One of the key decisions to be made when shopping for an acoustic/electric hybrid guitar is just which direction you're coming from.
Are you an electric player looking for some acoustic tones with the ease and comfort of your favourite solid body? Or are you an acoustic player that just wants to be able to plug in and add some texture to your songs?
"Crafter has quite rightly paid a lot of attention to its choice of electronics onboard the SA-BUB."
For followers of the latter approach, Crafter has designed the SA series, which combines the semi-acoustic format singer-songwriters know and love with a Kent Armstrong lipstick pickup for added variety.
Available in a variety of exotic tonewoods, our example here features an arched bubinga top with devil tree back and sides. Don't get too excited - the devil tree doesn't impart any of the fiery one's penchant for rock 'n' roll, unfortunately, but it does make for a very slim, light and sturdy construction.
The neck will be familiar territory for acoustic players, with the string tension and spacing perfectly designed for both strumming and fingerpicking. The guitar certainly sounds bright when you strum out your first few chords, and the body construction makes sure that you can feel each note shaking your ribcage - always a good sign.
Plugging in to an amp, though, is where this guitar is designed to shine, and Crafter has quite rightly paid a lot of attention to its choice of electronics onboard. Sporting a preamp system that mixes the electric tones of the lipstick pickup with an LR Baggs Element pickup, the Crafter very importantly features a phase switch for the fight against feedback and a blend slider for morphing between the two pickup types.
Acoustic tones thankfully carry a lot of weight and the controls on the preamp allow for plenty of fine-tuning. Just be wary of overly judicious use of the treble control, which will start to hiss a bit if you turn it up too high.
With a valve amp, flicking to the lipstick pickup is great for introducing just a little bit of drive to your sound, and on higher settings it's especially good at nailing gritty blues leads. As you'd expect, adding too much gain is more than the lipstick pickup can handle, but that's not really the point here and shouldn't count as a negative.
If you're intending to run the SA through an electric amp primarily, be aware that acoustic sounds aren't quite as good as if you were plugging in to a dedicated acoustic amp, or even an amp modeller, but the tones you will get are still a lot of fun and more importantly, really musical.
Ultimately, that's why we're so taken by the Crafter. For the right person, this is an instrument that will support your songwriting and open up a world of tones that just aren't available on a standalone acoustic or electric, for a pretty decent price.