Price paid: $ 2
Purchased from: Private Sale
Sound — 9
Bright, clear and cutting sound. Very loud projection from a smaller body guitar box. Excellent for lead or accompaniment. Very light and comfortable to play. Nut is 1-11/16ths which isn't great for large fingers, but overall very easy to play. Pickup is very natural sounding as it's blended with the internal mic. The volume nob is small and hardly noticeable as it barely projects out from the sound hole on the low E string side. No buzzing, setup was done initially for jazz so the action is very low between the fret 1 and fret 12. The woods resonate long and decay slowly, lots of overtones from the rosewood and spruce - insance trebel and mid-range response. Not as much bass response as it's a smaller box, but the bass is very tight and projected. I don't play this through an amp (PA system only) and have no issues with feedback and no need for a sound hole cover. Can be played easily without amplification in small venues or just with a small microphone pointed near the last fret.
Overall Impression — 10
I play a folk/rock/pop style in the vein of Toad the Wet Sprocket/Red House Painters. This guitar would be excellent for recording lead acoustic parts. This fits a gap in my guitars as most of my other guitars do not cut through other instruments as well as this one does. The nut size is a little small for my fingers but it will just take a little time to get used to playing. This is a professional/boutique type guitar. If lost or stolen, I would consider another Santa Cruz or possibly a Froggy Bottom (If they are the same price). The craftsmanship of the guitar, fit and finish as well as the voicing is top notch and I couldn't ask for anything better. This guitar was bought instead of a parlor guitar as I wanted something a little smaller but didn't want to give up the OM or SJ fullness of sound. I'm actually very glad I got this guitar as I was considering either a Larrivee or an 1960's 0-18 or 00-18 Martin. A parlor would have been way to small and I don't think I would have gotten the sound out of it I would want. I'm still getting used to it, as compared to other 0 to 00 models, I think the H Model Santa Cruz is right up there with the best of them. I do tend to like Goodall, Froggy and of course Olsen, but for the price, I don't think I could have gotten a better guitar.
Reliability & Durability — 9
The guitar is about 5 years old and it looks to have held up very well. Haven't gigged the guitar yet as I'm still adjusting to it's mojo. My regualr player is a Cedar top/Mahogany Taylor 514CE from 1997 which has adjusted well to my folk/pop playing style. Overall, this guitar would be great to use as a lead guitar/riff guitar for small acoustic gigs or larger accompaniment with a band.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Action is low and very easy to play (great for electric players Who don't have the normal finger strength). I bought this used, and according the the fretboard it has seen lots of play time, but the body is in prime condition. Someone babied it as there are very little scratches or wear on the body. Fit & finish are pristine, no glue globs or issues even around the purfling or internal bracing. Neck block is set nicely. Top wood is still sounding like it could mellow a bit, Spruce has a tendency to take a little while to reach its final resonation, all indications are this will continue to be a very clean and clear projecting guitar. Top wood tap tests near an A to Ab with the back wood about the same.
Features — 9
Most players are astonished when they play the H Model for the first time. Its volume is startling for a small-bodied guitar. The body's depth allows for a much larger presence than would be expected in an instrument of this size, and the guitar's even balance gives the H a precise response. This model is highly recommended for those who prefer the sweetness of a small guitar but also need more volume. The Model H can optionally be built as a thin-body cutaway, a configuration that makes the guitar an even more exceptional recording instrument.