After over 100 years out of the limelight, parlour sized guitars have recently become best sellers again. But does Parlour size automatically mean tone at the expensive of audibility? Not in the case of the Simon & Patrick Woodland Pro says Rick Graham.
Any brand that stems from the passion and musical vision of Canadian luthier Robert Godin is a brand to take note of and Simon and Patrick is certainly no exception. These guitars are built by artisans who share the same passion as the man who put the wheels in motion and created what the company is today. Based in the small village of LaPatrie Quebec, in the Eastern Townships just several hours outside of Montreal, Canada, the emphasis of the brand is to create instruments in the mid to high range price bracket that have the utmost focus on sound and build quality. One particulary intriguing aspect of their design is Simon and Patrick's unique approach to pressure testing the tops on all of its guitars to make sure that they meet the company's exacting standards.
According to S&P: "pressure testing the tops benefits the overall tone, projection and resonance of our instruments. So, not only do these select solid tops possess aesthetic beauty and appeal but they are graded and pressure tested for their excellence and structural integrity, which in the end benefits the player and increases the lifespan of the guitar". In addition, all Simon and Patrick models also feature compound curve tops, to further heighten the structural integrity and overall projection. These select solid tops are further enhanced by the support of the very strong, yet very light, Adirondack spruce bracing.
The subject of this review, the Woodland Pro Parlor, forms part of the Simon and Patrick Woodland Pro series. As the name would suggest, this instrument veers towards the tiny, but, as I soon found out, a small guitar doesn't always equate to a small sound!
Specification wise, this guitar has a select, pressure tested, solid spruce top with mahogany back and sides and also comes with a hand sanded and finished mahogany neck bearing a rosewood fingerboard. The rather cute looking bridge is also made of rosewood, while the nut and bridge pins are Graphtech's Tusq. The layered binding, rosette, hand contoured headstock and very high quality hi-gloss finish complete the ensemble to reveal what is a fine looking instrument indeed.
Onto the performance side of things and the Woodland Pro Parlor had some surprises up its sleeve I can tell you! The first of which was the sheer volume of sound. Be under no misapprehension; this guitar has a big sound! In fact, at times I had to remind myself that I was playing a Parlor guitar because the sound was so big. The other surprise was the quality of sound. Having played various parlour guitars in the past, I prepared myself to be greeted with a somewhat flat, boxy sound quality. This was not the case with this guitar. The tone was remarkably sweet and very inspiring, so much so that I wanted to take it home with me! It also proved itself to be a very well balanced instrument with crisp, clear basses and sparkling trebles with lots of sustain too. Check out the video!
The S&Ps playability was comfortable and the intonation was as perfect as can be, showing the guitar had clearly been very well set-up before leaving the factory in Canada. Although our review guitar didn't come fitted with a pre-amp, you do have the option to have a B-Band A3T electronics pre-amp installed with this guitar and any of their Woodland Pro series models.
The Woodland Pro Parlor is a very well made instrument that can most certainly hold its own in the volume stakes. It is a unique instrument with a big sound and a big character to match, not to mention beautiful design, and, for me, it is a guitar that is impossible not to like. What's more it is exceptionally well priced for a handmade North American guitar of real professional quality. This is the second Simon & Patrick acoustic we have reviewed (see our Showcase CT review in Gi Issue 6) and to say we are impressed would be a serious understatement.