For more details please see below
Furch are a brand with a fascinating history. The company founder Frantisek Furch began making guitars in 1981 at a time in which the Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia) was under communist control. With private enterprise banned in Czechoslovakia Frantisek’s first guitars were built in his garage and sold by cloak and dagger means to local musicians and he quickly gained a reputation for high quality instruments. With the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 Furch went legit, setting up a small factory and beginning to export instruments to Western Europe under the Stonebridge and Stanford brands. By 2016 the Furch name has been established in its own right and all the solid wood models now bear the founder’s initial on the headstock. From one man trying not to make too much noise in a garage Furch now employ a workforce of 40 people operating out of a 16th Century mill building and hand making a series of high quality yet affordable guitars at a range of price points.
As followers of the Furch Facebook page we often see one offs that they have built that are truly spectacular and a little while ago we asked them if we could put our name on something exceptional for the shop. This is what they sent us: a 23 series with back and sides made from one of the most highly figured pieces of Koa I’ve ever come across.
It’s a grand auditorium sized guitar comparible to a Taylor 14 size, so it’s quite a big instrument but comfortable to hold due to the tight waist that allows it to sit lower on the body than a dreadnought. Having forced myself to stop staring at the gloriously three dimensional flame in the Koa the top is a pretty great piece of Spruce with a tight, even grain and lots of cross silking. The 23 series is easily identified by its blood red Padauk binding and against the golden hue of the Koa it looks very striking. The padauk theme is carried across to the rosette and end strip and there’s some delicate black and white purfling to tie it all together. The finish is a soft semi-gloss similar to that used by Lowden. It should go without saying really but the build quality inside and out is absolutely flawless.
Moving on to the neck, it’s a reasonably chunky affair with a 44mm nut and a full C profile. It’s a satin finish with a nice smooth feel, and there’s an attractive Maple coachline underneath the fingerboard and headstock veneer. The veneer itself is figured Ebony with a squiggle motif (I’m sure that’s not what they would call it) in pearl and Padauk along with the Gothic ‘F’ that adorns all Furch Millennium series guitars. The Ebony board itself is jet black and with only a 12th fret inlay for a marker, although the side dots keep things easy to navigate. The Schaller tuners work well and look nice with their Ebony buttons, and there’s a strap button on the heel to save you having to drill into it yourself.
Tonally Koa falls into a similar category to Maple and Walnut in that it’s nice and crisp in the higher register and punchy in the mids, but like Maple it can sometimes sound harsh and nasal. Fortunately this guitar is anything but: it has that crisp edge to the sound and it has a quick, responsive attack, but there’s bags of warmth to the low end as well. The bass notes are surprisingly full and rich with a little less fundamental than a Rosewood guitar but more strident and punchier than Mahogany. There’s a lovely shimmer to strummed chords and played fingerstyle it’s very expressive with a lot of clarity.
The up-charge for the Koa on this model is around £500 so it’s not insignificant. However, it’s a very unique piece that sounds absolutely wonderful and for us the extra cost is easily justified in the tonal qualities of the guitar – it’s a really stunning piece.
Model 24 is a very natural-feeling instrument. Its beauty comes from the harmonies of woods used, as shown in the combination of the red Padouk binding and figured koa back and sides, both complimented beautifully by our hand-polished Vintage finish.