CMC Music | Expect to pay: $2,150
Faith Guitars have been meticulously crafting acoustic guitars for close to 20 years, slowly but steadily garnering a reputation as one of the world’s leading acoustic artisans. Founded in 2002 by British luthier Patrick James Eggle, Faith guitars are now widely renowned for their resonant tonewoods, as well as their stylish designs and portability.
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Their latest release, the Neptune Harvest Moon, is no exception to the rule. Its starring feature is its super resonant Trembesi tonewood body, accompanied by a silky mahogany neck with a satin finish, not to mention a Fishman INK3 preamp and Fishman under-saddle pickup. The body’s gloss finish is also an impressive addition to the Neptune’s aesthetic charm.
It’s probably first worth talking a bit about Trembesi tonewood, and what it exactly brings to the table when discussing tonal warmth and resonance. Trembesi wood is indigenous to Indonesia and is found in abundance across Java and a few other Indonesian islands.
Faith began utilising this unusually alluring tonewood a few years ago, with its mid-centred timbre making its presence known on many of the company’s more recent releases.
The first thing that really struck me about the Neptune when playing it for the first time was just how well the low strings project. I’ve played quite a few acoustics of comparable value to the Neptune and have noticed that some of these guitars’ lower frequencies have a propensity to buzz and sound rather thin.
The Neptune’s lower-pitched strings, on the other hand, sound sublime – their fat, round sound cuts through the mix beautifully, providing a fitting tonal accompaniment to the bitier higher frequencies proffered by the acoustic.
Obviously, everyone has a preferred means of tackling the acoustic guitar, whether that be with a plectrum or with their fingers. I would say that while the Neptune sounds majestic while strummed, the string tension and 55mm spacing makes it the ideal six-string for fingerpickers.
I’ve heard some acoustic guitarists explain that the reason they rely so heavily on using a plectrum is because reverting to fingerstyle causes them to lose volume and purchase on their instrument.
This is mostly the case with guitars that have slacker strings with less tension – while they might sound nice and bright while strummed, this tonal sheen doesn’t always come through once you flick away the plectrum.
The way in which the string tension is primed on the Neptune also affords players a wide dynamic range. Those who play lightly will still be heard due to the sheer resonance of the instrument, while guitarists who choose to dig into the strings will hear that glimmering ‘pop’, especially in the higher register.
A tell-tale sign of a quality acoustic instrument is the extent to which you can hear the harmonic overtones when playing a chord: being a pianist primarily myself, this is the one of the first characteristics I look for when playing a new upright or grand piano.
The same applies for hollow bodied guitars, and with the Neptune, there’s something pretty satisfying about strumming a chord and letting those glistening overtones complement the rest of the chord.
I’d say that the Neptune Harvest Moon is naturally inclined towards its mid-range, so spending some time tweaking the Fishman EQ whilst plugged in is always a good idea. If you’re strumming away at a rhythm guitar part, you may want to take a bit of heat off the mids and add a touch more treble, so as to make room for all frequencies to cut through.
Additionally, for those who like to play with reverb, it’s probably best to just apply a smidgen and let the natural rebarbative qualities of the Trembesi tonewood do the talking.
Another of the Neptune’s many great specs is its neck profile: as someone who occasionally struggles barring chords on some wider-necked acoustics, it really seems like Faith have nailed not only the width, but also the depth of the mahogany neck. It’s slim but not to the point of resembling a banjo neck, and its satin finish makes for some fairly effortless shifting.
While the action is set at an ideal level, the string tension means you might want to apply a tad more left hand pressure than usual while fretting. This will likely take some getting used to, however in the grand scheme of things it’s only really a minor technical adjustment.
Given the vibrant sustain that the Trembesi tonewood offers, it’s no surprise that the Neptune itself may weigh a fraction more than your typical spruce-bodied acoustic, if that’s what you’re used to.
But again, the difference in weight is almost negligible once you come to appreciate the enduring resonance of the instrument. The contour also feels as aesthetically natural as can be, and rests comfortably against your midriff when sitting down.
Overall, the Faith Neptune Harvest Moon has to be one of the finest acoustic guitars I’ve had the pleasure of playing. Its unique tonewood affords it a warm sonic edge that you’ll be hard-pressed to find in other similarly-priced guitars, while the carefully set string tension gives you a remarkably wide dynamic range to play with.
At its current price point, the Neptune is the ideal acoustic for those of you looking for an instrument with vibrancy, sustain and durability.