||Download Example 1
DI - recorded straight from guitar using an Asterope cable
||Download Example 2
Acoustic - recorded with a Rode NT1-A mic about a foot from the f-holes
||Download Example 3
Amplified - recorded with a Vox AGA70 through the Tube-Pre channel (all amp tone stack settings at noon) with a Shure SM57. An Asterope cable was used from the guitar to the amp.
Many guitarists remember the first time they
picked up a guitar and strummed that first
chord. The feeling of a guitar body vibrating
is a powerful thing and has led many guitarists
on a never-ending quest for just the right
instrument. With its combination of acoustic
and amplified sound, an archtop conveys
this sensation in a way that speaks to a wide
variety of players.
Since opening his shop in 2006, Paul
Hartmann has been creating both traditional
archtops and solidbody electrics.
Because he is a one-man shop, Hartmann
doesn’t churn out many axes, which allows
him to customize each one specifically for
each customer. If you’re in the market for a
one-of-a-kind instrument and aren’t worried
too much about cost, the Dutchess might
be right up your alley.
New York State of Mind
At first glance, the Dutchess—named after
the county in New York where it is crafted—
isn’t breaking any new ground when it
comes to overall design, but really shows its
unique side when you begin to look at the
details. It sports American red flame maple
back and sides, along with a bear claw
American red spruce top, so you already
know the guitar smells great. The lower bout
measures a comfortable 17 ½”, and the top
is braced using a single X method originally
developed by Martin.
The three-piece maple neck has a mahogany
center, for added support, along with
a double-acting truss rod and Gretsch
inspired fingernail-style fret markers. At
25”, the scale length feels just right, while
the 12” fretboard radius makes the neck
fast and smooth. Sliding up and down
the neck, I noticed some of the edges of
the fretwire were noticeably rough. To my
hands, the fretboard feels a little wider
than standard, which is great for fingerstylists,
but might take some getting used to
For electronics, there’s a floating Bartolini 5J
pickup in the neck position and a very discreet
volume control mounted on the pickguard.
Hartmann took some inspiration from
Gibson with the guitar’s adjustable 6-finger
tailpiece, which looks similar to some late-model
Howard Roberts Fusion III models.
According to Hartmann, the individual
fingers let you adjust each string’s intonation
between the bridge and tailpiece.
Overall, the craftsmanship and design of the
guitar was pretty solid. There weren’t any
major flaws in the finish—which Hartmann
outsources—and the guitar played well
straight out of the box. For an instrument in
this price range, I would expect nothing less.
The first thing I noticed when I opened the
case—after the amazing flamed top—was
that the guitar was set up with acoustic
strings. Normally, even on acoustic/electric
archtops, I tend to use electric strings, but
when I began to strum the guitar, the acoustic
strings really brought out the midrange
frequencies and gave the tone some real
projection, similar to a standard dreadnought.
As I strummed full chords, the body
vibrated with authority and provided good
resonance and sustain.
When building this guitar, Hartmann’s
benchmark for acoustic tone was his
Brazilian rosewood Taylor 814ce. I didn’t
have an 814ce handy, but I did compare
it to a high-end Martin and the Dutchess
made a respectable showing. Though the
tone was a bit tighter than a dreadnought,
the sound that leapt out of the f-holes was
loud enough to cut through at a jam session.