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#006 LS: Claro Walnut & Redwood

Allow me to start with commending Paul and Kyle for the excellent work they’ve done on the guitar. They’ve gone the extra mile in every way, and they’re a reflection of how Kevin Gallagher has influenced their guitar building. Before I received the guitar, I was sure much love, attention to detail, and sheer artistry has gone into the crafting of this guitar. Throughout the process, Paul and Kyle were very assuring, and kept me updated along the way. I felt like my baby was growing healthily in their hands.

The guitar is special because it has come a long way to be with me (USA to Singapore), and because I’m thankful for the friendship Paul and Kyle have shared. There were times during the building process where we shared vision of the potential this instrument can have in the hands of its owner. However, it’s most special because this guitar was a dear (wedding) gift from my wife Wendy, to me.

Let’s get it started:

LS Model
Redwood top
Claro walnut back and sides
5 Piece neck (Mahogany, Maple, Walnut, Maple, Mahogany)
Florentine cutaway
Short scale neck

The woods:
The redwood and claro walnut looked deep and detailed under the immaculate finish. I just LOVE the look of the wood!

This guitar is truly a work of art. Even as the case was opened I was greeted with the sweet smell of wood. I was so excited about getting it I put my camera on the table so I could video the process.

The best gift a luthier can give to his craft, and to his guitar, is attention to detail. Marry a graphic designer, who undoubtedly knows much about aesthetics, with a sound engineer who knows what guitars should sound like (and will do whatever it takes to make it sound right), plus the kind of attention to detail, craftsmanship, choice wood selection and commitment to any guitar, and you’ll have a winner.

The case:
Custom Ameritage case with digital hygrometer, humidity control system, crushed velvet interior and Burner logo embroided into the fabric on the outside. Ameritage really does make great cases.

Feel and Timbre:
This guitar felt good to hold. It’s neck was just the right size- not too skinny that barre chords were difficult, and just the right amount of chunkiness to grip nicely. Setup was exactly the way I liked it, and it was easy to play. How it sounds, however, is where this guitar stands apart.

This guitar sounded sweet even on first strum. I tuned it up from it’s case, and while each string was being tuned, I already fell in love with the guitar. On a single note, the overtones seem to come one after another- I enjoyed just striking a single note and letting it ring, left me grinning silly to myself. The sustain is also incredible. What I really like is that the sustain seems to decay very gradually, unlike some guitars which drop quite suddenly after a certain point.

I’m a guy who’s always loved the sound of dreadnoughts. I’ve played dreads all my life, and in a blind A/B test, I’ve always chosen the dread. Never really liked how smaller bodied guitars performed- high-midish, with a bottom end that didn’t quite fill enough of the room for me. This guitar, however, blew me away. It’s low end had clarity I’ve never heard before except when a guitar’s heavily EQed. There was a balance in it that for me was refreshing. Not your typical run-off-the-mill “bright” or “chunky” guitar, but one whose low end is equally attended to as it’s high end, with its mids sitting nicely in-between.

I find it important to have a big dynamic range on a guitar, cos it’s exactly that which allows the guitar player the freedom to be expressive. This guitar sounds good dug into as it does lightly plucked.

I love digging into the guitar, and strumming it hard. It never shows signs of breaking up, and there still is headroom to drive it further.

I’m in the midst of choosing a pickup for this. Here’s where you may need to be careful. Any guitar that sounds this good, with this many overtones shouldn’t be paired with a pickup that picks EVERYTHING up, especially when playing with a band. If you’re a solo performer, by all means, get a dual source pickup to more accurately reproduce the sound of the guitar. Otherwise, it might be better to get an undersaddle or a soundboard transducer at best. That said, it’s not a weakness of the guitar, but a comment on the use of the guitar in band situation. For me, this guitar will remain the kind of guitar I use in private at home- the kind which inspires tunes because of all the harmonic combinations it suggests with each strum of a chord; as well as a guitar I’d use in the studio, where every immaculate detail can be captured.

Final word
I do think that in this day and age of industry and manufacturing, we very rarely have opportunity to meet people who care about their craft the way Paul and Kyle do. As I mentioned earlier, this guitar is in and of itself special. But, it is more importantly, a reminder of Who we’re passionate about and the kind of music we want to create. It’s also a reminder of the relationship built over the time of building the guitar, which I treasure the most. Thank you Paul and Kyle

“An incomparable value” – not just in terms of getting your money’s worth, but the value that the relationship adds to the guitar, as a link between the player and the craftsmen. You’ll love it.

Joel Tay
09/17/2010