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Old 11-16-2009, 09:28 PM
ro7939 ro7939 is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 51
Default Thorell "The Grand" olivewood from Zambia

One of my favorite flat tops was a Steve Klein L series Jumbo such as pictured here The Klein, played approximately 2000 at Klein’s Gallery in Sonoma CA (Klein Gallery here) had a price tag of about $25k USD.

The Klein had more authoritative bass and volume than anything else ever played. The surprise was its delicacy and harmonic beauty w/ fingerstyle technique. Till playing that Klein I thought it was impossible for one guitar to combine such performance attributes to that degree. Usually, of course, the greater the volume and bass authority the less nuanced is the harmonic texture. Playing a real Klein built by Steve is highly recommended if/when the chance arises (my understanding is some inferior Asian-sourced guitars bear his name).

The fingerstyle champion appears to be the OM (Orchestra Model) such as Eric Schoenberg has been building and perfecting for decades. It was heavenly hearing maestro Eric play one of his OMs at his wonderful don’t-miss boutique in Tiburon CA (Schoenberg store here). The OM is far smaller than the Klein and size is of course is directly related to bass and loudness. But what the OM gives up in bass and loudness it more than provides in pure overtone delicacy. In that regard it is surely competitive w/ the best if not outright unbeatable.

My new Ryan Thorell “The Grand” arrived a few weeks ago

Larger versions of above images plus 22 more here

It was ordered January ’09. I am honored to own Thorell’s first of this size/shape, called "The Grand". Its size is similar to a Martin M or 0000 and Taylor Grand Auditorium or Style 2. It falls between Thorell's Corina (Martin OM or 000) and Dreadnaught.

This is my favorite size and shape, feeling great while moving it around or playing seated or standing. The depth, curves, shape and proportions have a just-rightness about them, each curve blending seamlessly into the next. A Jumbo or Dreadnaught is too large for me even though I’m 6-3 235 lbs. I prefer The Grand’s tonal balance and overall sound compared to Dreads and Jumbos. Even the unobtainable Klein Jumbo, which sounded simply splendid, felt too large by comparison. All things being equal (obviously never the case between any two guitars) the larger size provides greater bass and volume when you dig into it compared to a 10-15% smaller Corina. I appreciate the role for the ubiquitous Dread but have lost interest in them after playing this Grand, which may be the perfect size for someone having just one guitar.

The sound of this Thorell “Grand” can well be described as a junior version of the Klein L series Jumbo described above. Going by aural memory the Grand has slightly less bass/volume potential but very similar overall tonal balance, delicacy and harmonic integrity/sweetness. Such is my infatuation that I’m ordering another Thorell Grand, the next having African Blackwood back/side set, which Ryan says is to Brazilian rosewood what Brazilian is to Indian rosewood:

A bonewood binding will brightly frame the dark African Blackwood. I'll get an image of the 10k year old Port Orford Cedar top wood next visit to the shop.

My two kopacts.

Besides Thorell’s unique performance and ultra high value, it was chosen over an R Taylor Style 1 because R Taylor offers only one bridge width; a wider bridge seemed mandatory w/ my 1-13/16" nut width.

This guitar will be played at a live vs. recorded demonstration at T.H.E. Show (audiophile equipment), Flamingo Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA (January 7-10, 2010). PM me if you'd like to see it.

Builder: Ryan Thorell, Hyrum, Utah, USA
Model: “The Grand” (similar size to Martin M, 0000, Taylor Grand Auditorium, Style 2)
S/N: 09-067

Waist: 9-7/8”
Scale: 25-1/2”
Length Total: 41”
Hole Diameter: 4”
Fingerboard: Ebony
Binding Neck: Ebony
Truss Rod: Adjustable
Rosette: Turquoise inlay
Frets Clear, Total: 14, 21
Binding Body: Quilted maple
Top: Adirondack (red) spruce
Headstock Brand Inlay: Abalone
String Spacing @ Bridge: 2-5/16”
Purfling: Ebony/mahogany/ebony
Nut Width, Material: 1-13/16”, bone
Bridge/Saddle Material: Ebony/bone
Length Body: 19-13/16” (Taylor GA is 20”)
Position Markers: hollow circles, binding only
Pickup: K & K Sound Systems “Pure Mini”, no controls
Headstock Laminate, Face, Back: Ebony, birdseye maple
Neck: Halved/inverted grain mahogany, black dyed boxwood stripe
Back/Side Set: Olivewood from Zambia, performance attributes of rosewood
Tuning Machines: Gotoh Delta Series 510 sealed, 1:21 ratio, gold finish w/ black heads
Body Depth @ Neck, End Pin: 3-7/8”, 4-1/2” (Martin M or 0000 is 4”, Taylor GA is 4-5/8”)
Width, Upper Bout, Lower Bout: 11-3/4”, 15-11/16” (Martin M and 0000, Taylor GA and Style 2 all 16”)

2002 Martin HD-28LSV Adirondack
1999 Gibson Artist Deluxe
1999 Gibson J45
1970 Martin D-28
1939 Martin O-16

Last edited by ro7939; 12-05-2009 at 12:53 PM.
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