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Avalon L32 Acoustic Guitar Review

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Avalon L32 Acoustic Guitar Review

This review was submitted by Guitar Jar contributor: Rick Jones

I’ve owned this Avalon L32 for approximately a year now, bought directly from the Avalon workshops in Newtonards, Northern Ireland, via the company website www.avalonguitars.com and the online shop/ex demo models.

…I am very happy with this guitar, not just as a honeymoon owner, but as a working musician and someone who needs a well built, reliable and good sounding instrument to earn his living…

Avalon L32 Acoustic GuitarI’m a professional guitar player and make my living with a combination of ‘artist’ gigs, where I play largely my own material, cover gigs where the set is entirely covers of other peoples material, background music in restaurants and hotels and recording library music etc.

I decided to get an Avalon, as my current ‘working’ acoustic guitar sounded very good for stage use, through its pickup system and EQ, but was somewhat lacking for unplugged and recording work, which was starting to creep more and more into my promotion routine (radio shows unplugged etc.)

I had previously played the dreadnaught model and had very good experiences with Lowden guitars, which were built in the Avalon factory, by the same craftsmen, as the workshop was previously the Lowden workshop. I had also owned a Japanese Lowden, which was an incredible guitar and shared design heritage, so with these factors in mind, and also after some email discussion with the manager of the workshops, I felt safe in ordering the L32 unplayed, direct from the manufacturer.

Features:

The guitar arrived very well packed and in perfect condition, despite me living on an Island with a notoriously rough ‘island wide courier’. A quick tune up when I got it home made me smile immediately, as the resonance and volume were obvious and far in excess of my ‘stage guitar’ that I was using for everything at the time.

The build is second to none, with the six piece neck lamination and headstock carve/volute being exquisite to look at, as well as obviously strong and stable. The spruce top has lots of nice cross-silking and a nice tight grain, and the rosewood back and sides are very nicely finished in a soft glowing satin lacquer that is a million miles away from the plastic-y poly finishes on a lot of lesser guitars.

A look inside shows very nicely executed bracing and kerfing, with no glue spread or splintered pieces and the strap button at the neck, the clear scratch guard and the tapered ream at the tail-block for my pickup jack plug (all added at my request, for no extra charge) are all done perfectly.

Ease of use:

Fretwork is again flawless and there’s a nice ‘rolled’ feeling to the edges of the unbound fretboard. The tuners are Gotoh, which are easy to use and very well made and the nut and saddle are ox bone, very nicely cut, although the 26 gauge ‘g’ I use tends to bind slightly in the standard nut slot.

It fits me very well, but as a large, round jumbo body, some people may find it a handful, and the smaller bodied ‘A’ model may be more comfortable. I like a big guitar, being a fairly large fellow.

The neck is a very nice shallow ‘c’ type, with a very smooth lacquer finish that has so far shown no tendency to become sticky or uncomfortable with sweaty hands and hours of use. I very much like the 45mm nut width, it being between the common 11/32 and 1-3/4 sizes.

Sound Quality:

The sound of this L32 is incredible; after a year it has developed a nice round sound with much bottom end and clarity in the trebles. It suits hard flat-picking, but it responds best to fairly aggressive bare fingers picking, having just the right amount of snap and bite to offset the roundness if played this way.

It has a very ethereal character, seeming to phase its sound into the space around you and also has an abundance of sympathetic overtones, i.e. if you stop a string and keep it muted, you tend to hear the note ringing on another string as a harmonic, and often the fifth is ringing too. This makes for a very rich, thick sound, ideal for airy, single note melodies and tunes that use the sustain to effect.

Reliability:

All the binding on the guitar is wooden and after a year of gigging it’s held up to the usual un-avoidable dings and nicks just as well as a celluloid bound guitar, which I’ll admit, surprised me.

Overall Rating:

I am very happy with this guitar, not just as a honeymoon owner, but as a working musician and someone who needs a well built, reliable and good sounding instrument to earn his living.

Avalon have very kindly included me on their “Artists” pages, but this has not influenced my review in any way, as I paid full price (although this is very reasonable direct from the maker) for my L32 and am not otherwise affiliated with the company in any other way.

You can hear my music on www.rickjonesmusic.co.uk.

This review was submitted by Guitar Jar contributor: Rick Jones

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