Faith acoustics combine all the know-how of the UK’s own Patrick James Eggle with high-quality Indonesian manufacturing ± and at the very top of the line lies the Signature series, which makes use of British-sourced timbers rarely seen in luthiery, including bog oak and London plane. The best-looking wood option of all comes on this Neptune Signature; it uses solid rippled sycamore, the exact Blighty equivalent of American flamed big leaf maple, for the back and sides. It’s delicious-looking stuff, stripey and characterful, enhanced beautifully by a rich caramel-tinted `bronze’ stain and the guitar’s all-over gloss finish. We’re off to a handsome start. Very handsome indeed, in fact.
In terms of design and dimensions, this model is pretty much a lower-cost version of Eggle’s high-end, UK-made Saluda Cutaway. The Neptune’s top is solid red cedar, X-braced with quarter-sawn `piano grade’ spruce; a wide band of green abalone sets off the soundhole, the bridge is Indonesian macassar ebony with ebony pins, and the whole body is bound in rosewood. There’s
a rosewood back strip, too.
The neck is mahogany, fastened to the body by hidden internal bolts, and topped by a stripy macassar ebony fingerboard with a single stylised position marker at the 12th fret. The swoopy headstock is faced in rosewood and carries PJE’s signature, plus a buttery-smooth set of chromed Grover Rotomatics with ebony buttons. Overall, build quality and finish are excellent ± and the neck-set is perfect, witha healthy 5mm of saddle.
The Faith’s neck is a wide 45mm at the nut and medium in depth, and the 16-inch radius fingerboard has 20 low, wide, polished frets. Our example’s set-up is impeccable: the action is low and buzz-free, the intonation is fab, and it’s a fast player with tons of room for both handsº though some might find the gloss neck a bit sticky.
Some Faith guitars we’ve played before have erred a little on the side of brightness, but this one’s different. It’s crisp and contemporary, for sure, but there’s a warmth and immediacy straight out of the case – that’ll be the wide-open quality of the cedar top coming into play – while the generously-sized soundbox adds a sonorous, almost tenor vocal-like depth to the whole shebang. The upshot is a guitar that sounds large, deep, polished and grand with both pick and fingers. Despite its size, it isn’t over-burdened with bass: it’s rather well balanced, in fact, and although drop D works well, for C you might want to go up a gauge. Moving to the middle strings, the Faith sounds very responsive and loud, and this carries on right up the neck until it merges into thick, fat trebles.
The key to any British/overseas guitar-making operation is whether the UK team can keep on top of quality control as well as if the manufacturing were under their noses. We think Faith does. In a review of a £689 FRMG Mars not long ago, we said it would be hard to criticise at twice the price; this is twice the price, so it had better be goodº and it is. It’s cleanly built, lush and important-sounding, and it ticks a lot of `boutique’ boxes ± but at a price far lower than any single UK luthier could manage. That’s neat.
Faith FSGNBSY Neptune Signature Bronzed Sycamore
• Description Flat-top acoustic guitar. Made in Indonesia
• Price:£1,499 inc. hard case
• Build:Solid red cedar top, solid rippled British sycamore back and sides, rosewood binding, green abalone rosette, mahogany neck, macassar ebony fingerboard, single 12th-fret inlay, ebony bridge, bone nut and saddle, Grover Rotomatic 18:1 tuners
• Electrics None
• Left-handers No
• Finish Clear gloss
• Scale length 648mm/25.5”
• Neck width Nut 45mm 12th fret 55mm
• Depth of neck First fret 22mm 10th fret 24mm
• String spacing Nut 37mm Bridge 57mm
• Weight: 2.15kg/4.7lbs
• Contact: Barnes & Mullins 01691 652449