We first introduced you to Greg Hager from North Dakota in the United States last Christmas and since then it’s been a real joy for us to see how he has been getting on with his X20-12 Artisan Woody. Nearly a year on from getting his Emerald, and over 100 shows in, Greg kindly sent us his thoughts…
The X20-12 Artisan is better than I even imagined – This guitar is everything that I needed and wanted it to be. These are my honest and open thoughts.
To understand my appreciation of this masterpiece – and why I am excited for you to get one of your own – you have to understand my story. I first learned to play guitar when I was 7 years old, and have been ‘learning’ now for 34 years. My early musical influences were primarily Gordon Lightfoot, John Denver, and Roger Whittaker – and all sorts of Country Gospel. I loved the sound of the guitars on the LP’s that I played. The melodic harmonics of the octave strings were (and still are) mesmerising.
I listen to music as one would listen to a story – where the lyrics are only a part of the song. The musical support tells the other part. And so as I learned to chord and strum, I knew that I had to have a 12-string. My father purchased a Celebrity Ovation 12-String for me to play on in 1979. I was hooked. I taught myself to finger-pick in the style of my music heroes. I learned to write songs that told the stories that I loved to listen to. I was an Ovation fanatic. I’ve had ‘four’ different models over the years. Well, perhaps that might be closer to 10 if I counted the times that the guitars were rebuilt.
Fast-forward to 2015. I had been drooling and dreaming of a guitar that would be “road-worthy” to be the type of tool that could go out and actually do the work of a road musician. For many years I had been averaging about 120 concerts each year in all types of venues, weather situations, and temperature conditions. My ‘old guitars’ could not handle the work. I was meticulous about storage and both room and case humidifiers. The ‘tool’ just couldn’t handle the work. Trade magazines and catalog’s would talk about the future of the ‘wonder material’ called carbon fiber.
I began to dream. Would it be possible to have a guitar that would be impervious to the hazards of the traveling musician? Could a guitar actually play well cold or warm? Have consistent tonal quality in humid or dry environments? The Emerald Guitar Company was always there listed as ‘amazing’. Boy that early X30 looked amazing…
So I ordered my X20-12 Artisan in June of 2015 with hopes and some trepidation. I loved the look of the fiber, but wanted a little more traditional look for the guitar, and so I ordered mine in a bubinga woody finish.
How could I possibly have trepidation? Well, I was making a sizeable investment on a guitar that I had never had the opportunity to cradle in my lap. I mean, really, who buys a guitar that they haven’t played before???? I relied heavily on the reputation and reviews of others and the descriptions in the trade magazines. I was nervous. I was anxious. I was so hoping that I would not be disappointed. Finally, and just in time for my Christmas concert, a package arrived from Ireland. I was elated. I carefully unwrapped the boxes and just looked with pride and elation at that beautiful guitar.
My guitar was delivered during our winter, and was set on the porch by the delivery man. Temperatures that are below zero chill everything FAST. I struck my first chord. The most amazing resonance that I had ever heard in a guitar. Everything was COLD, but the tone was pure, the neck was straight, and it was almost in perfect tune. How was this possible? Simply amazing.
I’m a singer and a songwriter who travels primarily in the central USA. I perform only original music from the stage and do so in churches, halls, festivals, rodeo arenas, indoor and outdoor stages. I sing everywhere. Since my guitar arrived 10 months ago, I have played my X20-12 Artisan exclusively in over 100 shows and counting. The X20-12 Artisan never ceases to amaze.
I finished up an outdoor set once in the sprinkling rain in confidence knowing that the moisture would not affect the guitar. Perfect.
I sang an outdoor set once in Phoenix where the air temperature was over 100 degrees, but the guitar was even warmer – my hand would nearly get burned making chord changes. The neck did not warp. The face did not crack. Once I tuned to accommodate for the string temperature, I played without incident. The evening following this hot outdoor set was indoors in A/C, and cool. No change. Perfect.
In fact, I have played concerts as low as 40 degrees and as hot as 100+ degrees. In my practice room I look at my old guitars in the cases, but pick up my X20-12 Artisan. If you are interested, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and at http://www.greghager.com. My music is available at CDBaby, and iTunes.
That’s my story – now some summarized honest thoughts:
- True sound regardless of temperature
- Absolute rock-solid construction – no experienced in the guitar due to changes in temperature
- Shape – Comfortable on the lap. I always stand when I play and the bevel on top edge is nice on my fore arm
- Tuning Pegs – Ultra smooth and comfortable for precise tuning
- Tuner – Exceptionally accurate. No annoying “beats” when the tuner “says” you’re in tune. I used to have to use a Korg Pitchblack II to get accurate enough for my taste.
- Tonal controls – easy to reach, and adjust. Fluid changes, not too dramatic, but smooth adjustment
- Sound Hole Placement – lets you experience a guitar in a unique way.
- Frets – clean and smooth.
- Resonance – Can you say “on and on and on and on…” The guitar stays alive in your hands.
- I absolutely LOVE this guitar.
- The case is STRONG and sturdy.
Cons: The honest truth…
- Really there aren’t many.
- I might consider an alternative strap peg system. I play with a custom made leather guitar strap. And it has slipped off the peg on the end of the guitar a couple of times. Thank goodness I had a cord plugged in.
- My case was slightly damaged during transit – I was able to straighten the bent aluminum case ring. NOT a manufacturing problem.
- I had a problem with my tuner toggle switch. The Emerald Guitar Company shipped a replacement out for me.
- If I had any “wishes” for this series of guitar, it might be for a little more low-end punch and deep resonance. However, I am 99% plugged in, so I digitally compensate. So this con really isn’t a “con” but more of a preference.
- I had a Low E string rattle early on. It wasn’t the neck out of adjustment or anything with the guitar. A few twists of the string before tuning solved the string rattle. (A good trick to know).
This has been a little long, but this kind of honesty is what is necessary to make a good informed decision. I have provided my information below. Feel free to contact me. If I’m playing near your town (or hopefully soon, your country), stop on by. I’d love to let you play my guitar. But if you are like I was, and are on the fence whether this is ‘worth it’, let me encourage you to have confidence. Contact the Emerald Guitar Company and let them build yours. They also have an eBay store with certain models available with no wait time.
You won’t be disappointed with the X20-12 Artisan. Trust me. My career and reputation depends on the value and honor of my word. I proudly give you mine.