Instruments & Gear: Fine Lutherie

Froggy Bottom H12 Deluxe

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A 12-fret 000 built with figured koa back and sides.

by Teja Gerken
September 14, 2020

Vermont’s Froggy Bottom Guitars, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is one of the longest-running makers of custom steel-strings. Froggy Bottom’s goal has never been to reinvent the wheel, and yet, while clearly inspired by some of the most popular vintage guitar models, the company has always found ways to make these classic designs their own. I recently had a chance to check out an H12 Deluxe model that was provided to us by Sylvan Music in Santa Cruz, California, and which is a perfect example of the typical Froggy Bottom vibe.

Patterned after the well-known 12-fret 000 design, the Froggy Bottom H12 is available in several wood options, including some that aren’t found on vintage guitars. Our demo guitar was built with spectacularly figured koa back and sides and an Adirondack spruce top. The instrument has Froggy Bottom’s “deluxe” trim package, which includes maple binding, a bound peghead, and premium woods all around, and the guitar’s fingerboard inlay was upgraded to the company’s “#7” fingerboard inlay pattern in green abalone. The instrument’s perfect craftsmanship, fit, and finish leave no question about the level of experience and attention to detail that is the norm at Froggy Bottom.

Picking up the H12 to play, it immediately became obvious that this is an instrument that bridges vintage guitar formulas and contemporary design choices. Most noticeable is a neck with a thoroughly modern profile that combines a 1¾-inch width at the nut with a relatively shallow C-shape. At 25 inches, the guitar’s scale is also slightly shorter than on most vintage-style 12-fret 000s, which further helps in providing easy playability. With its quick response, excellent tonal balance, and highly dynamic character, the H12 is a lovely fingerstyle guitar, as it demonstrated both in standard tuning and DADGAD. But the Adirondack spruce top also provides the headroom needed to offer a strong tonality when played with a pick, where the guitar’s presence and definition stood out.

Overall, the Froggy Bottom H12 is a dream guitar that’s perfect for a player who wants a vintage-style flattop that is not bound by tradition. And if you’re looking for a similar instrument with different woods or features, the folks at Froggy Bottom are not only experts at building guitars, they also know how to tailor them exactly to their customers’ wishes!

SPECS: 12-fret 000 body. Adirondack spruce top with X-bracing. Figured koa back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. 2⁵/₁₆-inch string-spacing at the saddle. Waverly tuning machines. Made in the USA. $11,545 as shown (standard models start at $8,695).

Category: Instruments & Gear

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