October 1, 2004

CA Guitars Factory Tour

Located in the heart of Louisiana's Cajun country, Lafayette is famous for its crawfish étouffée, infectious music, and joie de vivre. Improbably, the small university town is also the home of one of the most high-tech guitar manufacturers on the planet-CA Guitars. The luthiers and engineers at CA (an acronym for "composite acoustics") build flat-tops, baritones, and acoustic basses from carbon fiber layered with other synthetic materials. Each instrument is assembled using a unique blend of cutting-edge technology and old-world techniques.

For example, the body, neck, and headstock are molded as a single unit, yet luthiers manually set and bond the thin composite top, fretboard, and bridge to the shell. Carbon braces are carefully glued to the soundboard to achieve either a Vintage or Enhanced Traditional voicing. The gloss finish is applied in a spray booth and buffed by hand-just like in the days before UV curing ovens. After touring the factory, I realized that, in many respects, CA's flat-tops are constructed the way guitars were 60 years ago. There are no robots or rooms humming with CNC equipment. Instead, CA's scientific wizardry occurs at the front end of the process-in manufacturing the composites and fanatically researching acoustic sound.

The mastermind behind CA Guitars is Ellis Seal, a chemical engineer with a background in the aerospace industry and a passion for acoustic stringed instruments. Using synthetics, Seal and his crew are determined to produce guitars that compete sonically with fine wooden flat-tops, but play more easily and resist climatic change.

"Rather than employing mahogany or rosewood," elaborates CA's chief Barry Sallinger, "we use a precise blend of composite materials to voice our instruments. We shape the sound much like traditional luthiers have done for generations. We can achieve this effect with absolute consistency and without damage to the planet's precious and ever-diminishing supply of tone woods."

Thus far, the response to CA's instruments has been equally positive from industry experts, guitar designers, and professional musicians. (CA's Legacy AE was reviewed in the Feb. '04 GP.) Having played several prototypes of CA's amazing X Model thin-body acoustic, I can affirm that innovation and tone are thriving in the land of jambalaya.

-Andy Ellis

Exclusive Sneak Peek!

Peavey Partners With Jack Daniels

Peavey has introduced a new line of guitars, amplifiers, and accessories bearing the Jack Daniels brand. Citing the unique affinity that fans of the Tennessee distillery have for music, Peavey hopes the products will appeal to Jack Daniels enthusiasts, musicians in general, and serious collectors alike.

According to Peavey Electronics Corporation founder and CEO, Hartley Peavey: "Bringing together two powerful brands like Jack Daniels and Peavey is a tremendous opportunity, and we're excited to distill Peavey's 39-year legacy of quality and craftsmanship with the rich history and tradition of Jack Daniels into a line of custom-designed Peavey guitars and amplifiers."

The first products in the new line include a solidbody electric guitar, an acoustic dreadnought, a 1x12 combo amplifier, and several specially designed straps.

-Barry Cleveland


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