Durability is a key component to the appeal of synthetic acoustics, so GP figured it would be interesting to put Kevin Michael Guitars’ carbon fiber Sable to a tough test—in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. I took the Sable to Burning Man, where rogue dust devils often appear out of thin air.
The Sable’s paradox is that while it’s built like a Patton tank, it has a silky sensibility when played. I tended to grab it by the soundhole like a lumberjack would snag a chainsaw, and got the impression that if I whipped it against my buddy’s RV, the vehicle would need fixing. Yet, playing that carbon fiber neck with its soft “V” profile felt completely cozy. Challenging chords and fast linear licks were made easier by the Sable’s graceful fingerboard flow and its low-action bridge saddle. The Sable’s neck is cantilevered, so the fingerboard never actually touches its top, which features lightweight carbon fiber braces for maximum motion.
The Sable delivered a powerful sound with profound depth. It was tremendously present across the sonic spectrum with a bit of a scoop in the mids. The top end was clear, but not brittle. Individual notes were distinct—like sonic bubbles—each with a smooth opening and closing quality as they blossomed and diminished. I could clearly discern each element of a syncopated, slapping-and-popping funk rhythm. When I plugged the Sable into a P.A. the Baggs Active Element System VTC perfectly translated the Sable’s mighty sound.
The Sable is an exceptional instrument that will appeal to players with bold tastes and unconventional attitudes. I appreciated how its precision playability and spot-on intonation remained completely consistent despite the desert’s extreme temperature swings of about 50 degrees from day to night. In addition, the humidity—or lack thereof—never threatened to warp the instrument.
A few hours before the climactic burning of the Man effigy, a hurricane of dust suddenly blew into our camp. As I was jamming atop an RV at the time, I was lucky to have an instrument as hearty as Kevin Michael’s Sable on hand. If you’re going on an ambitious adventure anytime soon, you might want a Sable in your hands, too.
PRICE $2,999 street
NUT WIDTH 1.75", Tusq
NECK Carbon fiber, cantilevered
FRETBOARD Carbon fiber, 25.5" scale
FRETS 20, nickel
TUNERS Hipshot enclosed
BODY Carbon fiber back, sides, top, and top bracing
BRIDGE Tusq with compensated saddle
PICKUPS L.R. Baggs Element Active System VTC (custom EQ’d for Kevin Michael Guitars)
CONTROLS Volume, Tone
FACTORY STRINGS Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze Medium
WEIGHT 5.4 lbs
EXTRAS Medium-action Tusq saddle, carbon faux hardshell case, feedback buster, McPherson picks sample pack, limited lifetime warranty.
KUDOS Super sturdy. Stealth looks. Smooth playing. Remarkable intonation. Deep tone.
CONCERNS Slightly weighty. Pricey.