I’ve come up with three good reasons for wanting a guitar made from carbon fibers. Carbon fiber guitars are also sometimes called composite guitars. Fiberglass is an alternative non-wood material and glass is sometimes incorporated into these guitars.
My Three Reasons for wanting a Carbon Fiber Guitar
The first reason is grandchildren. I’ve got one toddler and another baby grandchild on the way. Guitars that tend towards indestructible — or at least damage resistant — would be good to have with little ones crawling or toddling around the guitar. (Of course, I could keep my guitars in their cases in a closet but where’s the fun in that.)
The second reason is really a variation on the first. Dogs and puppies. We’re thinking about getting a puppy next year. Puppies, like young children, zoom around, bounce off things and sometimes knock over items. I realize an easier solution would be to hang my guitars on a wall where they would be accessible yet protected. That’s where they lived most of the time up north before we moved. But I don’t have the wall space and I want at least one or two guitars to be easily accessible, even with children and puppies. Thus, carbon fiber guitars which are far stronger than solid wood acoustic guitars and can take minor falls and bounce without damage (or so I hope).
The third reason is humidity. North Carolina only has a few months each year where the humidity is so low that my acoustic and archtop hollow body guitars need to be humidified in their cases. But there are times when the humidity falls far below the ideal 40% relative humidity value that guitars and people prefer. Carbon fiber guitars don’t shrink when dry nor swell up when it’s humid. They are crack resistant and tolerate weather extremes that wood bodies do not.
Alternatives to Carbon Fiber Guitars
Some time ago I decided I wanted a guitar that was resistant to damage. I thought an inexpensive steel body resonator guitar might be fun to play around a campfire or on the deck of a summer rental. I went guitar hunting and ended up with something quite different, a National Style O biscuit bridge, round neck guitar. It was not inexpensive.
Before moving south I sold my National Style O resonator guitar with its 12-fret, nickel plated brass body and etched Hawaiian scenes. I miss that guitar but I think my wife misses it more than I do. She’s gone so far as suggesting I replace it. Wow! But as I sat playing one of my guitars I thought about what type of guitar would I want if I could have just one more. The thing is, I’ve narrowed my collection down to guitars I love to play. There aren’t many redundancies in my collection. Would I get another resonator? I realized, the guitar I wanted most if I had to choose one more would be a carbon fiber guitar.
I’ve researched carbon fiber guitars before. Few local stores stock the guitars. There were only a few companies making the guitars until recently. But there are more choices now than when I’ve looked in the past, made by more companies. That’s good for guitar players. Also, many of these companies make carbon fiber ukuleles.
Here are some of the companies and guitars I would like. As usual, I lean towards smaller body acoustic guitars.
Ovation may have made a carbon fiber acoustic guitar before Rainsong. That would have been the Adamas line from Ovation. But the first company from this group and one of the best known for their carbon fiber guitars is Rainsong. They make high-quality acoustic instruments in several sizes and finishes.
The model I would want is the Concert Hybrid CH OM. It is a 12-Fret (to the neck joint) cutaway in the OM style. It is about $1500 at the time I wrote this. It has a 1.75 inch nut width and approximate 15 inch lower bout. There is also a CH PA model which is a 12-Fret Parlor Guitar that would be very nice for about$1300.
Composite Acoustic (CA)
Composite Acoustics was purchased by Peavey a few years ago. That’s good because they had some really nice carbon fiber instruments. One of their most popular models seems to be the Cargo line which are travel guitars with short scale lengths like the Little Martin and Baby Taylor guitars. I want at least a 24.75 (or 24.8) inch scale length (maybe 24.5 inch would be acceptable). Thus, the Cargo series isn’t something I am interested in for now.
The Composite Acoustics OX Guitar is an acoustic-electric. The picture shown here is the Raw Carbon Finish which sells for about $1850. It has a 25.5 inch scale length and a 1.75 inch nut width. It is a 14 fret neck but the body is about 15 inch which qualifies as small bodied by my criteria. There is also a high gloss version of the guitar if you don’t like the raw finish.
Journey Instruments specializes in travel guitars. Their carbon fiber travel guitars are designed so the neck can be removed and the body and neck secured in a carry-on sized backpack, like a computer bag. This is slightly outside my critera for today’s post — I’m not looking for a travel guitar. But their design is so innovative, I had to share.
The above is the Journey Instruments OF660 Carbon Fiber Acoustic-Electric Guitar in Black. The scale length is 24.5 inches. The design incorporates the “Manzer Wedge” something luthier Linda Manzer created. The body angles away from your body so the top side (the side your arm rests on) is thinner than the bottom side of the guitar. This makes the guitar both more comfortable to play and smaller. The current price is about $1250.
Blackbird Guitars makes some innovative travel guitars and ukuleles from carbon fiber. But they also make traditional sized instruments. The model I would want is the Lucky 13. It has a 13-Fret neck join in a small sized guitar.
The guitar has a 14 inch lower bout, a 24.75 inch scale length and a 1.75 inch nut width. The price is just under $2100.
McPherson makes some interesting guitars from traditional woods. They are known for the side ports, among other features. This Sable model is a carbon fiber guitar. It has a 1.75 inch nut width, 25.5 inch scale length and 15 inch lower bout width. The neck joins the body at the 14th fret. The list price is about $3300.