I looked at multiple guitars, all brands, sizes, and prices, over a period of a year, trying to find a guitar with right kind of playability, and the deep, lush tone that only a mature, aged, Sitka-topped guitar could provide ... under $5000.00. This handmade Gallagher is the only one that managed to provoke an emotional response in me when I played it. It is, tonally, the finest guitar I have ever had in my hands, bar none.
If this guitar was lost or stolen, first, I'd call the sheriff. Second, I'd call the insurance company. Third, I'd call Don Gallagher, and have him make me another one!
The only way this guitar could be better would be if it was 70 years old, instead of 17. The worst aspect? A guitar of this quality should have been constructed with a slotted bridge, IMHO.
There are not many Gallagher guitars in the world. The shop, in Wartrace, TN, is run by Don and Stephen Gallagher, who are making guitars the same way that J.W. Gallagher did (their father and grandfather, respectively) ... by hand, with voiced tops and backs. Beautiful, high quality premium master-grade woods, and some of the most tasteful inlays I've ever seen. From what I've read, the shop doesn't produce many guitars per year (as of the time that mine was created, only 2136 had been built) and that was from approximately 1965-1992. This family takes the time to build an instrument right. If you are looking for a legendary Tennessee flat-top box, a true bluegrass cannon, and a guitar that can also respond to a light touch with clarity and incredible richness ... I'd advise you to take a look at a Gallagher before you pour tons of money into some of the more over-priced, over-hyped, and inconsistently-built assembly line guitars that tend to flood the market. No factory constructed guitar, no matter how revered or famous the brand name, can possibly produce the kind of tone that can be found with a hand-made instrument, and this is certainly one of the best. //// Pictures of this guitar can be viewed at http://www.dreamguitars.com/sold/Gallagher_72%20Special_2136.htm
Model Year: 1992
Where Obtained: Dream Guitars
Builder: Gallagher Guitars, Don Gallagher.
Model: G-72 Special.
Serial #: 2136.
Back/Sides: Indian Rosewood.
Top: Sitka Spruce.
Neck: Mahogany, 1 Piece.
Headplate: Brazilian Rosewood.
Headstock Inlay: Builder Logo; abalone Bellflower.
Fingerboard Bindings: grained Ivoroid.
Fret Markers: Custom Floral Pearl Inlay.
Frets to body: 14.
Pickguard: Tortoise Style.
Body Bindings: grained Ivoroid.
Top Trim: Abalone.
Tuners: Schaller Gold.
Pickup: Highlander IP1.
Body Length: 19 7/8 in.
Upper Bout: 11 1/2 in.
Lower Bout: 15 3/4 in.
Body Depth @Neck Heel: 3 7/8 in.
Body Depth @Tail Block: 5 in.
Scale Length: 25.25.
Nut Width: 1-3/4".
Strings Spacing: 2 1/4.
The action is set for medium gauge strings, 13-56. It did not require any adjustment after the purchase. The action feels fairly low, but does not buzz or fret-out anywhere on the fingerboard.
The fingerboard is 1-3/4", and is most comfortable for me when playing finger-style with a capo.
I actually prefer an 1-11/16" nut for rhythm and flat-picking due to the size of my hands, but adjusting to the wider nut takes very little time, when I switch from another guitar to this one.
There are no flaws that affect playability. The frets are recent, there are no divots in the fingerboard, the saddle height is excellent, and the height of the nut slots are perfect.
I want to play this guitar acoustically, and intend on having a new saddle carved after I remove the outdated Highlander picker. If I want to amplify the sound, I will use a good acoustic amp, and a high-quality condenser microphone. I believe this guitar was/is too fine an instrument to have ever been altered in this fashion.
I prefer slotted bridges and non-slotted bridge pins, and because of this, I will arrange to have the bridge slotted in the very near future, and to have the bridge plate replaced or repaired, if possible. 17 years of slotted pins have caused a certain amount of damage to the bridge plate, and this issue needs to be addressed.
The instrument is exceptionally resonant; warm, rich, vibrant, and deceptively loud. The tonality across the strings has the best overall balance of any guitar I have ever played in the last 40 years.
I would prefer to play this guitar in the studio; I would not be comfortable using this instrument on stage, due to the possibility of damage, however remote.
Structurally, except for the minor bridge plate damage, the guitar is in excellent condition, and could certainly be used for live playing, such as an acoustic jam.
There are no issues that require truss rod adjustment; the neck is solid, and the relief is nearly perfect. The intonation is right on the money, using 12 fret harmonics.
The tuners look almost brand-new, and operate smoothly.
The top is somewhat sensitive to changes in humidity, and seems to prefer a slightly dryer environment, with the RH around 45%.