Putting the name of an artist on a guitar isn’t as easy as slapping a nifty, sellable title on more generic instruments. If you are buying a Telecaster or a CD100, the brand is established and there is little mystery as to the finished product you will receive. If a guitar manufacturer puts out a special line under the title of an artist however, the guitar has a name and reputation it must live up to under close scrutiny. So when Fender announces that they had been working with alt-country great Buddy Miller on his own model of acoustic guitar, one immediately expects the instrument to embody the authenticity, reliability, and bright sound that make up the fabric of one of songwriting’s true living legends.
Before getting caught up in the technical strengths of the Buddy Miller Signature Acoustic, it must be noted that this is a beautiful instrument. The solid spruce top provides the blonde-sheen beauty of a woman who looks prettier without makeup. Dark, polished mahogany on the headstock lets the gold-plated tuners shine to their potential. The attractive checkerboard binding is a nice flourish, while the too-often utilitarian pickguard even gets a chance to stand out, with a marbled-amber glow punctuated by two curves. Before you rest it in your lap, this guitar already puts you at ease.
In terms of playability, the Buddy Miller more than matches its price. The guitar replicates not only the six tuners to a side shape of a Stratocaster headstock, it also manages to recreate the easy neck-maneuverability of a Fender electric on a rosewood fingerboard. Considering that Buddy Miller is just as respected for his simple-but-searing electric twang as he is for his acoustic work, it’s no surprise that here he has designed an instrument that combines the best of both worlds. It plays high up the neck with greater ease than most Fender acoustics, while staying consistently in tune. The action is remarkably easy, and this is an excellent guitar for finger picking, whether in traditional folk patterns or country chicken-pickin’.
Seeing as Buddy Miller has supported such artists as Emmylou Harris, Solomon Burke, and Alison Krauss and Robert Plant on their Raising Sand tour, it stands to reason that this guitar is modeled to be a strong rhythm support that will excel in a live setting. The Buddy Miller Signature has a particularly bright sound that could almost be described as jangly, with a tight ring that is perfect for clean rhythm and country fills. For a live performance, the Fishman® Ellipse Aura preamp, which lets you blend four onboard mic sounds, displays the guitars natural tone characteristics as cleanly as can be achieved in an acoustic-electric.
When one thinks of Fender’s artist model guitars, the mind normally conjures up electric images. Artists such as Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy have lent their names to strats for years, and have been heavily marketed to thousands of axe-men wanting to sound like their idols. With the Buddy Miller Signature Acoustic, Fender tips their hat to a less recognizable icon, and will be marketing to a less recognizable crowd. By creating a guitar that reflects the spirit and beauty of his music, Fender has given us an instrument that fully lives up to the Buddy Miller name.
Buddy Miller Signature Acoustic
List Price: $1,800
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