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Review of the Elysian Model M Acoustic

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This article originally featured in “Guitar and Bass” Magazine

Broadly speaking,you can take the name ‘Elysian’ to mean ‘heavenly’, and these guitars are made in Blackheath – which is a good deal more like paradise than neighbouring Deptford. Jerry Uwins feels the spirit calling…

Elysian guitars are the product of London-based maker Matthew Carter, a one-man operation turning out one or two instruments a month. Carter only formed his Elysian company in 2001, but his experience with guitar making goes back over 20 years, including a stint working for Andy and Hugh Manson.

The Elysian catalogue presently numbers four models: a small-bodied 12-fret L12, our grand concert-size M, the larger Model G, and finishing up with the 16”-wide F design. All Elysians have a distinctly waisted, folk-inspired shape – Matthew Carter doesn’t even offer a dreadnought at all, which is unusual these days, and somehow rather refreshing.

Though the term ‘Grand Concert’ implies a large instrument, a grand concert guitar is actually quite compact, sitting roughly midway between a parlour and an auditorium. The Model M has a span across the lower bouts of just over 14.5”, and the fairly pinch-waisted styling is reminiscent of Lakeswood’s A-series, though I imagine any similarities are purely coincidental. Maximum rim depth is 105mm, which sounds fairly modest but is actually respectably capacious in relation to the other body dimensions.

All Elysians are offered in a choice of body timbers, and the Model M we have here features a solid sitka spruce top with back and sides of solid Indian rosewood. As you’d expect of a quality handcrafted instrument, timber selection is top grade. The bookmatching of the back is particularly attractive, and the evenly-grained top has abundant cross-silking.

The whole guitar is finished to a high standard in gloss nitrocellulose, and judging from the appearance of the grain on the front, the laquer is fairly lightly applied. Like an increasing number of smaller makers these days, Carter sprays up his necks and bodies separately before assembly to avoid laquer build-up around the heel joint. The result is very tidy indeed.

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