A Czech builder with a tradition of resourcefulness and individual designs crafts a luxurious and balanced grand auditorium that handles strumming and fingerstyle with equal aplomb.
Beautiful build quality, sound, and playability in a versatile modern acoustic-electric guitar.
A little on the heavy side.
Furch Yellow Master’s Choice Gc-CR
Given today’s abundance of great guitars at almost every possible price, it’s hard to imagine how challenging it must have been to get a good guitar in former Czechoslovakia in the 1970s. During that decade, Frantisek Furch, then a metalworker and hobbyist musician, found decent guitars so hard to come by that he fashioned an old drum into a banjo. But Furch’s musician buddies were impressed enough with the instruments he built in the wake of his banjo that they started asking Furch to build them guitars. And in spite of laws against entrepreneurship, he built enough through the 1980s that they came to be coveted by top Czech musicians.
These days, the company is headed by Frantisek’s son, Petr Furch, and builds around 8,000 instruments a year, maintaining a varied and sizable lineup. Among the newest is the Yellow Gc-CR grand auditorium with cutaway from the Master's Choice line. Until now, I had never played a Furch, but this guitar was a parade of pleasant surprises.
The Gc-CR is quite modern and “boutique” in terms of features and feel. It’s built with a cedar top and rosewood back, and it’s pretty clear that the wood was selected with care. The AAA American red cedar used for the soundboard has a nice, tight grain structure and a lot of figuring that shifts and transforms at different viewing angles. The AA Indian rosewood of the back and sides is quarter-sawn, with a lovely reddish-brown coloring. Altogether, it’s just a very pretty and interesting guitar to look at.
It’s tastefully appointed, too, with a script F headstock inlay, a simple green abalone rosette, mother-of-pearl eclipse fretboard markers, a clear pickguard, and faux-tortoise tuner buttons, body binding, and bridge pins. As you would expect for the price, the Gc-CR is exceptionally well-built. Fretwork is immaculate. Furch’s proprietary high-gloss finish is flawless.
A Mighty Guitar
The first thing that I noticed about the Gc-CR, other than the beauty of its woods and construction, was that it felt slightly heavy, at around five pounds. But, to be fair, I have spent most of my time with a featherweight three-pound Waterloo WL-S. And once I started playing I didn’t noticed the Gc-CR’s mass at all.
It takes just a few strums to perceive the Gc-CR’s abundant power. The bass notes are rich, present, and a great match in terms of volume for the crisp, snappy treble tones. The instrument begs to be strummed, and it packs a wallop whether you play open-position cowboy chords or jazzy barre chords. That power makes flatpicked single-note lines pop as well. And whether you use that pop to drive bluegrass lines or punctuate bebop phrases, the instrument possesses a deep, three-dimensional sound that can assert itself easily in an ensemble.
Probably owing to the warmth of the cedar and the richness of the rosewood, the Gc-CR is also an excellent guitar for fingerpicking. Arpeggios in standard, open G, and DADGAD tunings all cascaded together lushly and without cloudiness. The guitar is super-responsive to picking-hand nuances, both in terms of pick dynamics and picking position relative to the fretboard or bridge. As a result, there are many shades, sounds, and variations on the balanced voice to explore. And when I routed the onboard L.R. Baggs StagePro Anthem electronics and Tru-Mic internal microphone through a Fender Acoustasonic amp, the Gc-CR sounded warm, realistic, and well-capable of communicating its essence in amplified situations.
The Gc-CR’s playability, by the way, is superb. It came from the factory with a perfect setup—its action low but free from buzz. With its slight V profile, the neck felt comfortable in all regions, and the satin finish gives it an extra-smooth fast feel. If I had one small complaint, it’s that the instrument has a bit of new-guitar stiffness. But it’s easy to see and feel how a guitar this nicely made could season and mellow over time.
Furch might not be a household name, but it’s worth your attention if you’re shopping at the more affordable end of the high-end, boutique flattop range. With a powerful, resplendent sound, top-quality woods and construction, and great playability, the Gc-CR has the potential to become a long-term partner and, quite possibly, an undercover classic.