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This article was originally published in issue #37
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Mérida, though not quite so well known in the UK and USA, is one of the top-selling guitar brands in Europe and Japan and is now starting to make up for lost time in those two late-comers! The company's range includes a wide variety of classical, flamenco and steel strung acoustic guitars, covering a wide span of prices and specifications.
We were sent an electro-acoustic classical model to review, the Trajan T35-CJCES and straight from its case it impresses. This handcrafted guitar is certainly very easy on the eye. It offers a stunning natural look, with contrasting premium wood colours and unique features; the most noticeable is the contour edge on its lower bout. This feature enhances the guitar's looks, but also, and most importantly, makes it much more comfortable to play, compared to orthodox designs.
Premium tone woods utilised included a solid cedar top, mahogany back and sides, rosewood fingerboard, headstock, binding and bridge. Both the headstock and the Spanish style heel feature an inlay of Mérida's logo.
Both the 52mm nut and the saddle are in Graph Tech Black Tusq XL, which is a nice touch and always good to see.
The neck is very comfortable to play even with hard tension nylon strings. (Savarez Cristal Corum in High Tension 500CJ are the recommended variety). The guitar's Bi-Flex truss rod helps keep a consistent action, ensuring its longevity and sturdiness, particularly if you are planning to take this guitar on the road, which you certainly could.
The rosewood fingerboard and the traditional fan braced cedar top help produce a very resonant and balanced tone which you can hear on our video, with a generous bass response and sweet treble.
Importantly, this guitar features a Fishman OEM ISY201 pre-amp, which as you will be able to hear from my demo is a really good system, particularly as it features a built-in tuner as well as a contour and phase button, which help finding the desired tone through a power amp. Fishman is a top-end maker and you know you are in safe hands when a guitar comes with one of the US company's systems. Some are, as you'd expect, better than others as the company's range stretches from high to low priced versions but all are fine at what they do and this one was no exception.
This instrument would be an excellent choice to play and record a variety of genres, including Folk, Brazilian music such as Bossa Nova, Samba, and fingerstyle in general. Its action is adjustable via the Bi Flex truss rod and that plus the cutaway and the smoother contour edge of its lower bout dramatically enhances this guitar's playability and ergonomics.
It took me no time to tune it and to feel at ease with its action, with a very good set-up straight from the factory. Tuning was made easier also thanks to its accurate Der Jung premium quality machine heads, black in colour, which look and feel great.
In conclusion, I had continuously to remind myself that this instrument fits within the low price range, as it looks, feels and sounds like a much dearer instrument, normally found within a higher price range. A lot of attention to detail is evident in the design, construction and finish so I strongly recommend finding a Mérida dealer near you and trying the Trajan 5CES model, and its varied relatives, as I am sure you will be as impressed as I was by the first Mérida we have seen. We don’t think it will be the last, either.