The New Yorker is about as mellow and fruity as it gets. Made in Japan, these instruments are produced in very low numbers – akin to a limited edition, and offer an almost unmatched quality of build. Not to be confused with the Korean-made Excel models made for D’Angelico guitars of America, these instruments are made by a small team of luthiers who clearly know their onions. The New Yorker has a full 17-inch body with a 3-inch depth and delivers a gloriously smooth, well balanced rich tone. The fine grained, solid spruce pressed top is liberally endowed with cross silking, which can just be seen through the strong colouration. Both the back and sides are of matched Flame Maple, with the whole being brought together with a multi-ply black and cream binding.

The neck is a shallow ‘C’ three piece maple and is topped by an ebony fingerboard set with 22 frets, the ends of which follow into the neck binding for that extra smooth finish. Beyond the 43mm bone nut and the ornate D’Angelico trussrod cover is the standard D’Angelico “crown” headstock and half a dozen Imperial gold plated Grover machine heads. At the tail end, the individually intonated adjustable ebony bridge, carries the strings onto the original New Yorker- engraved brass “stairstep” tailpiece – stepped for optimum string length and less tension on the lower register. The floating “house” humbucker offers a warmth and smoothness that is clearly modelled on the Kent Armstrong products, as fitted to earlier models. This is complemented by the pick guard mounted tone and volume controls, with pots that have plenty of head. Plug this baby in and you’ll be in seventh heaven, this is one of the most responsive instruments we’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. For info: www.ivormairants.co.uk

This US built, limited edition, semi-hollow, double cutaway, “f” hole guitar is a real treat (although it’s styling reminds me of the old Ks!). Without even plugging the Delia in, there is plenty of depth, resonance and sustain from the natural acoustics of the instrument. Coming with a premium flame maple top and Honduran mahogany back and sides rounded off by solid single white binding, the burst effect is dramatic and effective and is further enhanced by the gold hardware. The two First Act humbuckers deliver quite a punch and are similar in sound and response to the PAFs of the late 1950s – there’s a real warmth, but with a distinct edge, particularly in the lower register. The Delia has exceptional sustain characteristics, which come not only from its “set neck” construction, but also from the “string thru” body’ system. We liked the low profile tunamatic style bridge which allows for a comfortable playing position and also the simple placing of the two “top hat” volume and one tone control – although more head would have been welcome. The flame maple “set” neck with it’s walnut centre strip and heavy white binding is cut to a deep ‘C’ profile, which will no doubt suit the more traditional player, while the ebony fingerboard resembles a slab of black marble, split up on a shorter 25” scale, with 22 jumbo frets and faced with unique hammerhead mother of pearl inlays. String action came factory set for ‘optimum’ performance however, from a purely personal standpoint I would have lowered the action by about 1mm at the 12th fret. The simple and clean headstock is a 3+3 Pompadour and carries a set of gold Grover Rotomatics. Coming in a substantial preformed and padded flight case (now essential kit) with pressed steel clasp locks, the Delia is a class act. For more info www.arbiter.co.uk

The Total Jazz Guitarist is just one in a series of ‘how to’ books from Alfred publications. Written by Jody Fisher, a well known guitarist and music educator in Southern California, the Total Jazz Guitarist draws on Fisher’s years of experience playing in various genres and perhaps more importantly, his term of office as director of the National Guitar Workshop. Make no mistake, this is a comprehensive coverage with a well thought through clear progression of tasks and excellent diagrams. Moving from basic time measures and “essential” chords, it soon gets to grips with scale fingerings, triads, altered chords, neighbour tones etc, before Part 2 of the volume gives you the opportunity to practice what you have (hopefully!) learnt, with a learning tunes section. The whole edition is accompanied by an invaluable CD that covers each and every lesson from start to finish and shows you how it should be done - whether you like the sound of syrupy, smooth Polytone is another matter! But this is a ‘must have’ for any jazz guitarist looking to develop their overall level of musicianship and to fine tune those jazz skills. For more info please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Every so often an instrument appears that seems to tick all the right boxes, and Godin’s Montreal is just that kind of baby. The latest in a series of two-voiced guitars that marries the electric sound from the traditional Godin “humbucker” magnetic pick ups with the acoustic sound from the LR Baggs saddle transducers in the bridge. Its two-chamber body is carved from a solid block of mahogany, as is the top table with its trademark “f” holes. The 24 3/4 scale neck is also fashioned from mahogany and features Godin’s own ergocut technique, while the rosewood fretboard carries 22 medium frets. The extraordinary and extensive sound palette of the Montreal comes not only from the special 5-way switch linked to the two humbucker pick ups that produce five distinct tones of their own, but from the option to add the bridge transducers to the mix using a single patch cord, thereby creating an infinitesimal array of timbre and tone.

There seems to be a glut of Macafferri replica guitars around at the moment and some are better than others. Saga’s ‘Gitane’ series are very much of the “better” grouping, in fact , in my humble opinion – they’re the best! The range includes the original ‘D’ “grand bouche” and the later Selmer “petit bouche” models, plus a faithful copy of the unusual maple neck model and a signature Jorgensen. With select spruce tops set on either rosewood or maple laminate back and sides, with ebony or maple fingerboards and ebony bridge and body binding, these instruments look a million dollars. But the most remarkable thing is, they sound identical to the original, courtesy of the laminate bowed back (as per the original instruments) and the internal strutting.

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