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Bedell Heritage Series HGD-28-G and HGM-17-G

April 16, 2012
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It’s crazy, but true. Tom Bedell kicked off his own line of acoustic guitars in 1964, when he was just 14 years old. A lot of time has passed since then, of course, but Bedell is still passionate about guitar making, and his company now offers a custom shop and a vast armada of off-the-rack acoustics, including Kenny Loggins and Skunk Baxter signature models. Currently, ten different lines are offered, and the affordable Heritage Series features two dreadnoughts and two orchestra bodies—all with customized Engelmann spruce, scalloped “X” bracings. The HGD-28-G and HGM-17-G reviewed here both go for $399 street, and the price includes a pretty kick-ass, padded gig bag. Even more impressive, it appears that Tom Bedell actually signed the label inside the guitar bodies.

I tested both guitars throughout tracking sessions at Potrero Post Studios in San Francisco, miking them with a selection of tube and solid-state condenser mics (large- and small-diaphragm models). The sounds were routed direct to Pro Tools without adding any compression, EQ, or other effects.

HGD-28-G

 
HGM-17-G
The HGD-28-G dreadnought has a wonderful sound. When strummed, the low end is warm and inviting without becoming muddy, the mids ring nicely, and the high-end is clear, yet restrained. It fills a lot of sonic space without being abrasive. The sound is perhaps too subtle for fingerpicked country and bluegrass runs that pop and snap, but the HGD-28-G provides more than enough sparkle for folk-y arpeggios. Intonation is good, and I was able to move back-and-forth between several different tunings without experiencing any tuning problems. Appearance-wise, the HGD-28-G isn’t exactly flashy, but its build quality and cosmetics are solid for an under-$400 acoustic. My only complaint—and it’s an extremely minor one—is that it would have been nice if the fret ends were smoother. While the HGD- 28-G is a fantastic working songwriter’s guitar for coffee houses and big and small venues, it’s also a fun steel-string for simply hanging out in the backyard on a sunny day and strumming your favorite tunes.

HGM-17-G

 
HGD-28-G
Although it costs the same as the starkly refined HGD-28-G, the HGM- 17-G looks supermodel gorgeous. The Canadian cedar top exudes the vibe of warm summer nights, and the grain of the African sapele sides practically shimmers like a jewel. Sonically, the HGM- 17-G is pleasingly versatile. It’s not as bold and full-bodied as the HGD-28-G when strummed, but its focused midrange frequencies make it a great choice for rock tracks and layering guitar textures. On the other hand, the benefit of having a less-studly low end means that fingerpicked passages cut right through with crisp articulation. All of this makes the HGM-17-G a go-to acoustic for band sessions, while I’d likely select the HGD- 28-G if I were tracking a solo-acoustic number or a singer-songwriter with minimal instrumentation. Like its sibling, the HGM-17-G is well crafted—though the fret ends could also be smoother—and it’s a very comfortable guitar to play. I constantly found myself grabbing this guitar for overdubs while recording, and even just to goof around with when the studio wasn’t in action. I think there might be a lot of songs in the HGM-17-G.

Specifications

Contact Bedell Guitars, bedellguitars.com

HGD-28-G

Price $519 retail/$399 street
Nut Width 1.7" bone
Scale Length 25.5"
Neck Mahogany
Fretboard Rosewood
Frets 20 medium
Tuners Bedell chrome, closed-back
Body Solid sitka spruce top, laiminated Indian rosewood back and sides
Bridge Rosewood with bone saddle Factory Strings D’Addario EXP16 Light
Weight 4.24 lbs
Built China
Kudos Wide tonal range. Nice lows. Good workmanship.
Concerns Fret edges could be smoother.

HGM-17-G

Price $519 retail/$399 street
Nut Width 1.7” bone
Scale Length 25.5"
Neck Mahogany
Fretboard Rosewood
Frets 20 medium
Tuners Bedell chrome, closed-back
Body Solid Canadian cedar top, laminated African sapele back and sides
Bridge Rosewood with bone saddle
Factory Strings D’Addario EXP16 Light
Weight 4.08 lbs
Built China
Kudos A beauty. Sweet mids. Good workmanship.
Concerns Fret edges could be smoother.

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