The gloss polyurethane finish is glass smooth and the plastic tortoise-shell binding on the top and around the soundhole is a nice touch, although some color bleed in the latter area is evident and the soundhole itself has one small section that’s not perfectly cut. Black binding is crisply applied on the sides and back, as well as on the fretboard, and there’s a two-tone stripe that bisects the back and tail. Peering into the soundhole we see a clean interior layout with carefully installed braces and neat kerfing. The frets are also well shaped and brightly polished, though their lengths are a tad uneven in some areas. In classic flat-top fashion, the satin-finished neck is attached to the body using a glued-in dovetail joint.
With its rakish body lines, the Avante exudes the flair of a modern boutique instrument. In fact, we were all amazed by the low price of this guitar considering how it looks and plays. Despite the heavy strings, the Avante feels comfy and maneuverable, demanding no more effort to finger than any quality flat-top with low action. Of course, the B-to-B tuning demands that you transpose your parts when playing with other standard-tuned guitars, but it’s worth the trouble when you experience the delicious tonal rewards of tuning down. Baritone guitar can add a lot of vibe to an acoustic group—an aspect your bandmates will quickly come to appreciate when they hear how vibey it sounds when you start doubling chords and melodic lines in a lower register. Playing the Avante solo is also inspiring, as the guitar’s rumbling lows and girthy, complex midrange make everything you play sound deep, rich, and majestic.
This would be a great singer/songwriter’s guitar—perhaps just what’s needed to tap into something fresh or push an idea over the top—and live performers will especially appreciate that the acoustic-electric version of the Avante (which incorporates a Shadow piezo/preamp system) costs only $70 more. It seems a pittance to pay for the ability to use this excellent sounding guitar onstage. Either way, though, the Avante is a smoking deal for an instrument with such a high degree of custom cache. I’m impressed, and I think you will be too, by what the Avante delivers for such a modest investment.