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Bourgeois Touchstone OM Vintage/TS
 
A collaboration between the Bourgeois and Eastman shop results in a great traditional-style OM.
August 24, 2022
 

Dana Bourgeois is one of the most experienced acoustic guitar builders around, and the instruments made by his company, Bourgeois Guitars, are coveted by steel-string players of every style. Naturally, the kind of quality offered by the Maine-based shop has its price, and while comparable to other high-end makers, it puts the instruments out of reach for many players. However, when Bourgeois entered a partnership with Eastman Guitars in 2019, it allowed the company to not only take advantage of Eastman’s distribution capabilities but also to offer more affordable Bourgeois models. Originally announced in early 2020, the resulting Touchstone line of Bourgeois guitars faced COVID-related delays, but now the first two models, an OM and a dreadnought, have arrived, and we had a chance to take the OM for a spin in the Peghead Nation video studio. (We hope to feature the dreadnought in the near future!)

Eastman is well known for its affordable, high-quality guitars, mandolins, and violin-family instruments, and the company has also become a powerhouse in the world of wind instruments. Founded in 1992, Eastman uses traditional and modern manufacturing techniques in its Beijing, China–based manufacturing facilities, and the company also maintains a distribution and R&D center in California. How do you merge Bourgeois’s experience with individual, hands-on voicing of instruments with production on another continent? For the new Touchstone guitars, Bourgeois’s team of builders in Maine select the top and brace wood, assemble the top, and voice the bracing, then send these structures to Eastman to be used in the construction of the guitar. Since a guitar’s top is the single largest factor that determines its tonal qualities, this process ensures that a large portion of Dana’s carefully developed sound will be maintained in the instruments. Rather than simply adding a Bourgeois top to one of Eastman’s existing models, the Touchstones are also built the way a US-made Bourgeois is constructed. This includes the innovative Bourgeois neck joint, a completely bolted-on design. Finally, every Touchstone receives its final setup back at the Maine shop by the same folks who set up other Bourgeois guitars. 

At first glance, the Touchstone OM Vintage/TS could easily pass for a regular Bourgeois. The label says “Handcrafted in Lewiston Maine and Beijing,” but the guitar’s fit and finish, craftsmanship, materials, and overall vibe are in line with what you would expect of a high-end instrument. The Alaskan Sitka spruce top is evenly grained and colored, and the Indian rosewood features rich color and a great bookmatch. The guitar has the typical steep Bourgeois peghead angle, and traditional style-28 appointments, including diamonds and squares in the fingerboard, herringbone purfling, ivoroid binding, etc. The quality of guitars coming out of the best Chinese shops has achieved very high levels in the last decade or so, and this may be the best I’ve seen. 

The Touchstone OM Vintage/TS is, simply put, an excellent traditional-style OM. It has the fabulous clarity, balance, and definition that Bourgeois OMs have always been known for, and its great setup made it a joy to play. The guitar has a quick response and is able to deliver sonically complex tones throughout its large dynamic range, and while I especially enjoyed playing it fingerstyle, it is capable of covering a lot of musical ground, including fairly heavy strumming and flatpicking. These are all qualities expected of a good OM, and I was pleased to find that the Touchstone OM Vintage/TS passed the test with flying colors. 

Players looking for an OM at a mid-level price should definitely check out the Touchstone OM Vintage/TS. I can’t think of many other guitars of this style that pack the level of sound and performance that the Bourgeois/Eastman collaboration is offering for around $3,000, and both companies deserve a round of applause!

SPECS: 000/OM body with 14-fret neck. Solid Alaskan Sitka spruce top. Hand-voiced Adirondack spruce X-bracing. Indian rosewood back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony fretboard and bridge. 25.5-inch scale. 1²³/₃₂-inch nut width. 2.2-inch string-spacing at saddle. Nickel Schaller Grand Tune tuners. Made in the USA and China. $3,299 list/$2,969 street. 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
 
 
© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com