Guitar Review: RainSong JM1000N2

Any tradition must be living to be valid — otherwise tradition becomes dead “traditionalism.” That is, there must be “creative faithfulness” to the established, ongoing tradition. Hence, each new generation must both live within the established tradition, and express the tradition with a new, excited, winsome voice.

JM1000N2

The Orthodox Church, which I serve as a priest, isn’t the only bearer of tradition — the acoustic guitar also stands within a sound and revered tradition. The acoustic guitar of 100 years ago is still recognizable today: there is a neck, body, sound hole, bridge, saddle, tuners, and strings. And the acoustic guitar of the twenty-first century has the very same features. The twenty-first century guitar, however, is constructed in its factory or workshop very differently than the one made 100 years ago. Here, the creative faithfulness, in fact, has produced superior acoustic guitars which stand solidly within this venerable tradition. Such creative faithfulness to the production of the acoustic guitar is alive and well, and taken to the next level, in the RainSong brand of guitar!

The JM1000N2 in Ted Brown Music, Tacoma

RainSong Guitars (www.rainsong.com) is located in Woodinville, Washington. They make carbon graphite guitars, which for many acoustic guitar traditionalists is anathema. I first encountered RainSong guitars about six years ago at a guitar shop in Bellevue, Washington. I recall being quite impressed by the three models I played. However, I was also “negatively” impressed at the time by the price tags they bore.

I turn to my favorite guitar store which is Ted Brown Music in Tacoma, Washington. They began carrying a respectable number of RainSong guitars earlier in 2017. Although I noticed their presence several times, I never picked one up to play. However, my friend at Ted Brown, Gary, urged me to try one again. Being drawn to jumbos and dreadnoughts, I picked up the jumbo model JM1000N2 (of the Classic series), sat down with it, and let my pick role across the strings with an open G chord. Nice. Very nice. Settling back I played through the Beatles’ “Eight Days a Week”, “Things We Said Today,” and “Tell Me What You See.” The guitar played with incredible ease and with incredible clarity. The JM1000N2 is light weight and yields volume, sustain, and tonal nuances — lots of all three!

The jumbo model comes with Fishman Prefix+T electronics. Gary brought out a cable and plugged it into a Fishman Loudbox amp. I didn’t seem to be scaring anyone away, so I played a few more songs and was enjoying myself immensely. The guitar sounded equally fantastic plugged in as well as it did acoustically.

If you read publications focusing on acoustic guitars, you are aware that many traditional woods are scarce, very scarce — rosewood leads this list. Thus, guitar manufactures are turning to other far more sustainable North American woods such as myrtlewood (Breedlove), and big leaf maple (Taylor). With these needed changes in tone woods, carbon graphite should be a “no-brainer.” Additionally, the problems associated with woods are completely overcome. There are no problems with dryness or humidity. No problems with temperature extremes. No more truss rod adjustments. No worries about string tension. All such issues are now obsolete with the graphite guitar.

Shark inlay

Graphite. It sounds cold and industrial, but the guitar feels the same as any wooden guitar. Further, the RainSong’s graphite body is visually attractive — with the exception of shark inlays on the fretboard (I truly don’t care for sharks).  Ignoring the sharks, the JM1000N2 is a true winner, and is truly a “creative and faithful” expression the the great acoustic guitar tradition.

RainSong guitars come in a variety of body shapes, and construction varieties. The asking price of this reviewed jumbo model is $2,349, a bit steep, but would be well worth it given all the above — I might sell one of my wooden guitars, save up a bit and make a purchase of a fabulous RainSong guitar.

Keep on playing!

Fr. Irenaeus



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