Magazine: Akustik Gitarre 06/2018 | Author: Andreas Schulz
Recently, guitar maker and AG writer Christian STOLL dealt with the topic of crossover guitars in his column. Now he presents a remarkable specimen of a crossover nylon string. This guitar was built as a signature instrument for the German singer-songwriter Tobias Burger. As always Christian STOLL has made a parallel copy. With this we can now explore how the guitar maker interprets the nylon crossover subject.
The basis is an oversized body for a nylon string guitar - borrowed from the STOLL steel string model Ambition with almost dreadnought dimensions. The goal of the guitar ordered by Burger: to get away from the typical classical sound! They were looking for a not so soft and above all a powerful sound. The neck-body transition is at 14th fret. In order to achieve the warmer, round tone of a 12 fret construction, the sound hole was moved towards the neck and thus the ideal relationship of the top surfaces was achieved from the guitar maker's point of view. This provides more sonority and colour, while the bracing adapted to work with nylon strings provides the desired volume. All in all, the models Ambition and Alegra from the STOLL range are mixed here. The back and sides are made of finely figured East Indian Rosewood, the top is made of light and fine grained spruce. The woods are of course solid and meet high optical standards. The bindings are made of Maple, around the top we also find a fine decorative purfling. The bridge and soundhole rosette are made of Rosewood, as is the front of the slotted headstock.
The design of the bridge is modern and with its curved side arches it fits well with the equally modern orientation of the guitar. The one-piece neck is made of spanish cedar, it carries an Ebony fingerboard with 19 frets plus a 20th fret for the strings e and b. The fretting is perfectly executed, as is the finish of the nut and bridge inlay, both made of bone. The tuners work flawlessly and also match the instrument visually very well. A stylised mother-of-pearl S inlay at the headstock indicates the origin of the Classic Crossover as manufactured by STOLL. A truss rod allows the neck curvature to be adjusted, body and neck are made and connected with traditional Spanish heel construction. The neck width at nut is 51.5 millimetres, the Ebony fretboard is arched in the typical crossover style. The back of the neck is noticeably flattened - a very grippy D-profile with a very pleasant surface for the thumb. There are no position markers in the form of fingerboard inlays, but there are small dots in the usual frets on the upper side of the neck. As always with guitars made by a local luthier, these and many other parameters are discussed in detail between Luthier and guitarist. So you can design your personal Classic Crossover with the desired fretboard width and, if required, inlays on the ebony fretboard. Alternative woods are also possible, a pickup can be installed as desired, the string action can be adjusted individually. Christian STOLL delivers the instrument with D'Addario carbon strings in High-Tension: These provide a powerful sound rich in overtones and allow for low tuning - not unimportant for singer/songwriters.
Handling and Sound
Material selection and workmanship are top notch, as we have seen with all test guitars from Christian STOLL's workshop so far. The typical STOLL look is manifested here in the curvature of the bridge and the headstock shape, the finish in silky shiny nitrocellulose lacquer is also flawless and offers an excellent touch. For a nylon string guitar the Classic Crossover is noticeably oversized. But if you come from the steel string, you will hardly notice it. The neck width, on the other hand, is more in the classic direction, while the curved fretboard is typical for steelstrings and fusion instruments. The string action is designed to suit any playing technique, but if you prefer a more gentle attack, you could go a few tenths of a millimetre lower. All in all the STOLL Classic Crossover plays excellently and offers best fingerboard access and relaxed playing conditions. Its mixture of conservative classical details and modern crossover parameters is completely successful and can be further individualised in consultation with the luthier. The wood combination spruce/rosewood is a much used choice, it offers distinctive sound and good projection. In this respect it is also a good basis for a nylon string guitar with fusion ambitions.
The first chords on the STOLL Classic Crossover show the way: Here the typical classic sound, dominated by the low mids, is not heard, but a fresh and slim tone. With a remarkable volume, a lot of transparency and a good shot of overtones. When playing open chords or quint stops in a ballad context, one then realizes: the sustain is impressively long, the tone preserves its character and fundamentals, articulation and frequency accuracy of the instrument are exemplary over the whole neck up to high registers. With this sound the Classic Crossover is predestined for modern song accompaniment in fingerstyle playing style. But it also offers solutions for the virtuoso soloist. In addition, it can be played excellently with a plectrum and is therefore a wonderful partner for the jazz guitarist who wants to celebrate a ballad or a bossa nova tune with a warm nylon string tone. Even typical classical repertoire is feasible, unless you expect the typical sonority of a traditional classical guitar.
The ingredients for Christian STOLL's classic crossover model are perfectly combined, not only in the choice of materials, but also in the combination of features as a mixture of traditional classic and modern details. I never missed a cutaway at any time thanks to the 14 fret construction, and I found the playing feel and string tension with the fixed D'Addario carbon strings to be ideal. In terms of sound, you get an incredibly clear and yet warm tone, which can be used for a lot of musical purposes. This sound and the construction of this crossover nylon string make it an ideal instrument for the steel string player who wants to use the nylon sound without having to switch completely to a classical kind of playing feel.
|Guitar tested:||Classic Crossover - Nylonstring|
|Download PDF (german):||Test Akustik Gitarre 06/18 Stoll Classic Crossover|