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This article was originally published in issue #47
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The design is completed with a high gloss, nitrocellulose finish to really bring out the incredible wood figuring and colour and it’s great to see such a well detailed guitar that isn’t gaudy or over the top with excessive mother of pearl, abalone and inlays.
Truly stunning exotic wood combinations
Gorgeous aesthetics and detailing
World class workmanship
Incredible tone and playability
Huge amount of custom options
Only the price (but worth every penny!)
As well as looking at the products of the major names in guitar making, from time to time, GI also likes to take the work of smaller makers - the people who often put impossible amounts of creativity, time and expertise into instruments that are works of art as well as musical instruments. British luthier Rosie Heydenrych of Turnstone Guitars is one such. She recently lent us one of her fine looking guitars to try. Tom Quayle had the unhappy task of falling in love then having to send the guitar back after the review was filmed.
Turnstone guitars are handmade in England by luthier Rosie Heydenrych, who produces custom acoustics to the highest possible standards of tone, playability and aesthetics. Rosie produces three different base models and we were lucky enough to get our hands on a custom T-G model with all of the bells and whistles attached to check out for review here at GI magazine.
The T-G is Turnstone’s largest body size, this particular version being built with the finger style player in mind. The base T-G model features either rosewood or walnut back and sides with a cedar or spruce top as standard, but our custom T-G was supplied with truly stunning African ebony back and sides and a gorgeous North American curly redwood top, a combination that is unique and should impress even the most demanding of acoustic collectors/players! Rosie has matched this body combination with a shallow C-shape, Honduran mahogany neck featuring an ebony fretboard and an Art-Deco style headstock design with three per side Schaller GrandTune gold tuners.
The headstock is finished with African ebony veneers on either side and beautifully executed binding whilst the fretboard includes custom, offset block inlays and a thin maple strip around its edge. The body continues this detailing trend with ebony binding and bridge plus a beautiful custom rosette. Even internally the guitar shines with some of the most impressive bracing and finishing we’ve ever seen here at GI. Rosie has also included a small, scoop style cutaway for upper fret access, a Laskin style soundport on the upper bout and a roundover arm bevel on the top corner for comfort. All of these elements are executed to the highest imaginable standards and give the guitar a remarkable finish and look that can only be achieved by a master craftsman. Just looking at the way in which the purfling follows the contour of the cutaway and arm bevel to such a high degree and the consistency of the build tell you that this is a guitar that has taken a huge amount of love and work to produce.
The design is completed with a high gloss, nitrocellulose finish to really bring out the incredible wood figuring and colour and it’s great to see such a well detailed guitar that isn’t gaudy or over the top with excessive mother of pearl, abalone and inlays. The shape, wood choices and finish speak for themselves and represent a perfect balance between showy aesthetics and understated beauty.
The guitar doesn’t come with a pickup system but one can be fitted as a custom option by Turnstone for a small upcharge. There are actually a huge number of custom options available for each guitar since the company offers a true custom guitar experience, this being a highly-customised version of the T-G base model, of course.
Thankfully the T-G plays every bit as good as it looks with a very comfortable neck profile and a body shape that is large enough to project its sound well but never feels overbearing or awkward for longer playing sessions. The roundover arm bevel is a superb addition for this body size and the small but beautifully formed cutaway offers just the right amount of access to the upper frets without compromising the shape of the body. Fretwork is as good as it gets, allowing a very consistent, low action and feel across the guitar’s range and the 650mm scale length means that even this reviewer’s smaller hands never felt out of place for chordal or single note playing.
Tonally the T-G with its exotic tone woods is something of a marvel to behold. Miked-up with even a relatively modest condenser mic, the tone is nothing short of spectacular with incredible balance across the frequency range. Bottom end is crisp and warm with a detailed and pleasing mid-range and a high end that is very piano-like, especially in the upper register. The sustain is huge and the guitar projects very nicely without ever losing that detail even when played with hard strumming or more percussively. The dynamic range is equally impressive no matter where you play on the instrument, making this the perfect guitar for fingerstylists who want to dredge every ounce of musicality and drama from their performances or those who want to record or perform any kind of solo guitar material.
Of course, all of this build and tone quality comes at a cost and the Turnstone T-G is a very expensive instrument, even when you factor in the included Hiscox Pro II hardcase. However, if you are a solo acoustic player who demands and can extract the most from your instrument then the T-G, especially in this configuration, is truly as good as it gets and would be worth every penny to you without a doubt. For strummers and part time acoustic players the T-G will inevitably be something to aspire to and dream about, but those that can afford it will be rewarded with one of the best acoustics we’ve ever reviewed here at GI Magazine - so much so that we've decided it is simply unrateable on our normal scale, something that has only happened two or three times before in the magazine's history. Now to start saving up those pennies!