A great L-00-style guitar built with maple back and sides.
by Teja Gerken
August 19, 2019
Under the leadership of luthier Dana Bourgeois, Bourgeois Guitars has made its mark by offering highly refined versions of classic flattop steel-strings. But while Dana has studied vintage guitars as much as anyone, his own instruments include numerous original touches, including a refined bolt-on neck design, individualized voicing, and modern finishes. Bourgeois Guitars first introduced the L-DBO model (inspired by the Gibson L-00) with a limited run of special “Presentation” guitars (check out our demo of one of those instruments), and now the style is part of the company’s standard line. We recently had a chance to check out a maple-body L-DBO/S courtesy of Schoenberg Guitars in Tiburon, California.
The L-DBO/S (the “S” denotes the sunburst finish) mates the mid-size L-00 body with a 14-fret neck. Because Bourgeois Guitars is fundamentally a custom shop, the L-DBO is available in different wood combinations, and our demo guitar features an Adirondack spruce top and curly maple back and sides. Both sets do justice to Dana’s reputation as a serious wood freak, and while the top’s even, straight grain is partially obscured by the sunburst finish, the amber-stained back and sides are some of the prettiest maple you’ll ever see. The body woods also include Bourgeois’s “Aged Tone” treatment, meaning that they’ve been torrefied with a special heat treatment to simulate a much longer aging process. Our demo guitar included a ziricote fingerboard with micro dots as position markers, a simple two-ring rosette, ivoroid body binding, and Waverly tuning machines. As is typical for a Bourgeois, the instrument’s craftsmanship and ultra-thin “Aged Tone” finish were flawless.
The L-DBO has a slimmer neck profile than that of a typical vintage L-00, with only the faintest V-shape and a nut width of 1¾ inches. Combined with a low-action setup, the guitar took little effort to play. Tonally, the L-DBO delivered the throaty character with blooming mids that you would expect from this style of instrument, and it had greater balance and richer overtones than some vintage L-00s I’ve played. While certainly at home with the blues and roots styles that are associated with these guitars, the L-DBO would also do well in many accompanying roles, and its maple back and sides gave it great punch for playing swing chords.
Regardless of whether you’ve been looking for an L-00 style guitar or are simply looking for a very cool mid-size flattop, the Bourgeois L-DBO line deserves to be checked out!
SPECS: 14-fret L-00 style body. Torrefied Adirondack spruce top. Torrefied curly maple back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ziricote fretboard and bridge. “Aged Tone” finish and hide glue construction. 25-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Waverly tuners. Made in the USA. $7,465 list ($5,515 base-price). bourgeoisguitars.net
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