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BongoSTL 12-17-2018 07:24 PM

Emerald X30 -- 1 Month In
Edit-it's here! Here is my review a month in: (photos here: )

Sound: This is a world class instrument that is the equal of any of my other instruments. I also have a Santa Cruz D and OM, and a Froggy Bottom K, and I would put the sound of the guitar in the class of those other instruments without hesitation. Itís not the same sound as wood, for sure, but it is beautiful, and complex, and rings and rings and rings. I am planning to keep my Santa Cruzs (they each are highly sentimental to me for different reasons), but the Froggy Bottom is going to go, I believe. Itís an incredible instrument, but Iíd rather sell it and get an x7 :-)

In terms of amplification, I went with the K&K pickup for a very specific reason: I also use a Tonedexter, and I have K&Ks in all of my guitars so that I have a consistent experience (It also means I can use the various settings to ďmodelĒ my other instrumentsÖ.). Interestingly, the output level on this guitar is MUCH higher than on my wood ones.

Sounds great plugged in.

Playability: First, let me say that the action, the playability, and the setup on this guitar are perfect. I am coming from a Blackbird Super OM, and so I am familiar with the perfection that carbon fiber makes possible, and Emerald does not disappoint. In addition, this solves one of my big pet peeves with the Blackbird, which was that when I would plant my pinky on the top to fingerpick, I would lose a ton of sustain. Not so here. Well done, Emerald!

However, playability is the only section that makes me wish I had been able to spend some time with the x30 before I purchased one.

Most of these are small things, but since I was ordering custom, I wish I had known them in advance, as I imagine with Emeraldís ability to customize, it could have been perfect :-)

To start with, I find that pretty consistently my thumb on my right hand hits the top of the fretboard when Iím travis picking. If I were doing it all over again, I would lose a few of the top frets and/or scallop it away from the bass side. Not a huge issue, but I do notice it.

This is an odd one, but the saddle is also quite sharp--I find that it hurts my right hand when Iím palm-muting. Iím sure a local tech can file it down for me, but FWIW, Iíve never noticed this on a guitar before. Similar thing with the nut, too.

The neck is actually a little on the small side for me. I had previously thought that Iím agnostic on necks (as long as the nut is 1.75+), but I actually find this one too small for me. If I end up getting an x7, that will be a change Iíll make. That being said, this is one of those things that I think is totally up to the hands of the player. In terms of playability, the neck, the frets, the action---the playability is impeccable.

The fret-work is great, with the only caveat being that i just got my Santa Cruz d12 back from their shop (a long story, but it lived there for 6 years until they put a brand new neck on it). Anyhow, I believe they are using the plek fret machine; the frets on that guitar are impeccable. Particularly with these being stainless frets, I hope this is something that Emerald looks into in the future. Plek-ed frets are truly a remarkable thing.

In terms of size: this is a big guitar, thereís no getting around that. But the engineering here is great, and it feels sooo much more comfortable than my dreadÖ. Well done Alistair and team!

Looks: This is a stunning guitar. The koa is gorgeous, and creates a look unlike anything else. People comment constantly on it when I play it at my synagogue. I love the lack of fret-markers, and the overall cleanliness of the design. The x30 is really a stunner. Like many have said before, the veneer is *much* darker in most real-world situations than in the pictures that Emerald provides. I knew this going in, and chose accordingly, and am really, really happy with the results. There is nothing that I would change in the appearance of the guitar. Nothing.

Build Quality: This thing is beautiful, inside and out. It is basically a perfect guitar.

The only issue is one patch on the inside of the top, in the middle between the bridge and body, about the size of my thumbnail, that is rough and shallower than the restÖ maybe a spot that a clamp was that didnít get a few layers of fiber / finish / something?

Anyhow, that should serve as a reference point to just how beautiful and ****-near perfect every piece, inside and outside of this guitar, is. Like its sound, this guitar has the build quality of any world class instrument, that is clear.

Customer Experience / Build Experience: Emeraldís world-class guitars are partnered with a world-class customer-service experience. Every single person that I ever interacted with at Emerald was friendly, was knowledgeable, and was helpful. Itís a great team you have there.

This, in addition to the fact that door-to-door, my customer order took something like 10 weeks. Crazy!

Wrap-Up: There are a number of customizations that I will make so that the playability suits me better...when I order an x7. While I wish I would have done these things on my x30, this should tell you everything you need to know about how enamored I am with Emerald, and with my new guitar.

So I bit the bullet and ordered my x30, koa veneer, k&k.

What other custom options should I consider???

So excited!

AZLiberty 12-17-2018 07:44 PM

Well, since I am spending your money not mine, how about you make it a Baritone. :D

BongoSTL 12-17-2018 08:19 PM


Originally Posted by AZLiberty (Post 5922105)
Well, since I am spending your money not mine, how about you make it a Baritone. :D

I need a 6 string I can take with me, use with kids, leave in the car, etc...

Besides, my Avian Falcon is doing the job quite well :-)

Captain Jim 12-17-2018 08:32 PM

If the stock neck scale, width, and profile work for you, the only other consideration might be the pickup. It's not a contest to see who can get the most custom stuff, it's all about getting the guitar that is just right for you. I haven't gotten my hands on an X30 yet, but from what I hear and read, there is so much to like just the way it is.

Congrats on to be constructed X30 - love that koa!

GuitarLuva 12-17-2018 09:15 PM


Originally Posted by BongoSTL (Post 5922084)
So I bit the bullet and ordered my x30, koa veneer, k&k.

What other custom options should I consider???

So excited!

You picked a nice veneer and since you wisely chose the k&k for a pickup the only other thing I would do is get a bone saddle to replace the stock tusq saddle. I'm not sure if Emerald will do this at the factory but I can show you where I bought a nice bone saddle for $15USD if you're interested.

BT55 12-17-2018 10:28 PM

Personally I would order the top of the line pickup system. The options are endless!

GuitarLuva 12-17-2018 10:51 PM


Originally Posted by BT55 (Post 5922216)
Personally I would order the top of the line pickup system. The options are endless!

I would have to consider the k&k a top of the line pickup and would much prefer it to the more expensive anthem that has a significant impact on your unplugged tone. Just my 2 cents.

nuttyprof 12-18-2018 01:25 AM

Carved headstock.
Custom neck shape at the base (ask byudzai)
I'm digging the x10 neck profile and size a lot more than my old x20 but it might negatively impact the volume a bit, maybe, theoretically...

byudzai 12-19-2018 01:07 AM

Personalized contour at the bottom of the fretboard. Glowing fretmarkers on the side of the neck. Extended headstock top if that's where you put your capo (will grab better). Pinless bridge (verdict still out if they're too fiddly to be worth it, but they look slick and some people like them better for palm muting).

You can add the little daddario tuner yourself. I like putting a pick holder in the side hole too.

I go over mine in detail in the review video in my signature thingy there.

Earl49 12-19-2018 05:19 PM

The two custom things I did on my X20-12 were purely functional: short scale (24.6") which made that twelve string a joy to play, and only 20 frets instead of 24, like on the twelve string neck of the Chimaera. I was afraid that the full 24 fret fingerboard would get in the way of my strumming stroke, and it does sometimes on my X20, but not very often. Both options worked out well for me, and if I ever order a replacement X20 (instead of purely stock) I would make the same choices. FWIW.

I might also add in the prep work for a K&K SBT for future installation, but probably not add any pickup. I don't need electronics these days, but if a guitar happens to come with them it is not a drawback.

Once you get beyond functional items and get into aesthetics, then the sky is the limit. Just browse the Custom Gallery. The "Star Spangled" and "Lone Star" are two of my personal favorites, with those custom paint jobs. The pure white Chimaera is very appealing too.

tdq 12-19-2018 09:08 PM

A pinless bridge might be worth considering. There was one on a Leviora I played a million years ago - while I'm still not sure aesthetically, from a practical point of view I think they make a lot of sense.

mot 12-26-2018 03:31 PM

Consider a fan fret. I was worried about getting one until I got a chance to play one. Now I am a convert.

Earl49 12-26-2018 05:48 PM

Glad to see you pulled the trigger. The wait will be worth it. I am enjoying my stock red X30 more with every passing day.

BongoSTL 01-07-2019 07:35 AM

Did a lot of back and forth, but here's the veneer I went with...

I'm crazy excited/impatient for this...

Mr. Paul 01-07-2019 08:25 AM

Like it a lot, some of their veneers are a bit over the top, so to speak 😎

The one option I would choose is custom nut width.

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