Walking around Summer NAMM in Nashville I came across a very unique guitar company. Cory Batson builds acoustic guitars with some special features I’ve never seen before.
OUT OF THE BOX:
The Troubadour is one of three new Batson acoustic cutaway models and comes in a nice black hard-shell case. It’s designed by Cory and hand built with the help of a South Korean factory known for exceptional high-end craftsmanship. The top is Sitka Spruce, but unlike most guitars, has no traditional sound hole. There is also an armrest bevel on the top where your right arm goes over the body. This makes it very comfortable to play. Many electric guitars have them, and they’re a welcome addition to an acoustic. Both the bevel and the body binding, front and back, are made of Flamed Maple. The back and sides are both East Indian Rosewood. Another unique feature is the large sound hole on the top side of the guitar, right at the upper bout where you might usually find some electronics. The neck is Honduran Mahogany, and the fretboard, bridge, and tailpiece are all Ebony. The nut and saddle are bone, and the tuners have a 21:1 ratio. The neck is comfortably wide with 2.25” string spacing at the saddle, and features the Buzz Feiten tuning system. Lastly, inside the sound hole are volume and tone controls for the Batson Clear Voice Electronics, featuring a Peizo pickup. The neck is cantilevered in design and doesn’t really touch the top, allowing it to vibrate freely. The top’s underside also has a custom-bracing pattern.
IN MY HANDS:
The Troubadour has a very unique sound. It’s not like anything else.
If you are expecting a Martin or Gibson, it’s not.
As the player, you hear the bass coming up from the hole below your face. As a listener across the room it’s got a brighter than normal sound, and I’d describe it like a hybrid. There is a slight hint of Dobro in the sound that might be why so many finger style guys like it. Another thing is that the guitar’s voice stands out when played next to another acoustic. The pickup system is a Peizo type set under the top, close to the bridge. The volume and tone knobs are placed conveniently on the side of the sound hole. I was curious to see how it would work in a live setting. I took it to church and played it through a DI. The sound guys like that it has a lot of high end and cuts through the mix easily. I actually preferred the tone control backed off a little, which brings out the lower mids a little more. In the studio, I would recommend using a 2 mic setup. Place one about a foot in front of the 21st fret and another above to catch the bass. If you can add the DI as well it adds a nice flavor.
With an acoustic, I find I need to spend a little time getting a feel for the action and how the guitar responds to finger style, as well as strumming.
With a 4-½ inch depth and armrest bevel, it’s a very comfortable guitar to play. I passed it around to my colleagues, and they all commented on that armrest bevel. I think smaller folks would especially like how it feels. I’m a fan of the Buzz Feiten tuning system. It really helps. Being a studio guy, tuning is a huge issue and can make or break your reputation. The action and neck feel really good. The cutaway makes easy to get up to the top of the neck. It’s a little heavier than some of my acoustics, but not as much as an electric.
There’s no question the Troubadour is eye catching. It’s a little McPherson-ish, which is a high compliment. I am a fan of the cantilevered Fretboard. It makes a real difference in the tone, and just plain makes sense. The tailpiece adds the vintage vibe and contributes to the sound. The shiny headstock has an Indian Rosewood Veneer; a nice touch.
Corey Batson has come up with a guitar that is turning heads.
The Troubadour has a unique sound, and employs a number of features not found on many guitars. The solid top, and sound hole placement, cantilevered neck, carved tailpiece, and Feiten tuning system make it a special guitar. The Craftsmanship is high quality.
If I were to summarize, I’d say it plays great, sounds great, and looks great. The Troubadour lists for $2,430.00; $1,699.00 street. For more information go to: http://www.batsonguitars.com.