REVIEWED: ESTEVE 3Z CEDAR CLASSICAL GUITAR

Zenith Music | zenithmusic.com.au | Expect to Pay: $1099

Esteve guitars have a long-standing reputation that's built upon prestige, authenticity and traditional craftsmanship that's been handed down from generation to generation. First established by Francisco Esteve in 1957, their workshop has grown from strength to strength since its initial inception – all the while retaining core values of old-world design, albeit updated with modern construction methods. With 52 craftspeople employed in their workshop, the end product is a guitar that feels like a Spanish heirloom, but holds the modern playability and intonation of a new instrument without suffering the shortcomings of mass-produced guitars.

If you're not used to classical or flamenco-style nylon-string guitars, the first thing you'll need to get used to is the neck width. Make no mistakes, this is a chunky neck, designed with tradition in mind. Thankfully, it doesn't take too long to get used to. For what you'll be playing on this instrument, you don't need a slimmer profile. In fact, many players agree that a wider neck actually helps make for a more resonant instrument.

 

With a cedar top and rosewood back and sides, the materials here are all of top-quality. This becomes clear when playing, as the Esteve is bolstered by a strong and clear projection. Chords ring clear and true, with good balance across the bass and treble frequencies. When looking for a good acoustic guitar to purchase, this is paramount to consider as what you're getting out of the box is what you'll be living with. The bass is warm and rounded without sounding woolly, while the treble notes are smooth without being dull. Ultimately, this is a well-rounded instrument that will offer a high level of volume and clear sustain.

 

Playing phrases at the top of the fret board come across crisp and clear, although the lack of a cutaway may prove troublesome for guitarists who want to go for those higher notes without performing with traditional upright flamenco posture.

 

Far from being a one-trick pony designed specifically for classical music, this guitar will be an asset for those looking to explore South American music, bossa nova, Latin jazz and more.

 

Thankfully, this is an extremely touch-responsive instrument that responds well to subtle vibrato techniques – a hallmark of numerous finger style guitar pieces. Further flamenco or classical techniques like tremolo picking or complex strumming patterns come off brilliantly on this guitar, and for those used to performing these on a steel-stringed instrument will find an instant sense of satisfaction.

 

Capping it off, the machine heads are as finely crafted as the rest of the guitar – allowing for a pitch-perfect tuning every time. The rest of the guitar's details are as beautiful as the sound itself, finished with traditionally Spanish ornamentation around the soundhole, and pearloid tuners.

 

Whether you want to diversify your guitar collection by adding a nylon-string into the mix or you'd like to take your first step into the world of fingerstyle guitar with a first-rate instrument, this would make a solid investment that will keep most players content for years. 

Hits and Misses

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Warm, rounded sound

Traditional design meets modern construction techniques

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Some players may find the lack of a cutaway or fretboard markings to be a challenge

The large neck width may alienate some used to more modern profiles

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