Retail Price £351-31
Framus Nashville 74L. The guitar was delivered in a magnificant case which is both light and strong, and I wish one could buy cases like this in England. And now to the guitar... It is with great regret that I must say that I am not entirely happy about this instrument. Let is be said that the materials and workmanship would put most American "Name" guitars to shame, but what is it about the music business which obliges Framus to produce this sort of hybrid guitar?
On the credit side this instrument has a delightful neck which for me is the right width, shape and depth and it is rare to get all three together. The fingerboard is good ebony, the block inlays are flamed abalone and the frets (including the ends) are well finished. The usual pick-up switch selects 6 different and useful tones though I would prefer them in a more logical order. Also the switch would benefit from 10 Megohm click suppressers across all its poles and better screening; a reasonable request, considering the design effort which must have gone into the unusual and good tone control.
Under test the guitar appeared to have badly unbalanced pick-ups, which surprised me as they appeared to be identical to the Akkerman guitar pick-ups, which work quite well. I eventually traced the problem to an utterly diabolical set of strings supplied on the instrument: Framus, these strings do you no credit.
I must also say that while the majority of the neck is straight, it does appear to take a turn for the worse where it joins the body. This means that when the action is set comfortably low for frets one to fifteen, it is much too low and buzzing beyond about fret seventeen.
I believe this guitar is a sample model and from what I know of Framus's tight quality control I would think that it was probably rushed out to meet a deadline.
The guitar's name, tone selection and appearance suggest that it is intended primarily for playing country music, which it will do well. All fittings and adjustments fit and adjust perfectly and remain stable, as does the tuning, and I suspect the gold plating will not wear off quickly, which makes a pleasant change. I should like to see these pick-ups fitted with at least a sensible height adjustment and preferably individual string adjusters as well.
Retail Price £120.00
Materials — Soundboard: solid spruce. Bridge & fingerboard: Appear to be ebonised rosewood. Back & sides: laminated, veneered with rosewood. Neck: Mahogany substitute.
At the recommended retail price of £120 (including a hard case, similar to those costing £37) this guitar must surely be the bargain of the year. I don't know how they can do it at this price, or for how long. If you wish to buy one I suggest you do it soon.
It is always nice to review a guitar which pleases me and on which faults are small or only visually important. Allowing a conservative £30 for the case, this guitar effectively costs £90 and is prettier and generally better made than most £90 acoustics. In addition the price includes an intricate internal construction of baffles and reflectors to produce a tone which is almost characteristic of this style of Maccaferri. There is excellent articulation in fast runs of notes, but it is difficult to assess tone because it is fitted with (and appears to be built for) medium to light strings, and because the original tones have not been played for 30 years; hardly a fair comparison.
The action seems a little higher than the maker intended and the bridge would need a simple professional adjustment.
The original was built to play the music of the time — (try listening to Reinhardt, on Polydor 46451 if they haven't melted it down) and Summerfield's Mac.3 is the nearest thing I have seen to the original, under £450. If you want to play 'Nuages' or 'Sweet Georgia Brown' in 8-to-the-bar, or if your brother-in-law fancies himself as Grappelli, this will do the job.
The funny thing is it also makes rather a good job of Jackson Frank's music.
I'm not going to try and describe this instrument; look at the illustration. Either you know what it is, or you should try one, because it is not like other guitars.
The frets, neck and fingerboard are excellent, but I wish they wouldnt try to disguise rosewood as ebony. The internal construction of this sample and the finishing methods employed, do not bear close inspection, but at this ridiculous price one can hardly co mplain.
My serious complaints concern the end-button, (which is tatty, plastic and cracked) and the tailpiece, which is a nasty piece of decorative sheet-metal work.
On the credit side, the centre section of the bridge can be shifted slightly between the two pointed ends to adjust intonation, so you are unlikely ever to get one of these guitars which won't play in tune.
Conclusion: This is not an exact replica; it's tone lies part-way between "Old Mac" and Folk Guitar — but this may be to its advantage, and I am sufficiently impressed that I wish to stock it in my shop. Incidentally, repairs may be difficult and expensive, and I should be interested to know what provisions Summerfields have made for this.
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Review by Stephen Delft
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