You don’t see many blackwood-topped guitars. In fact, this is the only one I’ve seen, my blackwood beauty, built by German luthier, Heiner Dreizehnter.
I met Heiner at the Open Strings Guitar Festival in Osnabrück. Of the many guitars that I played over the festival weekend, this was the one that I couldn’t forget. It took two months before I succumbed to the siren song of the blackwood, but succumb I did. I made the call, hoping that it hadn’t sold and, thankfully, it hadn’t.
It is Tasmanian blackwood throughout with maple bindings and ebony fretboard, headstock veneer, bridge and bridge pins. The specs are as follows:
* Scale length is 648mm (25.5″)
* Nut width, 45mm (1.77″).
* Lower bout, 395mm (15.55″)
* Upper bout, 290mm (11.42″)
* Waist, 245mm (9.65″)
* Depth at end pin, 120mm (4.72″)
The tone is deep and rich and it was that depth of tone that captured my heart. The craftsmanship is outstanding, something I’ve come to expect from German luthiers.
It has a nice oil-based finish, something which I hadn’t seen before and haven’t seen since. It really brings out the natural wood and there’s none of that swish of clothes rubbing against it as is the case with satin finishes.
But, aesthetics aside, let’s get to the meat of the matter: the tone. I’m a bass lover – always have the bass button pushed in on my stereo, iPod EQ set to bass boost, nice, meaty subwoofer for the 5.1 amp, you get the picture. And let me tell you, this guitar floats my boat. I don’t know whether it’s the depth, the wood, the bracing or what, but this guitar has some real meat to it.
Saying all that, one would be forgiven for thinking that the guitar is bass heavy. It isn’t. That’s what makes it so remarkable. It’s well-balanced but with presence, if that makes any sense.
The quality that this guitar has, besides the rich depth, is sustain. For Celtic fingerstyle, the only guitar I’ve played that I liked more was a Walker, and they are about three times more expensive. It has a kind of dry, vintage-like tone similar to what one would expect from mahogany, and also like mahogany, it favours the fundamental. But the similarities with mahogany end with the sustain – I could pick a note, switch on the kettle and it would be still be ringing as I was pouring in the milk.
I have posted a review of this guitar on Harmony Central.
UPDATE: September 2005
I took this guitar with me to Steve Kaufman’s flatpicking camp in Tennessee last June and am pleased how well it coped in amongst all those dreadnought banjo busters. Sure, it wasn’t a bluegrass monster, but it was certainly loud enough to stand up to some good pickin’. I had the action lowered a bit by luthier and Kamp Doctor, Ken Miller. He also installed a PUTW dual-source pickup. This guitar is now my gigging and pub guitar, as well as everything else. It’s my keeper!
Here are some recordings I’ve done on this guitar. I record using condenser microphones. Here’s a page showing the gear I used: Recording Gear
My Mary of the Curling Hair
Humours of Ballyloughlin
Hector the Hero
May the Fourth Be with You