Today’s assortment of acoustic guitar flavors is almost as varied and vivid as that of electric guitars—from the baritone bellow of a jumbo dreadnought to the polite parlance of a petite parlor instrument.
Prestige’s Eclipse Series falls squarely in the middle of the pack, where it adheres to the traditional ideal of an acoustic guitar as vocal accompaniment.
The latest addition to the series is the auditorium-sized Cedar/Rosewood, a stunning piece of craftsmanship that creates its high-energy response with a select cedar top and exotic tonewoods.
FEATURES Cedar is understandably gaining more favor as a respected soundboard wood, as it sounds softer and is less bright than spruce and livelier than mahogany or koa. The Cedar/Rosewood’s Canadian-grown cedar is braced with Adirondack spruce in a typical X pattern, while gorgeous rosewood creates the back and sides. A bone nut and saddle and an ebony bridge and fretboard enliven the cedar’s naturally warm presence and enhance treble (ebony is also used on the headstock’s fascia and tuners). Adding to the Eclipse’s superlative beauty are numerous, high-end adornments, including figured maple binding on the top, sides, back, fretboard and headstock; mother-of pearl logo and fretboard inlays; abalone surrounds on the top and soundhole; and striking padauk on the Venetian cutaway’s beveled edge.
The satin-finished mahogany neck is C shaped, with a slight peak in the hill, similar to many modern electrics and almost as fast. Standard electronics include an L.R. Baggs pickup connected to the customary endpin jack, although my test model came equipped with the optional Fishman Matrix Ellipse Blend pickup system. It includes a control panel seated on the inside edge of the soundhole, with a phase switch, a volume control, a pickup/mic blend control and a mic trim. The nine-volt battery pouch is also hidden inside the Eclipse, firmly affixed to the neck heel.
PERFORMANCE Midrange punch, powerful chime and dynamic brilliance are the Cedar/Rosewood Eclipse’s tonal keystones. This combination is ideal for fingerpickers who want the attack typically produced by a spruce top but also crave the midrange depth that’s so easily drawn out of cedar. At the same time, flatpickers will love how the Eclipse’s treble stays round and full, right up the neck, and how stable lows remain when the strings are really slammed. Any guitar can be loud, but the Eclipse exhibits an impressive (and, if necessary, explosive) dynamic range that doesn’t stray from musicality or accurate intonation, and its chime is percussive and bell-like. Although the L.R. Baggs system is quite reliable, there’s no denying that the Fishman Matrix Ellipse Blend better captures the Eclipse’s woody midrange voice and offers increased control over the amount of pickup and mic used in the mix.
Incidentally, if all of this sounds good to you, take note: Prestige builds only about 300 acoustic guitars each year, so get yours while you can.
LIST PRICE $1,899; add $299 for Fishman Matrix Ellipse Blend Pickup System
MANUFACTURER Prestige Guitars Ltd., prestigeguitars.com
Cheat Sheet A solid Canadian cedar top and stunning Indian rosewood sides and back produce an inspiring blend of crisp response, soft overtones and midrange warmth.
Fishman’s unobtrusive soundhole-mounted Matrix Ellipse Blend pickup system offers excellent control and honest amplification without interfering with the Eclipse’s natural beauty.
THE BOTTOM LINE Whether you’re a serious singer/songwriter, club performer or just a campfire crooner, Prestige’s extremely limited auditorium-sized Cedar/Rosewood Eclipse offers exotic appeal, expressive midrange tones and top-shelf craftsmanship for a surprisingly low price.