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Talking Guitar: Why build a Casimi C4?


South African luthier duo Casimi Guitars recently announced the addition of a brand new model to their line of incredible handbuilt acoustic guitars. 

The new C4 is a full jumbo guitar featuring a 17" lower bout width and 26" scale length. We have been able to secure the world exclusive first C4, and have spec'd this guitar to be built with the world's rarest tonewood, 'The Tree' Mahogany.

We recently caught up with Matthew Rice of Casimi Guitars to find out more about the C4, why he and Matthias Roux have decided to build it and the significance of 'The Tree' Mahogany.

TNAG: Hi Matthew, we're so excited to be receiving the world's first Casimi C4. Can you tell me why you've decided to build it?

Matthew Rice: Since our first C2 was born, we’ve loved the tone, range and balance of this guitar. Through years of painstaking testing and experimentation, we perfected a recipe that gave us almost everything we had hoped for in an acoustic steal stringed guitar. It seems to give the player whatever is asked for without complaint and is always a pleasure to play.

Now that we offer the C1, C2 and C3, each presents the player with a specific range of possibilities and colours. We are building the C4 to complete this spectrum and offer the player a chance to reach even deeper into the expanded tonal possibilities it affords.

TNAG: What can we expect from the C4 full jumbo?

MR: With the C3, we took the same body shape of the C2 and sized it up a notch, adjusting scale length and body size, but without changing the body shape.

From the C2 which has a body length of 20.1/8”, Width of 16”, and Depth of 4. 5/8”. With a Standard scale length of 25.5”. We scaled the C3 up to a body length of 21”, Width of 16.1/2 “ and Depth of 4.5/8” with a standard scale length of 26”.

This retained all the best qualities of the C2 and placed them as it were, in a larger room, resulting in greater natural reverb and adding a little extra power to the bass.

In the case of the C4, we are scaling things up again, taking us to a 21.5/8” X 17” body. Depth will remain the same at 4.5/8”

What we are aiming at here is another level of expanded resonance and even more tonal richness.

Its the completion of the spectrum from C1 to C4. With these four models we’ll be able to offer instruments which cover everything from the focused punchy sound of the C1 through the well balanced, tonal complexity of the C2, the expanded resonance of the C3 to the powerful and rich C4. Both the C3 and C4 retain the tonal complexity of the C2 but expand upon it and place it in a larger body chamber. This results in more power and more airiness in the sound.

TNAG: What can you tell us about the woods used for this first C4?

What better woods to use than Alpine moon spruce and the famous 'The Tree'? The combination of spruce and mahogany is frankly inspirational. Both of these woods are highly responsive with quick attack and clear definition. Mahogany has a strong, dry fundamental and is known for a throaty bass. In a larger bodied guitar, this is the perfect tonal compliment to expanded basses and raw power. Balancing quick response and clear fundamental with expanded power and bass that a larger body affords.

Then, there is also the absolutely unsurpassed rarity and beauty of The Tree. What more fitting wood could we imagine for the launch of a whole new model?

TNAG: For those that may not be aware of the history, can you tell us more about 'The Tree'?

MR: 'The Tree', as it has become known, is probably the rarest, most sought after, most coveted and most expensive guitar tone wood in the world today. Its a Honduran Mahogany and comes from a single, one of kind, 100 foot tree that grew in the Chiquibul Jungle of British Honduras (now Belize). Having stood for close to 500 years, It was felled by an intrepid team of loggers in 1965. They intended to drag it more than 100 miles out of the forest, but there was an accident and the tree fell into a ravine where it lay for more than a decade.

Rumours of this story and the tree’s exceedingly rare qualities circulated and It was eventually rediscovered in the early 1980s and recovered from the ravine by an American wood merchant, Robert Novak.

The enormous tree had been halved by the original logging crew to make it more manageable, Novak had the halves quartered again and hauled out of the ravine, then trucked 3 pieces at a time to the Chiquibul river 100 miles away where they were floated to an ancient steam powered saw mill and finally cut to boards.

When Novak saw the cut boards for the first time, he was amazed by the intense quilting patterns of the wood. A completely unique genetic defect had resulted in the most beautiful quilting ever seen in an Honduran Mahogany tree. “There was a strong wow factor,” he says. “It was some of the prettiest wood I’d ever seen in my life. And it still is.”

After two weeks of cutting, 12,000 board feet of timber were yielded. (A board foot is 12 inches by 12 inches by one inch, or its volumetric equivalent.) This was shipped to Miami where it was kiln-dried. Due to its unusual density, this process took 30 days instead of the usual 12.

Now this wood is prized by luthiers and collectors as the cream of all available tonewoods in the world.

We recently acquired an exquisite set of this legendary wood and are very excited to build and launch our new C4 with it.

Drawings and concept development are underway already for the inlay and rosette. The Tree being from Belize, there is a strong Mesoamerican theme!

We cannot wait for this guitar to arrive! The Casimi C4 in The Tree is available to pre-order now here. For more information on Casimi Guitars, please do get in touch.

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