Text Box: Mike Baranik builds some of the very best guitars in all of luthier-dom. I was really captivated by the look of an art deco Retreaux Parlor he displayed at Healdsburg 2013. His PX is an older design, but sits somewhere between the 00m and Retreaux in terms of size, which is the sweet spot I was looking for. As Ive really been into the sound of mahogany lately, that seemed like a natural choice. The top will most likely be blue spruce to add a little more color to the sound, though I may opt for Adirondack at the last minute for sheer power potential.

* Builder: Mike Barank
* Model: PX (13 fret, 00 size)
* Top: Blue spruce
* Back/Sides: Mahogany, lightly figured
* Neck: One piece mahogany
* Endgraft: Art deco
* Headplate: Deco tiles plus custom deco overlay
* Headstock Bindings: Super cool Baranik ivoroid
* Fingerboard: Ebony
* Fingerboard Bindings: Ivoroid
* Fret Markers: Deco tiles
* Frets to body: 13
* Cutaway: None
* Bridge: Ebony pyramid
* Body Bindings: Ivoroid
* Rosette: Simple
* Tuners: Open back Schaller (Waverly style)
* 1 3/4" Nut
* 2 5/16" Saddle
* 25.6 scale
* Case: Hoffee
Text Box: Baranik PX
Text Box: These were my initial thoughts . . .

The sound definitely fits squarely in the realm of the many Baraniks I have played. Compared to my Meridian, there are more mids, upper-mids, and treble content. The Meridian sounds like a larger guitar, whereas the PX is more focused and present by comparison. Both Baraniks have a wide dynamic range and a great deal of headroom. Both are very quick on the attack, punchy, and expressive. Both hold up to my aggressive fingerpicking. The PX feels like it has a bit more punch (which is almost impossible to believe) and projection than the Meridian, though the differences are not enormous. The Meridian envelopes the player a bit more - perhaps the sound port is one component of that - and it's a touch darker on the very top end. I'm actually glad I didn't opt for a sound port in this case, as I really love the guitar exactly how it is.

The mid range character of the PX, which is a 13 fret guitar, is distinctive and very much like what I've come to expect from 12 fret guitars, which, to my ear at least, have a very strong mid-range presence. I would certainly say this guitar has more of the character of a 12 fret than a 14 fret, rather than sounding like a hybrid. That extra fret of access does open up a few songs in my repertoire that are difficult on my 12 fret Montuoro. It's an extraordinarily balanced, sweet guitar, and it's precisely what I would imagine a great Baranik 00-size guitar to sound like.

Like my Meridian, it has a blue spruce top, and I think that probably explains a lot of the similarity in fundamental character. With mahogany back and sides, I would have guessed the sound to be a bit drier than it is. The overtone content is somewhere in between what I've come to expect from mahogany and what I'd usually expect from rosewood. Importantly for me, however, the guitar maintains great note separation. It has a gorgeous complexity that somehow doesn't get muddled, a feat that Mike always seems to be able to manage with his guitars. Speaking in very broad terms, I would say this PX is almost a hybrid between a vintage Martin-style 00 and a modern-voiced guitar. 

Mike has definitely carved out his own tonal signature in the guitar world, and this guitar is fundamentally Baranik, but in a much different way than my Meridian. Commissioning guitars from the same builder, I sometimes worry about having too much tonal overlap between the two guitars, but Mike has done a fantastic job of presenting something totally new and exciting without giving up his identity as a builder.

For those of you who own or have played a Baranik, it almost goes without saying that the build quality is top shelf. It is difficult to find the proper words to convey the level of perfection Mike achieves in his builds. He is quite simply (in my opinion) unmatched in this regard. The work is FLAWLESS. And I mean that in the most literal sense of the word. The artistic embellishments and all of the art deco touches are absolutely stunning. Just STUNNING. The finished mahogany, with the subtle figuring, is breathtaking. The blue spruce top has tons of silking and looks great. It's hard to imagine finding a nicer looking piece of spruce. 

I should say that this ivoroid that Mike has found and incorporated into this build is SO cool. It's much more interesting, visually, than your typical ivoroid and fits the overall look of the guitar very well. The pictures capture Mike's custom headstock veneer pretty well. It's unbelievable in person. The perfect balance of uniqueness, creativity, and class. I LOVE the look and am honored that Mike spent so much time designing something like that for me. The deco tile inlays are, of course, about as cool as they come. I can't get over how cool the "B" logo looks on the headstock. The first time I saw those tiles at HGF, I knew I had to had them on a build. The ivoroid trim on the sound hole is very, very cool as well. Every little detail, every tiny subtlety, has been carefully attended to. It's a tonal and visual work of art.

The neck profile, a slim "C", is exquisite. The setup is perfection. The nut is slotted perfectly. The intonation is spot on. The action is amazing. This is my first experience with the Schaller open back tuners. They are great. Feel great. Look great.

I didn't have too much input for Mike on the PX. I think he knows pretty well what I like, but I gave him latitude to voice it the way he wanted. We had brief discussions about the woods, but that was pretty much it. I didn't know exactly what to expect, but I knew it would be good. What Mike delivered is PERFECT. Just a fantastic example of a modern-voiced 00 with a great look.

Lastly, I just have to thank Mike who, in addition to being one of the most talented luthiers I know, also happens to be one of the nicest. Mike will do just about anything to make sure his customers have a fun time during the build. He puts in a lot of extra time and effort to design those cool details, takes gazillions of pictures, and to make sure he gets the guitar exactly right the first time. And he delivers. I love working with Mike Baranik, and I love playing his guitars. One of the reasons I'll probably always be looking for my next Baranik.

Thanks, Mr. Baranik.