At the Winter NAMM show a couple of years ago, I spent some time with a group of modern fingerstyle players who had pitched in to rent a pad they called the Fingerstyle House. I was impressed by the Furch guitars several of them were gracious enough to pass around during our late-night jams. I’d been meaning to take one of the instruments for a thorough test drive, so when I saw that Furch was replacing its flagship line of Millennium models with a new portfolio of Color Series acoustics, I jumped at the chance to have one of these fine Czech Republic–made instruments sent stateside.
The model on review is a Red Plus OMc-SW, a designation that tells you a lot about the guitar’s design. Of the seven color-coded series that make up Furch’s new production models, red represents the top of the line. These guitars feature high-grade tonewoods, soundboard and back voicing, Gotoh 510 tuners, a high-gloss finish and unconventional adornments. The Plus designation refers to upgraded attributes, such as this review unit’s koa binding and rosette and ziricote fretboard. In addition, OMc indicates an orchestra model body style with a cutaway, and SW means the solid top is made of Sitka spruce and the back and sides are black walnut.
The Furch is uniquely beautiful in a very contemporary way, but it’s clearly fashioned with a classical eye as well. The overriding aesthetic is practically radiating. A super-thin layer of full-pore high-gloss lacquer keeps the Sitka safe and allows its beautiful, natural color to burst through. A transparent pickguard maximizes the surface area, while a thin strip of paduak in the top purfling adds a slightly reddish hue along the top. Koa is an attractive choice for the soundhole rosette, as well as for the bindings at the headstock, fretboard, and the back and sides. The koa’s caramel-colored glaze and the brilliant black walnut wood grain give the whole guitar an almost golden appearance.
Precision is another overriding element of the Furch Red Plus OMc. Every aspect of the instrument is neatly designed and finely crafted, from its smoothly polished frets to the impeccable-looking internal bracings. In play, the first thing that you notice is how remarkably accurate each note sounds, whether played individually, in linear succession or in chord clusters. You truly hear every nuance on this high-fidelity instrument.
Harmonics abound and sometimes seem to leap out from nowhere. There’s plenty of room to maneuver on the fretboard, which measures a fairly wide 1.77 inches at the nut. I have rather small fingers, so I had trouble accomplishing certain stretches. I’d suggest similar players take advantage of the 1.69-inch width option when ordering.
On the other hand, I found Furch’s reflective, topside inlays very helpful for fretboard navigation, especially in low-light conditions. High-ratio Gotoh tuners are the very definition of precision, and the Red Plus holds onto altered and lowered tunings like a bear with a meal in its claws. Such stability is also due, in part, to Furch’s CNR neck system, which includes a dual-action truss rod. It’s designed to ensure stability, and it allows for accurate adjustment of the neck relief in both directions. I found the factory setup to my satisfaction, but given how the feel can easily change due to factors such as temperature and humidity, it’s nice to have the flexibility to hone the action as and when needed.
My ultimate take on the Furch Red Plus OMc-SW is about balance. The body is exceptionably comfortable, and considering its relatively small size and cutaway design, it produces a surprisingly bold tone across the entire sonic spectrum. It’s clear and present, not a mellow fellow, but its high-definition sound does not come at the expense of brittleness. The Furch Red is vivacious and responsive, especially to fingerstyle playing, and in that regard it approaches the feel of a classical guitar.
Furch’s Color Series guitars do not come equipped with electronics. I didn’t realize that before having this one sent, so I wasn’t able to test it in a gig situation, but Furch recommends L.R. Baggs electronics, and several Baggs systems are available at an additional cost. It’s worth noting that Furch also has a new Rainbow series of customizable instruments for players who want a tailor-made guitar.
I’m jazzed to become more familiar with the fine quality of Furch Guitars. Those cats I met in Anaheim during the NAMM show were serious tone freaks who push the limits of percussive fingerstyle playing. And that’s precisely the kind of player for whom the Furch Red Plus OMc-SW is made.
Red Plus OMc-SW
PRICE $4,735 as reviewed
NUT WIDTH 1.77" TUSQ
NECK African mahogany
FRETBOARD Figured ziricote, 25.59" scale
TUNERS Gotoh 510 Silver Patina with polished ebony buttons, 1:21 ratio
BODY Black walnut back and sides, solid Sitka spruce top
BRIDGE Figured ziricote with fully compensated TUSQ saddle
FACTORY STRINGS Elixir Phosphor Bronze Nanoweb .012–.053
WEIGHT 4 lbs
BUILT Czech Republic
KUDOS Beautiful modern/classic look, precision craftsmanship and high-definition tone. Hiscox hardshell case included
CONCERNS U.S. dealership somewhat limited and price considerable, so be sure to understand options such as nut width and electronics if ordering online