"If you own a Steinberger guitar with a Trans-Trem vibrato
tailpiece, and it needs restoration, adjustment or fretwork,
-Eddie Van Halen
Jeff Babicz is your go to guy!! He knows his shit!!”

Babicz Signature Guitar Reviews

"Working in the varied playing situations that I find myself in, I need an instrument that can cover a lot of tones, endure the extreme rigors of international touring and most of all, be comfortable for me to play for long periods of time.

In some situations, I can find myself playing in a session or live gig for hours upon hours, and the actual neck and feel of the guitar is very important as I have struggled with physical issues due to RSI injuries.

The Jeff Babicz Custom that I am now playing is simply one of the finest instruments I have ever owned or played. In a recording situation, I can get a wide variety of tones by simply moving the mic placement or by adding the custom sound hole cover to the guitar. The electronics are matched to the instrument in a way that makes it easy for me to roll into a live situation and just plug in and go.

"Jeff, Thanks again for letting me create with this fine instrument, Sincerely JW"

Many acoustics only sound good in one application, the JB Custom is constructed in a way that the sounds are extremely usable in recording situations from many different parts of the guitar. I can move the mic placement to make the sound full and round, to very tight and thin to sit in the mix in different ways. Adding the sound hole cover creates a full yet really tight town that cuts perfectly in a mix with a lot of instruments, the JB custom carves out it's own space and provides exactly what I need for each track.

I play this guitar for hours on end and the neck was custom shaped in a way the provides great relief to my wrists and hands. The body style is comfortable as well and works whether I am standing or sitting.

This is one of the most versatile and finest guitars I have ever owned, allowing me access to almost any tone or sound I need."

~John Wesley
USA
Above, John Wesley plays his custom made Jeff Babicz Signature Series Ltd. rosewood acoustic guitar during "The RedRoom Session". You can see more videos of John playing this guitar at: http://www.youtube.com/user/redroomrecorders
John Wesley has performed as sideman, guitarist/vocalist for critically acclaimed UK based recording act Porcupine Tree, during the In Absentia, Deadwing, Fear of a Blank Planet, and The Incident world tours. He has performed in the band for nine years, culminating in 2010 with sold out performances at Radio City Music Hall and the Royal Albert Hall.
 In recent years he as performed lead guitars and background vocals for White Lion frontman Mike Tramp, subbed on lead guitar and bass for Gainesville's Sister Hazel, and as lead guitarist for Scottish neo-prog legend Fish on many lengthy European, American and South American Tours and on several US and European Solo dates.
" I picked up a Babicz Spider Acoustic a few years back in a local music store in Scotland. It sounded and looked different from any other acoustic I had ever seen or tried. I bought it and it became my favorite guitar. Unfortunately one of my kids (I am not sure which one!) dropped it and the top of the body cracked. It still sounds fantastic, but I decided to look into buying another Babicz when I found the spec for the Babicz Octane on the internet. I had always wanted something to play live that both rocks when amplified and sounds like the real thing when played as an acoustic (and everything in between). Reading the reviews I knew this was the guitar for me - but I could not find one with the spec I wanted.

The internet came to my rescue. I tracked down Jeff and he agreed to make me a custom guitar. Suddenly I could have whatever I wanted! Like a kid in a candy store with too much choice, I could not decide. Luckily Jeff advised me, and you can see the result. It is an amazing guitar.

First of all, it is incredibly easy to play and easy to get the sound I want. The guitar is amazingly light - I don't know the exact weight, but I hardly know I have it round my neck. I know that 'ease of use' and comfort may be low down most guitar players requirements, but for me this is very important. My focus on stage is singing, and I need my guitar to make everything as easy as possible. The action is low, but the resonance is not compromised anywhere on the neck - every string is as clear as a bell at every fret. Even someone as fat fingered as me can play a Babicz and sound good!

The guitar sounds amazing. When I roll the pot fully to acoustic and the output is routed through the PA, it has a tone that completely belies the small size of the body. It lacks the 'booming' low end of a dedicated acoustic, but that is perfect for my music, because it sits comfortably in the mix providing a full mid range feather bed for the songs. When the electric pickups are selected, the guitar changes into a classic hollow body electric guitar. It has amazing sustain and presence. I am still experimenting with using feedback to get even better sustain and in the hands of a proper lead guitarist I know it would be awesome.

Last (but not least), the guitar looks fantastic. Some guitars grab attention by being flashy. This guitar just looks 'right', which is just the way I like it. I knew I wanted the ebony veneer - and it is as black as night - but I hesitated over the gold hardware. Re-assured by Jeff, I went for and it really complements the ebony. Jeff suggested maple - and although not many people get to see the back of the body, I have seen guitar techs studying it with open eyed amazement! That is a mark of Jeff's attention to detail - even the back of the guitar is a work of art.

All in all, I was amazed by Jeff's attention to detail, his dedication and his willingness to go the extra mile to make a guitar truly special. Jeff was charming and positive throughout. He could charge a lot more for his work, but don't tell him that ..."

-Mike Adam
Scottland
http://www.mikemarlin.co.uk/
http://www.facebook.com/MikeMarlinMusic


"I own Babicz LTD #1 in Brazilian rosewood and it is a visually stunning guitar, not only does it look great but the sound is so rich and full it's almost pietistic in its tone individual notes are not muddled up in chords and it'll go from a whisper to thunder!

The action feature really works, you can go from low electric action to slide action with a twist of the Allen wrench. At first I was skeptical but it does what it says it does and it stays in tune! I really can't find anything bad to say about this guitar (O.K., the LTD's are big bucks but you are getting the finest materials available and it is handmade”.

-B Willie
USA
Premier Guitar Magazine Reveiw of the Babicz Signature Series Koa D'esque

I've never been a big fan of "museum piece" guitars. You know the type: beautiful, expensive guitars made with incredibly rare woods, sporting exotic inlays that are so precious their owners are afraid to take them out and really play them. When I first opened the custom embroidered case of the Babicz Custom Koa D'esque and saw nothing but perfectly finished koa, ebony and mahogany, I assumed that I was looking at just such a museum piece. Upon closer inspection, however, I was happy to see that my initial impression couldn't have been more wrong.
Jeff Babicz, President of Babicz Guitars and builder of this instrument, makes guitars that are meant to be played, and the Custom Koa Signature D'esque is packed with features that strongly define that philosophy. From the Fishman Ellipse Aura pickup system to the secondary soundhole in the upper bout to the patented neck adjustment system, this guitar screams play me. One of the most impressive things about the guitar is that while it's made entirely of high-end materials and could be considered a bit pricey for some - $8,000 as tested - most of the design innovations and features employed here are available in Babicz' production guitars at prices accessible to almost any player.

While it would be impossible to overstate the beauty of this guitar or its impeccable craftsmanship and attention to detail, the thing that really knocked me out about the Babicz has more to do with the way it's designed than what it's made of. Almost every feature on Babicz' acoustic guitars has been rethought and designed to address the inherent problems with traditional acoustic guitar lutherie. The splayed string anchoring system, the lateral compression soundboard, the split bridge/string retaining system, the soundboard bracing pattern and the fully adjustable neck height system are all Babicz innovations that help the guitars sound great and play beautifully.
Neck & Body
It took me a little while to get used to the concept of being able to adjust the neck height on an acoustic guitar. Generally speaking, making adjustments to an acoustic outside of tweaking the truss rod are usually best left to professionals. However, the Babicz Continually Adjustable Neck makes neck height adjustments a snap for anyone. Simply put the hex key (conveniently attached to the back of the headstock) into the hole at the base of the neck heel and turn it until the neck reaches the desired height - that's it. I was easily able to set the D'esque up with a super low string action that facilitated fast lead runs and quick chord changes. Alternately, with just a few more turns in the opposite direction, I was able to drop the neck back down to obtain a higher string height that was ideal for playing slide. Amazing! This neck system is incredibly stable and the adjustments had no effect on either the tuning or the scale length.

Another benefit of this system is that since the neck is not attached to the soundboard, it is able to resonate more freely than on conventionally constructed acoustics. This design also allowed Babicz to make the neck contour thinner with a zero taper. Because there was no need to employ a radius taper to add strength at the neck joint, the Babicz neck has an even radius throughout, translating into one of the smoothest and easiest-to-play acoustics I've ever come across - feeling almost like an electric. Access to the top frets is uncompromised; in fact, it's as easy to play above the 12th fret as it is to play on the first fret.

I definitely enjoyed the size and shape of the D'esque, offering a big enough shape to provide a full, round-bottomed sound while still being very comfortable to play. The top, back and sides of the D'esque are all made of Hawaiian koa; even the front and back of the headstock features koa veneers. The grain pattern is absolutely beautiful and the finish is top-notch throughout. The neck is made from a solid piece of Honduran mahogany with a gorgeous ebony fingerboard. The tuning machine knobs, bridge/string guide and binding are all ebony, providing a very classy touch, worthy of the koa it adorns. However, for all of its beauty the D'esque is not overly ornate, instead using Paua abalone in dot shapes on the neck, brass dots for the side markers and mother of pearl for the Babicz logo - that's it!
Soundboard & Bridge
One of the most identifiable features of a Babicz is the location of the string anchors, which are splayed across the back of the soundboard near the perimeter of the guitar, contributing to the instrument's distinctive look. Their placement is once more a case of form following function in that they hold the strings to the soundboard and not the bridge, allowing the soundboard to resonate more freely and produce more volume with greater projection, resulting in a more focused sound.

Since the string tension normally focused on the center of the soundboard is distributed more evenly along the edge of the guitar, traditional X-bracing, which can limit the soundboard's vibration, is no longer necessary. The D'esque employs hand-tuned, antique Adirondack spruce braces in an "A" type pattern.

Another innovative component of the Babicz is the Split Bridge setup, which combines a beautiful ebony bridge and companion string retainer. With this design, the bridge and the string retainer work in conjunction to create a more direct, downward string force on the bridge. By design, normal acoustic bridges cause more rotational force on the bridge and can limit soundboard movement. With the Babicz system, these limitations are sidestepped.

The bridge is anchored to the soundboard via three small hex screws that are attached in a way that affords enough movement of the bridge angle to fine-tune intonation. Again, the player is able to tweak the feel and playability of this instrument without getting major work done by a professional. It is amazing how easy it is to dial in your dream acoustic guitar setup on this guitar.
Pickup System
The D'esque features a Fishman Ellipse Aura, which is a "blend" type system that allows the user to combine a straight piezo signal with a signal that has been processed with digital microphone imaging technology. These images are based on famous, world-class microphones and produce remarkably realistic guitar tones. The Ellipse Aura allows you to access up to four onboard mic models, but you can go to the Aura Gallery at fishman.com and download other mic models to your guitar, via the mini-USB connector on the pickup system. I would have liked to be able to have more than four mic models available on the guitar at one time, but by blending in the straight piezo signal, guitarists will still be able to dial in a wide variety of tones. The Ellipse Aura also features a built-in feedback eliminator, phase switch and low frequency boost switch, allowing players to even further tailor their tone.

The shape of the control surface itself is a semi-circle that was designed to be installed in the soundhole of a conventional acoustic by attaching directly to the soundboard. At this point of the review, you've probably realized that Jeff Babicz is no fan of attaching things to the soundboard. Instead, he chose to mount the system just inside the secondary sound hole. This took a little getting used to and was perhaps not the most elegant solution, but once I played it for a while, it felt perfectly natural and making adjustments on the fly was not a problem at all.

The best thing about this pickup system is that it delivers microphone-quality tones without having an open condenser microphone in the guitar. Because of this, the level of gain achievable before feedback is very, very high, making the guitar perfect for live settings, regardless of stage volume. The only thing I had difficulty with was the lack of any EQ control outside of the low frequency boost switch.

The Final Mojo
The D'esque is an amazing instrument, offering an unparalleled level of flexibility, playability and beauty that can work for any style of player. The sound of this guitar is great both acoustically and amplified, with a well defined low-end and a brilliant, bell-like tone in the mids and highs. The D'esque is a perfect guitar for recording or playing live and would make an amazing addition to anyone's collection. It might be out of the price range for some, but its performance and looks ably justify its cost. Bottom line: It sounds and feels great in addition to being beautiful. I'll take two.

-Matt Charles
Premiere Guitar Magazine
"For all of those interested in purchasing a Babicz "Signature Series" guitar:

I played the guitar from the fifth grade into my college years. Then I suppose that life after college with jobs and responsibilities and the pursuance of a career meant that I truly had no time to play guitar. Over the years to be honest I eventually lost interest.
I am now looking strait into the jaws of 50 . My life is calmer now and I realized that I missed playing the guitar.

The Internet seemed to be my best avenue for research and I began my quest for the right guitar. Looking first at what was familiar to me I went to the Martin, Gibson and Taylor web sights. All of them beautiful well made guitars with impeccable reputations but nothing that really stood out to me. One of the sites, I forget which one, referenced to the Mandolin Bros. web site. The "Center of the Acoustic Universe" in Statin Island, NY. This site has about a billion guitars but the one that really caught my eye was a Babicz " Signature Series" six string. It was one of the most beautiful instruments that I had ever seen and the reviews from people who review high-end guitars for a living were unbelievable. Every review I read gushed more than the one before it. There was a phone number on the bottom of the Babicz web site and I decided to call it. I left a message.

“The guitar that I ended up receiving from Jeff is the most beautiful most perfect sounding instrument that I have ever seen or heard.”

Now by this time Jeff Babicz had become this mythical God of Guitars in my mind so when the phone rang the next morning with a New York area code I expected it to be one of Mr. Babicz staff politely returning my call. When I answered the voice on the other end said "Hello Jerry, Jeff Babicz, what can I do for you". He returns his own phone calls.

Over the following few weeks we talked several times conceptualizing what my guitar would look like and what features it would possess. The guitar began as a maple bodied standard shaped guitar with a Sitka spruce top that along the way morphed itself into a koa bodied cutaway with a side sound port and a Sitka spruce top. Then, after watching Jeff Lynn of ELO perform in concert on DVD the idea for the ultimate change to the guitar was born.

I e-mailed Jeff (Babicz not Lynn) the next morning with the idea of making the top out of koa. He e-mailed me back stating that he had never built a top out of koa before but the idea of it had always intrigued him as one of his favorite guitar players, Blind Blake was believed to play an all koa guitar. Jeff was a little concerned as to the tonal integrity of a koa top. He consulted with other luthiers including Bob Taylor of Taylor Guitars and a plan was derived.

The guitar that I ended up receiving from Jeff is the most beautiful most perfect sounding instrument that I have ever seen or heard. It is perfectly balanced throughout the entire register with deep bass and perfect clarity through each string. There is no dropout whatsoever and the sustain is like a grand piano. I now own an all koa bodied guitar made of matching flitches of koa. The front and the back of the guitar are mirror images of each other and the craftsmanship and attention to detail are amazing. Jeff designed a custom rosette of ebony and abalone that is stunning. The all mahogany one-piece neck feels perfect in your hand. The ebony binding and tuning pegs, the koa veneer on the back of the headstock, the abalone fret markers and mother of pearl top dots even his signature in mother of pearl and his initials in abalone on the head stock are works of art.

Beyond being a truly stunning instrument to see and hear it is also a technological marvel. Jeff Babicz' patented "Lateral Compression Soundboard", "Torque Reducing Split Bridge" and "Continually Adjustable Neck" are all genius. I won't even begin to explain them because they are much more effectively on Jeff's web site but they put Babicz Guitars light years ahead of all other acoustic guitars. In my guitar Jeff installed a Fishman "Elips Aura" electronics package accessible through the side sound port. When you are playing the guitar as a purely acoustic the electronics are completely visually undetectable but when you plug it in to an acoustic amp. WOW!

My Babicz "Signature Series" experience was fantastic from start to finish. Jeff is an artist of the highest degree, a true musical visionary and a heck of a nice guy as well. I could not be happier with the end product and hope to one day have Jeff build me another one".

Thank you very much Jeff,
With great respect,

-Jerry T. Nagler Jr
USA
The review of the very first Babicz Signature Series guitar, sold by Stan Jay of Mandolin Bros, Staten Island, New York:

"Personally handcrafted by luthier Jeff Babicz (pronounced Babbits) of Newburgh, NY, who is limiting production of his hand-mades to no more than 6 to 12 of these premium models. How premium? Well, it has highly figured Brazilian for the back and sides as well as the headstock front and back plate, gold plated hardware including Schaller tuners, and Mah-Stah Grade Engelmann spruce for the top. The tone of this guitar is unequaled in its Sonic Purity and features the Patented "icZ" technology, a proprietary method that allows his guitars to send players, pluckers and pickers into orbit without any expensive chicken lunches with the Governor. Before we get into the extraordinary tone, there are plenty of features to discuss.

The pretties include a master-grade mahogany neck topped with an ebony fretboard, bound in tortois(oid) and a border that's purfled in gold, a inlaid Abalone rosette surrounds the soundhole, a mother-of-pearl inlaid "Babicz" logo as well as top and side dots. The torque-reducing split bridge and retainer are made of ebony in a way that allows for lifelong intonation adjustments. These components are secured to the sounding board with a unique fastener design, which can be easily repositioned, while the saddle height never needs to be adjusted. The result is permanently enhanced tone and volume. Now let's talk about that Master Mahogany neck, built "by a musician for musicians." A key is provided for the back of the neck (you'll see where - there's a little gold plate) that allows you to adjust the action height from an as-low-as-you-can-go-electric feel, to a high in the sky slide without ever altering the scale length or the pitch - it stays in tune! Within the cavity, you can see the set screws that apply pressure to the internal mechanics of the patented neck lifting device.

But even with all these technical coolnesses, the first thing you'll notice is the string anchors. Spread across the bottom of the board like a bevy of bananas, lateral compression is created across the soundboard, increasing the strength inherent in the design, while allowing for a more delicate internal bracing - the result of this is increased vibration of the top, you know, a sonic poem! Oh, and did we mention the sliding-drop shaped matte-clear pickguard? Ah ha. I thought we had. You can have all of this - custom feel, constant balance, cool tone and the sonic poem!" (SOLD!)

-Stan Jay
Mandolin Bros. Ltd.
"The features are amazing, especially the vertically adjustable neck. You put an Alan wrench (included) in the neck heal and adjust action on the fly. If you play lightly, lower the action yourself. If the next song you bang away with fingerpicks or a flat-pick, raise the action. Slide on the next song? Raise the action a bit more. Raise or lower when you change string gauge. Get the words "neck reset" out of your vocabulary. Of course there is also an adjustable truss rod - mine is a double. But now I can change action as often as I change a capo if I want, without affecting intonation.

The guitar looks funny. The strings don't connect at the bridge. The bridge is split into two sections, and the strings fan out like bicycle spokes and connect to anchors along the bottom of the guitar top. This has a big effect on the sound described below. The vertically adjustable neck, torque reducing split bridge, and string anchors are collective called the "icZ" system.

Yet another bridge feature is you can adjust intonation if ever necessary. The upper section of the bridge can be loosened and slid up or down on a track and re-tightened without glue.

Woods, body style and other details are negotiable with the builder. Features specific to my guitar: Small jumbo (16" lower bout) cutaway. Master grade big leaf maple back and sides, Cocobolo binding, master grade Engelmann spruce top, ebony fretboard, Gotoh contour tuners, 25.5 scale, medium jumbo frets. No pickup. Hard-shell TKL case included, and an Alan wrench.

BIG SOUND! The top vibrates much than on most guitars. Babicz explained using a drum analogy. Imagine putting a bridge in the center of a drum head, then putting strings in the bridge pulling up. How flexible would the drum head then be? Similarly with a guitar top, the bridge is right where the top vibrates most. The split bridge and string anchors (and different bracing to accommodate) work together to allow the top to vibrate MUCH more. You even feel it in the back of the guitar.

My specific guitar has the right combination of sweetness and loudness for my tastes - surprisingly because I'm not usually wild about maple. I liked this tone even more than a Brazilian Rosewood model he built (and I liked that too). I play mostly fingerstyle without picks, and I can play this lightly and still get a nice big sound. What attracted me to the guitar though, is I'm learning a lot of Rev. Gary Davis fingerpicking, and learning to use fingerpicks. When I play this guitar loud, it doesn't break up, it sounds better.

I've been playing fingerstyle acoustic guitar for 27 years. I've had a 20th anniversary Taylor XX-RS nearly 10 years now. I never though I'd like anything significantly more. Though I still love the Taylor, Jeff Babicz Signature #3 is now my main guitar. (In fact more than once I've absent mindedly thought to raise the Taylor action, then realized there is no place in neck heal to do that. This feature alone really should be standard on all guitars!)".

-Pat Daley
USA
Frets Magazine Review: Babicz Identity Jumbo Rosewood Cutaway and Signature D’esque Acoustics

When I first started playing guitar, I always wanted something different. I didn’t want to play the same guitars that everybody else played. I guess on some level I knew then that having an identity on the guitar was one of the trickiest things to come by, and a unique instrument would get me one step closer. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that the reason so many players choose the same instruments is because those instruments are awesome, and I’ve added a few tried and true classics to my collection. But I never completely lost that desire to play something unique. That’s part of the reason I wanted to check out the Babicz line of acoustics. I was intrigued by the way the strings splayed out over the guitar’s top, creating a look that was reminiscent of bike spokes or bridge cables. And although that may be the most noticeable feature of these instruments, it’s clear that Babicz has a lot of unique ideas going on.
Babicz Jumbo Rosewood Cutaway
The Jumbo Rosewood Cutaway ($1,895 retail as tested with L.R. Baggs iMix system/$1,515 street) is part of Babicz’s Identity Series of handcrafted acoustics built in Indonesia. Aside from the obvious visual component of the Jumbo Cutaway—the array of strings anchored around the guitar’s lower bout—there are plenty of other cool cosmetic features. The solid spruce soundboard looks sweet. The gloss-finished solid rosewood back and sides are beautifully rich, as is the use of rosewood for the headstock overlay, bridge, and string retainer. The black tuning machines and string anchors bring a rock-and-roll toughness to the Jumbo Cutaway.

Structurally, there is a lot going on with this guitar. Let’s look first at the way the it’s strung. Rather than a standard bridge, Babicz guitars employ an “Adjustable Torque Reducing Split Bridge.” The design is meant to address what Jeff Babicz sees as drawbacks to traditional designs. Basically, the strings don’t terminate at the bridge, which is what causes the bellying effect on acoustic tops. Instead, the strings pass over the bridge, through the string retainer (which in turn puts downward pressure on the bridge), and on to the string anchors on the lower bout. Attaching the strings to the top not only looks bitchin’, it also spreads out the string pull to the entire soundboard—not just the center, which is actually the weakest part of the top. This method also allows Babicz to employ much lighter bracing—bracing that can be designed for sonic, rather than structural, considerations. This results in a soundboard that can move more freely for better tonal balance and truer bass response.

If that’s not forward-thinking enough for you, there’s the Continually Adjustable Neck. Anyone who has tried to adjust the action on an acoustic knows that it can be a risky, invasive procedure. Lowering the saddle changes the tone and resetting the neck can only be done by a skilled pro. What Babicz has done is to give players the ability to change their action on the fly with an ordinary Allen wrench. Not to be confused with the trussrod adjustment (which these guitars also feature), using this Allen wrench at the neck heel moves the neck up and down in relation to the strings. There is no change in neck angle and thus no real change in pitch. It really works. In a matter of seconds, I took the Jumbo Cutaway from a robust strummer to a low-action flatpicking shred machine. I took the action so low that it buzzed and then cranked it up high enough to play slide. It’s really amazing and the handy clamp to hold the Allen wrench on the back of the headstock takes me back to my Floyd Rose days—yeah!

“In a matter of seconds I took the Jumbo Cutaway from a robust strummer to a low-action flatpicking shred machine. It’s really amazing.”

So enough about all the high-tech stuff—how does this guitar sound? In a word, great. The Jumbo Cutaway has a full, clear voice with excellent balance. It has a present, articulate sound with uncommon clarity from string to string. Maybe because of the neck design or the string arrangement, this guitar has incredible sustain, particularly in the upper register. On the Babicz website, he talks about avoiding the “dreaded fretboard ‘dropoff’” past the neck/body joint and that problem certainly seems to be solved here.

The Jumbo Cutaway sports the L.R. Baggs iMix pickup/preamp system, making it a great gigging guitar. In fact, when you plug in, the adjustable neck becomes an even cooler feature. I found that a lower action, when played with a light touch, made for a great amplified acoustic tone that was easy on the hands. But whether you play it as a straight acoustic or plug it in, this guitar rocks. Very cool.
Babicz Signature D’esque
The D’esque ($12,000 direct) represents Babicz’s high-end Signature Series and they do a great job of presenting this beautiful instrument in the most flattering light. First you have the bomb-proof hardshell case that appears to be covered in faux rhino skin. Open it up and there’s gorgeous purple velvet on the inside that would have made a great coffin for Elvis when he (allegedly) died. There’s a temperature/hygrometer gauge inside to ensure that the D’esque is comfy.

The body shape is similar to a dreadnought (which explains the name, as in “dreadnought-esque”) but with a narrower waist, smaller upper bout, and a rounded lower bout. Visually speaking, this guitar is simply stunning. Everything about it is top-notch, from the German spruce top (with a nitrocellulose, high-gloss lacquer finish) to the figured Brazilian rosewood back, sides, and headstock veneer to the one-piece Honduran mahogany neck, this is one of the sweetest looking acoustics I’ve ever seen. The tortoiseshell binding is luscious and the abalone inlay is very classy. The gold Grover locking tuners (with ebony buttons) reinforce the notion that this is a serious, high-end instrument.

The D’esque is sonically beautiful as well. It’s loud and full and has a very present quality, helped out by the awesome side port that serves as your own personal monitor. Compared to the Identity, I hear more highs, more lows, and more volume out of the D’esque. It’s inspiring to play, with a clear, distinct voice that works great for fingerpicking or strumming. A term some testers used was “modern” to describe the D’esque’s timbres, and that seems fitting. Certain passages have a clarity on this guitar that I had a hard time matching on other acoustics—almost like a 6-string high-definition TV.

"Certain passages have a clarity on this guitar that I had a hard time matching on other acoustics—almost like a 6-string high-definition TV. "

I once again had a blast raising and lowering the neck on the D’esque and I discovered another cool thing: Babicz’s Continually Adjustable Neck System makes it much easier to use more extreme tunings, both above and below standard pitch. For instance, dropping most acoustics down to DADGAD or below (say, to open C) typically necessitates using heavier strings to avoid the rattling and buzzing caused by the decreased string tension. Not with this guitar. I took out the trusty Allen wrench and simply raised the D’esque’s action until the rattles went away. It took about five seconds. Conversely, I found that higher tunings, such as open e and eBeABe (DADGAD up a full step)—unadvisable if not impossible on most acoustics—were actually manageable on the D’esque because I could lower the action.

Unless you’ve tried a D’esque, it’s fair to say that you’ve never played anything like this. It’s not cheap, but it is in line with many handcrafted, top-of-the-line acoustics. This guitar would be perfect for players—admittedly well-heeled players—who don’t want what an old-school acoustic offers. Or, more likely, the D’esque will appeal to players who already have some benchmark acoustics in their collection and want to add a future classic.

-Matt Blackett
Frets Magazine