Top positive review
37 people found this helpful
Great Guitar for the $
on August 26, 2012
I'm a few days in to my ownership of the Cordoba GK Studio Negra, and I'm feeling pretty good about it.
As noted in the specifications, this guitar has a solid European Spruce top, laminated rosewood back and sides, mahogany neck, and rosewood fingerboard. The neck is thinner and faster than a classical guitar, and feels almost as fast as an electric neck. Neck width is 50mm, which is narrower than a classical neck, but wider than the typical acoustic or "fusion" style nylon. I think this hits the sweet spot between comfort and having good string separation for fingerstyle playing. I also have a Fusion 14 model with a 48mm fingerboard width, which is a little tight for my tastes. The fingerboard joins the body at the 12th fret, and the cutaway allows for very easy access to the higher frets. A pair of nearly invisible golpeadors protect both sides of the soundhole.
The European spruce top appears unstained, and shows through the poly finish with a bright, touch-of-honey tone. The grain is a little irregular, very tight toward the center then variable toward the edges, with a hint of silking in spots. Keep in mind that even, tightly-grained European spruce is getting harder and harder find, and is usually reserved for top-end instruments in the several thousand-dollar range. The rosewood back and sides are stained rather darkly, still showing the grain of the wood, but providing a black-brown field of contrast to the lightly colored top that is quite attractive. The rosette is a simple design, which does not stand out in particular, but does not detract either. The gold tuners with black-relief "engravings" are rather stylish, and are tight and smooth, making for easy and reliable tuning.
Tonally, this instrument is good... real good... better than expected, enough to more than satisfy all but the fussiest of players. The low end is "darker" and more powerful than some of the cypress-backed instruments I tried. High ends were crisp, and everything in between seems about right. The Flamenco guitars are braced more lightly than classical guitars with the aim of providing a louder, more "percussive" tone than the more heavily braced classicals. This guitar certainly delivered on this premise.. rasgueado's sound like they should...crisp, punchy, and.. well, flamenco-ish. Surprisingly, the guitar has enough sustain and resonance to do a passable job with some classical repertoire. I think the instrument should perform quite well for a number of different genres, although some material may need a guitar with a softer touch than what this guitar possesses (and this folks, is the seed of "guitar acquisition syndrome". Google it).
The Fishman Presys pickup/preamp system installed on the Studio Negra seems like a pretty versatile arrangement. The system employs both an under-saddle pickup, which provides a bright, somewhat hard-edged sound, and an internal microphone, which renders a softer, warmers, but somewhat less distinct rendering of the guitar's acoustic tone. The presys system allows you to "blend" the undersaddle pickup with the microphone, allowing you to tailor the final output to your equipment, venue, and personal aesthetic. There is also a trim control on the inside of the preamp which permits adjustment of the microphone sensitivity. The built in notch filter allows you to cut frequencies that can contribute to feedback, and the three-band EQ gives you a little on-guitar control over tonal balance. The built in tuner, when activated, cuts output from the guitar, and is a useful tool. Although the output can sound fairly natural, I think it can benefit from the use of an acoustic modeling system to "naturalize" the tone a little more.
Downsides: Instrument needed a bit of setup, but the store broke this one out of the box for me, so that was to be expected. 15 minutes later, with a very minor truss rod adjustment and bridge-shaving, she was ready for action. Another issue, not uncommon in electro-acoustics, is a little body buzz from loose electronics. It's kind of a pain, but the elecronics can be secured in such a way that this is no longer an issue, and for the average Joe this is the kind of thing you'd leave to a technician.
Final note: I've noted a trend in these online reviews that there will always be someone who will pop up and tell people that these instruments are "not as good" (may also be expressed in less polite tones) as their $3K to $5K luthier instrument. Duh. It's a factory instrument, and is not as refined as a hand-crafted guitar. Comparison between the two is irrelevant. When comparing to factory instruments from some other manufacturers, the Studio Negra stands out. I tried out more than a few, the this guitar was, simply put, much better... and less expensive than about 80% of the other instruments I've tried.
Summary: As always, if you can, try before you buy. You need to make sure the guitar is a fit FOR YOU. If that is not possible, you can feel confident ordering this guitar. Cordoba has a good reputation in the industry, and they stand behind their product. This is my fourth guitar by them, and I've yet to have any serious issues.