Boucher Guitars AVT Spruce Goose OOO Acoustic Guitar Review
June 14, 2011
Boucher has taken his Adirondack fascinations a step further, building the top, back, and sides entirely out of spruce.
Through thick and thin, the Boucher family has been building guitars in Canada since 1968. The first incarnation of the family company, Norman Guitars, closed in 1988 after a fire destroyed the workshop. And though founder Normand Boucher passed away in 1997, his nephew Robin (who's co-founder of the company's present incarnation) runs it to this day.
Robin likes to use Adirondack spruce in his guitars. And for good reason—many guitarists consider it the finest top wood of all. With the AVT Spruce Goose, however, Boucher has taken his Adirondack fascinations a step further, building the top, back, and sides entirely out of spruce. You might consider this unusual—even radical—but the bottom line is this guitar sounds unique and is really versatile too.
Like a lot of players, I love Adirondack spruce (sometimes called red spruce) for a top. Many luthiers consider it more responsive than Engelmann, German, or Sitka spruce. Bob Taylor has said using Adirondack is like adding a cup of sugar to your tone. At the very least, good Adirondack tops will add a little glitter and top-end bite to a guitar’s sound. And the best ones will also add the strength and elasticity to the bottom end that makes a guitar sound very even. However, it’s extremely unusual to encounter a guitar made with an Adirondack top, back, and sides.
The Spruce Goose is sort of the guitar equivalent of a blonde starlet—elegant and gorgeous. The very pretty, pale-hued body is complemented by the abalone trim, including the rosette, back stripe, and top binding. The fit and finish are impeccable, too. The body binding is Indian rosewood, which complements the spruce perfectly, and the fretboard is bound with ivoroid.
The Goose arrived in its standard Hiscox Liteflite Pro II case and had an optional L.R. Baggs iMix—a system I’ve always found rock solid and versatile. It’s easy to control and operate, has a natural sound, and is highly resistant to feedback. In short, the iMix is ideal for a guitar as lively as the Goose. The soundhole controller has two little knobs for Blend and Volume. And there’s no onboard preamp controller to add weight or detract from the fine lines and delicate curves of this beauty.
Though the neck is made of super-stable and substantial South African mahogany, it doesn’t make the lightweight Spruce Goose top heavy at all. In fact, the Goose is one of the most well balanced guitars I’ve ever had in my lap. The OOO-sized body is comfortable and compact—just under 15 1/4" wide and just 4" deep, gracefully curving to a slim 3 1/4" at the neck joint. The scale length is a familiar and comfortable 25 1/2".
The first thing I noticed about the sound of this guitar is its overarching brilliance. The Goose has a complex high end that sounds like a choir of soft-voiced angels. It’s not loud, doesn’t project quite like rosewood- or mahogany-backed guitars, and it’s not likely to be the loudest guitar at a jam session. But the Goose’s rich, even, and dazzling midrange and high-midrange could make it a studio superstar—particularly on a rock or pop track. Not surprisingly, given its size and harmonic signature, the Goose is also a sweet fingerstyle guitar that responds nicely to either flesh or nails. And when you strum it, the glistening high end is pronounced without being overwhelming or blurry.
The Goose is very playable down around the first few frets, but the action seemed a little high past the 5th fret, and the guitar would benefit from a better setup. Dropping into DADGAD made things feel a little slinkier.
I played the Goose at a gig in a medium-sized and lively sounding room, using a pair of Fishman SA220s linked together. Using a L.R. Baggs Para Acoustic DI, I dialed back the mids a bit and added a little kick to the lows and highs. But I also boosted the low-mids at 110 Hz, which can be a feedback trouble spot for many amplified acoustics. Even with that frequency bump, the Goose and iMix combination performed exceptionally— adding a punchy, but not muddy low-end oomph that was a perfect complement to the guitar’s inherent high-mid sweetness. Jamming with two banjo pickers and a fiddle player, I thought the smooth and even Spruce Goose sounded like a layer of down riding lightly over the driving banjos, shining with an airy tone that made rhythm flourishes and picking nuances really present and audible.
The Boucher AVT Spruce Goose 000 is among the sweetest, most comfortable guitars I’ve played in a long while. It’s a great songwriting guitar because it’s little, light, and comfortable to hold for long sessions. But the open, spacious, and balanced tone is also great for voice accompaniment, and the guitar sounds superb whether you’re strumming or fingerpicking.
With the easy-to-use and natural-sounding iMix, the Goose is stage-ready right out of the case. And with its handsome and unusual all-spruce body, it offers a whole lot of stage presence too. If you’ve ever gravitated toward the looks and even the sound of maple-and-spruce guitars like the Gibson J-200, but found them, well, a bit jumbo for your style or tastes, the Boucher is a cool alternative—one with a voice all its own that can significantly expand your sonic palette.
you are looking for a light, comfortable, pretty guitar for songwriting, stage, or studio, and like a near-angelic high end.
you need the bombast of a dreadnought or jumbo-body cannon.
List $4699; $5049 with Baggs iMix - Boucher Guitars - boucherguitars.com