At Veillette Custom Luthiery in Woodstock, New York, we build unique instruments by hand, often collaborating with customers to explore new directions.
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Veillette Parlor 14-Inch
Luthier Joe Veillette has been building guitars for nearly four decades. By his own admission, he has become known for making "weird stuff," everything from baritone and high-strung 12-strings to short-scale nylon-string acoustic basses. But however left-of-center Veillette's works look to the traditionalist, the Woodstock, New York-based luthier has built an enviable clientele, including Kaki King, Jorma Kaukonen, James Taylor, and Dave Matthews. As a seasoned player and former architecture student, he brings daring and practical sensibilities to his guitars. And his inventive approach to design has also resulted in unique variations on more common instruments, such as the Parlor 14-inch we received for review.
VISUAL HALLMARKS OF INDIVIDUALITY
The guitar's body – just 14 inches wide – is constructed with a beautiful Sitka spruce top and finished in a not-too-flashy, but gorgeous, Vintage Red sunburst that glows with wine and nectarine hues. The back, sides, and neck are made of tight- and straight-grained mahogany that accents the instrument's overall air of quality and craft.
A look inside reveals the Parlor's unique design idiosyncrasies. The substantial, gracefully arching mahogany neckblock — which seems to be inspired by Veillette's architectural studies — lends structural integrity where the sides join and supports the top as well as Veillette's unique bolt-on neck. Veillette believes that his neck joint, which uses just one bolt and is inspired more by solid-body electric guitars than acoustic construction conventions, improves sustain. And because the neck fits into a slot cut into the neckblock, the Parlor has no neck heel, making it easier for players to reach the guitar's highest frets. A zero fret, which Veillette uses to improve intonation and uniformity of tone, also lends a unique look and feel.
Volume and treble knobs, mounted just aft of the waist, control the Parlor's onboard, 18-volt D-Tar Wave-Length preamp and are unobtrusive, if unusually placed, but are easier to adjust than the sliders that are found on many preamp control sets.
MIDRANGE PUNCH AND IMPRESSIVE SUSTAIN
AT A GLANCEsingle-note flatpicked lines and finger-picked phrases, displaying an impressive presence, mahogany warmth, and distinctive bite.
Solid Sitka spruce top. Solid mahogany back and sides. Two-piece mahogany bolt- on neck. Ebony fretboard and bridge. T usq nut and saddle. 25-inch scale. H/4-inch nut width. 2V4-inch string spacing at the saddle. Polyester finish. Gotoh tuners. D-Tar Wave-Length electronics. Light-gauge La Bella strings. Made in USA.
THIS IS COOL
Improvisations in D A D G A D highlight the Parlor's very vocal and harmonic-rich tonal palette, and both open and fretted single notes ring with concise fundamental tones and a subtle overtone glow. Individual notes — particularly in the bass range — sustain impressively in a manner that belies the guitar's small size.
The Parlor's brassy bark, which has some of the compressed tonal qualities of an archtop or resonator, had me itching to explore the guitar's voice as a slide instrument, so I eagerly tuned to open G for some country blues excursions and found that the Parlor's lively nature makes slide glissandos shimmer with overtones and detail. As I played on, I gravitated toward languid, spacey passages that highlighted the instrument's ample sustain, resonance, and harmonic depth.
ACCURATE ELECTRIC TONES
READY FOR THE SPOTLIGHT
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