Hoffman Concert 12


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Posted by Ken Totushek on 2003-04-08 at 11:14:34

Back in the Fall of 2002 I commissioned my first guitar--a Hoffman Concert 12, EI Rosewood/Englemann w/flaming koa binding. I was psyched then, after talking to Charlie Hoffman about what I wanted and what he recommended based on my need. However, I was not going crazy at all as I already had some instruments from some of the finest builders of our day, and then discovered
Gerald Sheppard Guitars in November. It was cool though to be checking the Hoffman Guitars website during the months to keep up on the latest progress via posted pics. Then March came, and I was notified my baby was finished and would soon be arriving on my doorstep. Cool, I couldn't wait! Anyway, that was about a month ago now. I have since been playing regularly and often, getting to know my new friend. The following is just a bit about this new gem, much of it quoted from an earlier email I sent to Charlie.

AESTHETICS--the craftsmanship, woods, finish, fit...all look excellent. I like the build lightness of the guitar. It reminds me of a 1970 Martin D-18s I used to have--that guitar was a real lightweight powerhouse with beautiful delicate tone. The neck width and thickness, and string spacing are 'made for me' (liberal 1 13/16 nut and 2 7/16 --very comfortable and easy to move around on, ). Took me a bit to get used to the unique looking volute, which personally I find sort of oversized and odd looking, but I won't be worrying about the headstock snapping off on this gem!

--PLAYABILITY--outstanding ease--I love the setup, the string spacing, etc.,...cool, cool cool! One of the main reasons I chose to commission a Hoffman guitar was remembering as a newbie guitarist back in 1975 what Belleville and Hoffman (Charlie's original shop) did when setting up and dressing the frets of my Guild D-40. I was blown away by the work --it came back a 'new' guitar, easier to play than anything I had experienced previously. I've really been enjoying playing the concert 12 in the past month--I love the feel on the fretboard and the ease of play--certainly is easier on my fingers then most of my other guitars, so it's great for practicing large chunks of time too. The Concert 12 sounds very clean, even when playing hard, which IME is unusual with action set this low.

TONE--sounds better every day--good, full, and incredibly balanced. Got to record some with it the other night for the tonewoods samples. First impressions have me thinking it will require little or no EQ tweaking for that nice, rich, full, yet crisp, clear, balanced tone. Quite honestly though, the first couple days I was not immediately woowed by the tone--couldn't quite put my finger on it, but I suspect there are 2 reasons for this: 1. I generally dislike the tone of new strings on any guitar I ever had (I find somewhere around the 2 week point being when I get my rich and clear guitar tone back again on most of my guitars), no matter what kind of guitar and what kind of strings--never enough punch and clarity, usually too bright sounding and compressed sounding. 2. The guitar was 1 week old when I got it. I'm sure the woods have allot of maturing to do, and even within a few days of receiving the guitar a fuller and more open tone was quickly developing. Charlie gave me a week before he ran the credit card (just in case I wasn't quite satisfied). Needless to say, the card has been run, the guitar is without question a keeper, and I'm enjoying playing this sweet guitar regularly, while trying to squeeze in some time for the others as well. PREVIOUS KNOWLEDGE REAFFIRMED--'never judge a brand new guitar by its new strings and fairly greenish tone'--they can develop significantly in a short period of time--especially if played often!

SERVICE/FOLLOW UP--Upon very thorough inspection (inside and out), I had a few questions/concerns about the guitar, though admittedly mainly due to my own ignorance re: individual luthier techniques and build practices, etc. Charlie addressed those in an open and responsive manner, educated me on some of the 'why questions' I had, while at the same time restating his satisfaction guaranteed policy if in the end I wanted to return the guitar. Well obviously, I am keeping this one.

After 1 month I can say that this guitar will serve at least several functions extremely well for me--in practice, in performance and in various recording applications (in a nutshell, a real workhorse). That's not at all to say it won't accomplish other functions such as inspiration, creative song writing and arranging, jamming, etc., but I have others that more readily serve those purposes.

There was one other reason I chose Hoffman Guitars, and that was the incredible value. For less than $4,000.00 delivered, I have myself the above beautiful instrument made to my specifications, and including several options such as cutaway, slotted headstock, 12th fret inlay, Master grade Englemann spruce top, flaming koa binding, and others. Hats off to Charlie and crew, my expectations were fully met and exceeded!

Ken T.
Graceworks Music

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