7/31/2016

2014 Michael Tulloch Slope Dreadnought Guitar





Mr. Tulloch (of Chelsea, Vermont) dropped this guitar by for consignment in the flesh and, as we were talking, I realized he was the same maker of a gorgeous boutique 000-size guitar I'd tried out in Montpelier a few years ago. This one is fantastic -- it's two years old but, basically, brand new. I note zero playwear on it.

It's in the mold of an old J-45 and has the clear, fundamental, punchy, mids-saturated tone I expect from a late-40s Gibson jumbo. The extra-lightweight build, however, recalls early 30s models. I think that if one was in the market for a slope dread, these days, that this would be a terrific deal compared to the mass-market new Gibsons (decent but often so-so) or the jewel-encrusted pricing of boutique Collings CJs and the like. It sounds and plays just as well as the latter, mind you.

My only adjustment to this guitar before hanging it on the wall for sale was to give it a 5-minute light setup at the saddle -- Summer humidity must've pushed this up to 3/32" overall action and I dropped it back down to spot-on 1/16" DGBE and 3/32" EA with a compensated B-slot. It plays effortlessly.


Normal J-45 specs apply to the sizing -- with a 16" lower bout and 24 3/4" scale length. The bridge is an old-fashioned "straight" style and the nut is a generous 1 3/4" like the "old guys," which makes it a little cleaner for fingerpicking work. The neck shape front/back is a slimmer soft-V shape which brings old L-00s to mind, though with a slightly faster feel. It's truss-rodded, too.

The top is x-braced and made from bearclaw sitka spruce. The finish fades to black indoors but in a lot of sunlight it gets a really deep charcoal color at the edges instead. It's handsome and has that nice, smaller-burst look.


Pearl is used throughout for inlay and bone is used for the nut and saddle.

The headstock veneer is a slab of ebony -- unlike the painted headstocks of original Gibsons.


The rosewood board has a Gibson radius and normal medium frets. The strings are regular 54w-12 lights.



Don't you love the stripped-down look? It's elegant, restrained, and rich at the same time. Note the three-ply binding at the edges.


Snakewood pins are used here and at the endpin. Note that the pins follow the line of the saddle for even back-angle. The bridge itself is ebony and gives a bit of the "old school" 40s J-45 look because of that -- often the rosewood bridges on those were finished which gives them an ebony appearance.


That's some nice, tight grain.




Ah, yes, the super-gorgeous bit! I love flamed mahogany. This is solid Honduras mahogany and the back/sides are thick with that figure. The sunburst gives it some focus on the best bits, too. You're not going to find this stuff on production-run new slope dreads.


The Waverly tuners ($$) have ivoroid buttons and `function perfectly.


The mahogany neck has some good sunburst effects.



Right? Lovely mahogany.











The neck is also bolted-on with two bolts. This makes later repair or adjustment very, very easy.


The guitar also comes with a nearly-new TKL hard, arched-top case. Good stuff!

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