McPherson Guitars has given some amazing gifts to the guitar industry from their cantilevered neck to their signature offset sound hole, both features you’ll find on their luxurious, resonant, sustain-filled acoustic gems. With their custom guitars of over ten tonewood choices and twenty-plus wood options for the back and sides, it’s no secret that to keep the great McPherson sound and build as strong as possible, one must take proper care of the guitar. But what about the player that wants to share his instrument with the outdoors, though varying humidity levels, in extreme temperature or what have you?
As we begin 2019, the music world has become more aware of the more durable options when choosing a guitar. Many might believe it’s a worthy sacrifice to give up quality for convenience to have that travel guitar you can throw into the trunk of your ‘98 Corolla. McPherson is in the business of satisfying the demands of the players that aren’t willing to make that sacrifice. Over the last few years they have continued to develop an incredible series of guitars whose ruggedness is matched by its sound quality and the product is phenomenal. Today I’m taking a closer look at the McPherson Guitars Carbon Fiber Series.
A high-end guitar dealer might have told you in the past that they have no space in their inventory for a trendy or novelty guitar, but times have changed. Over the last decade, carbon fiber has evolved incredibly. Where the masses used to only know of carbon fiber being used in cell phone cases and Lamborghini steering wheels, the applications for the material has broadened so much that its advancement into the music industry has been well anticipated. The first sightings of carbon fiber inside guitars likely had its speculation as to its necessity versus its practicality, but here we see an instance where the combination of knowledge, experience and engineering can create something incredible.
Let’s take a look at what’s inside one of these guitars. Aside from the dramatic contrast in color, the first thing you’ll notice about the Carbon Series is McPherson stayed true to their form and keep their signature body shape with offset sound hole. The two main body styles, while customize-able, are their well known Sable and Touring models. At just under 5.5 pounds, the Sable Carbon Series come with a 25.5” scale length, overall length of 41.75” and 14 frets. The Touring, with its ¾ size body weighs in at 4.15 pounds, has a 22.75” scale length and is a shorter 36.25” in length.
While every player has their own preference in sound, the comparison between McPherson’s wood and carbon fiber guitars may be significant, yet the quality remains high throughout both varieties. With engineering to credit, the tone and response from the synthetic body is both tight and brilliant. While I couldn’t trace it back to its source, McPherson says their carbon fiber is custom-woven in Germany and is exclusive to McPherson Guitars. The combination of the resonant carbon fiber top and floating, cantilevered neck give the guitar fantastic projection, an important attribute for a guitar designed to be used in a variety of environments. Like its predecessors, the Carbon Series guitars have a solid carbon truss rod inside the neck that adds an incredible level of strength to the framework of the guitar. The truss rod, being twice as strong as steel, and carbon fiber construction give this guitar one of its biggest selling points: Its intonation. Knowing you can drive across Arizona in the summer heat with the windows down and have your McPherson Carbon Series laid across the backseat only to pick it up hours later to find a still, perfectly tuned McPherson guitar – incredible.
Atop the neck you’ll find enclosed, Hipshot tuners with a 15:1 gear ratio for finer tuning. For the 2018-2019 models, McPherson offers an upgrade to gold hardware which you can see on several available models at Heartbreaker Guitars in Las Vegas, a proud McPherson dealer. The combination of gold or nickel hardware, black carbon fiber body and honeycomb pattern top make this guitar a beauty to hold. The guitar is acoustic-electric with an L.R. Baggs 9 Volt Element inside with both volume and tone controls. Every McPherson Carbon guitar is custom EQ’d before it leaves the workshop. You’ll find Elixir Nanoweb Medium gauge strings inside the included hard case, but you’re welcome to restring it with your own brand.
A few models for you to check out at Heartbreaker Guitars: The McPherson Carbon Fiber Touring Model Honeycomb Finish and Gold Hardware, the McPherson Carbon Fiber Touring Guitar with Orange Trim, the McPherson Sable Honeycomb Finish with Nickel Hardware and my favorite, the McPherson Carbon Fiber Touring Model Honeycomb with Red Trim.
Take a look at a couple of the videos shot by Brendan and his team at Heartbreaker and hear how the Carbon Series sounds for yourself!
Contributor for Heartbreaker Guitars