Patrick James Eggle is one of the UK's most highly respected luthiers, having turned out superlative quality guitars for three decades.
Although more recently associated with extravagant flat-tops, Pat's back where he began, making drop-dead gorgeous electrics. "I never really stopped," he confesses. "I just haven't built too many over the last few years. But I think we have a lot of good things to offer, based on past experience and also the way we operate – as a small team using a blend of clever technology, hands-on skill and hopefully some inspired ideas."
Our review instrument certainly looks inspired: a beautiful set-neck, almost symmetrical twin-cutaway Macon Carve Top (named after the US city in Georgia that gave birth to Little Richard and Otis Redding).
The Macon's back is chambered mahogany and the neck is built from the rosewood-like North African timber wenge (pronounced "wengay"), with figured maple running down the centre.
The neck has the lightest of sealing coats, and while the Macon's body is hand burnished nitro.
It features Marc Ransley's Mojo pickups – a humbucker at the bridge and a P-90 in neck position. I first used Marc's pickups about two years ago," explains Pat. "I needed some custom wound pickups for one of my own guitars and he absolutely nailed it. The P-90 and humbucker are balanced so they work perfectly together – you've got to be careful because P-90s can be a bit overpowering in the neck position."
Tuners are super-high quality aged Waverlys on the Macon.
Feel & Sounds
Chambered for lighter weight, the Macon not only looks fabulous, but feels instantly at home on one's lap or hung round the neck. With what Patrick calls his "Fat C" profile, it's perfectly shaped to fit the fretting hand.
Wenge is an open-pored timber, so Patrick applies a thin sealing coat that's silky smooth
to the touch, with no drag whatsoever. Dimensionally, it's just right, too, with a feel that no player could find alien.
This guitar sounds fabulous. Not only is it acoustically resonant, but the tonal balance between the flutey neck P-90 and darker humbucker at the bridge is just right. It's naturally ballsy, full of woody goodness and equally at home on clean rhythm as on crunchy riffs or searing solos.
We can't get over the sublime attention to detail on display here. This instrument owes a nod to tried-and-tested formulae, but Patrick's eye and his team's ability as woodworkers mean that the Macon stands as unique and rather wonderful instruments.
Of his designs Eggle says, "My radical bent gets me into trouble sometimes. Guitarists love what is classic and familiar, but I do try to beat a path where I can. I like to balance classic old-school with something fresh, because if we don't bring something new to the table it can become a little dull."
There's nothing dull about this gorgeous guitars. It offers an interesting take on the familiar, but brims with Eggle's understanding of what's 'right' in a guitar build – even when things like timber choices, hardware and electrics are not your usual meat and two veg.
We also get the feeling that this guitar will be played, get battle scars, absorb finger sweat and gain the patina that only a working instrument can. And from our perspective as players, that's as good a compliment as a 'boutique' guitar can get.