Faith PJE Legacy Twenty Series Mars, Earth and Neptune review

Three special instruments to celebrate 20 years of Faith acoustics. Designed by Patrick James Eggle with bespoke abalone inlays, they really are something to behold

Faith FG20RE Mars Electro, FG20HCE Earth Cutaway Electro & FG20NCE Neptune Cutaway Electro review
(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

Guitar World Verdict

With such great timbers, unique and intricate inlay work, a superb preamp system, plus design and build quality that rivals anything out there, we reckon they’d fend off most comers. So great instruments, and a fantastic Legacy, too.

Pros

  • +

    Beautifully built with stunning looks.

  • +

    Great materials and build.

  • +

    Super-clear acoustic tones.

  • +

    Professional onboard pickup/preamp system.

  • +

    The Earth is a fine acoustic fingerpicker and stage guitar.

  • +

    Neptune has dreadnought tone with the punch of an OM.

  • +

    And it plays well, too.

Cons

  • -

    Nothing unless the three-piece neck bothers you.

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

When Patrick James Eggle gave up building high-end acoustic guitars to concentrate on his fabulous electric guitars, close neighbour and longstanding UK musical instrument distributor Barnes & Mullins figured his fine range of flat-tops was just too good to consign to history. 

And so the Faith brand and also the Legacy Series were born. Based on various body sizes and styles that Patrick had devised, the Faith range was a runaway success, instantly placing the marque at the higher end of ‘affordable’ but with extra-classy looks, a great design ethic and an ‘instant’ pedigree that rivals might have killed for.

Two decades on from that meeting of minds we find a small but brilliantly reasoned range of anniversary models in the PJE Legacy Twenty Series. As with the original Legacy models, Faith has stuck to its seductive planetary theme with: the Mars, a drop-shouldered non-cutaway electro; the Earth, an OM-sized cutaway electro; and the Neptune, a baby jumbo cutaway electro. 

The three guitars feature identical timbers, plus Fishman’s top-of-the-line Matrix Blend ‘mic plus pickup and preamp’ system that includes volume, tone and Blend controls, with a backlit tuner, all accessible via discrete shoulder-mounted controls.

As for those timbers we have bookmatched select solid Indian rosewood back and sides, a torrefied Canadian Sitka spruce top, Macassar ebony fingerboard, bridge, pickguard and headstock overlay, and mahogany neck; the bindings are figured koa. Necks are three-piece, with an added-on heel piece and the headstock scarfed on. These are really the only concessions to cost, but we applaud the saving of timber that this method affords.

Faith FG20RE Mars Electro, FG20HCE Earth Cutaway Electro & FG20NCE Neptune Cutaway Electro review

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Added to this feast of natural woody goodness there’s also a healthy dose of seafood in the guise of green shell abalone hand-inlaid around the guitar’s perimeter and soundhole, and the ‘pièce de résistance’ – a fabulous ‘tree of life’ inlay designed by Faith artist Sean de Burca, with its trunk at the 12th fret, its canopy at the 11th, and its root branches at the 13th.

Cleverly, the tree’s crown is inlaid using bright green and pink abalone, while its trunk and roots are from contrasting white mother-of-pearl. It’s a massively bold statement that some may find a touch over the top, but it’s faultless in both concept and execution.

However, if even more shell is your thing then look no further than the headstock, where you’ll find the Faith logo in the aforementioned green abalone, and Eggle’s own script signature in white pearl. Now, you can’t say that’s not one sumptuous feast!

Faith FG20RE Mars Electro, FG20HCE Earth Cutaway Electro & FG20NCE Neptune Cutaway Electro review

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

With Eggle’s ever-watchful eye always ready to spot shortcomings in build, fit, finish or playability, we’re happy to report that he has nothing to worry about here. These guitars are flawlessly put together in Indonesia, their high-gloss polyurethane lacquered bodies and satin-finished necks are glitch-free, while fret laying and finishing are done to the highest standards.

The tops have darkened to differing shades due to the roasting process, and the ebony fingerboards and bridges exhibit some attractive light graining – these small attributes also mean that the guitars aren’t simply ‘cookie cutter’ jobs but do exhibit individual personalities.

The bridge saddle and nut are both of natural bone, as are the abalone-inlaid bridge pins, while the Grover Deluxe tuners feature real ebony buttons – small details but ones that count when making your choice at checkout.

Faith FG20RE Mars Electro, FG20HCE Earth Cutaway Electro & FG20NCE Neptune Cutaway Electro review

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Feel & Sounds

Anything built from wood naturally wants to shrink, expand and shift in any number of ways. But modern facilities such as those of Barnes & Mullins’ production partners in Indonesia, and the selection of properly seasoned and kiln-dried timbers, go a long way to ensuring stability in new instruments. So it is that the action on all three Twenty Series models is set all but identically, ensuring predictable playability across the range should you try one in your local dealer.

The necks themselves are an unobtrusive medium-sized C section that sit comfortably in the palm. Actions on all three are low and easy, their wide bone nuts offering plenty of chording space in the open position, with middle-of-the-neck barre chords easy to hold down. Both Earth and Neptune models feature soft cutaways, which, of course, facilitate improved access, so licks up to at least the 15th fret are perfectly viable.

Faith FG20RE Mars Electro, FG20HCE Earth Cutaway Electro & FG20NCE Neptune Cutaway Electro review

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Where each instrument might differ – and indeed what might turn your head to one particular model – is in body size (and cutaway or not, of course). The smallest OM-sized Earth is perhaps the most stage‑friendly, with its smaller, shallower body making it ideal for upright performance. The drop-shouldered dreadnought Mars on the other hand is the bulkiest, and with no cutaway your upper-fret rock licks might have to be curtailed.

That said, many players prefer the non‑cutaway dreadnought look, and if upper-fret access is rarely required then this big, bold beast might be just the ticket. That leaves the mini-jumbo Neptune, the latest design in the Legacy Series and drawn by Patrick himself. On paper, and in reality, this is the perfect compromise between the two – a great sofa noodler that’s ready to hit the stage when you are.

To sum up the three acoustically, it’s exactly what you would expect. The smallest Earth provides the least top- or bottom-end but produces a focused middle that, while it can slightly veer towards ‘boxy’ when compared with the others, is probably the obvious fingerpicker of the trio.

Faith FG20RE Mars Electro, FG20HCE Earth Cutaway Electro & FG20NCE Neptune Cutaway Electro review

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

The dreadnought Mars model handles all you can throw at it, with strong bass tones, sweet highs and a slightly scooped middle. This balance makes it the perfect strummer (try a lighter pick), but also the light mids don’t fight with a solo vocal, making it a fine singer-songwriter’s tool.

Again, that leaves the Neptune, whose dreadnought-width body kicks out bass oomph and fat trebles but with perhaps a little less scooping in the mids. Played acoustically its perfect balance means it’s probably our pick of the three.

Now, of course, these descriptions are a ‘broad brushstroke’ view, and one’s style of playing and other external factors will make you prefer one sound over the other. And with all three looking spectacular in subtly different ways, in the end it could all come down to that. So no guitar here is the loser.

Faith FG20RE Mars Electro, FG20HCE Earth Cutaway Electro & FG20NCE Neptune Cutaway Electro review

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

A quick mention of the electrics. We’ve tried Fishman’s excellent Matrix in many different guitars, and the discrete condenser mic and under-saddle piezo pickup of the Flex M-Blend as fitted to all three guitars offers a superb range of sounds. 

The ability to blend mic and under-saddle pickup gives you the choice to tailor your exact tone, from brighter for an in-the-band mix, to more broad-shouldered for solo instrumental work, and a nice mix of the two for voice accompaniment. 

A general tone sweep pot (all controls are tidily housed on the upper bout) adds to the versatility, and a simple back-lit guitar tuner completes a fine system that few pros would find wanting.

Faith FG20RE Mars Electro, FG20HCE Earth Cutaway Electro & FG20NCE Neptune Cutaway Electro review

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Verdict

When our late lamented, funny and talented writer Ed Mitchell reviewed the original Faith Legacy acoustics on which these Twenty models are based in 2018, he said: “Where the Legacy Series Earth is a fingerpicker’s delight, the Mars is more of an all-rounder with a big voice and an impressive amount of depth and clarity.” 

Regarding our Neptune (Ed only had the two) we’d simply add that its ‘baby jumbo’ body size sits bang in between the two, both physically and sonically.

It’s very difficult to fault any of these guitars. Yes, compared with the big, open-sounding drop-shouldered Mars dreadnought, the smaller OM-sized cutaway Earth sounds more constricted, but by dint of that it’s also perhaps more sonically focused, and on stage would certainly be a lot easier to throw around.

The baby jumbo Neptune provides the perfect compromise – a great sofa noodler and a guitar that wouldn’t disgrace itself down at the local open mic or under the gaze of a sold-out London Palladium.

Build-wise would we have preferred a non-scarfed headstock and one-piece heel? Of course, but then you’re adding considerably to the guitars’ price while not necessarily improving anything other than aesthetics.

Specs

Faith FG20RE PJE Legacy Mars Electro

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)
  • PRICE: £2,029 (inc case)
  • ORIGIN: Indonesia
  • TYPE: Non-cutaway drop shoulder dreadnought, electro‑acoustic
  • TOP: Torrefied Canadian Sitka spruce with PJE designed X-bracing
  • BACK/SIDES: Solid premium Indian rosewood
  • MAX RIM DEPTH: 120mm
  • MAX BODY WIDTH: 405mm
  • NECK: Mahogany with scarfed headstock and 2-piece heel
  • SCALE LENGTH: 650mm (25.6”)
  • TUNERS: Grover Deluxe with ebony buttons
  • NUT/WIDTH: Unbleached bone/45mm
  • FINGERBOARD: Macassar ebony with 406mm (16”) radius
  • FRETS: 21, medium
  • BRIDGE/SPACING: Bone/ 55mm (with bone bridge pins)
  • ELECTRICS: Fishman Matrix-T-Blend condenser mic with Matrix piezo pickup system
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 2.6/5.7
  • OPTIONS: None
  • RANGE OPTIONS: As reviewed
  • LEFT-HANDERS: No
  • FINISH: Polyurethane natural gloss lacquer back, sides and top; polyurethane satin lacquer neck

Faith FG20HCE PJE Legacy Earth Cutaway Electro

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)
  • PRICE: £2,099 (inc case)
  • ORIGIN: Indonesia
  • TYPE: Cutaway OM style electro‑acoustic
  • TOP: Torrefied Canadian Sitka spruce with PJE designed X-bracing
  • BACK/SIDES: Solid premium Indian rosewood
  • MAX RIM DEPTH: 112mm
  • MAX BODY DEPTH: 383mm
  • NECK: Mahogany with scarfed-on headstock and 2-piece heel
  • SCALE LENGTH: 650mm (25.6”)
  • TUNERS: Grover Deluxe with ebony buttons
  • NUT/WIDTH: Unbleached bone/45mm
  • FINGERBOARD: Macassar ebony with 406mm (16”) radius
  • FRETS: 21, medium
  • BRIDGE/SPACING: Bone/ 55mm (with bone bridge pins)
  • ELECTRICS: Fishman Matrix-T-Blend condenser mic with Matrix piezo pickup system
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 2.5/5.5
  • OPTIONS: None
  • RANGE OPTIONS: As reviewed
  • LEFT-HANDERS: No
  • FINISH: Polyurethane natural gloss lacquer back, sides and top; polyurethane satin lacquer neck

Faith FG20NCE PJE Legacy Neptune Electro

  • PRICE: £2,109 (inc case)
  • ORIGIN: Indonesia
  • TYPE: Cutaway, mini-jumbo, electro-acoustic
  • TOP: Torrefied Canadian Sitka spruce with PJE designed X-bracing
  • BACK/SIDES: Solid premium Indian rosewood
  • MAX RIM DEPTH: 116mm
  • MAX BODY WIDTH: 405mm
  • NECK: Mahogany with scarfed-on headstock and 2-piece heel
  • SCALE LENGTH: 650mm (25.5”)
  • TUNERS: Grover Deluxe
  • NUT/WIDTH: Bone/45mm
  • FINGERBOARD: Macassar ebony with 406.4mm (16”) radius
  • FRETS: 21, medium
  • BRIDGE/SPACING: Bone/ 55mm (with bone bridge pins)
  • ELECTRICS: Fishman Matrix-T-Blend condenser mic with Matrix piezo pickup system
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 2.45/5.5
  • OPTIONS: None
  • RANGE OPTIONS: As reviewed
  • LEFT-HANDERS: No
  • FINISH: Polyurethane natural gloss lacquer back, sides and top; polyurethane satin lacquer neck
  • CONTACT: Faith Guitars

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Neville Marten

In the late '70s and early '80s Neville worked for Selmer/Norlin as one of Gibson's UK guitar repairers, before joining CBS/Fender in the same role. He then moved to the fledgling Guitarist magazine as staff writer, rising to editor in 1986. He remained editor for 14 years before launching and editing Guitar Techniques magazine. Although now semi-retired he still works for both magazines. Neville has been a member of Marty Wilde's 'Wildcats' since 1983, and recorded his own album, The Blues Headlines, in 2019.