“What I wanted to do is show the versatility of carbon fiber and the beauty of it. We can make some beautiful shapes, we can make some beautiful sounding instruments, and I think the archtop guitar is something that really portrays that.” –Alistair Hay
One year ago this month, Alistair Hay unveiled Emerald’s new archtop model at their Art Of Guitar 20th Anniversary event. Since then, Alistair and his team have been busy refining it to get it to the stage where it’s finally production ready, and as of last week, the Kestrel was officially released as part of the May 2019 Dyed Birdseye Maple Select Series collection.
I am really proud of this instrument. I didn’t think it was going to take a year, but sometimes the best things take a little bit longer. –Alistair Hay
Even after one year since it’s first unveiling, the new archtop still did not have a name, so, for a little help, and fun, we put it out on Facebook asking the Emerald community what they thought the archtop should be called. We got a lot of great suggestions — “Arco,” “Sonnet,” “Amara,” “Cadence,” “Elysian,” “Sperrin,” “Muse,” “Jade,” “Tara” to name a few, but “Archie” ended up being the most popular, and amusing, suggestion (very fitting and timely)!
However, after hundreds of responses, there was one individual who really hit the nail on the head — “The Kestrel” (thank you Avril Roulston!). Recalling back to Emerald’s roots and heritage, “Kestrel” ended up being the perfect name for Emerald’s new archtop.
For anybody who knows a little bit of the history of the company, the Emerald Guitars factory building was formally occupied by my father’s business which was called “Kestrel Toys.” We’ve taken that name. A name from our heritage, from our past. I suppose when I was building the artchtop I was always thinking about things from the past. It’s got this old word kind of feel. It’s the old meets the new. I think the name kind of invokes that a little bit as well. –Alistair Hay
In addition to “Kestrel” echoing Alistair’s father’s business, the very first guitar Alistair ever built had a white silhouetted image of a kestrel painted on the headstock. The old is certainly meeting the new in a big and special way.
The Kestrel — Flight. Freedom. Elegance.
The Kestrel occupies unique territory in the archtop world, offering the rich, unique sound of a traditional electric archtop while providing a lively acoustic response not normally associated with such classic instruments. Designed primarily as an acoustic, the Kestrel can be described as a traditional archtop with the soul of a high-end acoustic guitar. But, it’s not just the incredible sound that highlights this instrument, it’s also the exceptional innovative design and craftsmanship — a pinnacle of elegance made possible by Emerald’s innovative one-piece carbon fiber construction.
I’ve loved archtop instruments. I love the sound and the music played on them. But, even more so, I love how they look. I think archtop guitars are almost pieces of art as much as they are instruments. I wanted to build something that could sit along side some of those classic instruments that we all know and love, and something that would be truly an Emerald. –Alistair Hay
The Kestrel incorporates a stunning array of elements that allow this instrument to truly stand out. The detailed craftsmanship is evident in the classic “f” holes, elegant handmade slotted headstock, and the custom-built, hand-carved carbon carbon fiber tailpiece that floats virtually unseen above the surface. The beautiful layers of the carbon give the tail piece a nice natural look.
The Kestrel includes a real ebony bridge and a 25 1/2 inch scale maximizing the acoustic response while the compound 10-14 inch radius provides comfortable playability at every fret. Even though the Kestrel was designed primarily as an acoustic archtop guitar, a custom KRIVO humbucker has been added as an additional feature to really bring out the full tone of the instrument.
Another really unique feature about the Kestrel is the contouring. The design keeps the profile of a classic archtop, but with the added ergonomics Emerald is really known for. The Kestrel features an incredibly lightweight ergonomic design with highly sculpted bevels and angled sides for ultimate comfort and playability. The Kestrel’s body design is 16 1/2 inch across and 3 inches thick, but because of its unique ergonomic design, it feels so much smaller to the player while still providing enough depth to create a great acoustic tone.
To learn more about Emerald’s new Kestrel archtop, and to browse the Kestrel models currently in stock, visit our Kestrel product page on our website.