McPherson 2012 4.5 XPH (pictured above)
The most curious aspect of a McPherson acoustic guitar is the ear-shaped, elliptical soundhole that is located away from the usual center position found on most guitars. This unique soundhole design (which the company introduced nearly three decades ago) allows vibrations from the bridge to travel across a longer surface area, thus allowing for greater resonance and sustain.
Visually, the 4.5 XPH model is striking. This is a guitar that is looking to make a statement at the party. And there it succeeds. The exotic flair of the flamed walnut – used for the top, back and sides of the guitar – invites the eye and beckons you to play it. – C.O.
6. 2007 Larrivee D-60 (pictured above left)
Jean Larrivée spent his early years in Toronto, studying classical guitar building with Edward Mönch, and built his first steel string guitar in 1971. This 2007 Larrivée sunburst D-60 comes in a long evolution of the company’s dreadnought guitars, which have often featured picture inlay work courtesy of Larrivee’s wife, Wendy Jones. The D-60 has rosewood back and sides with an Adirondack spruce top and Canadian maple binding with herringbone trim. It’s part of the company’s Rosewood Traditional Series, which helps mark a dedication to high-end instruments, which are now made in its California shop. Larrivée still has a large factory in Vancouver, and the Canadian builder is recognized for its environmentally friendly building practices, often using more-plentiful woods like maple and using less wood during construction. The guitars are popular for their moderate pricing and are player’s favorites, especially for gigging and touring. – D.I.
9. 1999 Santa Cruz D Model (pictured above right)
“It had to be a dreadnought for people to look at it,” says Richard Hoover about the halcyon days when he founded Santa Cruz Guitar Company in the mid-’70s. Players like Robbie Basho and Will Ackerman, who used mostly open tunings, were coming by the shop and a new concept for building guitars was starting to percolate in Hoover’s head. Santa Cruz’s first guitar was their now classic “D” model – an obvious homage to Martin and Gibson dreadnoughts, though Hoover adds, “The way we voiced it, it was more like an OM.” Hoover spent years studying violin building and he applied that discipline to guitar building when he began rethinking the dreadnought design. What Santa Cruz came up with was a dreadnought that lent itself to open tunings and fingerstyle playing. “Slightly predominant in the bass with more mid-range and treble,” says Hoover. – D.I.