A McPherson Megastar Hits The Exchange
A sumptuous beauty hits the Exchange in the form of a McPherson MG 3.5 that blends innovation and tradition—and with curves that can turn heads. McPhersons don’t stick around long on the pre-owned market, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this has left the Exchange in the 3 minutes it’ll take you to read this article…
I can fully recall the moment I first played a McPherson guitar. Being a self-confessed traditionalist (go on, wrestle that D-28 from me… I dare you), it was a bit of a revelation. I guess I quickly realized that while upholding tradition is admirable, a little change never hurt anyone. Right?
It was 2013 and I was sitting on the tour bus of US country band who’d had a massive number one hit single a couple years earlier with ‘If I Die Young’ and were touring the UK promoting their second album Pioneer. It was The Band Perry. Three siblings, Kimberly, Reid and Neil.
Kimberly, the acoustic player and primary songwriter; Neil, the mandolin, bouzouki and pretty much ‘anything else that was stringed’ player; and Reid, the bass player. We made a bit of small talk on the bus about the UK (their love for Scotland and watching back-to-back episodes of Nashville on the road), but quickly went into the venue to soundcheck and do a shoot.
As we started the shoot, all the guitars came with us. Three cases had ‘Kim’ scribbled on tape on them and inside sat three McPhersons. Yeah, three! I gushed over them. But there was one she was particularly fond of… it was an MG 4.5 with some kind of flamed red blackwood for the top. Don’t quote me, it was a long time ago! And she said go ahead and play it. So, I did. If it’s not the figured wood that gets you, it’s the intrigue around the offset soundhole and, yeah, those curves! That was my first experience with a McPherson.
Here’s a terrible picture of that shoot (I mean it must’ve been on, what, an iPhone 2 or something)…
A year later, it was Winter NAMM 2014 and there was this guitar hanging precariously on the side of a builder’s booth. I picked it up (only then noticed the 100k price tag) and it was a McPherson 4.0 XP CH SR 1776 in flamed cherry and Adirondack spruce. Here it is (again, rubbish picture, sorry):
McPhersons are a big deal. I absolutely love them. I went on to review a lot after that point. And, well, anything that’s good enough for Kimberly Perry is good enough for me.
So it’s no surprise that I was delighted to see that a McPherson was due to land in our Exchange. They’re really not easy to find on the pre-owned market but this one is pretty special to me because the MG 3.5 is their take on the tonal qualities of a dreadnought (so it might be easier to prise the D-28 away from me after all).
What we have here is a McPherson MG 3.5 with Indian rosewood back and sides and a redwood top. The curves are just sumptuous, aren’t they?
This guitar builds upon the tonal foundation of the traditional dreadnought by enhancing the richness and essence of its timeless tone, while preserving the power, volume and body that have made D-style guitars notorious for nearly a century.
McPherson’s 30 years of innovation shine through on this guitar with their unmistakable offset soundhole and their proprietary bracing system that goes beyond structure to actually deliver vibration. With its redwood top, and Indian rosewood back and sides, alongside figured koa and ebony appointments throughout, it is no wonder how this guitar delivers such a full bodied and powerful voice.
But don’t be mistaken, it’s full of agility. There’s enough responsiveness to make this absolutely shine as a phenomenal fingerstyle guitar, as well as the punch and depth you want from a dreadnought for the big-chord ballads a la The Band Perry.
The MG’s dynamic range is truly remarkable. If you’re looking for an acoustic that pays homage to tradition, but at the same time has some idiosyncrasies that harness the power of innovation and carry it away from the traditionalist shores, then this is one for you. You hear workhorse and ‘do-it-all’ acoustic too often, but this is the embodiment of that sentiment.
As McPherson say themselves, “a great song stands the test of time, a great guitar does the same.” Just like Kimberly Perry’s huge number one hit she wrote on her McPherson, this MG 3.5 is prepared to go the distance.
- Year: 2011
- Top: Redwood
- Back & Sides: Indian Rosewood
- Rosette: Figured Koa w/ Black/White Purfling
- Purfling: 5-Ply
- Backstrip: None
- Body Binding: Figured Koa
- Neck: Modified
- Neck Profile: Modified V
- Fretboard Wood: Ebony
- Peg Head Style: Standard
- Peg Head Veneer: Ebony
- Fretboard Binding: Figured Koa
- Fretboard Inlays: None
- Tuners: Schaller
- Bridge: Ebony
- Pins: Ebony w/ MOP Dots
- Saddle Material: Bone
- Saddle Type: Drop-In, Compensated
- Nut Material: Bone
- Pickguard: None
- Nut Width: 1 3/4”
- Spacing at Saddle: 2 3/16”
- Scale Length: 25 1/2”
- Body Depth: 3.5”
- Body Length: 20 1/8”
- Upper Bout: 11 1/8”
- Lower Bout: 16”
- Truss Rod: Dual Action, Fully Adjustable
- Brace Pattern: Custom McPherson Bracing
- Electronics: L.R. Baggs
- Case: Custom Ameritage
- S/N: 1892