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  #91  
Old 03-14-2018, 12:20 PM
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Default Buscarino Rhapsody: Initial Impressions

After a 20-month wait, my Rhapsody arrived today from John Buscarino. Since I am working from home today and was able to sign for it and open the box/case because it is fairly temperate today (in the 40s F or 7 C) so I had no finish worries with the nitro finish checking.

The guitar is simply stunning in terms of its fit and finish.

It is difficult to capture the subtlety of the gradient in a sunburst finish or the depth and beauty of real green abalone purflings in images, but trust me this is simply as good as it gets. This guitar is a relatively heavy guitar by flat top standards (5lb. 3 oz.) due to the carved East Indian Rosewood back (~2x thicker in the center), three-piece neck with Birdseye Sugar Maple center (~+20% denser than Honduran Mahogany) and the oversized archtop style peg head. For example, my Sexauer 16” SJ guitar is 3lb. 15 oz. in comparison. The guitar is NOT neck heavy at all and sits beautifully when playing it.

John set the instrument up to play like butter and the intonation seems perfect for my left hand. The guitar has somewhat taller/wider frets than my other acoustic flat tops that all have 0.043” x 0.080” frets with the 0.047” x 0.104” wire. The string spacing is also a bit narrower at 2.188” where my other flat top guitars have wider string spacing in the 2.25” to 2.312” range. So the Rhapsody really feels a bit more like an archtop when playing it.

I was able to play it for about 30 minutes during lunch since I am technically “working” today. The guitar responds with a fast attack, is projective and is wonderfully balanced in volume across the strings. The E and A strings produce a warm, crisp, articulate bass and string-to-string clarity. The trebles are strong and have a signature rosewood sound with sustain and overtones supporting their voice with the fundamentals remain distinct in the mix. The guitar also stays true to its voice through all registers of the fretboard, whether you play a chord on the 3rd fret or 15th fret which is always impressive (as heard in the video John made).

Due to the relatively low damping of the carved rosewood back, it definitely plays an active role in shaping the sound by interacting with the top and is not merely acting as a reflector. When you press the back against your tummy, the sound changes just like a traditional dished, ladder braced flat top back. John carved the back thin enough in the recurve to interact with the top and play an active role in the guitar’s voice.

So in short, my initial impressions are of pure delight...
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Acoustic Flat Tops by: Mark Blanchard, Laurent Brondel, John Buscarino, Kent Chasson, Howard Klepper and Bruce Sexauer
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  #92  
Old 03-14-2018, 03:27 PM
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Twin “16s”...

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Acoustic Flat Tops by: Mark Blanchard, Laurent Brondel, John Buscarino, Kent Chasson, Howard Klepper and Bruce Sexauer
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  #93  
Old 03-14-2018, 04:10 PM
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Congrats Bob!!! They look spectacular!
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  #94  
Old 03-14-2018, 05:24 PM
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Thanks Tom...

One thing I feel like sharing for public awareness is while I was getting my new Buscarino, a great guitarist Steve Morse was having his long time Buscarino stolen that he has played for 30-years...

Here’s an article published in a magazine detailing the theft on March 7, 2018 at the Lincoln Theater in Washington DC.

https://www.guitarworld.com/artists/...-washington-dc

If anyone sees this unique guitar on the used market it, it is stolen and please report it to Steve who has a website (http://www.stevemorse.com/news.html) and is active on FB or Twitter etc.

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  #95  
Old 03-16-2018, 06:54 AM
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Default A bit more...

Since the guitar arrived on Wednesday, I have had the opportunity to play it an hour or two each day to get to know it a bit better. I will try to take some more photos this weekend to see if I can capture some of the details in images, but the guitar is really a stunner. John is truly a perfectionist in the fit and finish department.

As I mentioned in my initial impressions, my Rhapsody is quite heavy by flat top standards. At 5lb. 3 oz. it is >1lb heavier than my other 16” flat top guitar but is more in line with my 16” maple/spruce archtop guitar in its feel/weight. This is due to the nature of its construction. A flat back guitar will typically have its back plate thinned to ~0.080” and dished to ~15’ radius and has lightweight spruce ladder braces and a reinforcement strip. My Rhapsody has a carved East Indian Rosewood back. At the center seam it is thicker about 0.140” to withstand the compressive load of the strings and is thinned at the recurve by to about 0.070” to encourage sympathetic movement. Archtop guitars are typically carved from higher damping woods like Bigleaf or Sycamore Maple or Honduran Mahogany which while reflective, interact with the top largely in a subtractive way.

My Rhapsody is carved from a denser, lower damping Indian Rosewood which while reflective due to its hardness and parabolic shape also sympathetically resonates with the top adding to the color of the sound. With a heavier bodied guitar, sometimes you can have the neck tilt up. Because of the oversized archtop style headstock and Birdseye Sugar Maple/Honduran Mahogany neck construction, the guitar sits in perfect balance. While the sensation of holding an extremely lightweight guitar always seems to attract players (seen this many times at luthier exhibitions), don’t let a heavier guitar put you off. In some cases, there is tremendous tone there.

The general feel of the guitar is “fast”. The short 25” scale frets easily and it is set up on the lower side of most factory set ups. The neck profile is a comfortable “C” profile and the Venetian cutaway has a smooth transition and a relatively short neck heel. The string spacing is a bit narrower at 2-3/16” adding to the archtop feel, but plenty wide to play with your fingers. The guitar came with Elixir Nanoweb PB (.012”-.053”) which adds to the “slick” feel. I will eventually try other string sets to see what works best.

The overall sound is interesting in that it has the sustain and overtone content that one expects with rosewood guitar layering on top of the fundamental tone; but the thing that is different to me is the strong sense balance in volume across the strings and the sense of clear string-to-string separation when playing 4-note chord voicings. There is no scooped EQ on this guitar like seen on many rosewood guitars. The bass produced on the low E and A strings is sonorous, but is crisp and articulate. The trebles are not “fat” but are strong, musical and round. Most importantly to me, as someone who plays a lot of closed voicings up and down the neck its voice remains true and strong even in the dusty part of the fretboard north of the 12th fret. In terms of time domain aspects, it has a fast attack and is projective. I believe this to be a property that I have found in all of my carved back flat tops. In terms of sustain it has a good deal that is there across all of the strings as one would expect from a straight tapered braced top on a rosewood guitar. Straight tapered braces tend to favor sustain vs. scalloped braces which will enhance bass at the expense of sustain (IMO).

I have now worked with John on two commissions (this one and my nylon string) and in both cases, the communication has been clear, the sense of collaboration to meet my needs was strong and the result has been superlative. His wood locker is also amazing. John won’t use any wood that has not been seasoning in his shop for >5 years. Most of the woods used were purchased by John in the 1990s and are air dried, seasoned and stable. The quartersawn Indian Rosewood and Carpathian Spruce used on this guitar are top notch. After nearly four decades of making guitars and being considered one of the top archtop luthiers in the world, John remains humble. His Rhapsody model is a fantastic guitar, unique in its top/back function and is a great option for players seeking a beautifully made, easy playing guitar with great balance, a strong projective voice.
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Acoustic Flat Tops by: Mark Blanchard, Laurent Brondel, John Buscarino, Kent Chasson, Howard Klepper and Bruce Sexauer
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  #96  
Old 03-17-2018, 01:50 PM
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It is finally a nice weekend back east so I was able to take the guitar outside to get a few shots in natural light.



The real Green Abalone pieces that John used to create the top purflings and rosette (left) and features in the peghead torch pendant against the Mother of Pearl is stunning.

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Acoustic Flat Tops by: Mark Blanchard, Laurent Brondel, John Buscarino, Kent Chasson, Howard Klepper and Bruce Sexauer
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