(This review first published in ‘Guitarist’ Magazine) Sept 2000
With the initial guidance of top British maker Andy Manson, Brook is turning into a major force in its own right.
Vintage Inspiration The parlour size Creedy is based on a 1920’s Washburn, so is technically more of a reproduction doubling as a showpiece. It is impeccable inside and out – including every inch of the precise kerfed linings and bracing. For such a little guitar the top’s bracing is a relatively complex X-based array with quite a few little ‘finger’ braces positioned to ensure the appropriate voicing.
As well as the usual bridge plate, there’s a hexagonal soundhole plate and a lateral pad across the upper bout to lend crucial rigidity in high-stress regions. The soundboard is beautifully feathery, enhanced by its clean-edged purfling and rosette. All body binding is in classy rosewood.
The one-piece neck is dovetail jointed to the body and has a rosewood headstock veneer and heel cap. Beautifully presented, the gleaming fingerboard and its frets look thoroughly enticing. The perfectly seated nut is also shaped and buffed to avoid sharp corners.
Classical style, open geared tuners are always a little stiffer than enclosed ones, but these Schallers seem precise and don’t bind when turned. The edges and corners of this trademark ‘bat wing’ bridge are thoughtfully softened, and its compensated saddle is expertly snug. Also, pearl-dotted rosewood bridge pins, instead of the more usual ebony or plastic, add a subtle finishing touch.
If you scrutinise for random human errors you will find them, IF you look very hard, but the personal touch that genuine hand-crafting lends to a guitar leaves computer-controlled construction models seeming sterile in comparison.
The neck is a pretty shallow C-Profile with ‘soft-V’ tendencies, sloping relatively steeply away from the fingerboard edges to create sharper sides than a simple ‘C’… it all but dissolves in your grip. It’s never cramped and makes for fine fingerpicking.
The lustrous surfaces and smooth-bevelled edges of both the frets and the fingerboard ensure unfettered manoeuvering. Small is beautiful …The Creedy is beautifully full-sounding in the upper mid and treble registers, lending more sustain and thick, syrupy sweetness to the unwound strings than any acoustic I’ve heard. This, combined with a tight articulating constraint on the lower mids and bass results in a superb balance of throaty warmth and clarity with surprising volume and projection.
Being at one end of an extreme, this is, of course, a real fingerpicker’s dream, lending a distinctly sprightly quality to everything. For lead, using a pick, it’s like the acoustic equivalent of a Tele – there’s a lovely bite to the wound strings and the sustaining high notes really sing out. You’ll get a lot less from the USA at this price, both build-wise and tone-wise… the Creedy is as good as any high-end hand-built acoustic can be – short of Brook becoming a listed charity. The Creedy is a typical example of such top-notch craftsmanship, produced with the customer, not profit, always at the top of the list. As a loving recreation of a vintage model it evokes the spirit of a more benign era, as does its makers’ ever rarer ‘old school’ attitude towards good, honest enterprise.
“Prepare to coo over this super-cute British-made parlour guitar.”
Review by Jerry Uwins (Guitar Magazine July 2001)
The inspiration for this guitar comes from a 1920s Brazilian rosewood Washburn parlour owned by British guitar maker Kevin Aram. The essence of that vintage instrument – its beautifully proportioned near 12.5″ wide body profile – is retained in the the Brook., but beyond that the makers apply their own treatment… as we’re about to see…
The Creedy is dimensionally close to the original, though from memory Brook’s Andy Petherick and Simon Smidmore reckon their 91mm deep body is slightly shallower than the Washburn and has more of a taper along the back from base-block to neck-block. This sample, destined for Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, also has, at her request, a shorter scale length – 614mm (24.17″) instead of the normal 623mm (24.65″) that Brook would normally use for this size of guitar.
The body has a solid spruce top, an ebony bridge and bookmatched back and sides of Indian rosewood. The bindings are coachlined walnut, with the front binding purfled in a chevroned ‘oblique herringbone’ – standard decoration on all Brook 010-trim instruments.
A wider version with additional plies is used for the soundhole rosette… and jolly nice it looks. The standard of finishing is immaculate…
The Creedy’s one-piece mahogany neck, joining the body at the 12th fret and topped by an ebony-veneered, traditional Spanish-style headstock, feels typically Brook-like – quite shallow in depth, with the merest hint of a V along the crown.
The width at the nut, 45mm, is a touch broader than normal, providing that extra degree of airiness in feel and string spacing for picking work, but not taking things so far as to alienate the general player.
The heel is compact in size and scooped quite close to the body, contributing to a surprisingly good reach beyond the octave. Unless they’re building specifically for slide use then Brook like to keep their actions as slinky as possible, and this one is a beauty, aided by a slick-feeling, moderately cambered ebony fingerboard with highly polished fretting.
One concession to the unusually short scale has been to beef up the string tension by fitting a set of .013-.056s since the normally fitted .012-.052s proved a little slappy on the low A and E. The strings Brook favour these days are Elixirs.
The sonic abilities of modern day parlours rarely cease to amaze me, and brook have really turned a trick with the Creedy. Despite the modestly proportioned chamber the sound has an immediacy and fullness that wouldn’t disgrace an auditorium instrument, and the amount of low-end presence and resonance is surprisingly good, although it’s understandably pretty tightly focused. In a sense, the sound is quite ‘un-parlour-like’. There’s an element of lyrical warmth and sweetness running through the tone, where one might otherwise hear midrange brashness, while the high end has the necessary brightness without seeming the slightest bit thin or harsh.
This nicely poised encapsulation in semi-miniature of a big-guitar-like timbre may not have the earthiness that ragtime exponents look for but it will surely be applauded by those seeking multi-style versatility from a compact instrument.
Made in UK.
Solid spruce top, Solid Indian rosewood back and sides. Mahogany neck with unbound 19-fret ebony fingerboard.
Ebony bridge, bone nut and saddle.
Slot headstock with Spanish-style tuners, bottom strap button.
Options: Choice of body woods, eg cedar top and walnut, santos rosewood or yew back/sides.
Deluxe 015 trim (£1820) adds koa, flame maple or padouk and includes abalone inlaid soundhole and top purfling.
Also try the 630mm scale O-size Yeo or OO-size Torridge at similar prices.
Custom options available throughout the range.
All prices include Hiscox case.
Left hander: no extra cost
Finish: gloss natural
Scale length 614mm
Width of neck
At nut 45mm
At 9th fret 52.5mm
Depth of neck
At 1st fret 20.5mm
At 9th fret 22mm
At nut 38.5mm
At bridge 55.5mm
Action as supplied
At 12th fret treb 1.7mm
At 12 fret bass 1.8mm
Fretboard radius (approx) 13″
Max body depth 91mm
Max body width 31.6mm