Bourgeois Guitars: In a Class of Their Own

By David Stanton: May 10, 2021

At the forefront of the modern acoustic guitar revival, Dana Bourgeois and his skilled team achieve perfectly balanced tone from the very best materials.

Bourgeois’ small team of craftspeople make around 400 guitars a year from their workshop in Maine, USA. Founder Dana Bourgeois has, over the decades, mastered the art of turning raw materials into an instrument that truly sings and his techniques for voicing timbers are highly regarded by others in the industry. Let’s have a deeper look into why the Bourgeois name belongs among the acoustic guitar elites.

 

Dana BourgeoisSon of an amateur woodworker and grandson of a machinist, Dana Bourgeois began building guitars in college in the early 1970s. In 1977 he opened a one-man shop in Brunswick, Maine, repairing and restoring as well as building guitars. The burgeoning folk and bluegrass scene gave Dana the opportunity to showcase his creations. The feedback he received from these players spurred on his desire to get the very best performance out of his guitars.

 

The Power of OM

By the late 1970s, the Dreadnought was king of acoustics. Its proven track record as THE guitar for accompanying singer-songwriters meant that pretty much every manufacturer was building their version of the reliable workhorse. Its popularity meant that other options, with their unique and appealing characteristics, were often overlooked.

Bourgeois OM Vintage HS NaturalOne such model, the OM (Orchestral Model) was built by C.F. Martin & Co. between 1929 and 1933. It was Dana’s recreation of the OM that captured the interest of influential bluegrass guitarist, Tony Rice. The OM’s smaller body allows for a more pronounced mid-range and responds particularly well to fingerstyle playing. Tony Rice’s enthusiasm for its sweet tone encouraged Dana to put his focus into refining the humble OM.

His research and skill led Dana to collaborate with Martin and guitarist, Eric Schoenberg, to reinvigorate the OM in the mid-1980’s. Since then, many guitarists have discovered the magical musical qualities of the OM with Eric Clapton’s 1992 Unplugged performance further bringing the guitar into the spotlight.

The OM model sits at the very heart of Bourgeois Guitars – its inherent character being the perfect design for balanced, even tone.

 

Dana also lent his talents to Gibson and PRS in the late 1980s as a consultant for their respective acoustic guitar lines.

Bourgeois staff photoHaving spent the last couple of decades refining his craft it was time for the Bourgeois name to stand out its own. Bourgeois Guitars was founded in 1992 with a workshop in Lewiston, Maine and a small team producing acoustic guitars of the highest quality. Today, the Bourgeois team of around 20 craftspeople, headed by Dana, produce around 400 guitars a year from their purpose-built facility.

 

Why choose Bourgeois Guitars?

Let’s not beat around the bush here, Bourgeois guitars are high-end, boutique-quality instruments that come at a price. Typically ranging around £4,000-£6,000, it can be tempting to fall back on the security of big named brands. You could however be missing out on a truly great instrument that will inspire you on your musical journey.

Here are some reasons why you should consider Bourgeois Guitars:

  • Premium quality tonewoods including Adirondack (red) spruce from old-growth forests located in Northern Maine.
  • Unique x-bracing pattern that balances the bass and treble for an even tone across all notes.
  • Carefully voiced tops and backs using methods pioneered and advanced by Dana Bourgeois.
  • Ultra-thin finishes simulate the aged nitrocellulose lacquer found on vintage instruments.
  • Torrefaction (heat-treating) artificially ages the timbers recreating the characteristics of old “played-in” guitars.
  • Unique bolt-on neck design allows removal and adjustments without the need to steam, cut or drill the joint.
  • Precision operations are executed using CNC machines while bodies and necks are assembled and finished by hand.

 

What are Bourgeois guitars like to play?

The thing that’s driven Dana Bourgeois over the decades is the pursuit of perfectly balanced tone and guitars that allow your creativity to shine. On the surface, the guitars are unpretentious but certainly not shy. Its aesthetic simplicity puts the focus on the quality of the materials and craftsmanship. The precision detailing is evident as soon as you get up close. Every inch of binding, inlaying and joining is immaculately finished.

bourgeois-close-upOf course, each guitar has its own characteristic but all the Bourgeois guitars we at Guitar Village have encountered share the same fundamental things. The immediacy of the sound as you pluck the strings is rich and full-bodied. Chords have a long sustain and the decay is even and clear. They project even when played softly and still deliver clarity with heavy strumming.

Many new acoustic guitars can sound bright and brittle and can take a good few years of playing to find their true voice. Not so here! While they will undoubtedly mature with age, Bourgeois guitars demonstrate the warmth and clarity of a high-end vintage acoustic right off the bat.

 

Bourgeois guitars are a solid investment for the serious musician looking for an acoustic guitar of the utmost quality.

View our range of models on our Bourgeois Guitars page.

Bourgeois Guitars website

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