Written by Adam Perlumtter
Acoustic Guitar Magazine
Play just one chord on Bedell’s Revere Orchestra—it’s like a little Steinway grand. An open Emaj7 hangs around for a very long time, as if a damper pedal is engaged, in a wash of almost reverberant sound, as the guitar vibrates excitedly against your ribcage.
That this guitar sounds so magnificent is hardly surprising. The instruments Bedell makes at its custom shop in Bend, Oregon, are among the finest of modern boutique guitars. And this particular example boasts an Adirondack spruce top and Brazilian rosewood back and sides—a tonewood combo that’s common for many golden-era acoustic guitars but rare for new instruments, owing to restrictions on the woods.
A Real Lush
The Revere Orchestra plays as well as it sounds. Its C-shaped neck has a decidedly modern profile, on the thin side, though hardly skimpy. The nut width is 111/16 inches rather than the 13/4 that’s fashionable these days
(a 1 3/4-inch nut will be an option in 2015). But the neck doesn’t feel cramped when it comes to fretting chords, and the string spacing feels ample for fingerpicking.
Whether strumming basic open chords, doing some Travis picking, or riffing on rock chords, the guitar is resonant and responsive, with an excellent tonal balance in all of its registers, from thick and satisfying bass to tight, clear treble. Even styles not normally associated with a steel-string flattop—like bossa-nova comping and jazz chord-melody soloing—sound excellent on this instrument, given its great note separation and overall lush voice.
Bedell used an extraordinary set of woods for the review model of this instrument. The Adirondack spruce boasts a fine, even grain, and has a lively resonance when I tap the soundboard. The guitar company says it owns the world’s largest collection of legal Brazilian rosewood for making instruments. Wood purveyors maintained this particular stash in the Segovia region of Spain for 50 years before Bedell acquired it, which means that this is the genuine “old wood” that guitar connoisseurs find so enticing.
The Revere’s three-piece back shows the range of appearance that the prized tonewood is known for. Its center piece has a deep, dark-chocolate color, while the outer pieces are a lighter shade of brown, with a more dramatic grain pattern. The grains on the two sides form a chevron pattern that meets in the center of the guitar.
At just under 4 pounds, the Revere is exceptionally light. From the smooth fretwork to the uniformly lustrous finish to the guitar’s tidy innards, the fit and finish are impeccable. The guitar has an organic appearance, thanks to the koa binding throughout; that same wood is used for the heel cap and end strip, as well as for definition lines between the back’s three rosewood plates.
An abalone trim on the soundboard, fretboard and bridge pins make the instrument feel luxurious. My only aesthetic complaint is that the satin finish on the headstock seems an odd choice, given that the rest of the guitar has a gloss finish.
Made to be Played
Despite its high sticker price, this guitar is more for the traveling performer than the collector. It comes standard with K&K PowerMix Pure XT, an electronics system that incorporates an undersaddle piezo; a bridge-plate transducer; and an external, two-channel preamp. The external preamp is a smart choice. Although less convenient than an onboard module, it means you don’t have that unfortunate hunk of plastic mounted to the guitar, as you see on many acoustic-electric instruments. The electronics sound surprisingly natural and hum-free when played through a Fender Acoustasonic amplifier—gig-worthy to say the least.
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