The Alhambra has a fairly traditional classical design, including lightweight fan bracing and a Spanish-foot neck joint. The guitar is well constructed, and the few minor flaws, including some rough finish on the side of the fingerboard and a tuning gear that binds a bit, provide a reminder of its handcrafted heritage.
Acoustically, the Alhambra produces a rich, warm tone with good presence and definition. The guitar responds well to a light touch but can also handle relatively hard playing, with a corresponding increase in volume. I found it easy to adjust to the shallow neck profile and the relatively narrow neck width—just a tad over 1 7/8 inches.
The Fishman Pro Blend electronics system includes an undersaddle pickup, internal microphone, and preamp mounted in the guitar’s side, with volume, bass, treble, and semi-parametric mid-contour controls; a phase switch; notch filter; and a knob for adjusting the mix between the pickup and microphone. The pickup did a good job of capturing the warmth and resonance of the guitar, especially with a bit of microphone dialed in.
I appreciated the guitar’s round tones on some Fernando Sor études, and it worked well with light jazz and bossa nova rhythm patterns. Fiore liked the CS-1’s volume and responsiveness. Playing a series of arpeggiated chord patterns, he demonstrated the wide variety of tones he pulls from the guitar by varying his picking-hand position. He also noted a complexity to the tone that he believed would likely develop further over time.
SPECS: Solid cedar top. Solid mahogany back and sides. Venetian cutaway. 12-fret mahogany neck with Spanish-foot neck joint. Indian rosewood fingerboard. 650-mm (25.59-inch) scale. 48-mm (1.88- inch) nut width. 2 1/4-inch string spacing at the saddle. Fishman Pro Blend electronics. D’Addario Pro Arte strings. Made in Spain. Left-handed version available.
PRICE: $2,118 list/$1,800 street ($1,395 street without electronics).
MAKER: Alhambra: (828) 254-3380; alhambrausa.com