Instruments & Gear: New Gear

Santa Cruz FTC 40th Anniversary

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California’s small-shop pioneer celebrates 40 years in business with a limited-edition guitar.

by Teja Gerken
September 19, 2016

The Santa Cruz Guitar Company is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Still run by co-founder Richard Hoover, Santa Cruz has contributed to the rise of custom-made steel-strings built in small shops, and the company remains at the vanguard of the high-end acoustic market. To celebrate its milestone, Santa Cruz is building a limited edition of 12 FTC 40th Anniversary models.

Originally introduced in the late 1970s, the FTC was the first completely original model Santa Cruz offered. With a 16-inch lower bout and a relatively tight waist, the guitar fit between the more common 000 and jumbo sizes, and its shape, size, and fingerstyle-friendly tonal voicing became a blueprint for the popular small-jumbo models now offered by many luthiers. The original FTC was also unusual in that it had a carved arched back, similar to the backs of many archtop guitars. An early FTC model was purchased by Eric Clapton, and original-issue guitars are now sought after on the vintage market, but the high cost of producing the arched back eventually led to the discontinuation of the FTC, though the body shape lives on in Santa Cruz’s standard F and FS models (which have flat backs).

We had a chance to check out number 5 of the FTC 40th Anniversary guitars. Built with stunningly flamed maple back and sides and a beautiful European spruce top, the guitar is an incredible instrument that leaves no doubt about Santa Cruz’s position as a premier guitar maker. With the exception of the elegant deco-style fingerboard inlay, a “1976–2016” inlay in the headstock (just behind the nut), and a “40” at the heel-cap, the guitar exhibits a restrained elegance that allows the woods and impeccable craftsmanship to speak for its quality.

The FTC 40th Anniversary offers a highly focused sound with great projection and beautiful overtones. It was impossible to resist the temptation to play jazzy chords and lines on the guitar, both of which benefitted from the clarity and dynamic range that were ever-present while playing the instrument. Playing contemporary fingerstyle material in DADGAD also sounded great, and strumming the guitar yielded a nice, fat rhythm sound. Overall, the FTC 40th Anniversary was an incredibly fun instrument to play, and we’re happy to hear that Santa Cruz is planning to bring a version of the FTC design back to its standard line.

SPECS: F-model mini-jumbo body. Solid European spruce top. Carved arched maple back and maple sides. Maple neck with dovetail joint. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.375-inch scale. 1¹¹/₁₆-inch nut width. Schaller tuning machines. Made in the USA. $12,500 (list).


Category: Instruments & Gear

Comments and Discussion

Posted by Mark Shilling on
Sounds and looks great , I don't understand why 1 11/16" nut width seems to be standard. I've always enjoyed
1 /3/4" but really prefer 1 7/8" and can't figure why more players don't want or demand this as you can really do more with greater string spacing....P.S I have average size hands and fingers.
Posted by Makeyour Faith on
wow, great tone and projection!!
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