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iim7V7IM7 08-06-2016 06:36 AM

I couldn't agree more...:up:

Having a Madrose Circa and a Mahogany Klepper is a fantastic duo. The aesthetic tie in of the matching purflings is the icing on the cake!


Originally Posted by matthewpartrick (Post 5025461)
This is super impressive and will go as a matching pair to your Klepper/Schoenberg soooo well because of the overall aesthetic and specifically the binding. :) Super happy for you!

justonwo 08-06-2016 12:11 PM

Yeah, I think they will be a nice pair. The Schoenberg/Klepper has a glorious bass and lovely mids. I expect the OM will be more focused with greater reverb-iness. The fact that they are tied together with the same purfling is really cool. I'm looking forward to hearing John's interpretation of a classic Martin OM sound. I've played many of his guitars over the years and have wanted a Circa for a very long time. Apparently, John has been using a bracing style with taller braces that he's very pleased with.

I didn't give him much guidance on the sound except to tell him to build the best he can build. My only guidance was that I play with fingerpicks and have a pretty heavy-handed attack. That's part of the reason we went with red spruce (besides the fact that I love red spruce in general).

It now has strings and is settling in. John reported the fretboard is near perfect with the graphite rods and will require very little touch up by the Plek.

For those of you interested, I will be bringing this guitar to Santa Barbara, along with my Schoenberg and probably Brondel.

justonwo 08-07-2016 10:58 AM

With strings!

colins 08-08-2016 04:34 AM

Juston it looks so "playable", and the wood marquetry just floors me. Now if I can just find an excuse (and the $$$) to come to SB!


iim7V7IM7 08-08-2016 06:08 AM

Looks fantastic...:up: The greens and blues in the marquetry really "sing" against the reddish hues of the Madagascar Rosewood.

justonwo 08-08-2016 10:06 AM


Originally Posted by colins (Post 5027549)
Juston it looks so "playable", and the wood marquetry just floors me. Now if I can just find an excuse (and the $$$) to come to SB!


Yes, please do! I'm sure we can figure out some pretext.


Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 (Post 5027580)
Looks fantastic...:up: The greens and blues in the marquetry really "sing" against the reddish hues of the Madagascar Rosewood.

I agree about the marquetry. I can't wait to hear it! Not sure when that will be exactly, but I think John wants it to settle in and have it Pleked first. A few weeks perhaps?

rlxnply 08-08-2016 07:17 PM

So glad this one came together, been waiting anxiously on this build. Love the way it came out. Looking forward to seeing your review and more pics!

Diamondave 08-08-2016 07:54 PM

Glorious.....!!!! 👏

JJI 08-08-2016 11:52 PM

Good grief...
Incredible man...

steveh 08-09-2016 02:41 AM


Originally Posted by justonwo (Post 5027818)
I think John wants it to settle in and have it Pleked first.

Does he do this routinely on his guitars?

I've had endless arguments with players who bang on about a PLEK setup being somehow not worth it vs. a good luthier, most of whom have never played a PLEK'ed guitar. IMHO it achieves a razor sharp setup and luthiers who I respect are having PLEK do the fret leveling while they concentrate on other things that can't be done by a machine.


justonwo 08-09-2016 10:37 AM

Steve, I believe he does have all of his guitar Pleked. In my opinion, if you have access to one, a Plek will produce the best fret leveling that can be achieved. I have owned a few guitars that have been Pleked; the results are very difficult to match with human hands.

justonwo 08-17-2016 11:10 PM

I hear tell its shipping on Monday!

Edit: It shipping Friday. I have a tracking number!

iim7V7IM7 08-21-2016 04:43 PM


Originally Posted by justonwo (Post 5037105)
I hear tell its shipping on Monday!

Edit: It shipping Friday. I have a tracking number!

Tick, tick, tick....:)

Aculadd 08-23-2016 09:46 AM

I'm looking forward to hearing all about this one.

bney 08-29-2016 12:18 PM

Bump.. Very interested in initial thoughts on this guitar. John makes amazing guitars, so I am hoping this one is meeting / exceeding expectations.

justonwo 08-29-2016 12:24 PM


Originally Posted by bney (Post 5049344)
Bump.. Very interested in initial thoughts on this guitar. John makes amazing guitars, so I am hoping this one is meeting / exceeding expectations.

It should be delivered today, unless I miss the UPS guy during lunch. I'm excited to play it!

justonwo 08-30-2016 01:54 PM

I received the guitar yesterday and played it for about 3 hours last night in a variety of tunings. It's barely 3 weeks old, of course, so things are likely to evolve over the coming months and years. It's a wonderfully expressive instrument, with tremendous sensitivity to touch, particularly in the trebles and mids. I play with a pretty heavy hand, and the guitar responds to even the most aggressive pick attack without flubbing out or distorting. As I would expect, it handles tunings down to open C like a champ. If you want, this guitar can be very loud, which is something I like in just about any guitar. Maybe it's unsophisticated of me, but I like to play loud and I like guitars that have tons of volume at the ready.

The emphasis on this guitar is clearly in the treble and mids, where it has exceptional power, dynamics, and a lovely, melodic voice. True to the vintage Martin aesthetic, the emphasis is on the fundamental. Overtones are present but subdued. They add color and character rather than competing with or overwhelming the fundamental. As with my other guitars, I value the relative emphasis on the fundamental. It works well for what I do. The clarity also demands precision and good technique on my end (although I have neither).

Highs and mids have a crystalline, glassy quality to them, though they're rounded enough on the attack that the tone is not ice-picky. A product of the rosewood, I would expect. The mids emphasis and focus was a little bit of a surprise to me, as I usual experience a slight scooping of the mids with rosewood. The mid-response character is more like a glassy version of mahogany. This character is focused and powerful, and the result seems to be great projection rather than a sound that envelopes the player.

The bass content is more subdued compared to my other guitars, leaving the mids and trebles to shine while the bass notes hover a bit below the surface. Or maybe it's just that the mids, upper mids, and trebles are so explosive.

My 000-12, by way of comparison, has a MUCH different sound, though both are clearly rooted in the vintage Martin sound. The 000-12 has a much greater emphasis on the low end, and the resulting sound is a "big guitar" tone that envelopes the player. The 000-12 (which has a mahogany back) produces a rounder tone that is more even through the attack, where the OM has a faster attack and a more "immediate" tone. My Brondel A-2 sits somewhere between these two instruments. The Brondel has a surprisingly big bass, given that it's footprint is similar to my OM. It's more of a mid-scooped instrument, and the mids and trebles are, like the 000-12, a bit less immediate (the Klepper/Schoenberg and Brondel have become the standard-bearers for me, so I compare to them only because they are what I'm accustomed to). This OM certainly blurs the lines of the conventional wisdom about the differences between mahogany and rosewood.

It's early still, and this guitar has a while to settle in. I anticipate things will change subtly over time, but this guitar is a wonderful addition to my other guitars. It represents something new and different, and I'm excited to spend hours exploring the new tones available. New and different is the goal.

Craftsmanship is flawless. The setup and intonation are flawless. The neck profile is perfect (my Brondel was used as a template). John really nailed the relief with his non-adjustable truss rod. Assuming it never moves, it's right where it needs to be. The frets were Pleked, though John was so close with his own setup that very little material was removed. As a result, there isn't a note on the fretboard that doesn't ring perfectly true. The purflings that Howard supplied look absolutely amazing and create a really cool link between my two "Style 34" guitars. There was no fussing with sanding down the saddle or changing other setup parameters. It was set up to perfection right out of the box.

And for those of you who don't know John Slobod, he's one of the most patient, easy-going people you could hope to meet. My goals for this instrument changed quite a bit over the 3 years since I placed the order, but John was patient the whole way through as I changed from a 00-12 with a modern sound to a 00-12 with a vintage sound to a 000-12 with a vintage sound to an OM with a vintage sound (ha ha). He laughs easily and doesn't get upset. He's generous with his time and an absolute pleasure to work with on every level. A true gentleman and one heck of a luthier.

bho 08-30-2016 02:14 PM

A lovely review Justonwo. I am glad your build came out how you wanted it to and that you are ecstatic about your guitar.

Laurent Brondel 08-30-2016 03:40 PM

Congratulations on your Circa Juston.
John is one of my favourite builders and one of my favourite people in our small world of lutherie.
Howard's marquetry is second to none, and how gracious of him to have supplied the purflings. What a stunning guitar!

iim7V7IM7 08-30-2016 04:08 PM

Congratulations on your new OM from John. Please share a follow-up report or recording once you get to know it a bit better. John is both a talented craftsman and an absolute gem of a guy.

Enjoy and go make some music...:up:

Diamondave 08-30-2016 04:25 PM

Awesome to hear, thanks for the review and sharing of all the pics etc... If you get around to some audio or video, Heck, I'll give a listen! :D

justonwo 08-30-2016 04:42 PM

Thanks, guys. I will try to get a decent sound recording, though I've never been able to get very far with my Zoom H4n.

justonwo 09-01-2016 10:52 AM

John was kind enough to send some photos of the completed guitar. He did an amazing job on the aesthetics. Absolutely classic looking. Another big thank you to Howard Klepper for his generous contribution of the purflings.

FormerFoodie 09-02-2016 11:03 AM

Congrats on the Circa! I've been waiting with baited breath as to how this was going to turn out. It's truly a beautiful guitar. Thanks for sharing!

Aculadd 09-05-2016 08:48 PM

A gorgeous guitar, Juston and John.

bho 09-06-2016 08:36 PM


Originally Posted by justonwo (Post 3407538)
I was really inspired by John's 00-12 at Healdsburg 2011. It was one of the really stand-out guitars for me. I'm not usually a fan of 00-sized instruments but somehow this one managed to sound big and bold for its size and had a nice balanced sound with plenty of volume.

The thinking has evolved on this guitar, particularly as I've had an opportunity to play man examples of vintage Martin-esque instruments . . .00-12s, 000-12s, OMs, parlors. I've decided I love that sound and can really use that sound musically. So I'm editing the original spec . . . again, which for reference was a Euro spruce/African Blackwood 00-12. Then I switched to an Adirondack/Tas Blackwood 000-12. As it turns out, I ended up with a Larson style 000-12 with Euro spruce and koa in December (which I love), but then became concerned a the Tasmanian blackwood 000-12 would overlap too much with this guitar.

SO, we are back to the original plan of a 00-12 (a lot can happen in 2 years), but with my revelation in the last 9 months that I love the vintage Martin sound, we are going very traditional. If any of you know John, you will know he is very laid back. He's been very patient and accommodating about my design changes.

Body: 00-12 with cutaway, style 42
Top wood: Adirondack spruce
Back and sides: Madagascar rosewood
Neck: One piece mahogany
Scale length: 25.4"
Nut: 1 3/4"
Saddle: 2 5/16"

Here is some example Tasmanian Blackwood. It looks a lot like koa.

This is the guitar I played at HGF.

I'm wondering who ended up with John's OO-12 pictured here. It was a big motivator for me commissioning a Circa, and I see it mentioned in other posts in the same way. It is one stunning guitar.

justonwo 09-09-2016 11:00 PM

I'm not sure. It's a fantastic instrument for sure. I know it sold through Luthier's Collection.

After a week and a half of heavy playing, the guitar has lost a lot of its tightness and is starting to have a little more shimmer on the end of the notes as well as a touch of compression. It's starting to have precisely the kind of response that I prefer in my guitars (mostly dry, great volume, a dab of complexity under the fundamental). It'll be interesting to observe how things change over the next several weeks and months.

I'm working on a simple recording setup, having tried and failed many times to get a tone out of the H4n that remotely resembles what I hear. I'll try to post sound clips soon.

Aculadd 09-10-2016 09:23 AM

Thanks for the update, Justin.

rlxnply 09-10-2016 09:27 AM

Guitar is stunning. This is getting me jazzed for my build next year with John. Congrats!

Diamondave 09-10-2016 12:22 PM

She'll keep getting better and better....

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