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Old 12-23-2017, 11:10 AM
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Methos1979 Methos1979 is offline
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Talking NGD: Emerald Custom Woody and the Christmas Miracle (warning - long!)

This will be a long post as it's been a long time coming. For easier consumption I'm breaking it down into smaller, easier to digest chapters.

Conception: I always knew that I wanted to end up with just two guitars - one really nice all-wood guitar and one really nice carbon fiber. I'd played and owned several CF models and while all of them were great in their own way, they also always came up short in one way or another, usually with ergonomics, electronics or looks. So I decided to do a custom order from Emerald.

I made contact with Sean back in May and after several back and forth emails I settled on a design. I wanted an X20 woody with a cocobolo top and amber back and sides. For other custom features I wanted a short scale, modified V-type neck (preferably akin to the Santa Cruz soft V, my favorite neck carve of all time), 1 3/4" nut, 2 1/4" spacing and a K&K pickup.

The only wrinkle to this request was the neck shape. Alistair had never done a V neck and they had no access to the SC soft V shape. I had since sold my SC 00 with the soft V but still had my SC 1929 00 with the more prominent full V shape. So Emerald sent me a molding compound to make a mold of the SC V neck which I did and shipped back to them. I told Sean to tell Alistair to just shave a little off the apex of the V - maybe 0.125" tops - and that would hopefully make it very close to the SC soft V.

The Wait: Several more emails went back and forth where I made some small change requests. Round about September a few more emails went back and forth and it became apparent that my build was going to be delayed a bit. Since I live in New Hampshire the late October bonfire gig is almost always a cold affair and I needed a guitar I could use outside. All I had at that moment was my Santa Cruz 1929 00 - not taking that delicate lady into the cold, wet October evenings! I needed a temporary stand-in.

I saw the September series of Emerald guitars and recognised the Pau Ferro woody top of the X7 model as one that had been offered to me for my build and it was a close second choice. So I bought this on a whim to try out an X7 and have it for the gig, knowing that if I didn't like it enough (because of the stock neck shape and/or LR Baggs pickup) I could likely easily and quickly sell it for nearly what I paid which is exactly what happened. One thing to note here as it comes into play later, the X7 arrived in just 4 days after shipping!

October came and went and then November came and went, each time with emails being sent out to Sean and each time Sean telling me there were delays due to the large backlog of work of custom guitars and that he would be "contacting me very soon." I tried very hard to not pester him too much. Finally as we cruised into early December still with no contact I emailed once again and got the reply that the guitar was finally ready and would go out on a Monday with the usual 5 to 7 working day arrival. Final payment was made.

The Drama and the Christmas Miracle: Guitars shipped from Emerald first go through their version of the post office called An Post. They have a limited tracking system not unlike the USPS tracking. But you see where it goes (across Ireland and over to the UK with a final departure from Heathrow airport) with the USPS tracking picking up when it hits the states at Customs. It took like three days for An Post to show the guitar leaving the UK and then... nothing.

I waited a full 8 days before sending out the first email to Sean. He replied saying that it was likely just the busy time of year with the holiday and suggested patience, assuring me that they have NEVER lost a guitar. I waited several more days and still nothing showed up on tracking. I began to worry and emailed again. This time Sean said that it wasn't just my guitar but a 'large batch of parcels' from Emerald were missing from the tracking system and again urged me patience.

I wait another few days until this past Thursday and still nothing in tracking and no guitar. Another email apologizing and urging patience. I'm still hoping for a Christmas miracle but knowing how crazy it gets this time of year with shipping I've resigned myself to seeing the guitar sometime after Christmas. That evening very late after finishing work and beginning a 10-day vacation I clicked refresh and the first sign of life saying that the guitar has arrived at Customs and is being processed there! Yay!! At least I now know it is not lost or stolen.

This brings us to yesterday (Friday) morning. A click on the refresh shows the same status, in NYC at Customs. It's snowing out but my daughter and I elect to head out into the winter wonderland to do some Christmas shopping and have lunch. I had signed up for every single text alert service offered to track my guitar. As we're entering a store just before noon my phone blows up as each and every tracking text goes off simultaneously. The very last one I get states that 'YOU HAVE MISSED DELIVERY OF YOUR PACKAGE AND MUST CONTACT USPS TO RESCHEDULE DELIVERY."

It's a Christmas Miracle after all!

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the last guitar I'll ever buy (snicker, snicker): The Emerald Custom Woody X20:

With this custom build I wanted to basically take the marvelous X20 platform and turn it into a more ergonomically intimate guitar with all the wonderful tone of the X20 body but with smaller scale. Of the three short scale options I was offered (24.9, 24.6 and 24.0) I elected the middle at Alistair's recommendation based on the SC I was playing at the time of order with a scale of 24.75". This was the one thing I worried about and went back and forth. I'm glad I stayed with this option. The scale length is perfect for me.

The neck carve was also the next wild card. I based it on a guitar I had sold off and took the mold from a guitar that I liked but was not my favorite shape with some instructions on how to hopefully make it closer to the original soft V. Alistair absolutely nailed it. The guitar has as close to the SC soft V as I can recall and it is without a doubt (finally) the best neck carve of any carbon fiber guitar I've owned.

The cocobolo top is just gorgeous but with all the beautiful woody tops we've seen over the past several months it no longer has that added newness of when I first saw it. Regardless, it's still something to behold. I didn't get their excellent photos as they were not done processing them when the guitar shipped so I'll get those down the road and will post them here then. In the meantime you will have to be happy with the few I've taken which while not Emerald quality are still nice.

The amber back and sides is also gorgeous. I've loved that color since I first saw it and knew that if I ever custom ordered an Emerald it would have this color. If there is one visual flaw to this guitar it's that there is a small area at the base of the neck where there was some obvious fold/wrinkling of the CF material during the build. This is not uncommon in these types of guitars though and it's in an area on the back and is not something that will bother me but you can clearly see it in the photos.

Last up is the K&K. This was another thing I went back and forth on. Emerald is installing the LR Baggs Element VTC system these days as they standard offering with other options as upgrades. I'm a K&K guy and I'm glad I stuck with that. The little X7 I owned briefly back in October confirmed this as I really wasn't much of a fan of the Baggs system in that guitar. The K&K conversely sounds just as wonderful as I'd hoped. Very powerful and so simple and bulletproof.

The one thing I will almost certainly change on this guitar is the front strap button. The small black composite button does not hold my guitar strap that securely so I'll pop on a PW/D'Addario black brass button which I normally put on all my guitars. I find the sharper-edged strap groove holds much better than more rounded buttons.

As for tone and playability I couldn't be more happy. The soundhole propels the tone up into your face, especially when playing sitting. The tone is warm with wonderful low end and sustain that seems to last forever. Amplified with the K&K through my Carvin AG200 the bass is prominent with the trebles somewhat muted which is perfect for me as I tend to have a hard time with taming the high B and E strings because of my overly strong ring finger attack so when playing amplified especially this makes for a more even tone for me.

The Summary: I encourage anyone that is thinking of a custom order with Emerald to do so. Don't let my admittedly patience-challenged, drama-infused story stop you from pursuing a custom.

I would like say and huge thanks to Alistair and the production team for their excellent work and add in an apology to Sean for the fifty or so back and forth emails we exchanged over 7 and a half months and especially the panicked ones at the end. His patience was exemplary and he deserves a raise!

Peace to all and a very, Merry Christmas!









Last edited by Methos1979; 09-03-2018 at 03:19 PM.
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Old 12-23-2017, 11:14 AM
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Methos1979 Methos1979 is offline
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Reserved space for future Emerald glamour photos!
















Last edited by Methos1979; 09-03-2018 at 03:20 PM.
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Old 12-23-2017, 11:22 AM
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kramster kramster is offline
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A great story indeed!
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Old 12-23-2017, 11:43 AM
Captain Jim Captain Jim is online now
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Congratulations on a truly "built for you" guitar! Glad to see it arrived before Christmas. Good story and appropriate photos by the Christmas tree!
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Old 12-23-2017, 11:44 AM
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Acousticado Acousticado is offline
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I loved reading your adventure, both in this thread and in past posts as you expressed what you were hoping to do with the customizations for this guitar. That X20 looks absolutely gorgeous. Glad it has all worked out for you. Enjoy!
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Wood: '02 Taylor 814c | '18 Taylor 214ceDLX (Rosewood) | '18 Taylor 150e-12 String (Walnut) | '79 Ibanez Dread (First acoustic) | '02 Fender Strat - American '57 RI
Carbon Fiber: '18 Emerald X20 Custom | '08 Composite Acoustics Cargo RT
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Old 12-23-2017, 01:08 PM
Puerto Player Puerto Player is offline
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You finally got it! Congratulations. I'm really liking mine as well. The little carbon fold on the neck is normal. Short scale is wonderful.

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Old 12-23-2017, 01:14 PM
jdinco jdinco is offline
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That is a beauty....congrats !
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Old 12-23-2017, 02:02 PM
steelvibe steelvibe is online now
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Congrats on your custom X20 Methos! I too would love to hear/feel the X20 in my head. Much of what you wanted I could live without (I'm not as bothered by neck profiles but rather nut widths and body sizes), but I love the idea of the 24.9" scale (so close to the 24.875 scale of the Shorty) and the K&K- also my favorite pickup. It doesn't hurt that the ergonomics of the X20 enable one to have a big guitar sound with a little guitar feel.
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Old 12-23-2017, 02:15 PM
Barb1 Barb1 is offline
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Congratulations! What a great guitar!
Barb
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Old 12-23-2017, 02:19 PM
Kerbie Kerbie is offline
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Wow... congratulations! What a great story and beautiful pictures... of the guitar AND the tree! I'm celebrating with you!
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Old 12-23-2017, 03:24 PM
Captain Jim Captain Jim is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Puerto Player View Post
You finally got it! Congratulations. I'm really liking mine as well. The little carbon fold on the neck is normal. Short scale is wonderful.

Another beauty! Congrats!
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Old 12-23-2017, 11:11 PM
Frettingflyer Frettingflyer is offline
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Congrats Methos, that looks AWESOME! Canít wait to hear it.
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Old 12-24-2017, 06:12 AM
zeeway zeeway is offline
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Congrats on the beautiful X20. Play it in good health. My X20 is the best guitar I have ever played. Enjoy yours every day.
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Old 12-24-2017, 06:25 AM
Amgard Amgard is offline
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A truly beautiful guitar, thanks for sharing your story.

Whilst being just as impatient as you, I must have slightly better self restraint ;-) as I didnít email Sean quite as much, lol!

Tbh, when Sean suggested an amber back/sides for mine, (Bubinga front) I was slightly apprehensive, but he was absolutely right, itís the perfect match for the warm tones of the wood.

I can only agree with you, Emerald and especially Sean are a wonderful company to deal with.

Have fun with your new guitar, I know I am with mine!
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Old 12-24-2017, 07:45 AM
doodahdoug doodahdoug is offline
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Congratulations on your new X20 Custom Woodie. It's a beauty and I'm glad the custom neck carve you requested worked out for you. Enjoy!
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