Posted by Doug Young
Spanish manufacturer Alhambra has been building guitars since the mid-1960s, with a substantial product line of classical and steel-string guitars as well as other stringed instruments. With its cherry red–stained mahogany back and sides, dark cedar top, and inlay pattern of lighter wood on the bridge and headstock, the Crossover CS-1 CW E2 we received for review is a distinctive-looking guitar. The neck has a fairly shallow D profile, a fingerboard with a slight radius, and a contoured heel that provide good access and comfort when playing in higher registers.

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;

Acoustic Guitar November 2012