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Bourgeois SJ Custom
 
A special SJ model built with Adirondack spruce and curly maple.
September 27, 2023
 

Bourgeois guitars are among the most innovative flattops ever made. But despite their clever bolt-on necks, distinctive voicing, and countless other construction details that distinguish Bourgeois guitars from vintage instruments, their outward appearance tends to be more traditional. However, in addition to building variations of standard models based on customer requests, Dana Bourgeois and his team also create custom instruments on spec. We recently had a chance to check out a special SJ model with a unique combination of features. 

In Bourgeois’ naming convention, “SJ” stands for “small jumbo,” a body style with a 15.5-inch width and rounded upper and lower bout shapes,. Having demoed a more traditional Bourgeois SJ earlier this year, I was immediately captivated when Dana described the guitar he was sending us. Built with heavily figured curly maple back and sides, a figured maple neck, and an Adirondack spruce top (all of which received Bourgeois’ Aged Tone torrefaction process), the guitar is distinguished by an oval soundhole, giving it a distinctive appearance that looks nothing like any vintage guitar. Bourgeois offers several peghead shapes, and this instrument has the “contour” option. With its gorgeously figured maple, clean lines that are enhanced by simple-but-elegant ziricote binding, and mother-of-pearl and abalone “chevron” fingerboard inlay, the guitar’s overall vibe reminded me of some contemporary archtops. Naturally, the craftsmanship, fit and finish, and attention to detail are a match for the SJ Custom’s spectacular materials. 

Like most Bourgeois SJs, the guitar has a short 25-inch scale, which, combined with a low-action setup, made it very easy to play. Guitarists often have preconceived notions of what a maple flattop sounds like. Because maple isn’t used as often as tropical hardwoods, these impressions tend to be based on the few maple flattops available, with terms like “bright” and “dry” being used to describe their tone. But I’ve played some maple flattops that completely break with what’s thought of as the “maple sound,” and now I’m adding the Bourgeois SJ Custom to this list. I was completely knocked out by the bell-like clarity and richness of the guitar’s basses, which are evident regardless of whether it’s played in standard or lowered tunings. The guitar also has a wonderful response and dynamic range, and the relatively large body helps create respectable volume and punch. 

The SJ Custom may have an extravagant appearance but this is a guitar that wants to be played, offering really impressive and versatile tones to whoever picks it up. 

SPECS: Small jumbo body with 14-fret neck. Solid Adirondack spruce top with Aged Tone treatment and X-bracing. Aged Tone curly maple back and sides. Aged Tone figured maple neck. Ebony fretboard and bridge. 25-inch scale. 1²³/₃₂-inch nut width. 2.2-inch string-spacing at saddle. Waverly tuners. Made in the USA. $13,224. Bourgeoisguitars.com 

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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
 
 
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