Furch Yellow Deluxe GC-CR review
It may look like a straightforward Grand Concert cutaway from the outside, but there’s toneful innovation aplenty going on behind the scenes…
Hailing from the Czech Republic, Petr Furch’s guitar company has been one that we’ve had our eyes – and ears – on for quite a while.
While Furch is hardly a new name in acoustic guitars, in fact it’s celebrating its 40th anniversary, it has been something of a best-kept secret among players who want exquisite quality and tone without necessarily knocking on the doors of the more established makers like Taylor or Martin. And when we say ‘players’ we’re including artists here such as Al Di Meola, Suzanne Vega and Glen Hansard, alongside many more.
It might seem a bold statement to make this early on in a review, but we can honestly say that we’ve never played a bad Furch guitar since the brand first appeared on our radar many years ago. So when we had the opportunity to take a close-up look at an instrument that the company itself says is “one of our most technologically advanced guitars” we could hardly wait. But where’s the innovation?
Well, we’ll get to that in a minute, but, for now, a little explanation as to the Yellow Deluxe’s somewhat colourful name. The fact is that Furch’s extensive range of instruments is identified by the colors of the rainbow.
So there are Red, Orange, Violet, Indigo – and so on – ranges from which to pick and choose. We’re sure you see where they’re going with this. These different ranges within the catalogue are full of varying body sizes, shapes and timber choices, and there’s something there for practically every budget.
As far as our Yellow Deluxe is concerned, it fits into the Furch stable as one of the more up-range models, but still comes in at a non-astronomical price point. And whereas €2.7k might still seem a stretch, at the time of writing this represents about £2.4k and we’ve seen them below the £2k mark from some dealers in this country. This places Furch in a highly competitive area, cheaper than the big league but standing side by side with quality acoustics from overseas that we’re currently seeing.
We’re saying all this in advance in the interest of scene setting, because this guitar really is something rather special and we want to make sure that everyone is aware of where it sits in the marketplace before we zoom in for a closer look. And it’s probably time that we did just that and so let’s run a quick eye down the Yellow Deluxe’s spec sheet as a kind of appetizer.
The GC-CR designation in the guitar’s name translates into Grand Concert (the body shape) and cedar/rosewood, summing up the timbers used in the body. It’s triple-A grade Western red cedar for the top, a great wood for a softer and articulate fingerstyle approach, with Indian rosewood for the back and sides.
To quote the Tonewood Database, Indian rosewood “takes the sonic thumbprint of mahogany and expands it in both directions”. We couldn’t have put it better ourselves, but for our half pennyworth, rosewood adds ‘air’ and resonance into an acoustic guitar’s tone. At best, it’s like you have a built-in reverb unit, such is the sustain and ambient characteristics of this particular tonewood.
Where other appointments are concerned, the Yellow Deluxe’s neck is mahogany, with an ebony fingerboard, transparent scratchplate, abalone rosette and pearl position markers and so on. Pretty standard fare so far, so what about these innovations?
Well, for one thing we have both a forearm bevel and one to the back of the instrument, too – think Strat belly cut – and whereas there’s nothing particularly unusual about this, the way it’s made certainly is. Furch uses 3D printing to make the bevels, which not only cuts cost but improves precision. And if they hadn’t told us, we’d have sworn blind that the bevels here were ebony or some other dark wood.
Then there’s the guitar tops, which are all tap-toned and braced to bring out the best possible tonal response, something that is arguably more common to find on bespoke top-end instruments, plus an ultra-thin finish to ensure that the vibration characteristics of the woods are not compromised.
Furch’s CNR System (Composite Neck Reinforcement) sees the guitar’s truss rod encased in a carbon casing that the company claims “has 90 per cent higher resistance to deformations caused by string tension and changes in humidity compared [with] traditional neck designs”.
It also means that the stabilising features you would normally find on an acoustic here – a neck block, for instance – aren’t necessary, allowing the top to vibrate more freely. Interesting, indeed, but does it make that much of a difference? Time to shut up and play the guitar…
Feel & Sounds
The Yellow Deluxe certainly feels good in the hands. The shape of the neck is an incredibly comfortable but at the same time very subtle V. It’s far from being a clubby 50s Tele or Strat, but feels substantial and somehow satisfying at the same time. Furch tells us that the company can accommodate different neck widths from 43mm to 48mm, but here it sits in between at 45mm, widening out to 57mm at the 14th fret.
It’s only when you actually play a guitar with a forearm bevel that you realise why they’re becoming so popular. You might barely notice their presence, but they certainly enhance the playing experience, particularly if you’re looking at a long evening’s set of material. On the Yellow Deluxe the bevel to the back is a nice addition, too, particularly if your playing position veers more towards the more ‘tucked in’ variation.
But what about the tone? We were surprised how broad the tonal spectrum is here with snappy and lively basses, a responsive and unmuddy midrange and singing trebles. It’s a more modern sound than that of the more traditional Martin or Taylor – think more Andy McKee than, say, Bert Jansch, for instance – with a very clean-sounding tone overall that responds well to varying picking dynamics.
There’s enough volume to fill a room, and for live use, while our review sample came without a pickup, we’re told that Furch offers a range of options on this front, including the trusty LR Baggs Anthem or Element systems.
You’ve probably gathered that we like the Yellow Deluxe a lot. The under-the-bonnet innovations can be considered in line with what Martin has done with the Modern Deluxe Series, with a traditional outward appearance with some contemporary features running quietly in the background.
In terms of playability it ticks all the boxes, although sound-wise it could just deter the die-hard traditionalist who is after the tones of yore. But what is here would suit someone who wants to walk a more contemporary acoustic path as it’s a very good vehicle for acolytes of Andy McKee or even Mike Dawes.
Seek one out and see what you think. But remember, if you don’t like what you find here, Furch has literally a whole spectrum of other options available in its catalogue.
In a marketplace where premium quality and tone often come at a king’s ransom, the Furch stands out as being an upper-end instrument that would not drain the resources of a player serious about their sound.
Pros: quality build, distinctive, contemporary sound, good picking dynamics.
Cons: some traditionalists may be put off by the modern sound
Author: David Mead