Cordoba’s new, entry-level fusion line could very well be the perfect choice for those keen to transition from a steel string to a nylon-strung guitar. The Cordoba Fusion 5 Limited features exotic bocote back and sides, a full body with cutaway for extended range, side dot fret position markers, and a pearl decal rosette and arches. Nick Jennison tells us more.
Nylon string guitars are wonderful things. Warm and even sounding with a sweetness that you just don’t get from steel-string instruments, and equally rewarding for jazz comping, intricate fingerstyle and single-note lead lines with a pick (just ask Rodrigo Y Gabriela). I firmly believe that every guitarist should spend some time with a nylon string guitar at some point in their life.
There are a few barriers to entry, though. Typically, nylon string guitars have huge and unforgiving D-shaped necks with fingerboards so flat they feel concave. The action is usually ludicrously high, made all the worse by preposterously tiny fret wire. Throw in a wider string spacing and no fret markers (not even side dots), and you have a guitar that can feel positively hostile to your average pampered modern player. Five minutes with one of these traditional instruments will leave you with even greater respect for the classical maestros who make playing these brutal guitars look effortless.
Fortunately for the rest of us, there are guitars like the Cordoba Fusion 5 out there to bridge the gap between steel and nylon string guitars - offering all of the tonal benefits with none of the downsides. To the untrained eye, the Fusion 5 looks like a typical classical guitar (albeit with a cutaway and a spruce top rather than cedar). But what it actually is is a clever “fusion” of the best parts of both steel and nylon guitar designs.
Let’s start with the neck. It’s a modern C-shape with a 16” radius pau Ferro fingerboard and a 48mm nut spacing. It feels *quite* flat, but since it still has some radius to it, there isn’t the slightly alien “concave” feel that most classical guitars exhibit. The string spacing is also the same as you’d find on a steel-string acoustic or most electrics - not perfectly optimised for intricate classical etudes, sure, but it won’t mess with your muscle memory if you’re used to steel-string guitars.
The body is a little more traditional, with a ladder bracing pattern reinforcing the spruce top and a beautiful-looking bocote back and sides. While it’s impossible to isolate the contribution of tonewood to a guitar’s sound (since guitars are systems where all of the parts interact with each other in complex ways), the tone this guitar produces is very sweet and warm, with a softness to the attack that’s very pleasing to my ear.
Electronics come from Fishman’s excellent Sonitone pickup system, with a discreet preamp tucked away inside the soundhole and a battery compartment and jack socket on the lower bout. The placement of the jack socket had me scratching my head slightly since it’s in the way if you sit with this guitar in the classical position while using a regular straight jack plug. An angled jack solved this problem, but it’s a strange choice for a classical-style guitar. Sonically, however, it’s difficult to fault this system. It’s very true to the sound of the guitar in the room, with no “quack” or general transient weirdness of the kind that can plague some under-saddle pickup systems. The controls are simple to operate but offer just enough tone-shaping control to ensure this guitar sounds “right” through whatever you’re plugging into a PA, an acoustic amp, or recording directly to your DAW.
The Cordoba Fusion 5 is a great way to get your feet with nylon string playing, offering all of the sonic benefits with none of the discomfort. It’s very comfortable to play, sounds lovely, and the bocote back and sides on this particular model look very classy indeed. Well worth checking out!
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