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Adam Black Route 61 CE review

If you’re at a crossroad, this affordable cutaway-electro could help make your deal

(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

Our Verdict

An affordable union of old-school aesthetics and contemporary feel and performance, the Route 61 is a versatile option for open-mic nights and pounding chords in the company of your band.

For

  • An affordable contender for live use.
  • Fishman Presys II performs well.
  • ... And it has an onboard tuner.
  • Mississippi Mud Burst is a cool finish.

Against

  • Factory setup is a bit cumbersome.
  • Difficult to find in some territories.

Pick the right guitar and you’re not just buying an instrument; you’re securing yourself a writing partner, performance weapon and trusty musical companion. This is especially true of an acoustic, where the body size, shape, sound and spec all make up the ingredients of your familiar sidekick. 

Adam Black’s Route 61 is certainly full of said character, particularly in a market brimming with plain-looking spruce/mahogany combos. 

First off is the Mississippi Mud Burst finish, which, along with the name, conjures images of sold souls and Delta blues. Underneath the paint job is a solid spruce top, and the fingerboard is fettled out of purpleheart – a wood that is more commonly found on the sides of acoustic guitars rather than on the fingerboard. 

Elsewhere, it’s fitted with a Fishman Presys II preamp and under-saddle piezo and black chrome tuners. 

Its heartland is onstage or in the rehearsal room rather than the sofa

The Route 61 is an orchestral size, and comes as a non-cutaway acoustic or the cutaway electro version we have here. At 110mm deep, it’s a little shallower than a regular dreadnought shape, but the added width of the body means that it’s still a sizeable guitar to play when you’re sat down.

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Our review model’s action comes set a bit on the higher side, which means there’s some fight in the guitar when fretting. However, both the size and action of the Route 61 add up when you start to attack the guitar a bit harder. 

It’s not really the modern, sparkly tone that is on offer from so many strummers these days – more of a bass and mid-heavy punch

While politely strummed chords are perfectly fine, if you’re aiming to exchange your immortal spirit with Lucifer himself you’re going to want to make sure he can hear you first, and projection is this guitar’s stock-in-trade. Hit it hard with your right hand and you’ll be rewarded with the full resonance of the body, increased low end and, of course, a lot more volume.

It’s not really the modern, sparkly tone that is on offer from so many strummers these days – more of a bass and mid-heavy punch that will cut through when used in a band context.

After plugging into our interface and recording the guitar flat, we were surprised at how natural the response from the on-board electronics is. The tonal balance faithfully mirrors the acoustic sound, and while we were expecting some of that dreaded piezo quack, it was kept to a minimum.

The Route 61 CE isn’t going to be for everyone: its heartland is onstage or in the rehearsal room rather than the sofa. But as a performance guitar with very little fuss, it does an affordable, solid job

Spec

  • PRICE: £349
  • TOP: Solid spruce
  • BACK & SIDES: Laminate mahogany
  • NECK: 3-piece mahogany
  • SCALE LENGTH: 25.5”
  • FINGERBOARD: Purpleheart
  • FRETS: 20
  • ELECTRONICS: Fishman Presys II and under-saddle piezo
  • HARDWARE: Black chrome
  • LEFT-HANDED: No
  • FINISH: Missisippi Mud Burst
  • CONTACT: Rosetti