Purchased from: Dawsons Music
Features — 8
I bought this guitar from Dawson's UK Webstore and am mightily impressed with it so far. Before I go any further, lets get the basic specs out of the way:
- Laminated Cedar Wood top with Mahogany sides and back and a rosewood fretboard
- Natural colour
- Grand Auditorium style body with a full size, cut-away body
- Passive Merida/Fishman standard pickup
- Volume, tuner, phaser and contour option
- Der Jung tuners
- Cleaning cloth accessory and 1 year manufacturer warranty
Sound — 9
I play a pretty broad spectrum of music from folk rock and blues, to death metal, black metal and post-rock. I purchased this acoustic because I felt I've never paid enough attention to my acoustic guitar collection (unlike my electric collection), despite playing them more often and honestly preferring the sound.
The tone is bright and sharp, highlighting the mids more than the bass due to its GA body shape. My previous guitar was a Crafter Electro-Acoustic (don't ask me what model) with a synthetic back so the sound was a huge improvement on the previous guitar. It sounds full and loud but with plenty of clarity for finger picking.
When plugged in I am using a Kustom Double Barrel 60 Watt, primarily due to its great clean sound and lovely inbuilt reverb effect. When the volume is turned up to full with neither the contour or the phaser turned on its a actually a far fuller tone than I was expecting. Still very bright but with a fair amount of bass. The phaser and the contour options do have a definite effect on the sound but I prefer to use my hands to affect changes to the tone so I usually play with both of them disengaged.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar was set-up perfectly. It had been a while since I had played higher gauge strings so I tore my fingers to shreds when I first played it. The neck took a bit of getting used to as I was used to a bound neck but it didn't take me long to acclimatize. I was aware of the dangers of buying a guitar online before trying it out and it fulfilled all of my expectations!
The only review I could find of this guitar, expressed admiration for Merida's attention to detail and quality of craftsmanship so I was expecting as much. Out of the box I noticed a bit of rough wood on the top of the headstock and some minor scratches to the side of the fretboard. I imagine this is more to do with the storage and the transport than the quality of the build.
Certainly, the finish on the wood is superlative and you can see the sheer amount of effort put into this guitar in the seamless quality of the binding and frankly gorgeous headstock! Quite simply, I have never seen this amount of build quality put into a guitar in this price range and the fact that I managed to pick it up for £329 genuinely boggles me. I have guitars that I spent almost twice as much on that don't match up.
Reliability & Durability — 7
Its hard for me to say how the guitar would stand up as I have not gigged with it yet! It's very light and feel somewhat delicate compared to my Crafter. Having said that, I feel more or less the same way about every guitar when I first purchase them as they are new and shiny for want of a better expression!
After they've been knocked over a few times I'll probably feel less precious about it. The strap buttons appear about as solid as I've ever seen and due to the extremely light weight I can't imagine them being a problem. The Der Jung tuners seem to be very strong and the bridge is rooted like a tree. The laminated finish seems to be very thick and I feel like I'd have to have to be pretty rough with it to make an impact. The matt finish of the headstock not so much and I feel like this may garner the odd scratch.
Overall Impression — 8
My overall impressions are very positive. It sounds wonderful and the craftsmanship is really a work of art! Musically I like a lot of very different acoustic guitar music, e.g. Richard Thompson, Alice in Chains, Opeth, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young etc, and I needed a guitar that would be versatile enough to be strummed pretty hard but also bright enough to make a finger picked part sign. So far, my only impression that it fits this criteria wonderfully.
The real reason I wrote this review was to get this guitar's name out there! I can find barely any reviews for this guitar and only a couple of video's on YouЕube showing it off. It looks great, sounds great and comes with a wonderfully cheap price tag. I hope somebody else in future who may be pondering this decision will feel confident after reading this review in the quality of this particular model!