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  #16  
Old 08-02-2021, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by GELewis View Post
I find myself increasingly playing in outdoor venues, and my guitars are going in and out of tune with the temperature and humidity. On a couple extremely hot and humid days I've even experienced string buzzing. I've decided I need to add a carbon fiber guitar to address the issue. Based on what I've read and seen on the internet, I've narrowed my search down to the McPherson Sable and Emerald X20. Unfortunately, there is no local dealer that carries these instruments, so I'm unable to demo them.

I'm seeking feedback from any and all who have actually played one, or hopefully both of these instruments. What are you impressions - the pros and cons of each.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts and impressions you're willing to share.
I owned an X20 for years and sold it soon after I added a McPherson Sable. While the X20 (older version) had a really comfortable body with the contours, armrest etc..., the neck shape was just foreign to me and I could never get comfortable with it. It also was a pretty bright sounding guitar. If it had more bass and a more "normal" neck, I would have kept it.

The Sable has a small body, but without the armrest it's not quite as comfortable as the X20. BUT, the neck is perfect and the sound is much richer. It became an easy choice for me.

I do a lot of fingerpicking and a lot of flat picking. Maybe 50/50.

Last edited by DavidE; 08-02-2021 at 09:43 PM.
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  #17  
Old 08-02-2021, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by BlueStarfish View Post
Hi GELewis,

I don't usually respond on threads but I own both of these guitars and suspect not a lot of other people do so perhaps my opinions are useful to you.

I've had the X20 much longer, nearly 2 years now. *** It has a great bottom end -- strong and deep, growly when I want it. But not boomy or flabby. It's kind of like the guitar has a built-in subwoofer -- except that it's a really high quality sealed-box subwoofer, not one of those boomy ported ones.

* * *

The neck is slightly fatter than the X20, but equally comfortable to me.
***

As a result the Sable's voice is much closer to a wood guitar.

***

Practically speaking they both can get equally loud. I would say that the Sable is slightly more balanced and the trebles are a little sweeter -- more like traditional wood OM. X20, both bass and trebles slightly stronger. So tonal balance honestly more like a good dread. (but again, with a great CF voice, not a wood bodied voice).
It's interesting to see others' opinions. I don't think the X20 has a great bottom end. And it sounds nothing like any of my dreads. It's very bright and lacks bass in comparison. Sable has much more bottom to my ear and has a more balanced treble.

The neck on the X20 is flat in the back and very D shaped at the sides. I found it uncomfortable. All the more reason to see if you can find some locals with these guitars so you can play them before buying.

My Sables both came with hardshell cases. The gig bag thing is new, so if you want a hardshell just call around and find a dealer with one that's been sitting unsold for awhile. My X20 came with a gig bag that I traded with someone else on the AGF for his Hiscox case (plus money to him). I do tend to gig with gigbags, but I have a Monocase that's fantastic and better than my Reunion Blues acoustic case.

I do agree that the Sable sounds more like a wood guitar.

They're both excellent, but quite different. Good luck!
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  #18  
Old 08-02-2021, 09:50 PM
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Had a Sable. Lovely instrument, but not as loud as I wanted, and somewhat heavy. My choice, though not an option you listed, would be the X30. Lots of volume, a little bass-heavy (but I adjusted with lighter strings) and really rich tone. Really a wonderful instrument. I also have a Rainsong H-OM that I love, as well.
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  #19  
Old 08-03-2021, 04:09 PM
fierymusic fierymusic is offline
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Originally Posted by BlueStarfish View Post
Hi GELewis,

I got my X20 with a woody top (blue flamed maple, yeah!) I think it looks really cool. But it's definitely not a traditional acoustic look ... if anything it's more of an electric guitar look.
I'd love to see a photo of yours as i'm thinking of the same spec for a build.
Thanks
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  #20  
Old 08-03-2021, 04:28 PM
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Lots of comments saying the Sable sounds more like wood. Any wood in particular? Mahogany, rosewood? Does anyone find it sounds like a particular wooden model? I know, every specific guitar sounds a bit different than any other guitar, but a D28 sounds different from a D18 in fairly consistent ways, an OM28 sounds different than an 000-18, etc. Any similarities to any specific models?

-Ray
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  #21  
Old 08-03-2021, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by raysachs View Post
Lots of comments saying the Sable sounds more like wood. Any wood in particular? Mahogany, rosewood? Does anyone find it sounds like a particular wooden model? I know, every specific guitar sounds a bit different than any other guitar, but a D28 sounds different from a D18 in fairly consistent ways, an OM28 sounds different than an 000-18, etc. Any similarities to any specific models?

-Ray
What does wood sound like?

Theyíre all guitars.
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  #22  
Old 08-03-2021, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by David Eastwood View Post
What does wood sound like?

Theyíre all guitars.
OK, but some folks in this thread are making the assertion that the Sable sounds more like a wood guitar than the X20. I had an X20 - I know what that sounded like (at least the one I had). I've never played a Sable and I'm looking for a frame of reference. If it sounds like a wood guitar, since most wood guitars have their own sound, I'm wondering if it sounds like any wood guitar in particular. I can't tell you what a "wood guitar" sounds like. I also can't tell you what a D28 sounds like, but I know fundamentally what a D28 sounds like, given that all of them will sound slightly different / unique. I know what an 000-18 sounds like too and an 000-28. If a Sable sounds more or less like a specific wooden guitar, that could be useful information.

-Ray
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  #23  
Old 08-03-2021, 06:30 PM
jdinaz jdinaz is offline
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I'm sure we all have different ideas of which wood a Sable sounds like....I always thought that when someone said it sounds like a wood guitar they meant (or I meant) that the tone is balanced across the strings and the guitar has a nice mellow resonance like a good wood guitar. But I'll bite, to me my Sable most closely resembles a Mahogany guitar. Sweet, mellow and resonant.
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  #24  
Old 08-03-2021, 06:51 PM
BlueStarfish BlueStarfish is offline
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Hi Ray, thatís a really excellent question!

I suppose the most intuitive answer is ďlike a McPherson CamrielleĒ and Iíve seen other threads where people on the forum have made that assertion but Iíve never played a McPherson Camrielle so canít personally vouch that itís true. And even if it is true, there are not a lot of Camrielleís in circulation so that probably isnít a useful reference point for you.

So Iíll instead say that, to my ears, the Sable sounds like a good OM. Which makes sense because the body dimensions are very close to an OM. 4Ē deep, 15Ē lower bout. Length is slightly longer than a Martin OM if I recall. Itís a 25.5Ē scale, so when set up with medium strings itís got that snap too. What brand of OM, and whether a Hog or Rosewood back, or what top of spruce and top wood, will leave those opinions to somebody with more refined ears.
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Old 08-03-2021, 07:41 PM
douglasfan1 douglasfan1 is offline
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Someone here already made a video. You may reference and have a check. I do find it very useful thought I have none of the above two CF guitars.
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  #26  
Old 08-03-2021, 08:05 PM
boneuphtoner boneuphtoner is offline
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Originally Posted by raysachs View Post
Lots of comments saying the Sable sounds more like wood. Any wood in particular? Mahogany, rosewood? Does anyone find it sounds like a particular wooden model? I know, every specific guitar sounds a bit different than any other guitar, but a D28 sounds different from a D18 in fairly consistent ways, an OM28 sounds different than an 000-18, etc. Any similarities to any specific models?

-Ray
Nailing down the specific wood might be difficult - because of the incredible sustain, it reminds me of rosewood back and sides with a very wet sound. But for me the Sable also smooths out your attack and articulation like good mahogany topped guitars do. It is a unique combination of tone that I have not found in any wood guitar. I think it sounds more woody because some other CF guitars Iíve played had a more mid-forward EQ that sounds unlike any wood guitar - the Sable does not exhibit that mid-forward EQ.
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  #27  
Old 08-04-2021, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by jdinaz View Post
I'm sure we all have different ideas of which wood a Sable sounds like....I always thought that when someone said it sounds like a wood guitar they meant (or I meant) that the tone is balanced across the strings and the guitar has a nice mellow resonance like a good wood guitar. But I'll bite, to me my Sable most closely resembles a Mahogany guitar. Sweet, mellow and resonant.
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Originally Posted by BlueStarfish View Post
So I’ll instead say that, to my ears, the Sable sounds like a good OM. Which makes sense because the body dimensions are very close to an OM. 4” deep, 15” lower bout. Length is slightly longer than a Martin OM if I recall. It’s a 25.5” scale, so when set up with medium strings it’s got that snap too. What brand of OM, and whether a Hog or Rosewood back, or what top of spruce and top wood, will leave those opinions to somebody with more refined ears.
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Originally Posted by boneuphtoner View Post
Nailing down the specific wood might be difficult - because of the incredible sustain, it reminds me of rosewood back and sides with a very wet sound. But for me the Sable also smooths out your attack and articulation like good mahogany topped guitars do. It is a unique combination of tone that I have not found in any wood guitar. I think it sounds more woody because some other CF guitars I’ve played had a more mid-forward EQ that sounds unlike any wood guitar - the Sable does not exhibit that mid-forward EQ.
Thanks folks. These three responses give me some image of what to expect. Got two votes for a hog top, though one maybe with rosewood back and sides, in an OM configuration. The OM thing I guess I sort of surmised, since it's that body size with a full scale. But the idea of a mahogany sound with the sustain of rosewood sounds pretty appealing to me. I'd love to try one someday.

I have two Martins in the 00 / 000 size, one with adirondak over mahogany, the other with sitka over rosewood. I love 'em both, but they're VERY different sounding guitars to me. The rosewood guitar sounds like what it is, a smaller, less bass prominent version of the D28 I grew up playing. The mahogany based guitar sounds so much drier and funkier, much less lush than the rosewood guitar.

I'm being tormented by humidity again at the moment (high, not low, and I find high harder to deal with), which always makes a young man's mind turn toward carbon fiber. Well, I'm not a young man, but it happens anyway. And the Sable is really intriguing because of it's soft-V neck (part of the reason I own the two Martins I do is because they both have Mod-V necks) and because of the comments I've heard of it being the "woodiest" sounding of carbon fiber guitars. Which is why I asked the question of WHICH "woodiest" sound. So this is helpful.

But I honestly can't see buying one because I don't want a third acoustic so it would have to replace one of what I have and I don't think I could stand to part with either of them. If I got a lot of input that it sounded much like a rosewood guitar or it sounded much like a mahogany guitar (either with a spruce top), there's an outside chance it could replace one of what I've got. But it sounds like it would be a third voice, maybe a hybrid of the two I've got in some ways. And I don't see adding a third one happening, for financial, space, and mental space reasons.

But I still hope to get to play one someday... Thanks for all of the input...

-Ray
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Last edited by raysachs; 08-04-2021 at 03:54 PM.
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  #28  
Old 08-04-2021, 09:26 PM
BlueStarfish BlueStarfish is offline
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Hi Ray,

I’ve been thinking about your question some more today. So I spent a few minutes playing my Sable back-to-back against the two wood guitars in my house. Here are my notes for you. Caveat is that this is listening from the player’s position. I’m the only player in my household so I wasn’t able to listen from the audience’s position.

Both of the wood guitars in my house right now are Seagulls. Competent and workmanlike, good sounding and well set up. But not high end by any stretch. Guitar One is an all-mahogany dread. Guitar Two is a mini jumbo with a Sitka top (and maple laminate sides, with that special sauce Seagull laminate formula). Both upgraded from tusq to bone saddles. Both with medium gage strings (and the Sable also with medium gage strings).

Obviously both of those are bigger than the Sable so slightly stronger bass. To be expected based on the body shape, and not a result of the wood.

In terms of trebles, my Sitka-topped guitar has the typical strong trebles you get with a full-scale Sitka-topped guitar. The Sable’s trebles are slightly rolled off vs. the guitar with Sitka. Some might say “hey maple is bright” but on this particular spruce-and-maple guitar, the effect of the maple is not so much bright, as clear and dry, so I think it’s a reasonable comparison.

The hogtop dread not surprisingly has softer trebles compared to the Sitka guitar. So I can see why other posters said that the Sable reminds them of a hog-topped guitar.

However, there are other aspects of the tonal profile on the Sable that don’t sound like a hog-top at all. The Sable has tremendous sustain, whereas my hog top (and the majority of the hog tops I’ve tried) have a little weaker sustain. Additionally, my hogtop has that “furry and fuzzy and funky” thing going on in the bass register, which seems quite typical on hog tops. In fact, it’s part of the reason I bought that particular guitar, it’s a very distinctive sound. The Sable doesn’t have that at all.

So if a hogtop and a Sitka top are points on a spectrum, the Sable sits somewhere between the two. To my ears, closer to Sitka than mahogany top because it’s a “cleaner” tone and because of the sustain. But a little less treble zing than Sitka.

I don’t currently have a cedar topped guitar in my inventory, but from memory, I wonder if maybe the Sable’s profile is a little closer to cedar? I recall cedar having a little less treble zing than Sitka. Or maybe redwood? I’ve not had the opportunity to play redwood but I understand it is similar to cedar but can be played harder before zonking out. The cedar guitar I owned left the house because of that zonk-out effect. Whereas the Sable can take being played hard very well. It compresses a bit, and gets loud, but it doesn’t zonk out.

Hope those notes are helpful.
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  #29  
Old 08-04-2021, 09:32 PM
Captain Jim Captain Jim is offline
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Road Trip! Pack up your two Martins and take a trip to the nearest dealer that has a Sable in stock. A/B/C... what would happen if, like some of us, you find you like that carbon fiber guitar's sound even more than the two Martins, but it still sounds different from either of those??? Yes, it can happen.

Then what would you do? (needs to be said in a Keith Morrison voice)
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  #30  
Old 08-05-2021, 07:59 AM
boneuphtoner boneuphtoner is offline
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Originally Posted by BlueStarfish View Post

The hogtop dread not surprisingly has softer trebles compared to the Sitka guitar. So I can see why other posters said that the Sable reminds them of a hog-topped guitar.

However, there are other aspects of the tonal profile on the Sable that don’t sound like a hog-top at all. The Sable has tremendous sustain, whereas my hog top (and the majority of the hog tops I’ve tried) have a little weaker sustain. Additionally, my hogtop has that “furry and fuzzy and funky” thing going on in the bass register, which seems quite typical on hog tops. In fact, it’s part of the reason I bought that particular guitar, it’s a very distinctive sound. The Sable doesn’t have that at all.


Hope those notes are helpful.
Very nicely said and these observations are consistent with mine. To me the Sable has the tonal lushness and sustain of a rosewood guitar with the rolled off trebles and smooth attack of a mahogany topped guitar. For my flesh only fingerstyle, it is just perfect.
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