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This article was originally published in issue #49
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This was the first Furch guitar I have played. Being in the higher price bracket and having played other major names at similar prices I wasn’t sure how it would hold up. I wasn't disappointed, it is a fantastic instrument, the build quality alone is a thing of beauty, and it sounds the business.
Fantastic build quality
It's been a while since we looked at a Furch, the impressive range of acoustics from the highly respected Czech Republic maker Frantisek Furch. Not familiar with the name? Well, for a while they were sold as Stonebridge but now they all seem to be under the Furch name. Lewis Turner takes a look at a very tempting cutaway model.
GI has looked at Furch guitars before (Issues 14 and 23 - Ed) - though on the first occasion one of them was called a Stonebridge! This is because the company used to trade as Stonebridge for the English speaking world, so its guitars sold in the UK, USA and Canada (and, for all we know, some others, because you can buy Furch guitars all over the world now) were Stonebridges, while in Europe they were Furches. Speaking to the rest of the GI review crew, it seems we were impressed and the consensus seems to be that they are exceptionally well-made guitars, the equal of some of the big names in acoustic guitar making but selling at considerably less money, which sounds good to me!
To begin at the beginning, the Furch 21-SW is a fantastic looking instrument, keeping a traditional look and styling but with a modern edge. The black finished headstock is a thing of beauty and the Furch Machine Chrome gear machine heads were smooth and solid, offering great tuning stability.
The neck is African mahogany with an ebony 20 fret fingerboard. I found the fretboard and shape of the neck very comfortable to play as was the action and spacing between frets. There were no buzzing or tuning issues anywhere on the guitar, and upper fret access was achievable thanks to the ample cutaway. The top is solid Sitka spruce and this is coupled with solid black walnut back and sides, which certainly makes for a handsome appearance. This wood combination also gives it a wide-ranging sound, from the jangly strummy tone that one might look for in an acoustic, but also warm lows and ringing highs were at hand. Couple that versatility of tone with power and projection and you'd have a winner, which is exactly what Furch has here. Thanks to its size and the amount of air its able to push around this is a truly dynamic instrument, that resonates like a dream. Beautiful full and rich tones came pouring out, depending on how and where you played it.
I would love to hear the recorded results of this guitar treated to a well placed pair of high quality condenser mics in front of it, but mics may not be necessary in the Furch's case as this is an electro-acoustic. Those of you that play and record acoustics will think that last statement utter madness, as no matter how good the guitar, you'll probably think always sound better miked-up for recording rather than being DI'd. Well, I think that too, but I have to say that the almost as impressive as the guitar itself was the pickup! It's an LR Baggs Stage Pro Element. I can't count the number of times I have played amazing acoustics only to be let down when they are plugged in, but the combination of this guitar and this pickup was like nothing I've heard before on an acoustic, and I hope it comes across in the video. All the warm tones and dynamic range mentioned above were still present, with no unnatural overtones or 'quacking'. Unless I put this same pickup in another guitar to compare, I can't really say if this is a result of the high quality guitar, or the pickup, but I suspect it's a combination of the two. It was such a delight to have an acoustic that responds and sounds just as good unplugged as it does plugged in. I would have no problems recording this with a DI if time was short, and for live performance this combination would be hard to beat.
This was the first Furch guitar I have played. Being in the higher price bracket and having played other major names at similar prices I wasn’t sure how it would hold up. I wasn't disappointed, it is a fantastic instrument, the build quality alone is a thing of beauty, and it sounds the business. It's not even that expensive on the grand scale of high quality acoustic guitars, being priced not so far from the top-end of some Far Eastern guitars' prices these days, and yet you are getting so much for your money with the Furch! The high quality wood and build means it’s only going to sound better over the years, and that pickup is outstanding, making this one of the best all-round acoustics I have ever played...