Posts tagged ‘DLX Music’

12/06/2017

Testipenkissä: Fender Paramount PM-2 AM

Vielä kaksikymmentä vuotta sitten kitaran alkuperä vaikutti hyvinkin selkeästi soittimen laatuun. USA:ssa, Euroopassa tai Japanissa tehdyt kitarat olivat silloinkin yleensä hyvin laadukkaita, kun taas kiinalaiset soittimet olivat selvää halpistavaraa.

Ajat ovat kuitenkin muuttuneet, ja nykyään valmistusmaata enemmän merkitystä on valmistajan (tai valmistuttajan) päätöksillä valmiin soittimen hintaluokasta ja ominaisuuksista, sekä kyseisen pajan laadunvalvonnalla ja valmistusmenetelmillä.

Upouusi, kokonaan mahongista veistetty Fender Paramount -sarjan parlor-kokoinen edustaja – Fender PM-2 All Mahogany (hintaluokka noin 580 €) – on Kiinassa valmistettu, mutta korkeaan laatuun tähtäävä teräskielinen kitara.

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Fender Paramount PM-2 AM on pienikokoinen teräskielinen (verrattavissa C.F. Martinin 00-kokoon), jossa on kaulaliitos 12. nauhan kohdalla.

Monet akustisten kitaroiden ystävät väittävät, että vanhanaikaisempi liitoskohta (12. Nauhan kohdalla) tekee soittimen soundista lämpimämmän, koska lyhyempi osa kaulaa on irrallaan kopasta, modernimpaan 14. nauhan liitokseen verrattuna.

Koppa on tehty yksinomaan mahongista (kokopuusta).

PM-2 All Mahagony -mallissa kaula on liitetty runkoon perinteiseen tapaan liimaamalla (lohenpyrstöliitoksella). Mahonkikaula on yksiosainen kaulan korkoa lukuun ottamatta.

Fender käyttää tässä Paramount-kitarassa laadukkaita uusintapainoksia avoimista vintage-virittimistä.

Sekä PM-2 AM:n yläsatula, että kitaran kompensoitu tallaluu on tehty aidosta naudanluusta.

Uutuuskitaran mattaviimeistely on hyvin ohut, minkä ansiosta puun syyt on tunnettavissa (ns. open pore finish), antaen kitaralle mukavan luonnollisen tuntuman.

Fender PM-2 AM:ssä on tyylikäs, muttei yliampuva koristelu:

Viritinlavan ja ruusupuisen otelaudan reunoissa on käytetty monikerroksista reunalistoitusta. Kopan kannen reunalistoituksessa on valkoisen muovin lisäksi puusta tehty šakkilautakuvio, ja sama motiivi toistuu myös pohjan keskiviivassa…

…sekä kaikuaukon rosetissa.

Fender Paramount PM-2 AM myydään omassa laadukkaassa kotelossa.

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Vaikka tämän Paramount-parlorin inspiraatio on selkeästi vanhoissa 1920/30-luvun kitaroissa, on kitaran soitettavuus onneksi silkkaa nykypäivää.

Kaulan profiili on nykyaikainen, hiukan madallettu D, eikä 30-luvulla yleensä käytetty – mutta nykyään mielipiteitä jakava – jyrkkä V. Nauhat ovat kapeaa sorttia ja nauhoituksen työnjälki erittäin siistiä.

Testissä käyneen PM-2 All Mahagony -mallin trimmi on ensiluokkainen – 12. nauhan kohdalla kielten korkeudet ovat 2,1 mm (matala-E) ja 1,7 mm (diskantti-e) – ja kitara soi kauttaaltaan puhtaasti ja rämisemättä.

Dreadnought-kokoa pienemmät kitarat ovat viime vuosina kasvattaneet selvästi suosiotaan, ja siihen on syynsä. PM-2 AM:n hieman vähemmän korostettu bassoalue (dreadnoughtiin verrattuna) sopii monille sormisoittajille kuin nakutettu, koska kitaran yleissointi on avoimempi ja tasapainoisempi. Tällaisesta soundista on myös studiossa paljon iloa, koska tiheässä bändisovituksessa häiritseviä ylimääräisiä bassotaajuuksia ei tarvitse vaimentaa, minkä ansiosta pienikoppainen teräskielinen istuu usein heti kättelyssä hyvin miksiin.

Väärinkäsitysten välttämiseksi: Fender PM-2 All Mahogany ei ole missään nimessä laihasti, ponnettomasti tai terävästi soiva kitara, vaan sen soundi on hyvin miellyttävä ja lämmin. Tällaisen parlor-kitaran soinnissa vain bassotaajuudet eivät kumise samalla tavoin kuin monissa dreadnoughteissa.

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Minun mielestäni Fender Paramount PM-2 All Mahogany on todella laadukas pienikoppainen kitara. PM-2 AM on helpposoittoinen ja se tarjoaa 00-kokoiselle kitaralle tyypillisen lämpimän, mutta avoimen soundin.

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Fender Paramount PM-2 All Mahogany

Hintaluokka noin 580 € (kova laukku kuuluu hintaan)

Lisätiedot: Fender

Kiitos DLX Musiikille testisoittimen lainaamisesta!

Plussat:

+ kokopuinen mahonkikoppa

+ mattaviimeistely

+ työnjälki

+ soundiSave

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07/06/2017

Fender Paramount PM-2 All Mahogany – The Kitarablogi-video

Lisätiedot: Fender

30/05/2017

Guitar Porn: Fender Paramount PM-2 AM Parlor

Lisätiedot: Fender

29/05/2017

Testi tulossa +++ Review coming soon: Fender Paramount PM-2 AM Parlor

02/05/2017

Testipenkissä: Fender American Professional Series Telecaster & Stratocaster

On käytännössä mahdotonta ylikorostaa upouuden American Professional -sarjan merkitystä Fenderin mallistossa:

Tämä ei ole vain uutuussarja muiden joukossa, vaan American Professional -kitarat ja -bassot korvaavat firman pisimpään tuotannossa olleen, supersuositun American Standard -sarjan.

Uudessa sarjassa on Fenderin perusmallien – Telen, Straton, Presarin ja Jazz-basson – lisäksi tarjolla myös uudistetut versiot Jazzmaster- ja Jaguar-kitaroista.

Fenderin American Pro -soittimissa on monta päivitettyä ja paranneltua yksityiskohtaa, mutta tärkein uudistus löytyy kiistatta uusista, yksikelaisista V-Mod Single-Coils – mikrofoneista.

V-Mod-mikrofonisarjan kehityksestä vastasi Fenderin elektroniikkaguru Tim Shaw. Uutuusmikkejä luotaessa lähtökohtana oli “virittää” kukin mikrofoni sen kitarakohtaisen sijoittelun mukaan. Shaw vei kyseisen konseptin pidemmälle kuin tähän asti on totuttu – V-Mod -sarjassa kaula-, keski- ja tallamikrofonit eroavat toisistaan, ja osassa mikrofoneista on jopa käytetty erilaisia magneetteja basso- ja diskanttikielille.

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Värityksestä riippuen, Fender American Professional Telecasterin (hinta-arvio: 1.700 €; kovalla laukulla) runko on joko leppää tai saarnia (testissä käynyt sunburst-yksilö oli saarnia).

Kaulavaihtoehtoina on yksiosainen vaahterakaula tai vaahterakaula ruusupuuotelaudalla.

American Professional Stratocaster -kitaran (hinta-arvio: 1.700 €; kovalla laukulla) runko on veistetty lepästä, ja myös tämä malli on saatavilla kokovaahteraisella tai ruusupuuotelaudalla varustetulla kaulalla.

Fender on pitkään käyttänyt erilaisia muoviseoksia satuloissaan, mutta uusissa American Pro -soittimissa on aidosta naudanluusta valmistetut satulat.

Soittimien kätevät, kaksisuuntaiset Biflex-kaularaudat ovat tuttuja American Standard -sarjasta.

Am Pro -kitaroissa käytetään nykyaikaisia virittimiä, joissa on eripituiset, porrastetut viritintapit, minkä ansiosta lavassa tarvitaan ainoastaan yhtä kieltenohjainta.

Uutuussarjassa otelautaradius on American Standardeista tuttu 9,5 tuumaa, mikä on erittäin toimiva kompromissi perinne-Fenderien ja nykyaikaisten, laakeampien otelautojen soittotuntumien välillä.

Otelautanauhojen mallia on sen sijaan vaihdettu:

American Professional -kitaroissa käytetään nauhaprofiilia, joka on lähes yhtä korkea kuin super-jumbo -profiili, mutta samalla selvästi jumboa kapeampi. Myös tässä haetaan parasta mahdollista kompromissia perkussiivisen Fender-atakin ja vaivattoman soitettavuuden välillä (etenkin kielten venytyksissä).

Am Pro Telecasterin talla on uudistettu. Uusi talla muistuttaa Telecasterien 50/60-luvun perinnetallaa, mutta se on toimivuudeltaan harppauksia tätä edellä.

Fenderin siirtyminen takaisin kolmeen messinkiseen tallapalaan lämmittää taatusti monen Tele-fanin sydäntä. Uudessa tallassa tallapalat ovat kuitenkin kompensoituja, mikä parantaa huomattavasti American Pro Telen intonaatiota.

Tallan reunoja on madallettu lähes koko matkalta, mutta takaosa on jätetty korkeammaksi pientä tallakantta varten (ei näy kuvassa).

Jos se vörkkii, älä sörki!

Am Pro Straton vibratalla on miltei identtinen kuin viime vuosien American Standardeissa. Se toimii kahden pylvään varassa, ja tallassa on vintage-tyyliset, muotoon taivutetusta teräksestä valmistetut, tallapalat. Vibrakampea ei tarvitse ruuvata, vaan se yksinkertaisesti työnnetään paikoilleen.

American Professional -kaulaliitoksessa on käytetty neljää ruuvia, minkä lisäksi siitä löytyy Tilt-Neck-ominaisuus.

Syvien viistoutuksien ansiosta Am Pro Straton runko on erittäin ergonominen.

Telecasterin molemmissa V-Mod-mikrofoneissa käytetään Alnico V -magneetteja basso- ja Alnico II -magneetteja diskanttikielille.

Tallamikrofoni on käämitty vastasuuntaan, minkä ansiosta mikkikytkimen ollessa keskiasennossa kitara toimii täysin häiriövapaasti.

SSS-Stratocasterin V-Mod-setti on hieman monimutkaisempi kuin Telessä:

Kaulamikrofoniin on valittu Alnico II bassokielille ja Alnico III diskanttikieliä varten, mikä antaa mikrofonille tiukan bassotoiston, sekä mukavan pyöreän yläpään. Keskimikin magneettityypeiksi on valittu Alnico II bassokielille ja Alnico V diskanttikielille, jotta kytkimen ”keskiasennoista” saisi mahdollisimman heleitä soundeja. Tallamikrofonissa käytetään kuutta Alnico V -magneettia, mikä antaa mikrofonille potkua ja purevuutta.

Uutuuskitarassa toinen tone-säädin vaikuttaa kaula- ja keskimikkien sointiin, kun taas toinen on varattu yksinomaan tallamikille.

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Fender on myös uudistannut American Pron kaulaprofiileja:

Uusi, hieman totuttua soikeampi C-profiili tuntuu erinomaiselta, eikä lainkaan niin geneeriseltä kuin vanhojen American Standardien profiili. Kaulasta löytyy riittävästi lihaa, mutta se ei kuitenkaan ole liian paksu tai kömpelön tuntuinen.

Työnjälki, nauhatyö ja perussäädöt olivat testisoittimissa muilta osin todella korkealla tasolla, mutta jostakin syystä intonaatio ei ollut kohdallaan. Muutama minuutti viritysmittarin ja oikeankokoisen ruuvimeisselin kanssa, ja ongelma oli korjattu.

Minusta hyvän Telen soundissa on aimo annos puun kuivuutta ja hiukan muriseva keskialue. Mielestäni uusi American Pro Telecaster kuulostaa juuri siltä kuin sen pitääkin. Kitarasta löytyy runsaasti twängiä Kantria ja vanhaa Rock ’n’ Rollia varten, uhraamatta koskaan soundin herkullista tukevuutta.

Tweed-tyylinen kombo, puhdas:

Tweed-tyylinen kombo, särö:

Brittityylinen särö:

Uusi kaulaprofiili sopii täydellisesti myös Am Pro Stratoon. Tämä kitara haluaa tulla soitetuksi!

Ei voi muuta kuin ihailla Tim Shaw:n omistautumista ja pitkäjänteisyyttä, kun kuuntelee Stratocasterin V-Mod-mikrofonien tuottamia soundeja.

Joskus montaa erilaista kitaraa soittaneen kyynisyys saattaa saada valmistajien lupaukset innovaatiosta vaikuttamaan tyhjiltä. Lähes jokainen perinteisellä tavalla tehty S-tyylinen kitara soi Stratocasterin tavalla. Perussointi on helisevä ja hieman pureva yksittäisiä mikkejä valitessa, ja se muuttuu kuivemmaksi ja ontoksi silloin kun kaksi mikrofonia on samanaikaisessa käytössä.

Minun mielestäni Fender V-Mod -mikrofoneista kuulee selkeästi niiden väliset erot. Ensinnäkin kielten keskinäinen balanssi on näissä mikrofoneissa erinomainen, sekä signaalitason että soinnin näkökulmista. Myös yhdistelmäasetuksissa mikrofonit soivat todella hyvin yhteen, vaikka setin mikrofoneissa käytetäänkin eri magneettityyppejä.

Lopputuloksena on aito Stratocaster, jossa jokainen mikkikytkimen asento kuulostaa erittäin hyvältä.

Tweed-tyylinen kombo, puhdas:

Tweed-tyylinen kombo, särö:

Brittityylinen särö:

Demokappaleessa Telecasterilla soitetut komppiraidat ovat stereokuvassa vasemmalla, ja Stratocasterin komppiosuudet oikealla. Ensimmäinen soolo-osuus on soitettu Telellä, kun taas toisessa soi Strato.

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Minun mielestäni American Professional Telecaster- ja Stratocaster kitarat ovat erittäin onnistuneita soittimia, jotka ovat selkeästi parempia American Standard -sarjan edeltäjiinsä nähden.

Nämä kitarat asettavat uuden standardin suurtuotannon lankkukitaroille, samalla lailla kuin niiden edeltäjät tekivät 1980-luvulla.

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Fender American Professional Telecaster & Stratocaster

Hinta-arvio: 1.700 € (kova laukku kuuluu hintaan)

Lisätiedot: Fender

Iso kiitos DLX Musicille testikitaroiden lainaamisesta!

Plussat:

+ työnjälki

+ kaulaprofiili

+ soitettavuus

+ päivitetyt raudat

+ V-Mod-mikrofonit

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10/03/2017

Review: Fender American Professional Series Telecaster & Stratocaster

It’s practically impossible to overstate the significance of Fender’s brand-new American Professional series of guitars and basses:
This isn’t just another new series among many others – the American Professional instruments are replacing Fender’s longest-running, mega-selling American Standard model range.

In addition to several Tele, Strat, Precision and Jazz Bass models, the American Pro range also includes modern versions of the Jazzmaster and Jaguar guitars.

Fender’s American Pro instruments feature a multitude of improvements and updates over the American Standard models, but without doubt the most important upgrade comes in the form of the series’ V-Mod single-coils.

The V-Mod pickups have been developed by Fender’s electronics specialist Tim Shaw. The basic idea was to provide pickups that are tuned specifically for the position they are used in on the guitar. Shaw even went as far as harmonising the tonal response between the wound and plain strings inside each pickup, in some cases even using different magnets inside one pickup.

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Depending on the chosen finish, the Fender American Professional Telecaster (price in Finland approx. 1,700 €; incl. case) comes with either an alder or ash body (as on the two-tone sunburst model reviewed here).

You can also choose between a one-piece maple neck and a rosewood fingerboard option.

The American Professional Stratocaster (price in Finland approx. 1,700 €; incl. case) uses alder for the body, and you can choose between one-piece maple necks and rosewood fingerboards, too.

After having used synthetic materials for a long time, Fender have now switched to genuine bone nuts on all their American Pro instruments.

The two-way Biflex truss rods have been kept over from the American Standards.

All Am Pro guitars come with modern tuners with staggered-height posts.

The fretboard radius is kept at 9.5 inches, which gives you an excellent compromise between a vintage Fender-feel and modern playability.

There’s been an important change regarding the fret material, though:

American Professional guitars come with a new fret type that is almost as tall as jumbo wire, but narrower than the frets on the discontinued American Standard models. Again, this new fret profile is meant to give you the feel – and the percussive attack – of vintage fretwire, combined with the bend-friendly height modern jumbo-sizes offer.

The Am Pro Telecaster’s bridge is a brand-new design, which is reminiscent of vintage-type Tele bridges, but includes a few contemporary improvements.

Tele anoraks will be pleased to see Fender reverting back to a three-saddle design using brass saddles. The new saddles sport machined slopes for better intonation adjustment.

For the most part, the sides of the bridge’s base plate are lower than on a vintage-style Tele bridge to make fingerpicking easier. The rear-facing end is higher, though, and Fender even includes a short and snazzy bridge cover (not shown).

Why fix something that’s not broken?

The Am Pro Strat vibrato is basically the same well-designed two-point bridge we all know from the recent American Standard series Strats, sporting vintage bent-steel saddles, and a modern bridge plate and vibrato block.

The vibrato arm is push-fit.

The American Professional models feature a traditional four-screws-plus-tilt neck joint.

The Am Pro Strat’s deep contours make the guitar especially comfortable to play.

The V-Mod pickups on the Telecaster both use Alnico V magnets for the bass strings and Alnico II for the treble strings.

The bridge pickup is reverse-wound/reverse-polarity to give you a hum-free middle (both pickups on) setting.

The V-Mod set for the SSS-Strat is even more involved than the Tele’s set-up:

The neck pickup uses Alnico II magnets for the wound strings and Alnico IIIs for the plain strings, for a tight bass and warm trebles. The middle pickup comes with Alnico IIs for the bass strings and Alnico Vs for the top, which helps retain the sparkle and clarity in switch positions two and four. The bridge pickup has Alnico V magnets for all six strings.

The tone control set-up has been modified to include the bridge pickup as well, by having the neck and middle pickups share the first tone control.

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Fender has given the neck profiles an overhaul, too, and this has clearly paid off:

The new, more oval C-profile feels fantastic, much better than the sometimes slightly generic feel of older American Standard necks. The neck is chunky without being fat or unwieldy.

The workmanship, the fretwork and the general set-up were very good, but for some reason the intonation was off on our test sample. Nothing a digital tuner and a screwdriver can’t fix in a matter of minutes, though…

I look for a woody and throaty basic voice in my Teles, and the new American Pro Telecaster delivers. There’s enough twang in here for Country and early Rock ’n’ Roll, but the sound always stays satisfyingly fat and chunky.

Tweed-style clean:

Tweed-style crunch:

British-style distortion:

The new neck profile also does its magic when it comes to the Am Pro Strat. This is one guitar that’s hard to put down!

You can only admire Tim Shaw for his dedication and perseverance in developing the Strat’s V-Mod pickup set.

Every now and then I tend to veer towards the cynical, when dealing with marketing hype and pickup esoterics. I mean, come on, most traditionally constructed Strats (and S-type guitars) sound like a Strat – bright, sparkly single pickup selections and hollowed-out in-between settings.

Fender’s V-Mod single-coils do clearly make a difference in my opinion. Firstly, the string-to-string balance for each pickup on its own is outstanding, both in terms of level and timbre. Secondly, the in-between settings sound extremely good, too, despite the fact that the V-Mod set mixes three different Strat pickups.

This results in a Stratocaster model with five equally great-sounding pickup selections.

Tweed-style clean:

Tweed-style crunch:

British-style distortion:

The demo track has Telecaster rhythm tracks coming from the left side of the stereo field, and Stratocaster rhythm parts coming from the right. On the first pass the lead guitar part is played on the Tele, for the second pass the Strat takes over.

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In my view, the American Professional Telecaster and Stratocaster are very worthy successors to their American Standard counterparts.

These guitars will doubtlessly set a new standard for high-volume production line electric guitars, just as their predecessors have done since the late 1980s.

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Fender American Professional Telecaster & Stratocaster

Approximate price: 1,700 € each (includes hard case)

Contact: Fender

A big thank you to DLX Music Helsinki for the loan of the reviewed guitars!

Pros:

+ workmanship

+ neck profile

+ playing feel

+ updated hardware

+ V-Mod pickups

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09/03/2017

Fender American Professional Series – The Kitarablogi-video

Contact: Fender

19/02/2017

Fender American Professional Series – Now on SoundCloud

14/02/2017

Fender American Professional Series == Testi tulossa! == Review coming soon!

30/12/2016

Review: Ten Affordable Solid Top Classical Guitars

classical-guitars-intro

The classical (aka nylon-string or Spanish guitar) is still a very popular instrument. Many guitarists start their musical journey on an affordable classical guitar.

This is why Kitarablogi.com decided to do a little round-up of a cross section of nylon-string acoustic in the all-important price segment of 250-400 euros. These days you can get a decent instrument with a solid wood top for a moderate outlay.

A solid top is an important ingredient in an acoustic guitar, played regularly the top will ”come to life” and mature to its full tonal potential. It’s true, you can make music on a plywood-topped acoustic, too, but such a guitar’s tone and volume will always stay somewhat restricted.

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Torres laid down the rules

guitarra_dantonio_de_torres_mdmb_626_al_museu_de_la_musica_de_barcelona

(photo: Wikipedia)

The father of the classical guitar was Spanish cabinet maker and luthier Antonio de Torres Jurado (1817-1892). Torres came up with the final shape of the Spanish guitar, the basic construction principles (like the top bracing pattern or the separate bridge saddle), and his choices of materials still inform and influence builders to this day.

Torres mostly used cedar for his necks and rosewood for his fretboards. Most of his tops were made from solid spruce. His choice of sound box woods was more varied, though. His back and sides were made from rosewood, mahogany, (flame) maple, and cypress.

Because cypress was a much cheaper wood in Torres’ time than, say, rosewood, cypress body instruments were usually the least expensive. Most flamenco guitarists of that time were cash-strapped, which is why they tended to play Torres’ cypress guitars. This, in turn, is the reason why many flamenco guitars are still made with cypress backs and sides today.

classical-guitars-spanish-heel

Most modern classicals are built with dovetailed glue joints – the neck and sound box are made separately, and only glued together relatively late in the building process.

Torres used a different technique, which is nowadays called a Spanish Heel:

The neck blank and the neck block are made from one piece of wood, with the neck block looking like an angular ”U” or ”L” (viewed from the side). Either side of the neck blank has a deep groove for the rims to be glued into. The neck blank and sides together then constitute a frame for the top and back.

Fans of the Spanish heel claim that this type of construction will give you maximum vibrational transfer and better tone. Distractors, on the other hand, point to the difficulties the Spanish heel will give you, should a neck angle reset ever become necessary. I think I’ll keep on sitting on the fence on this one…

10-slipper-heel

(photo: Andy Manson, luthier)

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Nothing but winners

I feel like a sleazy gameshow host writing this, but there aren’t really any losers in this round-up. All ten guitars are real instruments that are well up to the job of making beautiful music.

Still, it is very interesting to take a look at the different ways modern manufacturers use to re-interpret Torres’ time-honoured concept for the modern player.

We will proceed in alphabetical order…

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Admira is one of the largest makers of classical guitars in the world.

German-born Enrique (orig. Heinrich) Keller founded an instrument workshop in northern Spain in 1944. Over time Admira has grown from a small maker into a well-known brand.

Admira guitars are distributed by Musamaailma in Finland.

classical-guitars-info-cards-eng-admira-a5

The Admira A5 is an affordable instrument from the Spanish maker’s Handcrafted-series.

admira-a5-beauty-shot

The workmanship is crisp and clean. The thin finish brings out the beauty in the A5’s woods. The golden tuning machines with their pearloid knobs add a nice touch of bling. The rosette is unusual, displaying a chain of little guitars in a row.

admira-a5-body-beauty

Admira’s A5 is one of three instruments in this round-up built with a Spanish heel.

The neck profile is genuinely classical, meaning the neck is wide and flat with slightly angular shoulders.

The moderate action results in a very comfortable playing feel.

admira-a5-headstock

The Admira A5 has a big voice with an even balance between its chunky bottom end and clear treble attack.

classical-guitars-info-cards-eng-admira-malaga

Admira’s Malaga is part of their Student-range.

admira-malaga-beauty-shot

The Malaga is one of the lightest instruments in this review. The workmanship on this cedar-topped beauty is excellent. The affordable nature of this guitar is only reflected in the very clean, but thinner-than-usual (non-kerfed) wooden linings joining the top and back to the sides.

admira-malaga-body-beauty

The neck profile on the Admira Malaga is traditional.

The review sample came with a surprisingly low action (for a nylon-string). This makes the Malaga an excellent choice for a beginner, but also a very viable candidate for flamenco players, who prefer a very fast action and a clicking attack.

Despite its very low action the Malaga plays with a clear and strong voice, completely devoid of string buzz or rattles.

admira-malaga-headstock

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Esteve is a very traditionally-minded Spanish maker of classical guitars.

Esteve guitars are imported by Musiikki Silfverberg. Our review sample was kindly provided by Vantaan Musiikki.

classical-guitars-info-cards-eng-esteve-4st

The Esteve 4ST is an instrument from the maker’s Student-range.

esteve-4st-beauty-shot

This guitar is a real beauty with its tinted cedar top and its intricate soundhole rosette. Spanish style at its best.

The 4ST is the second guitar (of three) in this round-up that sports a Spanish heel. The workmanship is very crisp throughout.

esteve-4st-body-beauty

Esteve’s neck profile is genuinely classical – wide and flat. The action is at traditional settings. The guitar plays like a breeze.

Esteve’s 4ST has a huge and deep tone, which is warm and well-balanced. The instrument’s attack is clear and precise.

esteve-4st-headstock

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Kantare Guitars are a celebration of Finnish knowhow and ingenuity.

Kantare guitars are designed in Helsinki by the grand old man of Finnish luthiery, Kauko Liikanen.

The special top bracing system sets these guitar apart from any other nylon-string. Instead of the traditional fan bracing (or a variation thereof), Kantares employ the patented LRS-bracing. Kauko Liikanen’s and Uwe Florath’s Lens Resonance System concentrates an oval pattern of braces around the top’s bridge area. The sound is concentrated in a way not dissimilar to an optical lens. LRS adds strength to the bridge area, while letting the rest of the top vibrate more freely than traditional bracing patterns.

Most Kantares are built in Romania. Hora is one of Europe’s largest makers of string- and bowed instruments.

Kantare’s Finnish distributor is Liikanen Musical Instruments.

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The Kantare Dolce C hg is a gloss-finished guitar with an LRS-braced cedar top.

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Our review sample sports Kantare’s brand-new arm rest, which is sold separately. The arm rest has been developed to put your plucking arm into a comfortable playing position, as well as to minimise top damping.

The Dolce C hg is a very beautiful, cleanly built instrument.

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Apart from the LRS bracing, a common denominator among most Kantare models is a maple neck.

Classical guitars traditionally feature mahogany or cedar necks; on the other hand, most bowed instruments use flame maple necks. The strength and density of maple makes it an enticing choice for use in a classical guitar neck, too, and the Hora factory has a large stock of flame maple.

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Kantare’s Hauser-style machine heads are of very decent quality, and work precisely.

The Dolce C hg’s neck profile is noticeably more rounded than a traditional Spanish neck, probably making this neck feel more comfortable for many. To help the beginner with finding the right fret positions, Kantare have included side dots at the fifth and seventh frets.

The Kantare Dolce hg has quite a loud voice and projects nicely. The sound is clear and precise.

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Kantare’s Vivace C features a brand-new, ecologically sound satin finish.

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The Vivace C is finished using a new German-made (by Hesse Lignal) non-poisonous product, called Proterra Resit. Proterra Resit uses a novel mixture of shellac, oil and carnauba wax.

Shellac (also called French polish) is an organic polymer that has been in use by instrument makers for centuries. Traditional French polish is very time-consuming and work-intensive in use, which is why you’ll find it on only a limited number of handmade instruments. The huge advantage of Proterra Resit lies in the fact that it is quick and easy to apply.

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The Kantare Vivace C looks and feels very ”eco” and ”organic”, in the best sense of these terms.

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The new finish nicely accentuates the beautiful wood grain of the guitar’s maple neck.

The neck profile is rounder than a traditional classical guitar neck, and there are two side dots (at the fifth and seventh frets) on this Kantare, too.

The Vivace C’s voice is very woody and a little bit dry. You can clearly hear the wood amplifying the string vibrations. The bottom end isn’t overpowering, the mid-range is warm, and the trebles sound open, but never too bright.

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LaMancha is a young brand from Germany.

LaMancha-instruments are design in Germany and made in China (under German supervision), in the company’s own factory.

LaMancha has managed to become Germany’s best-selling brand of classical guitars over the course of just a few years. Many of their models have already won awards by the European Guitar Teachers Association.

LaMancha’s distributor in Finland is Musiikki Silfverberg. Our review instrument was kindly provided by Vantaan Musiikki.

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LaMancha’s Rubi CM SN is a satin-finished guitar with a narrower-than-usual neck (LaManch call it ”Small Neck”), making it a good choice for young students and players with small hands.

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The Rubi CM SN is the third guitar in this round-up constructed around a Spanish heel.

The neck is made from toona, a south Asian relative of cedar, that also grows in Australia.

The neck is stiffened by two graphite rods, which have been inserted into the neck from the front, prior to the fretboard being glued on.

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The workmanship on this LaMancha is very clean. The Rubi CM SN is a very stylish and lightweight guitar.

The Rubi’s neck profile is narrower and rounder than that of a traditional classical guitar. There are two small side dots in the fingerboard for orientation.

The LaMancha plays like a dream.

The Rubi CM SN displays a well-balanced voice with a slender bass register and a woody top end.

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Japanese company Takamine is best known for its acoustic-electric steel-string guitars, but the company has always made classical guitars, too.

Takamine’s Finnish distributor is EM Nordic. The test instrument was kindly provided by DLX Musiikki.

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The Takamine GC3-NAT is a spruce-topped classical guitar made in China.

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The top’s yellow tint is reminiscent of the look of French polish.

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The stark and unadorned rosewood bridge of the GC3-NAT is a stylish contrast to the instrument’s beautifully intricate soundhole rosette.

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Takamine is one of the very few makers of Spanish guitars who uses a truss rod inside their nylon-string guitars’ necks.

The GC3-NAT’s neck profile conforms to tradition – it’s wide, flat, and a touch angular. The action is low-ish (for a classical), making for a very comfortable playing feel.

This Takamine needed a bit of breaking in to realise its potential fully, but it was well worth the effort. The GC3-NAT has a beautiful and fluid voice, a clean and open mid-range, as well as a precise attack.

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Valencia was a new name to me, even though the company has been in existence since 1972.

Valencia-guitars are designed in Australia, and built in  several factories in China and Indonesia.

Valencia’s Finnish distributor is EM Nordic. The review sample was kindly provided by DLX Musiikki.

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The spruce-topped Valencia GC50 is probably the most richly ornamented instrument in this review.

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There is multi-ply binding on both top and back, with the outermost ply being mahogany.

The back’s centre seam has also been adorned with a mahogany inlay.

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The neck of the GC50 is glued together from three side-by-side strips. The middle piece’s grain orientation is reversed to make neck warping less likely.

Valencia’s neck profile is fairly traditional, with just a touch of added roundness.

The action on our review instrument felt a bit high and stiff for my taste (I’m not Andrés Segovia). A guitar repairer (or a reasonably skilled guitarist) shouldn’t have a problem lowering the bridge saddle, though. Shaving off a millimetre, or so, should result in a much better playing feel.

The Valencia GC50’s voice is beautifully lyrical and open. Even in the highest registers the notes still have an astonishing richness and depth.

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Classical guitars have always been a very important part of Yamaha Guitars’ wide range of models. The C40 is still the best-selling classical guitar on the planet.

The more recent Concert Series bears testament to Yamaha’s ongoing commitment to research and development.

Yamaha’s Finnish distributor is F-Musiikki.

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The Yamaha CG122MS is one of the most affordable Concert Series instruments.

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TheCG122MS’s matte finish is applied very thinly, which is great for tone and feels nice, too.

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The CG122MS is a lightweight instrument with a slightly more rounded neck profile.

Side dots at the fifth and seventh frets make finding your way around the fingerboard a little bit easier.

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The CG122MS plays very well with a nice, traditional action.

The tone is warm and woody. The Yamaha sounds well-balanced, and displays a crisp and clear attack.

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The Yamaha CG142S is the only guitar in this round-up that combines a gloss-finished body with a satin-finished neck.

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Understated beauty is the thing with the CG142S. This is a very cleanly built guitar.

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On this Yamaha, too, the neck profile is a tad more rounded compared to a traditional neck profile. The playability is very comfortable.

The CG142S’s fretboard also has a couple of side dots for easier orientation.

Yamaha’s CG142S sings with a well-rounded, beautiful voice. There’s a healthy amount of clarity in the mid-range.

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To summarise I could state the obvious – there are many well-built, well-playing instruments in the 250-400 euro price segment. There should be the right guitar for everyone, depending on finish, neck profile and sound preferences.

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