It’s not often that the thing that catches your attention on a guitar is a glow that seems to be coming out of the soundhole, but the red-orange radiance that appeared to be emanating from this Bourgeois Soloist was like a beacon among a sea of instruments on display at this summer’s NAMM show in Nashville.
While a guitar’s high-quality finish often highlights the wood, even the unfinished wood on this guitar’s interior seemed luminous under the convention center’s fluorescent lights. The striking effect was thanks to the padauk used for the guitar’s back and sides. Padauk (pah-dook), which is sometimes known as vermillion for the outrageous red color it has when freshly cut, comes from western and central Africa and is somewhat related to Dalbergia, or true rosewoods.
Supplies of Brazilian rosewood are diminishing with each guitar made from this highly regulated wood, so it’s important for builders to learn how to make the best guitars with the best alternative tonewoods. It’s also increasingly vital for tone-crazed guitarists to consider rosewood alternatives. Thankfully, domestic and exotic sources offer many promising options.
This guitar, a Bourgeois OMC Soloist, was designed by Dana Bourgeois and Eric Schoenberg to be a fingerstyle guitar; it features a fine-grained Adirondack spruce top, an ebony-capped mahogany neck, and animal-protein glue was used throughout. As you’d want from a fingerstyle guitar, this OMC Soloist is lightweight and very responsive to picking-hand dynamics. And, like many players crave in a high-end, custom-made guitar, the Soloist’s unique look gives it a vibe all its own.
This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.