CMC Music | RRP: $1,995
Once upon a time, 400 years ago, I was a young upstart naggingly bleating a burgeoning but increasingly unimpeachable desire to take up guitar to mimic my, and indeed just about everyone in my age group at the time’s, grunge heroes. Dubious about the reality of my extended future as a musician, and also partly because young parents are often not exactly flush with cash, my parents bought, as my first instrument, a relatively cheap nylon string classical guitar upon which to cut my teeth. Of course, I had no idea of the stylistic juxtaposition inherent to the structural differences between the two main breeds, I honestly just needed somewhere to put my Nirvana stickers.
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A few short weeks later, the man who had been charged with my tutelage explained why his guitar was so much more ergonomic than mine. He also impressed upon me two concepts. One, that the little bit of extra wrestle in the wider neck was going to serve me well in years to come like a practice weight on a baseball bat, and two, that if I earnestly wanted to learn to play with as much feeling as possible, then the people for whom guitars like mine were intended, flamenco guitarists namely, were truly the ones to watch. Why in God’s name am I bothering to tell this story I hear you ask? Because the Faith Lyra FLCEHG that I have been introduced to just now simultaneously confirms and denies Mr. Anag’s decades-old assertions.
First, a bit of background. I initially encountered Faith guitars some years ago when given one to review for a much earlier issue of this very periodical. I remember being impressed by an undeniably comfortable playing experience from a relatively inexpensive steel-string, whose body was composed of something from the acacia family of timbers. A little research into an unfamiliar brand revealed Faith to be the brainchild of one Patrick James Eggle. A lifelong tinkerer, the Shropshire-based luthier made his first guitar as a wee lad and, immediately dissatisfied with his efforts, embarked on a lifelong obsession with pulling his boxes apart and putting them back together, improving them inch by inch. His biography will explain in more detail, but the interesting thing that I find about Eggle is that he opened a door of information to me about British, and by extension European, acoustic guitar manufacture.
This particular machine, the Lyra FLCEHG, is Faith’s first foray into the nylon-string world and a more confident first step I don’t think they could have taken. As mentioned, their design principle centres on as effortless a playing experience as possible coupled with ultimate modern tonal clarity, with a top-shelf selection of materials underpinning the whole experience. Here, these three elements combine to form an incredibly interesting, neo-classical experience. The top wood is a rich, almost caramel-colored red cedar sitting on a bed of perfectly book-matched and equally rich rosewood, with a very smart abalone skirted rosewood rosette to match. This combination is by no means unfamiliar in the classical pantheon, but the expression, either through an untold uniqueness in the internal architecture or some other Druid magic, is much more individual. Eggle has managed to maintain the modesty of the cedar as well as the throatiness of the rosewood while adding an almost electric touch sensitivity and attack in the higher frequencies that feels like new icing on an old cake recipe. The tonality is at once familiar to the point of being nostalgic and unrivalled in its freshness.
The physical dimensions only prove to further this sense of double happiness. At 48mm at the nut, the fretboard is on the narrow end of the spectrum. However, at no point during my wild ride did I have the sense I was playing a crossover guitar. This is in part I think due to the depth of the ever-so-slightly offset, ‘C’ to ‘D’-shaped neck profile. This, to me, almost felt chunky enough to give you something to chew on but not too wide or flat to point you in the direction of carpal tunnel syndrome, and with one of the lowest factory actions I’ve come across to boot! I’m by no means the expert in Fado or Saudade that Mr. Anag may have intended, but I do know my way around a few Mediterranean movements, so for me, this was far-and-away the most effortless nylon-string experience I could’ve hoped for.
I’ll never say Mr. Anag was wrong about anything, so his point about the long-term benefits of struggling away on a classical still stands intact in my book of ancient knowledge. Having said that, once you know what you’re doing and it comes time to treat yourself to something next-level, that’s where Faith’s Lyra model comes in. It confidently straddles a line between untethered modernity and stringent classicism both in sound and feel and it is sure to open up a whole new level of comfort and blissful expressionism to both the seasoned Spanish aficionado, and the rock-pig dabbling in the softer side of life.