You’ll need to get to Cape Town, South Africa to meet the guitar-building duo behind Casimi guitars. Head luthier is one Matthias Roux, aided by Matthew Rich, both performing musicians who studied and worked at South Africa’s Maingard Guitars before joining forces for Casimi.
This breathtaking instrument is an example of the C2 Signature Grand Auditorium, developed originally for Rice as a highly evolved all-rounder to cover live, studio and unplugged use. It was built as a showpiece, not originally intended for sale, and so has “everything thrown at it,” says Roux.
We have a solid Engelmann spruce top over a stunning African Blackwood back and sides. The union of the two timbers is smoothed by ebony bevels, firstly to the forearm area, echoed in the lines of a belly bevel on the back. There’s a subtle rounding-off to the back of the deep cutaway around the heel area; a quick glance wouldn’t mark it out as a 12th-fret neck-to- body join, but indeed it is.
To the front, the Florentine cutaway has an inner, Venetian-shaped inlay of flamed and red- stained maple, that runs around the entire perimeter, both front and back, punctuated with abalone-inlaid, sculpted and contoured ebony around the soundhole. Even the sides are inlaid with more red and natural maple coachlines, all of which contributes to a sense of continuously flowing lines, contours and shapes; it’s an ergonomic and aesthetic delight.
Befitting its all-rounder status, the body is 16 inches wide and a shade under five deep. It’s braced relatively traditionally in an X-style with tone bars, albeit heavily scalloped, sculpted and shaped to the nth degree; the whole thing weighs just 2.4kg/5.2lbs. The result of all this is a spectacular sound that spans a number of apparent contradictions; subtle yet powerful, clear yet warm, intimate yet projecting. You can imagine it in the hands of a modern fingerstyle master such as Andy McKee or Tony McManus, but those of us with more mortal talents have plenty to enjoy across pretty much any style you could muster.
This is a thoroughly breathtaking instrument in every respect, not least the price!
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The striking headstock is designed as a simplification of the traditional slotted headstock to reduce mass. It’s swathed in ebony all around, featuring yet more flamed- and red-stained maple.
The upper-bout mini soundhole projects up towards you in the playing position.
Aside from providing an extra vantage point to see the internals, it’s also very useful
The pinless bridge design is unique and undergoing a patent application, so that’s as much as we can say about that!
Solid African Blackwood back and sides, with ebony bevels and painstaking inlays. This is guitar- shaped art, no question.
The carved and sculpted ebony soundhole ring features abalone inlays.
In addition to the belly and forearm bevels, there’s also one to the corner of where back meets sides, by the heel: now that’s attention to detail.