A stunning maple jumbo built to country picker Albert Lee’s specs.
by Teja Gerken
May 10, 2018
Guitarist Albert Lee is best known for his virtuoso country “chicken picking” on electric guitar with Eric Clapton, Emmylou Harris, the Everly Brothers, and others. But he is a veteran acoustic sideman as well, having filled the major acoustic guitar role on the influential Trio recording by Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris, for example. In 2007, Albert acquired his first Huss and Dalton instrument, and soon after, the Virginia-based company began working with him on what is now a set of three signature models. We had a chance to check out the top-of-the-line Albert Lee MJ Deluxe, a 16-inch jumbo with the same specs as Albert’s original Huss and Dalton. Our demo guitar was generously provided by Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto, California.
The Huss and Dalton Albert Lee MJ Deluxe impresses with both its looks and tone. Finished in transparent black all around, the guitar has a distinguished appearance that is further enhanced by the flamed-koa binding, rosette, and pickguard. Albert’s signature graces the ebony fingerboard at the 12th fret, and a set of gold Waverly tuners adorn the peghead. The guitar is constructed with highly flamed maple back and sides and a bearclaw Sitka spruce top, and even though the finish is dark, its transparency enhances the woods’ appearance.
This guitar is a wonderful example of how great a maple jumbo can sound. Powerful and loud when strummed, the guitar also has excellent definition on single-note lines, and while it doesn’t lack for bass, it never sounds boomy. This balanced sound also provides a great foundation for fingerstyle playing. The guitar’s neck has a rounded profile with a bit of depth and a nut-width of 1¹¹/₁₆ inches, dimensions that make it feel like a hybrid between typical acoustic and vintage electric necks.
Whether you’re a fan of Albert Lee’s or just appreciate a great jumbo-style guitar, the Huss and Dalton Albert Lee MJ Deluxe is a very cool instrument: an original interpretation of a classic design built with excellent materials and craftsmanship and producing a beautiful, complex sound that would be at home in many musical contexts.
Specs: 16-inch jumbo body. Bearclaw Sitka spruce top. Flamed-maple back and sides. Maple neck. Ebony bridge and fingerboard. Koa binding, rosette, and pickguard. 25.4-inch scale. 1¹¹/₁₆-inch nut width. 2 ⅛-inch string spacing at the saddle. Open-gear Waverly tuners. Made in the USA. $7,830 (list). Hussanddalton.com
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