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  #76  
Old 01-27-2021, 01:36 AM
usb_chord usb_chord is offline
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Many years ago I was fortunate to play #18 when Al Petteway owned it and that guitar forever changed my frame of reference for what's possible with a maple b/s guitar. John reserved #218 for me as a subtle homage to that guitar.






Amy can be seen near the beginning playing this guitar here -

Al let go of that guitar eventually (due to lack of cutaway) not too long after he got this lovely thing -



I was fortunate to play this guitar the day it arrived and it sounds even better in person! It has been a long road ... we're almost home!

Last edited by usb_chord; 01-27-2021 at 02:21 AM.
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  #77  
Old 02-03-2021, 01:26 AM
usb_chord usb_chord is offline
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Well, here’s a fun development -

The Circa 00 arrived, but it’s not the one you think! A lovely gent based here in Colorado took delivery of his 00 a week ago, reached out and asked if I could give him my thoughts on it. I took a little drive south of the Rockies and came back with this -


















This guitar was built on spec by John as an excuse to use this beautiful (four piece) back. Most of you know the MRW trees are quite small in diameter and yielding a set large enough for a two piece back is a certain type of luxury. I’m glad John decided to make something happen with this set of wood because the resulting guitar is *really* good.

Right out of the gate, this one has warm and clearly defined bass notes. The bracing scheme here is something of a hybrid between two-ish build styles. It’s not as low an X brace as pre war spec, but not quite as tall as typical Slobod-spec. It’s pretty strong across the whole frequency range and works *surprisingly* well with a pick. John and I seem to agree, as nice as this is now, it’s gonna be a little devil in 6 months to a year. Strings are tarnished and old sounding and the thing still sounds great. I can't wait to change them!

This is one of those that screams "high-end" just as much across the room as right up close. I mean, the finish work is downright outstanding. The ivoroid binding looks GREAT here . . I love how thin it is and the way it sorta melts into the sides and top. I admit to underestimating the ivoroid look. The Adirondack top is gorgeous in person. I like the belly bridge in the context of the 00 body - it imparts this “cuteness” to the aesthetic. Fun stuff. Oh, and the white fretboard boarder is always classy - reaaaally glad I got that on mine!!

My Circa is projected to ship tomorrow and I’m gonna try to get John to overnight it, assuming the Fedex bill for that isn’t completely nuts. John seems very happy with #218. Says it has a lot of the qualities of this guitar - http://www.om28.com/ProductDetail?product=P170107003

Juston can attest to that guitar’s brilliance to the same extent I can. If what John’s saying is true, I need to prepare to mind to handle it.
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  #78  
Old 02-03-2021, 03:05 AM
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DOUBLE-DROOL !!!!
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  #79  
Old 02-03-2021, 03:13 AM
steveh steveh is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by usb_chord View Post
This guitar was built on spec by John as an excuse to use this beautiful (four piece) back. Most of you know the MRW trees are quite small in diameter and yielding a set large enough for a two piece back is a certain type of luxury.
haha: Reminds me of a Sobell I bought from Martin Simpson many years ago that was built from BRW "scantlings". There were square cross section and relatively narrow, necessitating a 6-piece back and 2-piece sides. I was talking to Nigel Forster about whether, given this, I should buy the guitar and he said, quite drily, "I think you'll find that me and Stefan know how to join two bits of wood properly"!

Of course he was right - you had to look hard to find the joins and the guitar sounded fabulous.
A pal of mine has a Christoper Dean classical with a 4-piece top - it's amazing.
If its good quality wood, use it.

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Originally Posted by usb_chord View Post
My Circa is projected to ship tomorrow and I’m gonna try to get John to overnight it, assuming the Fedex bill for that isn’t completely nuts.
Don't bother. Surely you must understand by now that the anticipation is the best part of the journey?!

Cheers,
Steve
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  #80  
Old 02-03-2021, 08:24 AM
TJNies TJNies is offline
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Brian, I'm confused - did you buy that 00 Madi?
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Martin Custom Shop OM-18 Sinker Mahogany For Sale

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  #81  
Old 02-03-2021, 10:28 AM
usb_chord usb_chord is offline
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Brian, I'm confused - did you buy that 00 Madi?
No, this guitar does not belong to me.
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  #82  
Old 02-03-2021, 08:09 PM
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Smile It sure is cute!!!

Quote:
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No, this guitar does not belong to me.
These instruments are drool worthy for sure!

So do we get to hear it? Your playing is always so easy on the ears!!!

Salud

Paul
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  #83  
Old 02-04-2021, 01:31 AM
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  #84  
Old 02-04-2021, 06:51 AM
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Outstanding development in this 7 year epic journey!!!
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  #85  
Old 02-04-2021, 12:33 PM
jaymarsch jaymarsch is offline
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Very exciting!!!

Best,
Jayne
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  #86  
Old 02-05-2021, 08:34 PM
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So... so... so....
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  #87  
Old 02-06-2021, 06:41 AM
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Well, 24-hour acclimation has to be over. Open the box already!
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  #88  
Old 02-06-2021, 09:16 AM
steveh steveh is offline
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Your expectant public are waiting...

Cheers,
Steve
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  #89  
Old 02-06-2021, 12:05 PM
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For the last two days, this thread is the first thing I go to when I enter the AGF. I think this may be the most anticipation I've had for a guitar that is not mine.

Can't wait to read (and hear!?) the review!
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  #90  
Old 02-09-2021, 11:55 PM
usb_chord usb_chord is offline
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Sorry for the delay in assessment, guys! I’ve been a little busier between work and domestic life lately than I’d care to admit.

So, the Circa arrived last Thursday and it’s one of the best sounding guitars I’ve ever played. I was in denial about that initially because . . . well, frankly, I routinely play incredible stuff by some of the most talented (and expensive. . . ) makers out there. I thought maybe the room I was in was too flattering, so I went to the deadest room in the house. Still felt that way.

My initial evaluation was with a pick (like Slobod does) so I switched to fingerstyle. Still felt that way. I put the guitar down for a couple hours and went back to it later that day and It sounded even better when I picked up again. Sooo . . . yeah!

It’s really strong throughout all the registers with a lot of “cut” to the sound. Not a particularly deep guitar, but it has has a surprising amount of low end and overall tonal depth for the size. The mids are John’s typical focused and brilliant affair and the trebles REALLY pop on this one with a surprising complexity of overtones. It’s not as "rounded off" through the registers as some of the other 00 maples I've played by him, certainly not as mellow. Here’s an excerpt of what John had to say about the guitar -

Quote:
“Brian has played more Circa guitars than just about anybody. He's played more nice hand built guitars than most people too. So I was quite thrilled when he commissioned a maple 00 many years ago. Having played the semi-famous Al Petteway 00, he asked me to closely reproduce that guitar. This meant that it would have a thinner top and more scalloped X brace. Al's 00 was built over a decade ago - and I don't typically build that lightly anymore, but we were after a certain sound - so I voiced this guitar accordingly. I also picked out a truly sacred set of German spruce for the top, which is among the stiffest best sounding plates I have ever used. That may be where things went wrong....

The guitar does not sound like Al's guitar. It sounds more like what I do now with my taller X guitars. It projects like a bullet, with fairly dry mids and a more cutting treble than what I'm used to with this wood combo, which has famously full warm high end. Fortunately for us both, while the guitar was under construction, Brian played a maple Circa 000 that had been at Schoenberg guitars. That guitar has a more typical Martin style voice than Al's does. Brian loved that guitar. To bits. And that is what this guitar has. Vintage pop, with a hint of maple warmth.


The black neck is something often seen on many early parlor guitars (usually stained black over a cheaper wood like poplar) but I think Brian told me he's seen it on some modern guitars. I decided to try a burst with a black head to highlight the dart and lightly stained slots.”
I’ve taken a few photos of the guitar below and a short video which shows the “truly sacred” German spruce top and some shots of a few key points of the build.

One quick note on the video - it’s impossible to get the real gist of the guitar’s personality here due to the capo and the unusual arrangement I worked up for this piece. I’ll do something more generalized soon! In short, when taking into consideration, the sound of this guitar, the way it looks, and how easy it is to play, it’s in the top 5 best instruments I’ve ever encountered. If this is what it sounds like within a week of ownership, I can't handle what could possibly happen 10 years from now with this thing. As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing lacking here, nothing to critique. I’m coming to grips with that slowly. Whew . . .




















Last edited by usb_chord; 02-10-2021 at 09:28 PM.
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