Pursuing a Passion via a Bourgeois OM Custom Guitar

Bourgeios OM Guitar

Finding myself on a project in Fayetteville, Arkansas, a few years back and having decided to visit all the local music stores on a guitar hunt, I stumbled across Blue Moon Music. It's an unassuming place from the outside, but once you step inside you find a veritable treasure house of vintage tube amplifiers, double basses, mandolins, violins and of course, acoustic guitars. Having spent many uninspiring hours playing Martin, Taylor and Alvarez acoustics in the other, more premium local stores, I was not expecting to find anything special at Blue Moon. I could not have been more surprised.

I think I played my way along the whole length of the guitar racks until I found the Bourgeios. As soon as I picked it up I knew it was a 'special' instrument and I suppose it took me all of ten seconds to recognise how alive it felt. I must have lost the next hour just playing it and getting a feel for its special qualities. The owner of the store told me its background. It had been sitting in a collection, unused, until very recently and was underplayed and he thought that it would 'open up' when fully played in. He told me that it was hand made in 2002 by a luthier called Dana Bourgeios from Lewiston, Maine who makes about five hundred guitars a year from carefully selected tonewoods.

Bourgeios OM in Bubinga Tonewood

This guitar has an Adirondack (Appalachain) Spruce top and Bubinga (African Rosewood) back and sides. It resonates beautifully, with a full bass, a superbly balanced, sweet, singing treble with choir like overtones and outstanding sustain. In the store, it was one of those 'decisive moments', when you just know that something was meant to happen. So, of course, I made an offer and, after a fair bit of haggling, bought it. After we came to terms, we talked for a long time about the various tonewoods used on the instrument and I learned a great deal from the store owner, who was also a professional musician and guitar technician. When I got back to the UK, I contacted Bourgeios, and they told me that it was the only one they'd built with that exact combination of tonewoods - and it turns out - it's a real winner. Lucky me!

Here is what Dana Bourgeios has to say about some of his tonewoods:-

Eastern red spruce, also known as Adirondack or Appalachian spruce, was the primary topwood used by American manufacturers before World War II. Its use was all but discontinued due to over-harvesting of the resource but has recently been reintroduced thanks to 50 years of regeneration and to the legendary status that this traditional tonewood has attained. The small size of most logs and a shortage of wood conforming to market preference for even color and regularity of grain conspire to keep the price of red spruce extremely high.

Red spruce is relatively heavy, has a high velocity of sound, and has the highest stiffness across and along the grain of all the topwoods. Like Sitka, it has strong fundamentals, but it also exhibits a more complex overtone content. Tops made out of red spruce have the highest volume ceiling of any species, yet they also have a rich fullness of tone that retains clarity at all dynamic levels. In short, red spruce may very well be the Holy Grail of topwoods for the steel-string guitar.
— Dana Bourgeios

Rick Micheletti, a Californian Luthier says of Bubinga tonewood  ....."Bubinga or African Rosewood is another fine tonewood that is harder and heavier than either Brazilian or Indian Rosewood. It produces a brilliant and distinctive tone. If it wasn't such a pain to work with there would probably be a lot more guitars made out of this material (It's difficult to bend, difficult to cut, difficult to sand or scrape...I think you get the idea). It's interlocking grain when lacquered gives the most amazing visual effect. The mottled "Bees Wing" figure produces a kind of holographic look when the instrument is slightly rotated.  The beautiful mauve color ages into a gorgeous brownish-red. Despite our "love-hate" relationship with this wood, we do offer it as standard equipment because of its tonal quality and beauty.

And, it plays so beautifully, it inspires you pick it up and try harder!