Katoh creates beauty and exudes elegance with a warm sound. Words by Matt Withers.
When I look for a classical or nylon‑string guitar, I look for balance between the treble and bass, suitable tone control, wide dynamics and easy playability.
The Katoh classical guitar range offers so much brilliant choice, and this particular beauty not only sounds great, but looks stunning too! With deluxe gold plated machine heads and deep black tuning pegs, it emits an aura of elegance before you even pick it up for a strum.
With a lovely depth to its visual colour, the MCG115C rocks a high-quality finish, handmade in China with tasteful ovangkol back and sides. The instrument is nicely weighted, light and feels slick and comfortable under your fingers, easy to get to know and love within a matter of minutes.
A warm tone is quickly produced from its solid cedar top, and Katoh have also added a truss rod which, along with its traditional Spanish fan bracing, creates a solid and pretty big sound with a wide dynamic range. It’s very suitable for the intimacy you desire from a classical guitar but with a certain power that you don’t expect.
Strung up with Savarez strings, I gave the Spanish favourites a spin, from the rapid tremolo in Recuerdos de la Alhambra to the punchy bass and strong rasgueado chords in Asturias. In each piece, the melody sang well with a balanced bass –though I did think it was a little boomy and honky in the midrange for my liking.
However, I’d say that this is to be expected with the ovangkol wood construction; being a relative to rosewood, ovangkol’s tonal properties are nice and wide, right from the highs to the lows, though can often get a little bit uneven around the midrange.
On the plus side, a fun little bonus feature by Katoh is the addition of a 20th fret for the occasional high C. For long and slow melodic lines, the sustain isn’t amazing past the 12th fret. But let’s be honest with ourselves here: without a cutaway in your hands, do you ever go up to the 20th fret? That’s what I thought.
This really is an instrument that is going to suit many players for a range of styles and purposes which can last a life time.
WHAT IT MEANS TO ME
Beautifully constructed and finished with a brilliant gloss, it’s easy to see why this is one of the best-selling guitars in its price range, as it covers everything you need in a classical guitar at an affordable price.
It was clear to me that, especially in the hands of a keen student, this guitar would definitely help develop their playing, not hinder it as many instruments cheaper than this can tend to do.
For beginners, holding down the first few frets – especially when introduced to barre chords – can be a real struggle. However with the playability and light action of the MCG115C, you’ll be comfortable and going in no time!
I’ve come across many instruments, and Katoh guitars always seem to stick out and hold their worth. They’re great value for money, and they always stand the test of time. I’m very fond of the darker wood colours and how they have matched the black and gold tuning pegs with the bridge and edging of the body.
The ovangkol timber is known to be solid and will keep your instrument lasting for years, and with its hard case, is super solid to take on tour for gigs without worrying about it getting knocked about.
Plus, that traditional gloss finish adds a bit of a protective barrier from any bumps and bruises that might be inflicted if you’re jamming with mates around the campfire.
You can get into the groove with percussion and tambora on the upper bout and on the bridge, getting some great sounds if you use this as a bit of a crossover instrument between styles. With the traditional bracing, you’ll get close to the percussive Flamenco sound while still maintaining a lovely, warm tone with timbre changes as easily as possible when you experiment with colours around the sound hole. As a sidenote, too, that sound hole has a great looking rosette as well.
Combined with plenty of options for adding external pickups, my suggestion would be to pair the MCG115C with the super adaptable DPA 4099G to clip onto the side of the guitar, giving you the flexibility to control your volume in a noisy environment while maintaining the best sound possible from the instrument.
When you think about it, that’s the joy about working with a guitar wound up with nylon strings: the wood does the talking and creates the sound for you.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you’re out to upgrade from the old, dusty nylon‑stringed guitar in your den, or after something that is simply a breeze to play, don’t go past this classical beauty with a brilliant dynamic range.
Whether you want to get your chops into learning the Spanish favourites such as Recuerdos de la Alhambra or to mix it up on your acoustic set as you accompany a singer with the Top 40 charts, treat yourself and get plucking on this beauty
TOP 5 FEATURES
• Cedar soundboard
• Spanish fan bracing
• 20th fret
• Gold plated machine heads
• Traditional gloss finish
• Looks stunning
• Easy to play
• Great balance
• Not brilliant sustain past fret 12
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