McPherson Guitars has a nice niche in the high-end guitar market, building beautiful, exotic wood guitars that inspire awed reactions. The Wisconsin-based manufacturer debuted their carbon guitar under the Kevin Michael brand name in late 2014, which we reviewed here. The company has since repositioned the carbon line under the McPherson moniker. According to their website, the rebranded line “packs the best of McPherson engineering into a road-worthy all-star. It’s a rugged performer that stands up to the most demanding musician’s needs.” We received a new Touring Carbon Guitar for review and can say, for the gigging guitarist and collector alike who wants to stand out with their instrument and start a conversation, this guitar is for you.
We brought the Touring out to a handful of gigs, and it became quite the talking piece with fellow players, both for looks and sound. A few traditionalists scoffed and dismissed the guitar without hearing it, but most players were curious and wanted to know more. Its sleek black top makes this axe rugged yet classy, and is quite photogenic. Despite the small ¾ size scale, this guitar provides a big sound. The Carbonite body provides a full, rich sound, and when I close my eyes I personally think it sounds like it’s made of wood. A few other players didn’t agree with me but all of us agreed the guitar had an excellent sound. This is primarily due to the patented bracing design, the carbon body material and LR Baggs Element pickup. Its lows are strong and its highs are crisp, making this guitar cut through the mix of even the loudest bands.
This guitar will definitely become a touring musician’s best friend. Its thin, comfortable neck is just big enough to be able to bend cleanly. Its cutaway lets you rip electric-like solos. The action is set nice and low out of the box without any buzzing or fretting, and the neck is as straight as an arrow. This guitar stays in tune quite well due to the stable Hipshot tuners and Tusq® nut and saddle. Since the neck is not made of wood, it doesn’t need truss rod adjustments. You can play this guitar on the road for months at a time with it constantly playing like a dream.
It weighs practically nothing, and its size is easy to travel with and won’t take up much space in your car. McPherson provides both a rugged hard-shell road case and a sturdy soft case, depending on your gig needs, which I find to be an extremely generous gesture. Its small size also makes it possible to store the guitar in the overhead if you’re taking a flight. I can hear the ‘Hallelujahs!’ from road-weary musicians!
The LR Baggs Element pickup allows you to take this guitar out live and get a studio-quality sound. This pickup is powerful, and required much less input gain to the mixing board as opposed to my other gigging acoustics. The offset soundhole features its own “feedback buster” which is a must for live and loud applications.
The McPherson brand name resonates with quality and craftsmanship. The sky’s the limit on the custom options offered on their exotic wood guitars, with some topping out in the $40K range. The Touring Carbon Guitar line isn’t quite that expensive at $2799, but a player will have to be committed to wanting to own and use this guitar. McPherson devotes the same amount of pride, workmanship, work hours and quality parts and components with this newly revamped guitar line. For those who dare to be different and dream big, it might be a good time to think small and check out the Touring Carbon Guitar.
- 3/4 Size body
- 4.15 Pounds
- 22 3/4″ Scale
- 36 1/4″ Overall length
- 9 1/4″ Width at upper bout
- 8 1/2″ Width at waist
- 13″ Width at lower bout
- 4″ Body depth
- 14 Frets to the body
- 19 Frets overall
- 1 3/4” Nut width
- 2 3/16″ String spacing at bridge
Soft V-necked profile
Patented compensated Tusq® nut and saddle
Enclosed hipshot tuners
Nickel fret wire
Elixir Nanoweb Medium gauge strings included, though guitar can be used with other string types
L.R. Baggs 9 Volt Element with volume and tone control (Custom EQ’d for McPherson carbon guitars)
Non-adjustable Truss Rod (adjustment is not needed because carbon fiber does not move like wood does)