Instruments & Gear: New Gear

Beard Deco Phonic Southside

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A mid-size flattop that combines contemporary and vintage designs.

by Teja Gerken
January 20, 2020

Beard Guitars has long been one of the premier makers of resophonic guitars, and the workshop that luthier Paul Beard started to build his dobro-style guitars in large numbers is now a full-fledged production shop that offers flattop and electric guitars in addition to its legendary line of resophonics. Beard recently added a trio of flattops to its vintage-inspired Deco Phonic line (check out our previous demo of the Sidecar model), and we had a chance to check out the Deco Phonic Southside in the Peghead Nation video studio. 

With a width of 15 inches at the lower bout, the Beard Southside’s body (which Beard calls the A-Model) is similar to a 000 or OM in size, but its narrower upper bout gives it a distinctive appearance. The guitar has a 14-fret neck, solid peghead, and sunburst finish. Constructed with a solid Engelmann top, laminated Finnish birch back and sides, a mahogany neck, and morado fingerboard and bridge, the guitar has the same materials as other Deco Phonic flattops. Like the Southside we checked out, the guitar was built very lightly, with delicate mahogany X-bracing and an ultra-thin open-pore finish. As expected from a maker with the high level of experience that Beard has, the instrument’s craftsmanship is excellent throughout. 

Playing the guitar, it exhibited an OM-like overall character, with a bit of Gibson-ish midrange. It sounded great for any kind of fingerstyle playing, but also held its own when strummed. I would characterize the sound as more contemporary than the vintage appearance led me to expect, and I found that the guitar’s elastic tonality made it a really fun playing companion. 

The Southside is a great addition to Beard’s lineup. Players who enjoy a guitar with a distinctive look and tonal character without straying too far from tradition are bound to take a liking to this new model.

SPECS: Beard A-Model body. Solid Engelmann spruce top with mahogany X-bracing. Laminated Finnish birch back and sides. Mahogany neck. 25-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Open-gear Golden Age Restoration tuners. $1,800.

Category: Instruments & Gear

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