Rafael review by Jose Ortega

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.4 Superb
  • Users' score: 10 (1 vote)
Jose Ortega: Rafael

Price paid: A$ 600

Purchased from: Guitar Store

Sound — 10
The reason why I got this guitar was because I had a crappy Spanish Acoustic that was about 30 years old and worth about $25 bucks in its day. As I have been doing classical guitar practical exams, I needed a guitar with a much better sound and sustain. The thing I really loved about this guitar was that it had quite a rich and bassy sound. Playing multiple guitars of the same price range, I found that they all had a tinny sound and much more of the high end 'frequencies' would be heard. Supposedly, this is how a classical guitar is meant to sound, however I much prefer the richer sound of this guitar. It also has great sustain, which is perfect for slow classical songs. I use this guitar for classical and other Acoustic songs, and it's great all round. Obviously not as good of a sound as a really expensive classical guitar, but it blows many of this price range out of the water.

Overall Impression — 10
This guitar is great for the classical Acoustic player who wants an upgrade without the big price tag. It's a great package for the price, and deliver what would be expected of a $1000 + guitar. These guitars were hard to find in Melbourne, as most stores had sold out. But they can easily be bought online from various Australian music guitar stores (not sure internationally). I would definitely buy this guitar again if it were stolen. I can't really be pickly about it, bar the fingerprints under the varnish, but it pretty much has everything going for it. Great sound, great build quality, great price. It was by far the best out of the Ibanez and other guitar brands I looked at. Definitely don't brush it off just because it's made in China. It is a fantastic guitar.

Reliability & Durability — 9
I've played live with it on two occasions, of which it held up well. Nothing looks really cheap on it, and would last for quite a long time. The addition of the hard case means safe transportation. I don't think you would need a backup, unless you wanted one just in case a string broke. Like I said, I've barely gigged with it, so I can't really comment. Tuning is probably the worst thing to rely on. It does go slightly out of tune if you are playing for long periods of time, or really violently. It can barely be noticed, and would like any other guitar. You would have to be playing for over 24 hours or pounding the crap out of it to really notice it! In the heat, it does go out of tune a little bit, but again, so do most guitars. It's about as reliable as any typical Acoustic would be.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar was set up really well. The action of the string was not too high, or too low. The guitar plays really well, and much better than a lot of the other guitars that I tried. However, there were a few minor flaws. The guitar had a few finger prints UNDER the varnish, which can barely be seen from a distance. It doesn't affect the sound or playing, but kind of makes you feel disappointed that they couldn't avoid such a thing. The guitar had a few, what I would call chips, on the edge of the neck above the second fret, however I am not sure if this was a fault caused by the manufacturer of the store. The guitar was a show guitar, and thus was played a few times by different people. Other than that though, it was generally good.

Features — 10
This guitar was designed in Australia, however manufactured in China. However, don't let this deceive you; the build quality on this is quite exceptional for a lower priced guitar. It was designed like the traditional Spanish guitars, and thus shares many features. It has an all solid top, made out of aged cedar. The sides, back and neck of the guitar are made out of rosewood, and the fretboard made out of ebony. It has a multibound maple wood binding, which looks beautiful on this guitar. It was varnished all round. The guitars' nut is a bone nut, which is not often seen on guitars of this price. I am almost certain that it was completely handmade. It also came with its own hard case, which I did not receive as there was none left. Instead, I got one which was slightly better. The store owner said that their cases were okay, but not the most protective. Either way, it's still great to get a hard case for such a price. Many of these features are rarely seen on a guitar under $1000 dollars, and thus receives top praise for this.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    NOTE: This guitar comes in two versions, a cutaway and nocutaway - i bought the one without a cutaway
    Hi im looking at getting one of these guitars and i got one ordered in at a guitar store and it looked like it had bubbles under the varnish or something? you couldnt feel them but it just looked a bit odd so im getting another oderered in, what do you think?
    pieter kaan
    Most definitely yes, Well worded Fava14. I came across the one I have which is the Santiago, at a liquidation sale. I was new. I was not looking for a guitar at the time but when I walked in, I saw a cluster of instruments and from a distance of about 6 metres I saw one with a satin finish with blond wood binding. This drew me to look at this more closely. The headstock bears a nice scrolled etiquette. Somehow I liked the weight of this guitar and i looked inside to check the quality of its construction...hmmmm fine, and tidy, you know what i mean. I sniffed the interior to smell the wood, then gently rubbed the pads of my fingers over the sound board. This produced a sound I liked straight away,yes, just moving my fingers over the sound board. The strings looked new and I checked the tuning. I liked the tuning because it is fine tuning, the gears are 21:1 ratio which is awesome. Then I played it and it was immediately mine. there was no way i was gonna leave this shop without it. No!...I didn't nick it. I purchased this guitar with passion and I never have felt so confident that what i had just paid a minimal amount for was more than a bargain. but it wasn't about the money, it was the instrument. It has a very nice sound. The after tones just chorus this enharmonic sustain so nicely that you have to think of its maker. I thought, who ever made this guitar, has a fine nature, a pleasant persona and a love and passion as a luthier. Yes...if i was none the wiser, I would have paid $1000 for this guitar. I paid $250, that was the asking price. But it was the guitar I was happy with, not the bargain...why you might ask?? its to do with sacrifice...you work hard for the things you really want. But this was a gift. I have played some very expensive classical guitars and not felt the same. I am glad you have to hunt around for one because these guitars are not mass produced with dollar signs. They are entirely hand crafted, Mine is personally signed by it maker Chuan Wang. Don't under estimate the Chinese.