“Handmade, but not as pricey as you might think.”
“A cool, spruce-topped picker from the West Country, built partly from an unlucky walnut tree that didn’t survive the hurricane of 1987.”
by Seamus Brady (Guitarist Magazine Nov1998)
This Tavy model is made from a stunningly figured piece of English Walnut, cut from a tree that blew down in the local Creedy Park during the violent storms (of 1987). As a small workshop, Brook Guitars sells its instruments both through dealers and direct to the public and is prepared to accommodate custom requests.
Build Quality …
The top of the Tavy is a beautifully figured piece of book-matched sitka spruce with a lovely tight grain and fine feathering from edge to edge. Within the dark rosewood and contrasting maple binding is a band of fine herringbone purfling running around the top’s perimeter. Using this fine herringbone… adds to the organic flow of the Tavy’s natural curves. The rosette, again is a simple herringbone band with thin lines of contrasting wooden purflings.
A bevelled, teardrop-style black pickguard protects enough of the table for a fingerstyle guitarist and suggests that this model’s primary use is indeed for this type of work. Brook uses multiple coats of acid catalyst lacquer to build up an impressive glass-like finish and there’s very little pitting or sinking, despite its apparent thinness.
he Tavy’s back and sides look wonderful with their rich hues of brown and honey and subtle flaming… indicative of the high quality of English Walnut in the nation’s public gardens. Andy Manson’s influence is clearly observable in the neck design: there’s a precise, chiselled look to the heel and a comfortable and shapely volute, reinforcing the headstock’s weakest point. Internally the build quality is superb. The lining is clean and neat with large kerfed sections, while the mahogany back braces are perfectly formed and positioned.
Indeed, the fact that this guitar is hand-built isn’t lost on you for a minute; the overall impression is one of completeness and harmony with all the features sitting together to create a strong and shapely identity.
There’s a fair amount of wood on the neck here which tends to support your hand and… works really well. With the increased use of low profile necks among today’s manufacturers, it’s pleasant to see a small builder retaining neck mass and maximising a guitar’s playability through subtle shaping. The end product is an instrument with a very personal and intimate feel. At 650mm this is hardly a short-scale guitar…
When you first pick it up, you assume that, because of its proportions, the Tavy is a pure fingerstyle guitar, but after playing it for a few minutes it starts to dawn on you that the Tavy is far from one-dimensional – it’s a great strummer and a light flat-picker too.
Overall, the Tavy has a tight clean sound, excellently suited to fingerpicking and light strumming. There’s loads of sustain and there also seems to be a lot going on harmonically further down its tonal range; the bottom end has real definition, without being overly clinical. So many guitar builders seem to lose the edge to the sound when they use walnut but this really isn’t the case at Brook Guitars.
Value for Money
The prospect of buying an entirely handcrafted guitar for the price of a factory built instrument is enticing and the Tavy scores very highly in a number of areas. The figured back and sides of this guitar are as good a piece of timber as you’re likely to see and certainly do the job, sonically speaking.
Quite simply, the Tavy is more than the sum of its parts because of the way it’s put together. This is premium quality lutherie at a reasonable price and, as such, will definitely appeal to a lot of players. Brook Guitars certainly have a lot to offer and their ‘small builder’ approach is pleasantly refreshing.
‘Guitarist’ says: top British lutherie at a reasonable price. Now a custom-built acoustic doesn’t seem so far away, does it?