What happens when a vintage guitar expert tries to recreate the past in a modern guitar? Ben Morgan-Brown goes time travelling
12-string guitars are an acquired taste but they certainly have their uses. Today they tend to be used for jangly chord playing or to produce a really full rhythm sound but it wasn’t always so. Back in the 1930s, notably in the hands of the great Blues guitarist Blind Willie McTell, the 12-string was a Blues guitar par excellence. There were a number of guitars made at the time that lent themselves to this style but a modern day player looking to explore this genre has either had to make do with a modern sounding and playing guitar (not ideal) or hope to find an affordable original still in playing condition, which is far from easy.
It’s here that Acoustic Review’s vintage expert Paul Brett comes in. As well as being a noted player in that style and a widely consulted authority on the subject, Paul also designs guitars for the UK brand Vintage. The Statesboro 12-string is one of the models he has developed and harks back to the 1930s in a deliberate attempt to bring that sort of unique guitar within the price range of a modern performer.
As Ben found out, the Statesboro does a fine job of recreating that 1930’s sound – and it looks right too, with a traditional ‘Satin Antique Burst’ finish, floating bridge and trapeze tailpiece, open backed tuners, solid spruce top, a maple back with mahogany sides, a transfer rosette – it really looks the part and it comes with a hard case included in the price, too, which is always good to see.
Our sample came with the optional Fishman Rare Earth humbucking soundhole pickup, which adds £200 to the price. It’s a good pickup, no doubt about that, but whether it adds enough to justify the price – well, watch our video and decide for yourself!
This guitar sets out to do one job – recreate a 1930’s style Blues 12-string – and if that’s the sound and style you want there really isn’t an alternative, short of buying an original, if you can find one. Time to put on your best headphones and check out this unique guitar!
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Vintage Paul Brett Statesboro 12-string electro-acoustic
UK price (acoustic only) £549. With Fishman Rare Earth pickup £739
ColourSatin Antique Burst
Body: Solid Spruce
Neck: Mahogany with Maple veneer headstock
Top Nut: Bone
Nut Width: 50mm
Machine Heads: Chrome with cream buttons
Strings: High Quality USA made
Includes: Hard Case