmanship, and let me know their thoughts. When I got to Broadway Music in Merrillville, Indiana, Nelson was meeting with his Washburn Rep of 25+ years, and my dad had just arrived. Nelson pointed to the case and said, “Is that it? Let’s see what she’s made of.” They were all impressed by the beauty of my new little guitar, and Nelson went through it with a flashlight, inspecting every angle, joint, etcetera on the guitar. When he was done, he just smiled and commented on how great it was that independent luthiers were working diligently to produce handmade guitars of this quality in the USA. The Washburn rep said that it was hands down the prettiest looking small bodied guitar that he had seen in all his years in the business, and they had barely played it yet. For the next hour or so, they each took turns putting the Burner PS through its paces, both acoustically and plugged in, until they were satisfied. My dad said, “Travel guitar, huh? I’m thinking you’ll be playing that every day for the rest of your life.” Nelson commented again on what a beautifully made and sounding instrument it was, and the Washburn rep said, as I was walking out the door, “I’ll be thinking about that little guitar. What’s the name of the builder again, Burner? Yes, that one will be haunting me.”

I don’t describe the wine or whiskey I like with silly adjectives, I simply say that I like the way it tastes when it goes down my gullet. So, for the PS, it just sings to me, accompanies my voice well, and makes me want to play more. Paul Burner and I had a similar talk about how a guitar should play. We both agree that like butter is best, and my Burner PS plays as easily as any guitar I’ve been fortunate enough to lay my hands on.

As for the Burners, I could not have asked for more open, accessible dialogue from them since the moment I expressed interest. Paul and I Skype almost daily for the final few weeks up to and after delivery, and he genuinely cares about the satisfaction of the new owner of what he and his son have crafted. It was obviously important to him that I loved it, and even after my initial praise, he still asked me on day two if I thought it was a keeper. The Burners, in my opinion, are artists of the first order, and I am extremely thankful to them that I was able to purchase this guitar. I will forever be an advocate of them, the guitars they build, and this forum for providing an outlet and selling forum for builders like them.

Simply put, the guitar has more than exceeded every one of my expectations, not just for a “travel” guitar, but for a fine, custom instrument. It inspires me to play more and differently than other guitars I own, and I am truly blessed for getting the fantastic opportunity to get to own and play one of Paul and Kyle’s creations. I will cherish it always and hope to pass it on to one of my own sons when the time comes.

So, where’s the set-up?
I’ve already contacted Paul and Kyle about building me an MS model in Sinker Redwood and Walnut. I think it was part of their plan from the start. I’ll try to get a sound clip and/or YouTube video of the guitar being played both at home and at church through a mix as soon as possible. Until then, in case you’re interested, here are…

The Specs:
Engelmann Spruce top
Cocobolo back and sides
Ebony fingerboard
Ebony body and fret board binding
Book matched Cocobolo headstock
Ebony back plate
Schertler open back tuners
Cocobolo Rosette
Sound Port
Custom Cocobolo “B” Burner Logo inlay starting the 12th Fret
5-piece neck hand crafted to the Burner specifications by Hanalei Moon
Sunburst top, stained neck, and finish by Joe White
K&K Pure Western Mini pickup
Lower bout: 13.75″
Upper bout: 10.0625″
Waist: 8.00”
Body length: 17.25″
Neck scale: 23.5″
Body Depth 4.05”
Nut Width: 1.75”
String Spacing (at Saddle): 2.25”
Set-up for medium gauge strings, but plays like butter due to the reduced tension of the short scale