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  #1  
Old 09-18-2023, 10:58 PM
JackDaniel JackDaniel is offline
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Default NGD: Blackbird El Capitan

Got the Blackbird in the mail today. Going to post some initial thoughts. Nothing too in depth but just a small comparison with my McPherson Sable.

First, the guitar is absolutely gorgeous. They made it look very traditional even though it has some space age fiber material. Quality looks top notch, but when I look at the neck and finger board, it sort of reminds me of the old Emerald finger boards when they were using the dark black glossy material.

Compared to the McPherson, it does not look quite as refined. The McPherson looks like absolute perfection. Super high quality. The Blackbird is a few notches below that.

I prefer the neck shape of the Mcpherson. I have smaller hands and the Mcpherson feels absolutely perfect for me. The Blackbird feels a bit large, again, very much like an Emerald neck.

Now the sound/tone. It is LOUD! When you strum that thing hard, it responds! I remember with my X30, it didnt matter how light or hard I would strum it, it was just always more or less the same volume. The blackbird is different. it responds really nicely to the player. It was honestly so loud my 5 year old made me go to another room because it hurt his ears. The mcpherson sounds muted next to it. I've always felt that way about the Mcpherson and that's why I went looking for another guitar. I asked my wife what she thought since I've noticed that volume can sometimes differ from the player to the listener, but she noted that Blackbird was much louder.

Regarding the tone, I really love the Mcpherson tone. It feels warm and very balanced. Its about as perfect a sounding guitar as I can imagine. The blackbird doesnt sound as perfect to me but sounds very, very good. Its hard to describe exactly how it sounds different but it has less clarity on the bass strings. I do wonder if changing to a different type of string would make a difference though. CF (and likely Ekoa) responds hugely to different strings.

Anyway, I'll probably be selling my Mcphersons (both the Sable and the Touring), LOL. I liked the El Capitan so much I went and ordered a Savoy today.

Will try to post a bit more when I get more time with the guitar. I got a play a bit and then had to run off to work.
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Old 09-18-2023, 11:02 PM
JackDaniel JackDaniel is offline
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IMG_9486.jpg

Quick photo I took.
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  #3  
Old 09-19-2023, 01:14 AM
Tf Tf is offline
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Congrats! My favorite composite guitar! Too bad its soooooo expensive.
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Old 09-19-2023, 07:20 AM
jdinco jdinco is offline
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It sure looks awesome !
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Old 09-19-2023, 08:33 AM
Aspiring Aspiring is offline
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JackDaniels I did find the El Capitan very much responds to different string types quite strongly.
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Old 09-19-2023, 09:13 AM
JackDaniel JackDaniel is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aspiring View Post
JackDaniels I did find the El Capitan very much responds to different string types quite strongly.
Which strings did you like on it? Blackbird recommends elixer nano-web 80 /20.
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Old 09-19-2023, 09:15 AM
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David Eastwood David Eastwood is offline
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It sure looks awesome !
Indeed - its a fine looking instrument, with enough of its own design language to give it some real character.
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Old 09-19-2023, 09:57 AM
Aspiring Aspiring is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackDaniel View Post
Which strings did you like on it? Blackbird recommends elixer nano-web 80 /20.
I went back and forth and experimented. I liked Dr Rare and EJ16 the best but they didn't last long enough.

I really disliked nickel bronze when I tried them on it. Too bright.

I was using EXP16 for the most part as a compromise that worked out ok but they are no longer available. The XS that I last put on was the first time I tried them on the Blackbird. I have noticed that the XS do take some playing to settle in to where I liked them on other guitars and they are a bit brighter during that period.

I never tried elixirs myself on it.

Last edited by Aspiring; 09-19-2023 at 10:06 AM.
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Old 09-19-2023, 10:02 AM
bsman bsman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tf View Post
Congrats! My favorite composite guitar! Too bad its soooooo expensive.
Took the words out of my mouth! I can conceive of buying a new Emerald or McPherson, but the Blackbirds are out of sight, pricewise.
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Old 09-19-2023, 10:08 AM
Earl49 Earl49 is offline
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Ditto. I played one when they were first introduced and really liked it, but it seemed redundant with some of my Taylor GA guitars. The price escalation over the last couple of years has been breathtaking and they are now $5K base price and a build time of twelve months. Of course my ekoa Farallon ukulele has also gone up by about 25% since I bought it a few years ago.
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Old 09-20-2023, 04:49 AM
Tf Tf is offline
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Lingrove, Blackbird sister company, seems to do very well with eKoa for other applications than guitars. Car maker Hyundai has for instance used eKoa in one of its latest concept cars.
I assume that instruments aren't the main focus anymore and the business model has probably changed quite a bit.
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Old 09-20-2023, 06:31 AM
Marshall Marshall is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tf View Post
Lingrove, Blackbird sister company, seems to do very well with eKoa for other applications than guitars. Car maker Hyundai has for instance used eKoa in one of its latest concept cars.
I assume that instruments aren't the main focus anymore and the business model has probably changed quite a bit.
I asked them about that when I was ordering a Savoy. They said they remain committed to guitar/instrument lutherie. As it turned out I found a used Savoy on Reverb and went that route. then I ultimately decided the Savoy wasn't going to serve my needs/desires well enough and I re-sold it.

Fickle
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Old 09-22-2023, 01:46 PM
Earl49 Earl49 is offline
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It happens, Marshall. Sometimes you don't know what will actually work for you until you have lived with it for a while.
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  #14  
Old 09-23-2023, 11:42 PM
JackDaniel JackDaniel is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tf View Post
Lingrove, Blackbird sister company, seems to do very well with eKoa for other applications than guitars. Car maker Hyundai has for instance used eKoa in one of its latest concept cars.
I assume that instruments aren't the main focus anymore and the business model has probably changed quite a bit.
Your pm box is full. Was going to ask what you have settled on as your favorites guitars or the ones you decided to keep. You have tried just about everything cf it looks like.
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  #15  
Old 09-24-2023, 02:37 AM
Tf Tf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackDaniel View Post
Your pm box is full. Was going to ask what you have settled on as your favorites guitars or the ones you decided to keep. You have tried just about everything cf it looks like.
Good reminder that I had to renew my subscription, it's now done!

Haha good question
I'm a wanna-be minimalist, sticking unconditionally to my irreplaceable OM as main instrument and only full size wooden guitar. Problem is I'm also a geek who loves to try the latest and greatest toys... but I allow myself to keep only one composite guitar at a time (with some short overlap, where's the fun otherwise!). Constant dilemma

If I could just forget about the price, my favourite would be the Blackbird El Capitan, with a gloss sunburst finish.
It's unique, it's loud, I love the fairly large C neck, and it sounds great. I also had one of the very first Savoy, loved the tone but I never managed to adapt to the ergonomics.
I also owned a Lucky 13 for a couple of years, definitely had its own voice but a really cool instrument. If only Blackbird could have used the mold for an eKoa Lucky 13! Joe if you read this
On the negative sides, Blackbird has a small production and it sometimes shows on the build quality. Even though I loved the El Capitan, I had to send back the one I had bought (used) due to a lifting bridge. But if you are the first owner, they stand behind their instruments. And according to Blackbird the El Capitan has received a major structural update in 2021.

I would put the McPherson Sable just behind, by a tiny margin. This guitar has the best neck material I have ever experienced, this smooth carbon is just sooooo nice to play. It sounds warm with a sort of subtle "chime" to it that I like a lot. The attention to details and finish is also as good as it gets. The look isn't for everybody, but I kind of like its simplicity.
The negatives: a bit heavier than the competition, and it's not as loud as the El Capitan fingerpicked.

Finally, the Emerald X20... it's objectively as good as the 2 others (depending on your criteria), but for a reason I can't explain it's a guitar I loved to look at but I ended up playing less.
Still a fantastic guitar, and it's so fun to make your own unique piece of art!

I still have to test a Rainsong at some point, but some details like flat radius, barn door pickups or nickel frets make their guitars less attractive for my own taste.

Anyway, long story short, I have sold my X20 and winter is coming... we'll see if I can survive with only my not-so-fragile wooden guitar! But deep inside I already know what's going to happen

Last edited by Tf; 09-24-2023 at 05:25 AM.
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