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Old 01-03-2011, 03:56 PM
Larry Pattis's Avatar
Larry Pattis Larry Pattis is offline
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Default Delightful Chasson parlor model...

Kent Chasson and I had been in touch for a while, and when he decided to build a Parlor model I was hoping to get a chance to "demo" the first guitar which was destined for Mandolin Brothers.

The guitar showed up this morning, after only a slight delay with the USPS!

This guitar is the real-deal, in my book. All the comfort and convenience of a smaller guitar body, shorter scale length, etc., but with the true voice of a finely built one-man-shop instrument.

The guitar is based on a 14 fret Martin 0, with 13.5" lower bout. This puts it as just a bit wider (lower bout) and longer than the Larrivée Parlor. However, this one is a 12 fret arrangement (despite the origins of the body shape), and with a 24" scale. Thank you, Kent! It's a bit over 4" deep at the tailblock, which is appropriate for a guitar this size. Too deep, and the sound ruminates around in the box for too long, and ends up destroying clarity and projection.

This guitar has plenty of clarity, and plenty of projection!

Adi top, East Indian Rosewood Back/Sides are the woods, along with a gorgeous E.I. Rosewood fingerboard (really primo/old stuff), and a striking Cocobolo bridge.

This guitar is simply a joy to play, both physically and tonally. The 24" scale coupled with medium gauge strings gives a tension-feel of a standard scale with light gauge...easy to play, responsive and in fact robust.

Great clarity and projection, as I said earlier. The guitar is perfectly balanced across the fingerboard (from string to string), and gives everything necessary going up and down the fingerboard, as well. There is a good balance between "fundamental" and "overtones" with this guitar. It's nice, because a smaller guitar can sometimes lose out on overtones...and while I prefer a fundamental sound (with fewer overtones), this guitar manages to deliver both clarity/fundamental *and* overtones in a pleasing fashion.

One of my big tests is playing fretted notes on the G string, and then transition to those same note values (also fretted) on the B string. The easier it is for the B string to sound rich and full (as compared to the G string), frankly, the better the guitar. The transition from G to B was nearly seamless with this guitar.

Since Kent is building with an elevated fingerboard, the top is unimpeded by fingerboard, etc., and has (IMO) much more resonance than a top that has a transverse brace and a glued fingerboard. This adds to the "size" of the sound, meaning that it simply sounds bigger than the guitar appears.

Couple all of the tonal comments above with the fact that the guitar has a great bass response (also surprising, given the body size), and it really is a great instrument. The bass, BTW, is focused and strong...not at all diffuse.

Some folks want to call a "Parlor" in the 12.5" lower-bout range...but others, like Goodall, call a 14" (00 size, in my book!) a "parlor" I feel Kent calling this guitar a Parlor is fine. At 13.5" it's tremendously comfortable, and playable.

Nice slightly flattened "C" shape neck profile, and thick enough for me...I don't like slim necks. Ergonomically a thicker neck arrangement puts less stress on the left hand, in fact. 1-3/4" nut coupled with a 2-1/4" bridge spacing are fine, and Kent is one of only a few builders I know that tapers the fingerboard wide enough (IMO) to allow for working the high E string with side-to-side vibrato...without the E string being in danger of falling off the edges of the fingerboard. The 2-1/4" bridge spacing is matched by that same measurement as the overall 12th fret width, which is my personal "minimum" in regards to an "acceptable" geometry.

Fingerboard is a compound radius, 16"-22", if memory serves...rather comfortable, IMO.

The only thing I can think of that doesn't work well for me with this guitar is Kent's choice of tuners! I like a full sized knob (and full sized tuner, for that matter), with the higher ratio 21:1 Gotohs. This is "personal preference," and I know most builders prefer the look of mini-tuners on smaller guitars. For me it's about functionality in this area. I *do* love the shape of Kent's headstock on this guitar...I know he has a few headstock designs, which he will put on any guitar...this one works well for me, aesthetically.

I mentioned the elevated fingerboard, and no transverse brace. Kent is one of the forward-thinking builders that is building guitars with an adjustable neck-block, so there is never any need for a neck reset. It's adjustable. Thank you. Kent is also reinforcing the neck block/sides with carbon-tubes that run from the neck-block to the waist, and across the waist area, as well. This forward-thinking stuff is combined with great elegance of design, and I believe that Kent has also been influenced by Somogyi's voicing thoughts...and the results show.

I'm pretty sure that Kent could do this same scale length as a 13 fret instrument, or could go to longer scales (24.5". 24.75", for example), and also have the guitar work as perhaps a 13 fret, or 14 fret instrument.

Cutaway, anyone?

Kent will be showing guitars at Healdsburg, and aside from checking out his website for the latest and greatest, I recommend folks stopping by his table for the Santa Rosa event (If you're going...and this would be a good reason to go). Kent is doing great things, and is building quite desirable instruments...

I'm sending this little beast on to Mando Bros., where I'm sure someone will be snapping it up quite quickly...

Kent Chasson's website

Kent Chasson's website
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Old 01-03-2011, 04:11 PM
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Taylorplayer Taylorplayer is offline
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That's a real beauty!
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Old 01-03-2011, 04:42 PM
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hnuuhiwa hnuuhiwa is offline
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Great Review Larry! And Great Parlor Kent!
Andrew White: Cybelle 112
Clark: A-Wedge Koa/Snkr Rdwd 12
Clark: A-Wedge Monkeypod/Snkr Rdwd (for sale)
Cornerstone: Zion All Koa
Fay: OM Mac Eb/Englemann(for sale)
Stehr: Aud. Braz/Snkr Rdwd 8-str

In Process - Batson GC, Kolaya Caspian
Pending Builds - Kwasnycia 000-12

Plaid Coyote's gone home to play
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Old 01-03-2011, 04:47 PM
Fliss Fliss is offline
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Thanks for the review, Larry, it sounds a great little guitar

I'd love to hear some soundclips....

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Old 01-03-2011, 05:00 PM
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justonwo justonwo is offline
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That's a fantastic looking parlor. Very classy.
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Old 01-03-2011, 05:24 PM
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murrmac123 murrmac123 is offline
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really nice work, Kent, and a great review too from Larry.

but what's with the scalloped frets ...?...
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Old 01-03-2011, 11:10 PM
racman racman is online now
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Lovely guitar Kent and thanks for the review Larry.

(Now where is that much needed review section on this forum?)
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:09 AM
Larry Pattis's Avatar
Larry Pattis Larry Pattis is offline
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I should add, based on a recent forum-topic, that the guitar was perfectly "set-up" when it arrived...not only in regards to intonation and action, but fingerboard and fretwork were exactly what I would hope for.

Kent used a 3/16" wide saddle on this guitar (his standard?), which tends to be my preference (or Somogyi's even wider 1/4"). Nut was properly spaced, and string slots were of an appropriate depth... Kent knows how and what to do to make this part of the "build" right.

A real winner all the way around, and I look forward to seeing/playing more of Kent's works as we head down the path...

My only regret was in having to send this guitar off to Mandolin Brothers...spending more time with this instrument would have been nice, to hear the guitar begin to break in and develop more of it's "voice." It was sure nice as brand-new, and it will certainly only get better.
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