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This article was originally published in issue #41
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Faith has become a well respected and established name in the acoustic market place and rightly so. The company offers excellent quality and consistency at a very sensible prices, and I can add that I have now had my hands on quite a few since they burst on the scene, and each time I have ended-up being impressed by the sound and playability.
New to the Faith range, is the naked Venus Mahogany, which was launched at NAMM in January this year. The 'Naked' range offers uncomplicated cosmetic appointments and what appears to be completely bare looking wood, hence the term 'Naked'. In fact, the guitars are not bare, but have a very light thin satin finish that can't be detected by feel or sight, giving every guitar the chance to resonate and breathe to its fullest. Opinion varies among guitar makers and players about this. Some maintain that only traditional nitro cellulose finishes will do, while others are perfectly happy with modern polyester varnishes (even some of the best names in the business) but there does seem to be a consensus view that thinner is better - and this plain satin finish is definitely that.
The clue is in the name with the tone wood used. The top, back, sides and neck are all mahogany which is a really lovely sounding wood on both electric and acoustic guitars. And please note that this is an all solid wood guitar, which makes the price very competitive. Mahogany is classed as a dark sounding wood, which is why your average Gibson Les Paul has a maple cap on top of a mahogany body, the theory being the mahogany gives the tone some rich dark low mids, and the maple cap gives the bright highs. There is no maple on our review guitar, so you would expect it to be very dark sounding, but it's not. The tone is warm rather than dark with rich mids and a defined rather than bright high end. Warm and defined is a great combination for an acoustic and this Venus responds well to how you play it. You can make it brighter by playing harder or closer to the bridge, or softer and closer to neck to give you a beautiful round warmth. This is not the first all mahogany acoustic I have played and as a choice of wood, it certainly gets my vote.
The bracing inside is quarter sawn spruce and we have Indonesian rosewood for the fingerboard and bridge. The bracing pattern is designed by Patrick Eggle, and in case you weren't aware, Eggle is strongly associated with the Faith brand in terms of initial design and consultancy. The bolt-on neck is substantial without being too big and will suit most players and the guitar plays well, but I would suggest a slightly lighter gauge string for this particular guitar, which would make it just that bit easier to play and would probably give less relief on the neck to lower the action a fraction. Acoustically, the guitar sounds fantastic with a big rich sound, which will only get better as the years roll by. Unusually, Faith electro-acoustics feature Shadow pickups and pre-amps, in this case the Nanoflex pickup and a Performer tuner/pre-amp. They do their jobs really well if you want to plug the guitar in, but when a guitar naturally sounds great, the pre-amp doesn't really have a lot of work to do, so it's a win win! The nut width is 43mm and the nut and saddle is made of 'NuBone'.
Part of the Faith Naked vibe is that fact that the guitars don't have any fancy, purely cosmetic, appointments. For instance there are no fret markers, just a single 'F' inlay at the 12th fret, and a single 2mm abalone rosette around the sound hole. No doubt the stripped down look helps keep the cost of manufacture down, but the Naked Venus Mahogany does have a cool workmanlike and purposeful look and dare I suggest that the more played and battered it gets, the better it will look. It has to be said that it will pick up the signs of wear and tear, though.
As I said earlier, I have now played enough Faith guitars to know that they are consistently excellent instruments and unlikely to disappoint in any area. The Faith model choice and range is varied but an all mahogany Faith guitar really is a little special in the tone department. If that warmer mahogany sound appeals, do check this one out!