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Veillette Terz 12-String
American luthier Joe Veillette creates astounding instruments in his Woodstock workshop. Just how high calibre is this 12-string guitar? Paul Brett finds out.
by Paul Brett, Acoustic Magazine, November 2011
I have previously reviewed an original Veillette creation which was a very welcome addition to the 12-string family. The Gryphon was an original concept which took Woodstock-based luthier Joe Veillette a number of years to perfect in both design and sound. Perseverance certainly paid off in the end with the emergence of his high 12-string concept. The first time I heard and saw a Gryphon I had to have one, as the sound produced was inspirational for someone like me, who is always looking for new challenges in the world of acoustic guitar.
After the success of the Gryphon, Joe has now launched another new design, the Terz 12-string. Now, while Terz designs have been around for many years, Joe's 12-string version is, again, another unique addition to the Veillette collection.
As Joe explains: 'The name comes from the classical "Teiz" [Italian for 'third'], an instrument designed fo be tuned up a third from a standard guitar. These shorter-scale classical instruments were designed to accompany and extend the range of standard-tuned guitars in ensemble playing: The size is midway between one of Ioe's normal 12-strings and the Gryphon. As with every Veillette I have tried, they always produce moments of instant creativity. When I got the Gryphon I wrote a suite of music for it. I was also looking for inspiration to turn the legendary countryside poem, The Fox's Prophecy, into song. It's a lengthy poem that was found in 1871 among the papers of a DW Nash, yet no one knows if he actually penned it. The poem features predictions given by an elderly fox to a lone huntsman. He predicts that many events would happen in the future to England, including the end of fox-hunting, and as it turned out, the unknown writer made Nostradamus seem like a novice as far as definition and accuracy are concerned. As soon as I played the Gryphon, it all came together.
Manufacturer: Veillette Guitars
Model: Terz 12
Retail Price: £2,750
Body Size: 14"
Made In: Woodstock, NY, USA
Back and Sides: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Pau Ferro
Frets: 23 (inc zero fret)
Nut Width: 45
Scale Length: 557
Onboard Electronics: D-Tar Wavelength
Strings Fitted: La Bella
Left Handers: Yes
Gig Bag/Case Included: Yes
|What We Think|
PROS: Another winner for Joe Veillette, Easy to play and great-sounding, Guitarists will find a new sound to tickle their creative buds and a beautifully crafted instrument
CONS: None as far as I can see, unless the style of the instrument doesn't fit into the player's sphere of music or creative ambition.
OVERALL: If you are one of those guitarists who are constantly on the lookout for inspiration away from the norm, then I honestly suggest you try out not only the Terz but also the Gryphon. It will definitely be an experience.
|Acoustic Test Results|
5: Superb, Almost faultless.
4: Excellent, Hard to beat
3: Good. covers all bases well.
2 or 1: Below average, poor.
Rating out of five
Build Quality: 5
Sound Quality: 5
Value for Money: 4
(although it would be a 5 for me because of its uniqueness and inspirational qualities)
The Terz produces an acoustic sound in between a normal 12-string and Joe's Gryphon High 12-string, with more bass response than the Gryphon yet less than the normal twelver. Like the Gryphon, the Terz string pairs are tuned in unison as opposed to the standard 12-string tuning of octaves on the EADG strings with the top B and E strings being unison pairs. The sound is akin in some ways to an octave mandola and the mid range in the top strings of a mandolin, yet with a sound unique to itself because of the construction. You can get variable tones from the selector switch in electro-acoustic mode that are unfettered by way of squeaky and unnatural tones that some systems produce. The Terz also comes in a single-cutaway version. Tuning is recommended from A to A with G to G as an option. I tuned this review model to Am alt (Gm) and composed a new song ('Flow') which I have put on my YouTube channel. You will see how having a Terz in your collection can open up new avenues by way of song accompaniment and instrumental ideas. The sound is crisp and full and the recording is made in acoustic mode only and gives the singer/player a new tapestry from which new sounds and songs can flow (excuse the pun!).
Veillette instruments cover a wide spectrum of styles: basses, 6-strings (electric and electro-acoustic), 12-strings and various hybrids, like the Gryphon and Terz. Joe also offers a special custom design service where he will build to clients' specific needs. His latest offering is a double-neck 6- and 12-string, which hopefully he will be displaying at our show in Olympia on 10th and 11th September, along with some of his other creations. It's also worth checking out the 'Specials' offer on Joe's site where you can pick up a bargain at a reduced price. These are either new or refurbished instruments and there are always some tasty morsels there to be had.
There is no denying the fact that Joe's instruments are not embedded in traditional guitar designs, but equally such design innovation and sound quality elevate Veillette to the same competitive heights as long-time established brands. Yes, they look different and have sound characteristics all of their own, but that's what I love about them. Joe is never one to shy away from a new concept and design. His instruments do inspire creativity and the addition of the Terz is no exception. I'm sure there will be a new idea swirling around the Veillette workshop just waiting to amaze us once again in the not-too-distant future — at least I hope so. If you are interested in any of Joe's creations, his UK agent is Phil Ward and Phil's site is www.philward.biz/Philward/HOME.html. In fact, the model I use in the 'Flow' video is for sale via Phil. Alternatively, you can see lots of Joe's guitars on www.veilletteguitars.com.