Guitars of all shapes and sizes attract a pretty diverse swarm of admirers. From the wide-eyed newly initiated seeking an upgrade from the shoebox they wandered out of Aldi with, through to the drooling, simian troglodyte ham-fistedly bashing away at the three riffs he’s stubbornly clung to since somebody let him loose on their baby at a backyard barbeque, all the way up to the sock, sandal and backpack donned septuagenarian getting all dewy and nostalgic about the Strat he sold when the kids showed up in the ‘70s on his weekly stroll down memory lane. From the casual observer to the well-versed chin-scratcher, no corner of the guitar globe is more suited to the discerning than the subtle variations of tonewood in the acoustic room.
Self proclaimed obsessive Patrick James Eggle is a prime example of a dichotomy reasonably familiar to those of us with an eye on guitar history. He is simultaneously a new kid on the block and an old hand. Having spent most of his adult life making his name as one of the more eagle eyed builders in the world, he founded Faith Guitars in 2002 after stepping away from his eponymous first institute. Faith, it seems, maintains Eggle’s keen sense of class and taste where design is concerned, as well as providing him with an excuse to travel the world expanding on an ever-growing list of plantations from which to source his original and highly regarded tonewood collection.
Speaking of which, the Neptune baby jumbo I see before me speaks volumes about Eggle’s deep-seated affection for a good-looking bit of wood. The solid slices of mahogany that form the top, back and sides of this Neptune Electro seem plucked straight from the pages of National Geographic. A rich, almost purple hue ripples vertically beneath the surface of a thin layer of poly that makes the Saluda-designed body look like a dark chocolate lake. A pier of Macassan figured ebony reaches toward the sound hole that hides a Fishman Sonitone pickup and Sonicore preamp combo that is so inconspicuous I almost missed it entirely.
After I’d recovered from the awe of pulling this thing out of its gig bag, I tentatively chanced a strum across such a beautiful visage. The sonic architecture here is every bit as impressive as the aesthetic. The voicing is clear and precise without sacrificing any of the tonal richness this particular wood variety is famous for. Often with fresh mahogany there is a period of teasing while a player waits for the fibres to blossom, but not in this instance. The modern sense of clarity is balanced perfectly by a sense of played-in confidence that few new guitars, let alone instruments at this modest price point, can profess. All in all, dancing with King Neptune was a much more deluxe experience than I was expecting.
I’d not played one of Eggle’s Faith builds before and I must admit I was pleasantly surprised. Neptune sounded as good acoustically as it did when amplified, which is a must for such a sleek design. Moreover, the experience as a whole surprised me. Don’t be fooled by the price tag; I went into the dealership expecting a Hyundai Excel and came away with a pamphlet for a Maserati.
Hits and Misses
The exquisite colour and rare resonant quality of mahogany at its best
The logo and inlays look a little kooky