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1997 Bourgeois 12-Fret Orchestra Model
 
A stunning all-koa guitar from Dana Bourgeois’s early period.
April 27, 2022
 

Bourgeois Guitars is among the most accomplished makers of flattop guitars around. Spearheaded by luthier Dana Bourgeois, the company is known for combining modern ideas with vintage designs, and the results show in both the appearance and internal construction of Bourgeois instruments. In today’s high-end guitar landscape, original approaches to guitar design aren’t unusual, but when Bourgeois Guitars first came on the scene in the early ’90s, the line between contemporary and vintage instruments wasn’t as fluid as it is today. I recently came across a great 1997 Bourgeois 12-Fret Orchestra Model at Schoenberg Guitars in Tiburon, California, and decided to take it to the Peghead Nation video studio for a demo. (Today, similar guitars are simply listed by Bourgeois as “OMS,” and I demoed a more recent version in 2021). 

The Bourgeois 12-Fret Orchestra Model is fundamentally based on Martin-style 12-fret 000 guitars. However, with its cutaway, slimmer neck (more like a vintage OM than a typical vintage 12-fret), and Bourgeois’s original bolt-on neck, the guitar is far from being a replica. The koa used on the guitar is incredibly beautiful, and the top features dramatic figuring. To emphasize these gorgeous woods, the appointments are kept simple, with a plain fingerboard and simple rosette. Now a quarter of a century old, the guitar has aged gracefully, with slightly yellowed white binding, a bit of patina on the Waverly tuners, and a finish that has had a chance to sink into the wood grain a bit. 

The Bourgeois 12-Fret Orchestra Model would be at home in many playing styles, but it’s an amazing fingerstyle machine. With comfortable string spacing for both hands and a neck shape that Eric Schoenberg compared to that of some of his favorite vintage OMs, the guitar offers little resistance to the player. Tonally, it’s well-balanced and has superb clarity, while offering a touch of the dynamic compression you’d expect from a hardwood top. The long-scale makes drop tunings such as DADGAD easier, and the cutaway allows the kind of access to the upper frets you’d find on a standard 14-fret guitar. 

Overall, this Bourgeois 12-Fret Orchestra Model is not only a wonderful example of the exquisite work that Dana and his team were doing early in their tenure, it continues to be a wonderful guitar that is more than ready for its next quarter century!

Bourgeoisguitars.com 

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Richard Hoover and James Nash | Santa Cruz Guitar
The Santa Cruz founder and flatpicking virtuoso team up for a presentation about the company at Organic Sounds Guitars.
 
 
 
 
 
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    ● Courses
    ● Live Workshops
    ● Instructors
    ● Sample Lessons
    ● Notation Guide
    ● For Beginners
 
 
    ● Vintage Vault
    ● New Gear
    ● Fine Lutherie
 
 
    ● Workshops
    ● Advice
    ● Repertoire
 
 
    ● Recordings
    ● Events
    ● Breaking News
 
 
    ● In The Studio
    ● Live Onstage
    ● Backroom
 
 
    ● New Products
    ● Inside Look
    ● Performances
    ● Partner Pages
 
 
© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com