Falbo Guitars Alpha Series Dreadnought and Parlor Models (Review)

January 30, 2014

Dreadnought and Parlor

DEBUTING AS PART OF THE NEW FOUR-GUITAR Alpha Series from Falbo Guitars, the Dreadnought ($3,100 retail/street N/A) and Parlor ($2,950 retail/street N/A) are well made and nicely appointed instruments that are designed to go toe-to-toe with guitars from high-end makers here and abroad. Both of these instruments feature solid rosewood backs and sides, Italian spruce tops, gloss finishes, and lots of fine detail work that shows up in everything from the gleaming frets to the tasteful cosmetics that include abalone inlays and rosette, wood and celluloid bindings, and custom tuners with gold etching on their backs.

What you may not notice just by looking, however, is a unique feature of these instruments called the Intension bridge—a Falbo designed unit that aims to cure an age-old problem in acoustic guitars caused by the top being pulled upward by the pull of the strings on the bridge. As most players know, when this area surrounding the bridge rises beyond a certain point (called “bellying”), string height becomes unacceptably high and the only way to fix it—at least on a guitar with a glued in neck—is to take the neck off and reset it. Internal bracing mitigates the effects of string tension on the top, but this typically requires some compromise, since the thickness of the top and the braces reinforcing it have a direct impact on the sound of the instrument. In general, thinner tops and lighter bracing make for a livelier and more responsive guitar—albeit one that will likely have less resistance to bellying.

And this is where the Intension bridge comes in, as it actually uses string tension to balance its pull on the top. The top can be thinner and more lightly braced, and Intension simply equalizes the upward, rotational torque without affecting string tension in the critical area surrounding the bridge. The Intension bridge remains the strings’ traditional anchoring point—even though the strings load into slots behind it—and since the bridge doesn’t attach to any other part of the body, the top is free to vibrate as it normally would.

Falbo also cites several sonic benefits of the Intension system, which include enhanced highend response, balanced mids, and extended lows. These qualities are definitely present in the Dreadnought and Parlor guitars, both of which deliver abundant crispness and depth. The Parlor sounds smaller and more midrange-y than its bigger brother, but very little effort is required to get a lot of sound from this compact cutaway, which also delivers firmer lows than its size would imply.

The Dreadnought is an obvious choice for live work of any sort, though bluegrass players would especially benefit from the clarity and punch delivered by this large-bodied 14 fretter. On the other hand, the Parlor with its 12th-fret neck joint is well suited for singer-songwriters or anyone who wants an easy playing guitar with a warm, supple voice.

In the options department, you can order any Falbo guitar (including the Jumbo and Grand Auditorium) with a cutaway for an extra $100, and/ or choose from the following preamp/pickup systems: Fishman Matrix Infinity ($150), D-Tar Multi Source ($175), Fishman Premium Blend ($400).

Offering excellent quality, easy playability, and the promise of never having to worry about problems caused by string tension, these new Falbo models are well worth auditioning if you’re in the market for a premium acoustic guitar.

For more information contact Falbo Guitars, falboguitars.com.

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