Review of Faith Venus FVGH-HEX Concert Cutaway
Electro-Acoustic Guitar -
Faith's acoustic and electro-acoustics have consistently impressed
us. Faith is in the vanguard of the new wave of acoustic guitar
makers, challenging the long-established brands by offering superb
instruments at great prices. But as the top end of the Faith range
starts to approach the lower end of the 'big name' brands, can it
still keep its edge? Rick Graham sampled a hex pickup equipped
Faith Venus and came away looking very thoughtful.
I can't help but be impressed when I see a good looking guitar
and Faith's Venus certainly falls into that category. With its
attractive high gloss lacquer finish and beautiful flamed maple
binding, it's most definitely a head-turner. The wood of choice for
the top, and in fact the top all of Faith's guitars, is solid
Engelmann spruce, picked mainly for the crisp, clear tone that it
is capable of producing, especially when paired with the right
tonewoods for the back and sides. In this case, that wood is
rosewood, which tends to give more natural power to both the low
and high end.
That Faith should be going into such detail should come as no
surprise. The brand is owned by one of the UK's longest established
and most respected distributors and the company has retained
Patrick James Eggle, one of the world's top guitar makers, to
design and specify the range. Like the best of what our editor
calls the 'new wave' of acoustic guitar brands, Faith isn't a
cynical exercise whereby a distributor or big guitar brand owner
goes to a Chinese factory, buys whatever is on offer and has its
logo put on the headstock, Faith designs the guitars itself and
then looks for the best factories in which to have them made. When
it is got right, the result can be a very impressive instrument at
a bargain price.
Back to this Venus. The mahogany neck is attached to the body by
way of Patrick Eggle's own bolt-on design and the fingerboard is a
piece of Macassan figured ebony. I particularly like the addition
of the mother of pearl 'F' at the 12th fret as I feel it is in
keeping with the level of class that the guitar exudes. The tuners
are Grover Rotomatic Gold.
Importantly, you have an instrument made entirely of solid woods
here. While it's true that having a high quality solid top is the
most important element in determining an acoustic's performance,
solid backs and sides are well worth having too, if you can afford
the extra cost, and the choice of woods used here was exemplary.
This really is a fine looking guitar and very well made!
A further addition to this guitar's already impressive
specification comes in the form of the on-board Shadow Hex Stereo
System pickup saddle and pre-amp. The high quality pre-amp features
a variety of useful functions including three band EQ, rotary pan
control, tuning system, phase button (for anti-feedback duties),
low battery indicator and, perhaps a little puzzling, a hexaphonic
On the face of it, all a hex system does is deliver an
individual signal per string. Fine - that means you can trim the
individual signals to suit your needs - but there is a lot more to
it than that, should you chose to delve deeper.
The way the Shadow system on this guitar works, with the 'Pan'
control fully over to the left, the output of the guitar is normal:
mono output is transmitted through a
conventional mono guitar cable to your amp or DI box. However,
with the 'Pan' Control fully turned to the right, the output of the
guitar is operating in its Stereo hex capacity. Now (and I'm
quoting Shadow's own explanation here) "...the strings are
separated across the stereo spectrum: the Low E is panned far left
and the High E is panned far right with all other strings in
relative positions across the spectrum. The stereo output goes
through a stereo 'Y'cable which can be connected to two separate
amplifiers, a stereo PA amplifier or 2 channels of a mixing desk
Shadow adds: "This is ideal for widening the sound-field of your
performances, and a revelation for those who like to experiment
with sound-layering, looping and multi-tracking."
Clearly, this is a facility which will appeal to some and leave
others stone cold. The good thing is that you have the option - if
a Shadow hex system appeals, it's an option - if not, you can save
money and buy a still fabulous Faith without it.
In a performance capacity the Venus is a very impressive
instrument. I played it acoustically for some time before plugging
it in and the first thing that struck me was the fullness of the
tone. The high and low ends balanced beautifully well, never
overpowering one another at any time. This proved to be the case
regardless of whether I was bashing out open chords or playing more
delicate fingerpicked passages. But plugging the Venus in was
really impressive and that Shadow hex pre-amp showed that it was
able to bring out the best of the guitar with no compromise
whatsoever. The signal was always very clean, with no audible noise
at all. Even though it is a very well balanced guitar, I did
experiment with the individual string volume controls via the
pre-amp and it gave even more scope to refine the sound according
to my specific taste. There's no doubt that it's great to have the
ability to do that with some simple control changes.
Would we want to go further and use it for complex stereo
set-ups for live performances? There was some debate about this.
The traditionalists on the team were unsure but perhaps the Editor
summed it up when he said "Whatever would the late John Martyn have
done with one of these? Sooner or later, someone is going to take
one of these systems and take the acoustic somewhere completely
new. Imagine what you could do with MIDI or a complex effects
The old boy occasionally still shows signs of deep thought
(You're fired! Ed)
The Venus FVGH-HEX is a very classy instrument. The build
quality and attention to detail are top notch and the volume and
tone reassuringly good. As for value for money, it all depends on
what you want. If you can't see yourself ever taking advantage of
that hex pickup system, then, clearly, this isn't the model to go
for. And the choice is there in the Faith line-up. What you'll get
then is an exquisitely made acoustic at a very good price. If, on
the other hand, you are looking to expand your creativity, then
there are few rivals to this extraordinary guitar. The choice is
Check out the full review inc. video of Faith Venus FVGH-HEX
Concert Cutaway Electro-Acoustic guitar by Rick Graham in Issue 9
Guitar Interatcive Magazine (
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