Bourgeois Touchstone Vintage TS OM and TS D review – all the mojo of the golden pre-war era of acoustics with a few modern twists

With tops made in Maine, USA, and bodies constructed in China by Eastman, these guitars provide access to a revered builder’s brand at a fraction of the cost

Bourgeois Touchstone Series
(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

Guitar World Verdict

These instrument are superbly crafted by both parties and offer great tones inspired by pre-war acoustics without the price you'd pay for an actual pre-war acoustic on the vintage market.

Pros

  • +

    Cannot argue with the tones.

  • +

    Fantastic build.

  • +

    Price makes it a fair deal.

Cons

  • -

    Nothing.

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Dana Bourgeois has been building guitars since the 1970s and has become something of a legend in the world of boutique lutherie. In fact, early 2023 saw Dana’s 10,000th instrument leave his workshop. He has pioneered many techniques and innovative practices into the art and it’s no surprise that instruments bearing the Bourgeois name are highly prized among players worldwide. 

As you might imagine, this kind of reputation means that acoustics that bear his mark are the upper end of the price bracket and until now his guitars have been out of reach of enthusiastic amateurs and many serious-minded semi-pros alike. Thanks to a unique turn of events that involves teaming up with the respected Eastman company, Bourgeois guitars are entering a new era whereby the new Touchstone range is far more accessible.

We’ll get to the details of this new liaison in a minute, but for now let it be said that every guitar we’ve reviewed from Eastman has turned out to be something a little bit special. The build is generally excellent on both electric and acoustic models, and sound quality is always of the highest order. To summarise, every time an Eastman guitar has found its way into our hands piggy banks have come under serious threat.

So what exactly is the plan with the new Touchstone series? Well, the collaboration here sees the tops of the guitars selected, tap-toned, braced and generally crafted at Dana’s workshop in Lewiston, Maine. 

Then the tops are packed up and sent to Eastman’s facility in China where a small team – trained by Dana – attach the tops to backs, sides, necks and so on before the complete instruments are shipped back to Lewiston where each one is set up and finessed by one of Dana’s team before being released into the wild.

Bourgeois Touchstone Series

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

In essence, this rather long-winded process means that the costs of building can be cut and savings passed onto players worldwide, who end up paying a fraction of what an all‑USA-built Bourgeois guitar would normally cost. Sounds like a good deal? It does to us as we’ve had the opportunity to audition some of Dana’s instruments in the past and can attest to the quality of build, tone and playability.

When details of the Touchstone series were announced last year, we literally couldn’t wait to get our hands on them. They took a while to find their way over to the European market – they’ve been available in the US since the middle of 2022 – but now they’ve arrived. So what have we got?

At this point, there are only two models available, an OM and a dreadnought, and that’s exactly what we have before us today. But we have heard word that the range is going to be extended with a mahogany‑backed – as opposed to the rosewood we find here – ‘Country Boy’ OM and dread, and there will be more to come in the future, too.

Bourgeois Touchstone Series

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

The spec of the two models before us is much the same. Looking at the tops first, we have old-growth Alaskan Sitka spruce, braced with Adirondack spruce. There’s an ebony bridge with a bone saddle and ivoroid bridge pins and there’s also a faux tortoiseshell pickguard under the soundhole.

You might think that if cost-cutting was a prime concern the guitar would be very plain and unadorned, but that’s not the case here as the tops are trimmed with herringbone with a black and white rosette. As you’re probably thinking, the mood here is pretty much pre-war Martin – D-28 and OM-28 – in both build and appearance.

As far as the other spec is concerned, the familiar theme continues with the back and sides made from Indian rosewood, the necks mahogany, fretboards ebony, with bone nuts that measure in at Dana’s preferred 43.65mm, Schaller GrandTune tuners and headstock facings made from ziricote.

As we’ve said, this kind of spec on both an OM and dread we’ve seen countless times before and to say it’s an almost infallible formula wouldn’t be understating the facts. But here’s where craft that has been fine‑tuned via decades of building instruments comes into play. How important is tap-toning and shaping braces? 

Well, that’s a question that we put to Dana in the interview that follows this review, but for now it’s safe to think of the top assembly of an acoustic guitar as its tonal engine room. 

With skillful administration it will produce a set of rich overtones, balanced trebles and basses with superb clarity, all notes within a chord having their individual space, as well as superior ringing sustain. Without it, you just might find yourself rudderless in a sea of meh…

Feel & Sounds

Picking up the dreadnought first we immediately have our preconceptions tested. These big old buses of the acoustic world are renowned for powerful midrange and a bass response in the XXL range but have a tendency to land in the muddy lower mids.

Dreads were never meant to be dainty and drawing-room approved; they were party animals, wild and boisterous accomplices to the solo singer-songwriter’s trade. But not here. Part of Dana Bourgeois’ brief for his instruments is balance throughout the tonal spectrum, with braces on the bass side of the soundboard specially trimmed to achieve this.

So, instead of a thunderous low-end, we find the kind of refinement usually only available at the hefty price tag end of the market. It’s almost like someone has come along and tweaked your hi-fi’s EQ and now suddenly you can hear everything in proportion without any jarring jagged edges. Make no mistake, there’s bass here aplenty, it’s just that it doesn’t upset its neighbours – the midrange and trebles.

There is volume, depth and, most importantly, great tone in this dread’s ’hood. And that’s really where the story starts with this instrument. The feel of the C-profiled neck is comfortable in the hand, the satin finish to the back making fretting both chords and single notes practically effortless. All in all, it proved to be an instrument that was very difficult to put down.

Bourgeois Touchstone Series

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Turning our attention to the OM, it’s a very similar story. With the reduced body size in both width and depth – and a favourite in these parts – it’s slightly more manageable than its larger sibling, especially when played sitting down. But that would be true of an OM to dread comparison from any stable. There’s a very similar feel to the neck and so actual playability is on par with the dread. 

From a sound point of view, OMs are known for a surprising amount of volume for their body size as well as a good amount of bass, and those boxes are well and truly ticked on the Touchstone. 

It shares that evenness of tonal response across the soundstage with its bigger brother with everything ringing clear and true, making the playing experience a very good one.

Verdict

Bourgeois Touchstone Series

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

According to the notes we’ve read on these guitars, the main aim of the Bourgeois/Eastman alliance was to produce instruments that had all the mojo of that golden pre-war era of acoustic guitars but with a few modern twists to further accentuate all of the good points we have come to revere. 

And, frankly, we think they’ve nailed it. We’ve already applauded the acoustics we’ve seen from Eastman in the past, but what Dana Bourgeois has brought to the table is very special indeed.

Bourgeois Touchstone Series

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Is the Touchstone range going to pose a challenge to Dana’s homegrown brand? No. Play one and you’ll be able to hear and feel why. 

But as an entry into the Bourgeois heritage – and note that it’s ‘Bourgeois’ on the headstock, not ‘Eastman’ – these guitars represent excellent value at a $2.9k/£2.7k price point. 

If the acoustic sounds of yore are something you’ve been questing for, these guitars are going to introduce you to a new world of tonal bliss.  

Specs

Bourgeois Touchstone Vintage/TS OM

Bourgeois Touchstone Series

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)
  • PRICE: $3,299/£2,999 (inc hard case)
  • ORIGIN: USA/China
  • TYPE: OM
  • TOP: Alaskan Sitka spruce
  • BACK/SIDES: Indian rosewood
  • MAX RIM DEPTH: 105mm
  • MAX BODY DEPTH: 384mm
  • NECK: Honduran Mahogany
  • SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5”)
  • TUNERS: Schaller GrandTune Nickel
  • NUT/WIDTH: 43.65mm
  • FINGERBOARD: Ebony
  • FRETS: 20
  • BRIDGE/SPACING: Ebony with bone saddle/52mm
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 1.95/4.3
  • OPTIONS: None
  • RANGE OPTIONS: As the dreadnought, right
  • LEFT-HANDERS: No
  • FINISH: High gloss

Bourgeois Touchstone Vintage/TS D

Bourgeois Touchstone Series

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)
  • PRICE: $3,299/£2,999 (inc hardcase)
  • ORIGIN: USA/China
  • TYPE: Dreadnought
  • TOP: Alaskan Sitka spruce
  • BACK/SIDES: Indian rosewood
  • MAX RIM DEPTH: 121mm
  • MAX BODY DEPTH: 396mm
  • NECK: Honduran Mahogany
  • SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5”)
  • TUNERS: Schaller GrandTune Nickel
  • NUT/WIDTH: 43.65mm
  • FINGERBOARD: Ebony
  • FRETS: 20
  • BRIDGE/SPACING: Ebony with bone saddle/51mm
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 1.99/4.4
  • OPTIONS: None
  • RANGE OPTIONS: Just the dreadnought and OM models so far, but keep your eyes open for the Country Boy OM and Dreadnought coming soon
  • LEFT-HANDERS: No
  • FINISH: High gloss
  • CONTACT: Bourgeois Guitars

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David Mead

With over 30 years’ experience writing for guitar magazines, including at one time occupying the role of editor for Guitarist and Guitar Techniques, David is also the best-selling author of a number of guitar books for Sanctuary Publishing, Music Sales, Mel Bay and Hal Leonard. As a player he has performed with blues sax legend Dick Heckstall-Smith, played rock ’n’ roll in Marty Wilde’s band, duetted with Martin Taylor and taken part in charity gigs backing Gary Moore, Bernie Marsden and Robbie McIntosh, among others. An avid composer of acoustic guitar instrumentals, he has released two acclaimed albums, Nocturnal and Arboretum.