Michael Kelly Guitars has unveiled a very strong contender for most-stylish acoustic guitar in the ever competitive 500-bucks-or–under-category. Boasting a quite exquisite ziricote top, Fishman electronics and a distinctive offset soundhole, the Forte Port Ziricote Jr is packed with cool player-friendly features.
Many will enjoy its cutaway body's compact dimensions and the shorter, Gibson-esque 24.75“ scale length. Complementing the ziricote top is mahogany laminate on the back and sides, plus a mahogany neck carved into what's described as a “Comfort C“ profile and topped with a 19-fret ovangkol fingerboard.
The Fishman Presys II with Sonicore pickup combo makes this stage-ready, and features a 2-band EQ and onboard tuner. While this is a relatively common choice for electro-acoustics in this price range, the big talking point is Michael Kelly's Port Technology. This is where the gains from that offset soundhole can be made.
By positioning the soundhole on the shoulder of the instrument, and supporting the top with the Port Technology bracing pattern, the Forte Port Ziricote Jr has more soundboard to resonate with, which Michael Kelly says improves projection and tone.
“You’ll hear it from the very first strum!,“ they promise. Sounds intriguing. With a 43mm nut width, the Forte Port Ziricote Jr should be good for strumming while also offering enough space for fingerstyle players to manoeuvre in.
Certainly, that bold cutaway will be flagging you on up to the upper registers of the neck, and it'll be interesting to see how the Forte Port Ziricote Jr responds with percussive acoustic guitar styles a la Jon Gomm.
Elsewhere you've got a synthetic bone nut, a gig bag to carry it in, and a Zero Pin nut which should take much of the pain out of changing strings. Certainly, it means no searching down the back of the couch for a missing pin, and more time playing.
All this will set you back $449. See Michael Kelly Guitars for more details.