Focusing solely on Patrick James Eggle's historic acoustic body shapes, Faith Guitars' new Legacy Series looks to set a new bar for professional excellence. The Faith PJE Legacy FG5 features Patrick James Eggle's sought after 'Earth' body shape, with the OM Cutaway design built from Solid African Mahogany all over, and the top having gone thru a laborious roasting or 'torrefaction' process. The Legacy Dark Roast's physical colouration is reflected in its tonal palette too with a luxuriously smooth low-end, pronounced, well-balanced mids, and a treble range with remarkable headroom. Nick Jennison reviews.
My coffee habit has provoked more than a few concerned whispers here at GI towers, so the prospect of a reviewing a “dark roast” got my blood pumping. When I found out that the Dark Roast in question was a guitar, I was a little disappointed. Not for long, though.
Faith’s new Legacy Dark Roast Earth is is part of the PJE Legacy series, which exclusively uses the designs of British master luthier Patrick James Eggle. It’s only the second guitar to be allowed access to Eggle’s unique and sought-after “Earth” body shape - an OM-sized body with a sizeable venetian-style cutaway.
The “Dark Roast” refers to the body woods. It might look like this guitar has been stained in a rich violin brown, but the finish is in fact a clear lacquer over solid torrified mahogany. By painstakingly roasting and air drying the wood in an atmospherically controlled kiln, the wood takes on not just a dark and rich colour, but also the kind of dryness and stability that is typically only found in old guitars that have dried out naturally over decades of playing. It’s common to see torrified maple necks and torrified spruce tops, but this is the first time I’ve seen a guitar made entirely of torrified mahogany, and my word does it look good!
Beauty may be skin deep, but tone is not. Fortunately, the Dark Roast Earth really delivers here too. It has a very rich and seasoned quality that puts me in mind of older J45s - it’s smoky, dark and chocolatey, with a top end that’s more silky than snappy. It’s even across the guitar’s entire dynamic range, from aggressive strumming to delicate fingerstyle and everything in between.
As good as the tone is, and as beautiful as this guitar looks, what stands out to me the most is the playability. There seems to be an unwritten rule that for acoustic guitars to sound good, they have to be set up with an action that is somewhere between uncomfortable and unplayable. The Dark Roast Earth bucks that trend, with the kind of playability that would shame most electric guitars. The result is a guitar that works with you instead of against you, and it’s super inspiring to play.
Electronics come courtesy of Fishman’s Flex-T pickup system, which combines an undersaddle piezo pickup with an internal condenser mic, all controlled with a simple and discrete soundhole-mounted preamp. I’ve made my disdain for large, shoulder-mounted systems well known in the past, but I’m especially happy to see that Faith have resisted the urge to cut a gaping hole in a gorgeous piece of roasted mahogany. It certainly hasn’t done the plugged-in tone any harm, with the Flex-T system yielding a sound that’s airy, full bodied and smooth.
The Faith Legacy Dark Roast Earth is a gorgeous looking instrument that delivers where it matters - tone and playability. It’s a breath of fresh air in a world full of spruce-topped Dreads with stiff actions, and you owe it to yourself to check it out.
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