13 Fret Huron – Indonesian Rosewood w/Red Spruce top – Commission:
It has been several months since I picked up my Casper Huron from Ken, and it seems like a good time to provide a review. This Indonesian Rosewood/Adirondack Spruce guitar is the first of Ken’s new Huron models. When Ken and I first discussed this commission, I told him I needed a guitar to play for a contemplative worship service at church. It’s a small service, in the chapel, for under 30 people and there’s no amplification. So I had in mind this guitar that would have a lush tone, be lightly built and very responsive, have a good bass, and be able to project and help carry the singing at this service. I play finger style, but needed something that could be strummed as well, depending upon the song. Ken suggested we try this new Huron model, with a Manzer wedge so it wouldn’t feel too big, and he really did hit a sweet spot with my gorgeous instrument. It has the lush tone that seems to be consistent among Casper guitars, and the tone is already full, even though the instrument is quite new. The bass is coming in nicely, this instrument is very balanced, and this guitar projects beautifully.
When I first played my Huron for one of the women who regularly attends this church service, she started to cry. She said the sound was so beautiful and the energy of this instrument was perfect. It’s also a very responsive instrument- it sounds wonderful when softly finger picked. And it can also handle everything I can give it when I need to strum loudly to accompany singing. I’ve now used it for several of these church services, and it’s everything I was hoping for when I first dreamed of a custom. One of the gifts of a custom instrument is having a guitar that fits the player instead of having to adapt one’s playing to the instrument. Ken listened to everything I told him and turned it into an instrument that fits me and my playing like no other instrument I’ve ever played.
The quality of this build is also superb. Ken’s craftsmanship shines through every inch of this guitar. All of the joints and miters are spot on, the woods go together beautifully, the inlays are stunning… Anyone who has seen this Huron has commented on its beauty. I selected the Indonesian Rosewood, and then Ken turned it into art. When I opened the case and saw this Casper Huron for the first time, it was so breathtakingly beautiful I couldn’t say a word. I was stunned by this guitar’s beauty and presence. Ken worked with me to choose woods that so complimented the IRW. He took my thoughts about basing the inlays on a well cover in England, and he created unique, gorgeous inlays. One of my favorite aspects of this guitar is the neck. Ken built his 5 piece neck, with mahogany and cocobolo. He chose gorgeous mahogany, and this beautiful wood contrasted with the cocobolo is what I get to look at when I play. Another one of the guitarists at the service I play for said he loves standing behind me and looking over my shoulder while I play, because he loves looking at that guitar neck.
This Huron is also a joy to play. Ken took everything that I asked for in terms of playability, and put it into this guitar. It’s a 25” scale with a bit of a thinner neck than Ken usually builds. The neck, the scale, plus the Manzer wedge come together to create a guitar that fits me beautifully. I also love the 13 fret design and the playing experience (as well as the tone) it provides. It’s easy for me to lose an hour or two as I explore new things this guitar allows me to do. Making music has never been as easy for me as it is on this instrument.
I know that some people are concerned about doing a custom build, as there’s some uncertainty about what the final product will be like. As I trust is apparent throughout this review, Ken is such a good listener, gentle spirit, great communicator, as well as such a talented luthier, that the final product with this Huron became something that was much more than I originally had in mind. I played quite a few Caspers, when I first met Ken and I loved the tone of all of them. Ken builds instruments that are remarkably consistent. So I thought I knew about the sound and experience I would be getting with a Casper custom. However, with my Huron, the tone is deeper and more lush, the instrument is more beautiful, and the joy is greater than I could have imagined. And that’s due to Ken’s talent and ability to work closely with his clients to design and build an instrument that fits them. And my guitar does fit me. I’m loving playing it, and listening to this guitar come into its own as I play it. I can only imagine how much more lush and full and deep the sound will be as these woods continue to mature. So thank you Ken!
Beth / Pasadena, California / October 2016