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Old 12-12-2018, 05:33 PM
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Methos1979 Methos1979 is offline
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Default NGD: Emerald X7 Custom Woody - Updated again for gig report

Updated a second time for gig report - scroll down to post #41.

Updated for playing time, string change and playing amplified - scroll down to bottom.

Well, the wait is over. I received my latest custom woody Emerald today just six days after it shipped from Ireland! Compared to last year that is astounding especially considering the time of year - Christmas! I only have had the very shortest of time to play with this guitar today so rest assured that I'll be putting it through it's paces over the next few weeks and I'll update here as I go. But since the cat was let out of the bag a few days ago with the video I thought I'd go ahead and post my initial thoughts as well as, of course, the awesome photos.

First, a little bit on how this guitar came to be. After getting my custom woody X20 last year (which is awesome) I said to myself that the only way I'd likely order another one is if two things happened: A new guitar that was smaller than the X20 but bigger than the (then) current X7 was introduced and second, a woody veneer that blew me away showed up. When I saw Jeff's Ruby Cross veneer I thought, WOW! I loved it but thought he had it upside down thinking that the broad part of the sapwood would look better on the bottom. Of course that would have negated his vision of the cross.

Then in May the new lineup was announced. The change to the X7 looked like it was exactly what I was considering - smaller than the X20 but very much similar to it. I started thinking, if I could get a cool veneer like Jeff's, plus have a custom neck identical to my X20 (24.6" and soft V shape) then that might be worthwhile. One thing I'm not a big fan of is the offset bridge point on the woody's. Sure, it's the Emerald signature but having that offset point on book-matched wood veneer tops just looks odd to me. I wondered if they could do something about that.

I mulled it over for a few months and on the last day of July I reached out to Emerald with my thoughts. Kevin was out so it was Alistair himself that answered the email and we spent two days going back and forth on my vision for a custom woody X7. He said he had another 'slice' of that veneer and that of course he could do the longer scale and custom soft V neck and he could also do a custom bridge with the point shifted to the middle. He actually offered me two options, rounded bridge or the point. I figured the point would look cool. So I pulled the trigger and placed the order.

Now, onto my thoughts. First of all, the new design of the X7 is incredible! Alistair hit it out of the park with this one. The guitar is very lightweight and resonant. It's actually louder than my X20! I'm not kidding! I didn't think I'd like or particularly care for the new cutaway back but even that is extremely comfortable and the access to those upper frets is perfect and much needed on this shorter-scaled guitar. The guitar hangs on me just right. Perfect. The feel is incredible. The scale is just right. I have yet to plug it in but I'm sure the K&K will function/perform the same as the X20 and the Martin. But I'll update on that later.

There are only two concerns I have on the guitar. Due to a miscommunication between Alistair and I the custom bridge was not tinted Amber per my request. We had a LOT of back and forth about this custom bridge and with so many emails over such a short period of time I'm not surprised this was missed. The bridge doesn't look bad and I love the pinless and centered-point features but I think had the bridge been tinted Amber it would have been that much better. Alistair said he can respray it if I want to return it and I might but I'm going to keep it until after the holidays to avoid the holiday shipping hassles and see if it grows on me.

The second concern was that the soft V shape is significantly less than the X20. I'll admit I'm overly sensitive to neck shape carves and I'm very used to and love the X20. The X7 is much more rounded with less soft V. To me it feels like a stock Emerald shaped neck. Alistair said this is due to the basic different geometry of the X7 neck vs the X20 necks and he assured me he did in fact perform a lot of shaping on the neck. Again, I'm hopeful that a few weeks of playing and I'll acclimate to it because unlike the bridge tinting, the neck shape cannot be changed. Time will tell.

I'll say that the newly designed X7 perfectly melds all the best (and then some) between the X20 and the old-style X7. It's small enough to still be considered a travel guitar but has the playing ergonomics and sound of a much larger guitar. It's very similar to a 0 or 00 size guitar in feel but with even better (louder) tone. The X7 came in a grey and green Emerald gig bag. I was excited about this as I prefer that color combo to the grey and blue of my X20. Also, of course, I got the mug.

Okay, enough blathering. I'm going to upload some photos. First a few of the unboxing and then the glamour photos which, as always, are nothing short of astonishing. Just like with my X20, the look of the guitar under lights/flash is incredible while under average/ambient light it's much darker. I was hoping that the much wider sapwood stripe would make to whole thing lighter but it is not. As someone else posted here just the other day, I think any future custom woody's considered will be a lighter wood veneer. But I just haven't seen any that I like as much as the dark ones with the sapwood.

Btw, during the wait for the guitar I sent an email to Jeff (owner of the Ruby Cross) to tell him of my plan to use a veneer similar to his but on a much smaller guitar and oriented in the opposite direction and I hoped he wouldn't mind the similarity to his. He replied immediately that of course he did not mind and was looking forward to seeing the final product. As always, AGF'ers are a class act.

More to come.

Update:

So I'm a few days in. Playing the guitar acoustically for a few days I've acclimated to the neck shape. I still don't like it as much as I like the X20 neck, but I definitely don't hate it either. What I do continue to really like is the guitar itself. The small size, the light weight, the resonance and ease with which the notes seem to leap off the guitar. It's very much like playing a high-end 00 12-fret guitar like the Santa Cruz ones I used to own. My concern with that is that there might be some amplification challenges because of it. And there are.

I plugged in today and played initially through my Boss VE8 with the stock EQ that I've got dialed in for the X20 and the Martin. Both those guitars are close enough in body size that I can get away with the same EQ with the X20 being significantly hotter. But not so with the X7. I played both through the Bose S1 and the QSC k8.2. Initial listens were awful. In fact, it almost sounded like there was something wrong with either the K&K pickup or maybe the cable or Boss. Since I had the effect on both amps I knew it wasn't them. I didn't want to change the EQ on the Boss VE8 just in case I need to use the X20 for this weekends gig after all. Dialing in EQ on the VE8 is not an easy on-the-fly at-the-gig thing. And even if I do use the X7 this weekend there's also a string issue that might lead to a sudden need to change over to the X20. More on that in a minute.

In addition to the weird buzzing/rattling tone I was getting on some strings (usually the G & B) there was also a distinct mid-range boxiness that I don't hear with the X20. It's very much like the tone shaping challenges I dealt with back when I was playing 00 12-fretters. So I chalk this up to it being a body size thing. Fortunately having owned and gigged with 00 12-fretters for a few years I'm well versed in how to compensate and tame for this issue. So the first thing I decided to do was to put my Headway EDM-1 preamp in front of the signal. Instant great tone. So it is just a EQ thing. This will work well for the gigs as it allows me the ability to use the VE8 with the EQ settings as-is and then if I have any issues where I have to change guitars it will be a snap.

Once I had the tone dialed in for the X7 it was a joy to play. The light weight and resonant tone made for a really fun practice. I'm definitely going to gig with this on Sunday but I'll have the X20 there just in case. This is due to a string changing issue. I've written about that on a post about the Emerald pinless bridge questions posted recently so you can check that out at the link below. My comments start on post #11. Suffice to say that changing strings on a pinless bridge was not as easy as I thought it would be. Much of this is likely because I have no experience with them. Hopefully that turns out to be the case in the long run.

But to summarize, the guitar continues to impress mightily.

Emerald Pinless Bridge Thoughts

Last edited by Methos1979; 12-16-2018 at 12:59 PM.
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Old 12-12-2018, 05:34 PM
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Unboxing...


Last edited by Methos1979; 12-13-2018 at 10:11 AM.
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Old 12-12-2018, 05:35 PM
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Emerald glamour guitar porn - enjoy!















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Old 12-12-2018, 05:41 PM
jdinco jdinco is offline
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Simply Gorgeous ! I rather like the bridge, but your thoughts matter more than mine. LOL I'm looking forward to your tone and playing impressions as you live with it over the next month or so. Congrats !
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Old 12-12-2018, 05:51 PM
steelvibe steelvibe is offline
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Default NGD: Emerald X7 Custom Woody

Holy gemstones Batman! The wood Alistair nearly kept for himself and now I can see why. Have fun Scott and congrats!

.....and you didn’t have to stare at a box for hours and days so it could “acclimate “ [emoji4]. Just my dos centavos Scott, but the bridge looks fine. It matches the composite fretboard and the inside of the sound hole. It doesn’t look weird or out of balance to my eye at all. Having said that,I would imagine a transparent amber bridge looking stunning on that top (nope I take that back after seeing Capt. Jim's photoshoppery- the black works better IMO)

The neck is only something you can decide but selling it if you are not totally satisfied shouldn’t be a problem. Just guess in’

Well done!
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Last edited by steelvibe; 12-12-2018 at 07:14 PM.
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Old 12-12-2018, 05:52 PM
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Congratulations - to say sheís a real beauty is a massive understatement, but itís all I got. I think it looks great with the plain black bridge, but then I didnít have a vision of what was coming beforehand. I agree with almost all if your observations about the new X7. But I do question is your statement that the X7 is actually louder than the X20. Mine definitely isnít. Itís considerably louder than the old X7, at least to the playerís ear, and itís enough that Iím not as antsy to pick up the X20 a lot when Iíve got the new X7 to grab. But when I do pick up the X20, Iím always a little stunned by the difference, at how much more it rings out, at how dread-like it sounds to me. Iíll be interested in your observations over time.

There is a real difference in the stock neck shapes of the X7 and the X20 - the X20 feels a good deal slimmer/flatter, the X7 rounder and fatter. I prefer the X7, but am perfectly happy with bothif them. But I didnít order them to be the same, so I hope that works out for you. It would be a shame if that ended up being a deal breaker for such an otherwise amazing guitar...

Enjoy!

-Ray
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Old 12-12-2018, 06:13 PM
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This is just gorgeous. What a lovely piece of veneer, beautifully executed.

I, too, think the bridge looks just fine, and if it were me, I'd not return it for that alone.

Neck carve/shape might be a different issue - but out of all the dozens of guitars I've owned over the years, there has only be one that I have let go just for that reason. My left hand seems to be curiously agnostic to curves shallow or deep, C-shaped, D-shaped, V-shaped or otherwise, and nut widths from 1 3/16" to 1 7/8" in the current collection - but there was a Godin 5th Avenue that I just could not abide. Eventually I realized that it was the profile of the fingerboard shoulders that made it awkward for me.

Regardless, it's your guitar, and a significant investment, especially with all the custom stuff. Oh - and it's GORGEOUS!
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Old 12-12-2018, 06:16 PM
Captain Jim Captain Jim is offline
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Hey, Scott - that is gorgeous! I like the black bridge on it - adds a cool contrast. I did a quick Photoshop adjustment to make that bridge amber(ish), so you can get an idea.



Not perfect, but a preview, if you decide to make a change. Did I mention: I like the black!
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Old 12-12-2018, 07:05 PM
EvanB EvanB is offline
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You done good with this piece of musical art. Congratulations!
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Old 12-12-2018, 07:18 PM
Barb1 Barb1 is offline
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The guitar is just beautiful. I vote for the black bridge too. The contrast is great. Enjoy!
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Old 12-12-2018, 07:26 PM
Gitaman Gitaman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Jim View Post
Hey, Scott - that is gorgeous! I like the black bridge on it - adds a cool contrast. I did a quick Photoshop adjustment to make that bridge amber(ish), so you can get an idea.



Not perfect, but a preview, if you decide to make a change. Did I mention: I like the black!
That was very kind of you, Cap, and also made it very clear for me.

Scott, it looks more balanced as you have it IMHO. Stunning, love those swirls! 3D like making the cross pop out...

Git

Last edited by Gitaman; 12-12-2018 at 07:36 PM.
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Old 12-12-2018, 08:19 PM
GuitarLuva GuitarLuva is offline
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Congratulations that is yet another fine piece of Emerald musical art. I too would leave the bridge as is personally don't think amber would be a better match but that's just my 2 cents. You have me worried though saying your X7 is louder than your X20. How is that possible? I'm hoping your new guitar excitement threw off your senses. Hopefully other X7/X20 owners can chime in....cough cough....calling all Kramster's.
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Old 12-12-2018, 08:45 PM
byudzai byudzai is offline
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yeah baby pinless bridge!
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Old 12-12-2018, 10:40 PM
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Methos1979 Methos1979 is offline
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Thanks for all for the positive comments so far. I agree that in those glamour photos that bridge looks really good. Thanks, Jim, for the attempt at showing what the color would look like. I've seen color matched tint on exposed CF bridges and it looks really good but I don't think it would be worth the round trip back to Emerald to have it done.

Ray raised some interesting points below:

Quote:
Originally Posted by raysachs View Post
I agree with almost all if your observations about the new X7. But I do question is your statement that the X7 is actually louder than the X20. Mine definitely isnít.
I'm not sure why but it definitely is. I'm a fingerstyle player with no nails so my playing is generally muted anyway. I don't know if it's the lighter body making it more resonant or the slightly different body cavity design or even the hole location or positioning but it definitely seems louder. Note that in both cases I was wearing the guitar strapped to my body standing and not sitting down. At some point I'll likely do a video review so I'll see if I can replicate it on that but the difference is certainly not huge.

Quote:
Originally Posted by raysachs View Post
There is a real difference in the stock neck shapes of the X7 and the X20 - the X20 feels a good deal slimmer/flatter, the X7 rounder and fatter.
I was happy to read this. I agree that the basic stock shapes between the X7 and X20 are quite different with the X7 being rounder and fatter. This is surely a good part of why the soft V carve is much less noticeable. Alistair alluded to this as well in an email addressing my concerns today.

Looking forward to really putting it through it's paces on Friday and Saturday. If it performs well enough then I might play a gig with it on Sunday! Into the fire, baby!
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Old 12-12-2018, 11:13 PM
wickedwahine wickedwahine is offline
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Congratulations! I am so happy for you, it is just stunning. I especially like that there is some matching sapwood on the headstock. As for the bridge, once I saw the photoshopped picture, I really preferred the way it is now. But I am super particular about my things so if it was my guitar and it really irked me, I would send it back.

It is interesting that you feel it is louder than the X20. As someone with two X7s on order, that is really nice to hear.

Have a wonderful time with it, and I am so glad that it arrived quickly this time.
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Last edited by wickedwahine; 12-13-2018 at 02:35 AM.
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