They say tools do not make the tradesman. Bollocks. This guitar has
made a difference to my playing. And it's not as though I've been playing half-baked guitars up to now, between my Big Baby, my Cort (not a brilliant guitar, but definitely not horrible), and my dad's Martin D1. It's just this one's superb. If it were lost or stolen I would find a hole to climb into, take a case of Jack Daniel's with me, and not come out for a month. Then I'd start this whole process over again and probably buy a Larrivee again. This is a special instrument.
Model Year: 2007
Price: $2648.00 ZAR22 000.00 (new)
Where Obtained: Andy McGibbon's Guitar World (South Africa)
Made in the US of A, this 6-string acoustic with a Venetian cutaway sports: Canadian sitka spruce soundboard, mahogany back and sides, African ebony fretboard and bridge (with bone saddle), single-piece mahogany neck (with hand-fit dovetail joint), neck joins at 14th fret (of 20).
There are all sorts of pretties on this guitar - abalone rosette, logo on the headstock is pearl inlay, headstock is bound in sterling silver, fretboard in ivoroid, bevelled pickguard, etc, etc, and the case is a thing of beauty in and of itself. The finish on the body is a gloss UV while the neck has a satin finish. Overall, it looks stunning.
It comes fitted with an LR Baggs iMix pre-amp. I still have to get me head around this thing. It's got the usual - bass, mid, treble and volume, but also has two incredibly useful added bits: phase inversion, in case (in case?) you hit feedback on stage, and a notch filter, with which you can kinda 'fine tune' to find the exact frequency at which you're feeding back if the phase inversion hasn't quite cut the mustard. Nifty.
Then there's the Mix itself, which lets you choose between the Element (under-saddle transducer) and the iBeam (soundboard transducer) pickups. Yup - two pickups in this puppy. My personal favourite is the under-saddle, but choice is your friend.
Body style is part of the reason I picked this guitar. It's called the 'Larrivee' body style. The lower bout is standard dreadnought stuff, which gives you good volume for when you're playing hard or doing something folksy. But that's where the similarity ends. The waist is considerably thinner than a dreadnought, and the upper bout is a quarter of an inch thinner than the Larrivee dreadnoughts. It's also a touch shallower and shorter, which gives you a more defined sound than you get with a dreadnought. What you get, in essence - is almost - almost
- something between a dreadnought and an orchestra model. Good balance of volume, projection and definition, and that's perfect for me, because I do a lot of fingerpicking, and some strummy, folksy stuff as well.
Oh my stars. (All 5 of them.) I played a good few guitars before I decided on this one. It is, after all, a considerable investment. A Martin, forget the model, A Taylor 310ce, a couple of others, over the course of about 3 months. It eventually came down to the LV-05E and an OM-05E, the Orchestra model. I played the two up against each other for about an hour and, let me tell you, it was a difficult decision. In the end, what won me over was 2 factors. First, as I mentioned above, the semi-versatility of the guitar and second, the cutaway. I like to be able to get higher up the neck, even if it's not something that happens very often. It's cool to be able to play harmonics without the body getting in the way, for instance.
The neck has a slightly wider feel to it, although I think it's more my imagination than reality. It may be that it's just fatter than my previous main guitar, a Taylor Big Baby. (Not hard to imagine, eh?) And it is as smooth as silk to play. Just picking it up, I was instantaneously able to achieve a much better vibrato than ever before. I have much better control and stability, and everyone who's played it has agreed that this is a monster neck. The OM was the same, so I think it's something about Larrivee guitars.
No flaws to speak of, not even any bear clawing on the soundboard. Fretbuzz? Wassat?
Phwooaaaaaaar. Balance. I think that's the best word to sum this guitar up. The tone is best described as warm and lively, and the guitar is extremely responsive. Hammer it, and you get volume with definition. Pick it gently, and you get sweet - and I do mean sweet - harmonic undertones coming through. I'd have to say it's a little short of 'full', being a slightly shallower guitar, but you'd have to be hyper-critical to put it down as a fault.
As I mentioned, I play a fair variety of styles on it, and it shines. I haven't played it on stage yet, mainly coz I don't do much of that. But plugged straight in to my home recording set-up, it sounds marvellous. Of course, just noodling around in the lounge, it's magic too.
I haven't had it long, 5 months or so, but it's had its fair share of playing and seems to be holding up okay. If you gave it due care, I reckon it'd hold up on the road. The case looks pretty tough. It's definitely holding up from a set-up point of view. I make it a point to have my guitars given the once over at least every twelve to eighteen months, and this one will be no exception. It has a soundhole humidifier in it, which I fill every week in dry conditions - such as this past winter - but we have a very moderate climate in Johannesburg, so I'm not expecting any major hiccups. All hardware seems to be A-okay.