Friday, February 25, 2011

Santa Cruz Guitar Company D Model


Today we are looking at the nicest guitar I have ever owned: a Santa Cruz Guitar Company D Model.

You may never have heard of the Santa Cruz Guitar Company which is probably because they do not make very many guitars, and they do not advertise much. But, they are some of the best guitar you can buy. Heck, Eric Clapton plays them…

Anyway, the company was founded by Richard Hoover in 1976, and they have evolved the traditional guitar designs of the 20th century about as far as they can go. Their designs and attention to detail cannot be faulted.

Looking at this D Model, you can see right off that it is a dreadnought with plenty of Martin inspiration. It has a Sitka spruce top and Indian rosewood sides and back. The top has tapered bracing, and it is adorned with some of the slickest binding I have ever seen. The glossy finish on the body is super-thin, which is exactly what I was hoping for when I bought this guitar.

The bound neck is fabulous. The frets came perfectly crowned are very well finished on the edges, like you would expect from a guitar of this caliber. The neck has a comfortable rounded shape to it with a non-sticky matte finish. The width at the nut is about 1 & 11/16 inches. The fretboard is ebony (like the bridge), and the open-backed tuners are a joy to look at.

As I said before, it is the nicest guitar I have ever owned, and this is not hyperbole. The craftsmanship and pride that went into building this guitar is obvious. I cannot find a single flaw on it: there is not a burr, finish flaw or spot of uneven binding anywhere on this guitar.

It plays perfectly, of course, and the neck works well for fingerstyle or however else you want to play.

But the biggest story is its sound. Guitarists choose dreadnoughts primarily for their big tone and volume, and the Santa Cruz GC Model D delivers this. This guitar is a cannon and would be great on stage.

But the SCGC has further improved the tone on these guitars. Generally, dreadnoughts are very bass-heavy, with thinner mid and treble tones. Santa Cruz has re-engineered the body shape and bracing to provide more even tones across all strings. When I was looking at this guitar, there was a Martin D28V for sale as well. I was able to A-B them and they were very close in finish, playability and volume. But the Santa Cruz won out due to its consistent tone.

If you are in the market for a high-end acoustic, I highly recommend checking out the offerings from the Santa Cruz Guitar Company. You will be happy you did.



  1. That is a really lovely guitar.
    Next time you're nearby, I ought to haul you over to either Sylvan Music here in S'Cruz, or Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto. They both carry the full line of Santa Cruz instruments, and have some real doozies in stock.

    I'm wondering- did you find this guitar transparent in terms of playing technique, or were there any adjustments you had to make to your playing to get the sound and feel you were looking for?
    I find it's about 50/50 for me, but the way Santa Cruz and a few others set up their guitars tends to feel to me like they're playing themselves.

  2. I just bought a SCGC Custom D (Sitka and Black Walnut). Her tone is not as deep as my Gibson J-200 but better on the mids and high end. Responsive top. Truly a amazing guitar. I tried several other Santa Cruz guitars but prefer Dreadnoughts. This won my heart in only a few minutes.

    Great review and pictures.

  3. The Santa Cruz guitars are incfredible, even considering their cost. I have seen other high-end acoustics for a lot more money that were only the tiniest bit better.

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