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This article was originally published in issue #23
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The Czech luthier, Frantisek Furch first began making high quality acoustic guitars and mandolins with his own company ‘Furch’ back in 1981. Since then, the company has steadily built a reputation for crafting fine quality acoustic instruments, finding notable initial success in Europe and Japan, although its reputation took a little longer to spread to North America. Some Quiet Room readers will already know the name Furch but others may not as, for marketing reasons, guitars were sold in some countries as Furch, and others as Stonebridge. You can understand why this was done but it was bound to lead to some confusion and the good news is that the Furch name is starting to be more widely adopted worldwide. We're not quite sure what the position currently is in North America, where Stonebridge has begun to build a dealer network and gain a good reputation, but we do know that Furch branded guitars (essentially the same instruments made by the same team in the same factory) will be appearing in the USA and Canada under their own name in 2014.
Whatever they're called, Furch acoustics are fast becoming recognised as some of the best available, combining really high build quality and excellent tonewoods with surprisingly affordable prices. These are resolutely professional quality, handmade, guitars and are now finding their way into the hands of some of the world’s most accomplished and innovative players such as Antoine Dufour, Ewan Dobson and Eric Mongrain. For this particular review I'll be taking a look at a rather beautiful Furch OM 35 SR, so let's get down to business.
The Furch OM 35 SR forms a part of the Furch Vintage series, which begins with 32 models and runs through to the 35s, the higher the number, the higher the grade of instrument. There are three body shapes available: D, OM, and OOM, our review sample being an OM, or Orchestra Model.
The main body of this beautiful looking instrument consists of a perfect marriage between a Sitka spruce aged top and solid Indian rosewood, which makes up the back and sides. One of the most striking things about this guitar, however, is the binding, which is made from Hawaiian koa. The koa has been used to bind both the top, back and sides and the binding continues up between the neck and fingerboard and around the headstock. The OM 35 has a Mahogany neck which is graced with a beautiful piece of ebony for the fingerboard.
This guitar is a 20 fret model and has a scale of 650mm with a nut width of 43mm and the fret markers are the rather splendid 'oldtime quadratic' inlays in mother of pearl. The headstock features a beautiful rosewood overlay and is fitted with some rather special looking tuning pegs, which turn out to be Gotoh Vintage Gold patina and rosewood - that's a very nice touch indeed. With its vintage finish there's no doubt that the Furch OM 35 SR is one hell of a classy looking instrument!
Having already reviewed a pair of Furch guitars (a Stonebridge GS-24-SF and an OM-24-SF in issue 14 - check them out) I'd experienced the kind of tones that the Furch's guitars can produce, so I was expecting good things from the OM 35 and I'm happy to say that this sample certainly didn't disappoint! In fact, it surpassed my already high expectations in terms of both build quality and sound.
The tone from is guitar was remarkably good, as you can hear on our video, with a very impressive level of volume. Strumming open chords revealed a warm yet powerful sound and the tone struck me as being rather piano-like in nature. It also proved to be perfectly balanced between the basses and trebles, with rich harmonics ringing with every chord struck. The OM 35 was remarkably easy to play too, making rapid-fire picked passages very comfortable to execute as well as other techniques usually reserved for electric players only.
In terms of its build quality, I spent quite some time inspecting the instrument trying to find any kind of imperfection but to no avail!
The Furch OM 35 SR is without question a guitar of extremely high quality both in terms of build and tone. The koa binding adds a unique touch to an already stunning looking instrument and the tones it produced were nothing short of stunning. For me, it doesn't get much better than this. It isn't a cheap guitar but if you look for this level of build quality, tonewood, the skill that as gone into producing such fine playability and tonality from other brands you will find that the Furch is actually really excellent value for money - hence it getting our much coveted extra half a star.