Instruments & Gear: Fine Lutherie

Huss and Dalton Custom FS

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An elegant fingerstyle machine built with an Italian spruce top and sapele back and sides.

by Teja Gerken
March 29, 2018

Huss and Dalton offers a wide range of high-end steel-string guitars in its standard catalog, but the company led by luthiers Jeff Huss and Mark Dalton will also modify any of its designs for custom orders. We recently had the chance to check out a Custom FS that was ordered by Palo Alto, California’s Gryphon Stringed Instruments (who kindly made the guitar available to us). Standard Huss and Dalton FS models are built with Engelmann spruce tops and Indian rosewood or mahogany backs and sides, but this demo guitar has an Italian spruce top and quilted sapele back and sides.

The Huss and Dalton FS’s dimensions are similar to Martin’s traditional OM. The similarities include a body width of 15¼ inches at the lower bout, a 25.4-inch scale, a 1¾-inch nut width, and wide string-spacing of 2⁵/₁₆ inches at the bridge. But the guitar also has a more modern appearance with a cutaway, off-set position markers in the ebony fingerboard, and a single-ring abalone rosette. As with all Huss and Dalton steel-strings, the guitar’s top has a more pronounced radius than most flattop guitars, adding stability and contributing to the company’s signature tone. One very cool element on the FS is its bridge design, which Huss and Dalton calls “neo-pyramid.” Based on vintage pyramid bridges, but with a slightly larger footprint and varying sizes of the pyramid’s sides, the design successfully fuses traditional and contemporary styles. The woods on our demo guitar were gorgeous, with tight, straight grain prevailing in the top, and beautiful quilting in the sapele back and sides.

The Custom FS is an incredibly lightweight guitar. It had an amazingly quick response and a complex voice even at whisper volumes when played with the lightest possible touch. Yet it is capable of developing power and punch when played with a heavier attack, giving it a dynamic character that will respond well to anyone’s playing style. The guitar’s overall tonal quality is definitely in the OM wheelhouse, but its response was reminiscent of great classical guitars. Overall, Huss and Dalton’s FS is a great guitar for fingerstylists in search of an instrument that successfully fuses vintage and modern elements.

Specs: 14-fret Huss and Dalton FS body. Italian spruce top. Quilted sapele back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony bridge and fingerboard. Maple binding. 25.5-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. 2⁵/₁₆-inch string spacing at the saddle. Gotoh 510 tuners. Made in the USA. $5,460 street.


Category: Instruments & Gear

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