review was first published in ‘Guitar’
Magazine Dec 2002 page 77 By Mathew Wig)
Parlour is the new jumbo! Or so Brook Guitars would have us believe with its latest little charmer by Matthew Wig.
Continuing to expand the awareness of Devon’s rivers, acoustic, christened Clyst, becomes the 14th member of this small-scale UK workshop’s standard line up.
Like other models in the range, it started as a custom commission and ended up being officially inducted.
Size-wise , it falls between Brooks Creedy (reviewed Sep 2000) and Lyn models, and is similar to a 1920s Martin “0” size guitar except the sound hole is shifted further away from the bridge and it carries slightly different bracing.
A spick and span interior houses some slim mildly scalloped top bracing. The soundboard is typical o quality Sitka-tight, straight grain with streaky lateral figuration.
It’s perimeter/rosette purfling is standard for 010 models, resembling a feathery herringbone or possibly a chain of minature moorhen footprints. More bird references crop up on the decoratively ‘eyed’ maple back and sides too. Body binding end joint strip and heel cap are all Rosewood as standard.
The neck is traditionally dovetailed but, nowadays, bolted instead of glued.
Its finger board is one of the most immaculately finished we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing. Echoing an antiquated feature, the carved shape behind the nut harks back to Martin’s elaborate ‘dart’ headstock joint.
Despite their simplicity, the tuners are reassuringly positive. Needless to say, the nut and saddle are meticulously shaped, buffed and fitted, while the bridge too is super smooth with softened edges and corners.
Both bridge pins and end-pin buttons are ebony. decorated with pearl dots.
Brook achieves an impressively uniform yet light gloss finish, only very slightly blemished by the heel/body seams slight gunkiness.
Bound to be a fingerpickers guitar, the Clyst has a shallow ‘C’ profile neck with enough width and string spacing to feel petite and yet open.
Its slightly longer scale lend a tighter feel than we noted with the Creedy, but it’s still effortlessly pliable with these light gauge strings
The Clyst is in its element when your tinkling away on an intricate fingerpicking tune, charming you and your listeners.
Brooks lustrous presentation of frets and fingerboard, with ergonomically rounded edges, ensures unfettered manoeuvrability, although, once again we did find the mahogony’s lacquer a bit squeaky at first.
If you don’t get on with the Brooks excellent set-up , ideal neck alignment and fingerboard uniformity garantee you any action you fancy.
Although the upper fret access is unavoidably compromised on a 12-fretter, the low triangular heel and narrow shoulders here make it less cumbersome, and the accurate octave intonation makes it worthwhile.
If you’re familiar with the sound of a decent Palour-sized acoustic, you’ll know it’s not what you first expected. Far from being just bright and boxy, only the lower bass undertones are notably absent from this models output, leaving a rich focussed and poky mid-range that honks and hums in the most satisfying way, while the upper registers sweetly glisten adding presence and articulation. You’ll never hear your unwound strings sound so thick and syrupy. While it’s a sensitive instrument, taking little coaxing to chime away at surprising volume, there understandably isn’t too much head room beyond this, or very much to gain trying to bash more out of it.
The Clyst is in its element when your tinkling away on some ragtime theme, or any intricate fingerpicking tune; occasionally tempted into an edgy snarl with more forceful pluck, but mainly interested in charming the pants off you and your listeners.
If you want a traditional hand-made acoustic, a home-grown maker like Brook would be wise first call. Prices are not the lowest among UK luthiers, but quality is irrefutably top-class. And the attitude is refreshingly, mildly commercial, supplying stores like London Hanks and Ivor Morants or Brightons Acoustic Music Co.
As for the Clyst guitar itself, it seems that Parlour models are definitely gaining favour again; and we can clearly see why.