Text Box: 2009 Mustapick Arena—Brazilian Rosewood and German Spruce

This was my first-ever luthier-built guitar, built by Matt Mustapick in Soquel, California.  The Arena is more or less a concert-size instrument intended for fingerstyle.  Next to his baritones, I believe this is Matt’s most popular guitar.  After discussing my sound requirements and the need to blend the characteristics of a great dreadnaught (reverb quality and strong bass) and an OM (punchy sound, sparkly highs, strong mids), Matt recommended a combination of German Spruce and Brazilian Rosewood.  I also expressed a desire for strong overtone content and enough headroom to survive aggressive picking.

The guitar features a number of options that Matt offers: Ryan-style armrest bevel, cutaway, sound port, and fan frets.

The resulting guitar, which was delivered in July 2009, essentially nailed every sound requirement listed in my page-long description.  Sparkly, complex, authoritative and balanced bass, great reverb and sustain.

The sound port is a new feature to me, though I doubt I will ever order a guitar without one again.  The player experience is so much richer with the sound port, it really enhances the subtleties of the entire range.

The fan fret design was also new to me.  The idea is to construct a longer scale length for the bass strings than the treble strings to improve the bass response in dropped tunings.  Though there are a variety of fan fret geometries, mine is relatively subtle, with 25.5” on the treble side and 26.25” on the bass side.  It takes a very slight adjustment on the fretting hand, but is more or less transparent.  I do notice the bass holds up quite well in dropped tunings and has a generally strong presence and punch in standard tuning.

The guitar is bound in Koa with a Cocobolo fretboard and bridge.  The neck profile is a slim C.

You can visit Matt’s site at www.mustpickguitars.com.
Text Box: Mustapick