The McPherson Camrielle 4.0 Guitar, Design and Innovation


The McPherson Camrielle 4.0 - A Complete Break From Tradition

The world of expensive steel string acoustic guitars is not a stale world, but it is a world dead set, for the most part, on reliving the past, recreating the past, and if possible at all, improving upon the finest instruments made in the past.  There are not a lot of brand new ideas in the manufacturing of expensive steel string guitars, rarer still, are completely new designs.  McPherson guitars, however, create some extremely cutting edge instruments designed in exciting new ways; and utilizing ideas not used in traditional instruments.

Since before world war two most acoustic guitars made are based on exactly TWO designs, and those designs are the Martin D-28, and the Martin D-18.  If you were not interested in guitars, weren't a player, a casual glance at the two Martin instruments would likely leave you wondering what the difference in them was.  If you saw either, and then saw the McPherson Camrielle 4.0; you'd have no trouble at all seeing it was something completely different from any guitar you'd likely ever seen.  It is different, very different.

There is something very special about McPherson guitars.  One can't say there isn't anything cool about traditional Martin and Gibson guitars, they are everything done right in the art of acoustic guitar building, which has also led to the creation of extremely cool art in music.  There is something WAY cool though, about this McPherson guitar. This guitar breaks from tradition thoroughly and by extremes.

The McPherson Camrielle 4.0 With Rosewood Back And Sides

The Backside of The Guitar

Matt McPherson Guitars

It's not so much that this guitar is non traditional and innovative.  All McPherson instruments are.  Matt McPherson is their builder, he's the man.  He's an artist, a sculpture of wood creating works of art used to create more works of art.  

After doing some web searching I've found that not just the instrument discussed here by McPherson has the offset soundhole, they all do.  While I can't say this is absolutely the rule, that every McPherson instrument is built in a completely McPherson exclusive design, I can say I've not seen one anywhere on the web that was any sort of replica of a Martin, Gibson, or any other major brand. If you look closely at the bridge of this instrument, you can see that even the bridge is shaped differently from any other you may have seen.

Mr. McPherson doesn't just design guitars differently.  He does other things differently from others in the business as well.  When we talk about the Camrielle 4.0, we're talking about a design of instrument, but not with any specific wood combination.  This is completely atypical in guitars.  Generally, when you've got a model of guitar in mind, the thing comes with specific woods for top, back and sides, neck, fretboard, bridge, so forth and so on; but that isn't the case at all here.  The Camrielle 4.0 is available in mahogany, rosewood, and as stated on the McPherson website "a variety of tone woods and body depths[1]."  Before we discuss some oddities, perhaps we should have a listen to one example of this instrument.

Odd Specifications

Now we shouldn't confuse the matter here, this instrument was created with the finger style guitarist in mind.  It wasn't created for flatpicking, as it is a small body instrument.  No reason, there is no reason at all, in regards to what the guitar could and can be used for.  It can be used for either style, and a hybrid of the two, it is a work of art created for another fine artist to take up and use to create musical art.  No doubts as to the creations intended purpose, it's something crafted towards an end, and it will surely serve those ends for those who can purchase it.

I'm seeing these instruments online all having spruce sound boards.  The website for McPherson leaves the specs in regards to tonewoods rather open.  I suspect that because the six string beast is designed towards finger style players, a cedar sound board is likely, very likely, an option on the table for orders of this guitar.

Me personally, I'd love nothing more than to hear a great like Leo Kottke play this thing.  I realize, however, that such a musician uses a very heavy attack upon the strings.  It could be this guitar was designed for a much softer approach.

The Mcphereson Camrielle 4.0 has a cantilevered neck.  What the hell is that?  It's more simple than one might think.  All "cantilevered neck" means is the neck of the guitar, and the fingerboard, where they enter into the body of the instrument, they're not mounted on top of the body in such a way as to where they restrict the vibration of the instrument's body.  The thing is designed for maximum vibrations. The soundboard of this instrument vibrates without the normal restriction of the fingerboard or fretboard.

Regarding the positioning of the sound hole, Mr. McPherson says it is placed as it is due to the vibration of the top of the guitar being most active in the center.  What this means is, when the very center of the soundboard is cut out for a sound hole, the top of the guitar is robbed of it's MOST resonate section. By relocating the sound hole, McPhereson is adding maximum tonality via maximum vibration from the top.

The bracing of this guitar, the internal braces which can't be seen, those are another amazing and innovative thing about this instrument.  They go over and under each other, and without touching.  This allows for more independent vibration without restriction or tonal confusion due to braces touching.  This instrument may not be everyone's cup of tea, especially it may not fit the acoustic flatpicker, but should you be a finger stylist, and are able to afford this instrument; then surely you are cheating your chances by not looking it over.  Thanks for reading.