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Freshman founder Sean Kelly makes a good case for the Apollo 3’s price tag. "We don’t allow second-best," says the Glaswegian luthier. "Everything is done under my design and I source the woods myself, haggling hard to get premium quality tonewoods… The top is solid AA-grade sitka selected spruce. There are a lot of guitars out there; we have to be better."
It’s not the biggest name, nor much to look at, but the Apollo starts impressing from the moment you strum it unplugged. There’s a gorgeous balance to the tone: a rolling, clear, characterful voice that you’d happily play without the embellishment of amp or effects, with spruce bite and organic mahogany warmth combining to remind you that this thing used to be a tree.
Alongside a manageable neck and effortless fingerboard, it’s enough to make you forget about the pretty bulky body (and slightly untidy nut). The best news? Plugged in, it’s exactly the same - only louder.
Freshman has a habit of building dark horses; the Apollo 3 turned up looking unassuming then proceeded to nail the raw sound we’d been hunting for and relay it through an amp. You could gripe over the extra £100 here, but it’s a small price to pay for a great-handling, tone-packed guitar that will sustain you well into your career.
Pros: Lovely balanced tone, great feel.
Cons: Doesn’t jump off the shelf.
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