Guitar Review: Furch Blue MM Dreadnought Offers Warm and Surprising Tonal Colors
If I had to pick two words to describe the Furch Blue MM, they would be “Play me!” Right out of the box, this mahogany acoustic-electric dreadnought felt ready to make music. Admittedly, I’ve always had a taste for mahogany flattops of all sizes. To my ears, almost any decent mahogany box can deliver a sweet midrange that reminds me of warm milk. And that’s what I expected when I took a quick look at the Blue MM specs and price point.
That all changed as soon as I tuned up and hit an open G chord. The sweet warm tone I would have expected from a mahogany guitar was there. But the Furch also projected with a bell-like clarity that can be lacking in even some very expensive mahogany boxes.
Furch’s roots go back to the 1970s when what was then Czechoslovakia was under communist rule. According to the company’s website, metalworker and musician Frantisek Furch became frustrated with the lack of available instruments and began building his own. Despite restrictions on privately owned commerce, his side hustle slowly grew into a business during the 1980s.
With the end of the Cold War, what is now the Czech Republic became a market economy and Furch was able to move from the family garage to a proper factory. The 1990s began an era of expansion as Furch added new models and reached markets outside of its homeland. In the early 2000s, Furch’s son Petr—an expert in CNC programming—came aboard and brought a high-tech approach to the building process.
Now under Petr’s leadership, Furch guitars are available in a wide spectrum of models, including steel-strings in a range of sizes and configurations, nylon-strings, baritones, 12-strings, basses, and more. The company uses colors to indicate starting prices for its instruments, and each band in the spectrum may have multiple models. Starting at $1,012, Violet is the most affordable; Blue sits in the lower middle, while Red tops the line at a starting price of $3,646.
Tradition Meets Tech
The Blue MM, which also comes in an OM body shape, is just one of seven models in the Blue series. With a base price of $1,414, the instrument I tested included the L.R. Baggs Stage Pro Element with tuner and EQ ($247 retail), one of four available electronics options, and a high-quality padded gig bag ($90). (Alternatively, a high-rigidity Hiscox is available for $302.)
At first glance, the Blue MM looks like a traditional dreadnought. It feels familiar to hold and play. I was immediately at ease with the guitar in my hands. But beneath its understated appearance are a number of invisible yet interesting design choices and construction techniques that make the most of the materials used. That’s not to say that the material used is lacking in any way. The back, top, and sides are all made from solid AA African mahogany, as is the neck. Its profile is full but not overly chunky— that nice middle ground that provides plenty of room for accurate fingering without fatiguing your hands.
I expected the Blue MM’s tone to be sweet and warm. And it was. However, I was more impressed with the sonic colors I didn’t expect—a shimmer of bell-like detail that made the sound articulate without losing the warm low end.
That surprise is perhaps owing to Furch’s CNR System (Composite Neck Reinforcement System), which features an adjustable truss rod inside a carbon casing. This is designed to make the neck more stable at the joint, keeping it from deforming under string tension and/or changes in humidity while allowing for very accurate relief adjustment. At the same time, the CNR System is said to allow the top to vibrate more freely, translating to better sound.
While I didn’t have a test model with a conventional neck to compare, I can report what I observed as a player: The action is indeed good and consistent along the length of the neck—impressive in New York spring weather that goes from below 40 degrees and raining one day to 72 and sunny the next.
As for the electronics, the L.R. Baggs undersaddle pickup and preamp worked well. The onboard tuner is simple, fast, and effective. Controls include sliders for volume, bass, midrange and treble, a rotary notch filter, and a phase switch. My only criticism is that the lettering was a bit hard to read, something that won’t be a problem once you’ve used it more than once.
I’ve been reviewing guitars for about 30 years, and it’s not often that an instrument sparks my curiosity the way the Furch Blue MM has. From its deceptively traditional looks to its impressively expansive tone, the instrument’s performance lends credence to the engineering principles that seem to be at the core of Furch’s design philosophy. Yet in the end, few of us care why a guitar plays well or sounds good. Most players I know just want an instrument that can consistently do both—and maybe look cool in the bargain—without breaking the bank. The Blue MM checks all those boxes with a bold Sharpie.
BODY 14-fret dreadnought; solid African mahogany top; solid African mahogany back and sides; faux tortoise binding; ebony bridge with compensated Tusq saddle; open-pore finish
NECK African mahogany neck with ebony fretboard; Furch CNR System neck joint; 25-9/16-inch scale; 15-3/4-inch radius; 1-3/4-inch Tusq nut
OTHER L.R. Baggs Stage Pro Element electronics and padded gig bag (as tested)
MADE IN Czech Republic
PRICE $1,414 (base)/$1,750 (as tested)
Author: Emile Menasché