Adam Black S-8 review

A promising budget dreadnought that indicates good things in the future for Mr Black

  • £279
The garish abalone and gold on the headstock contrasts with the tasteful aesthetics of the rest of the S-8

MusicRadar Verdict

The aesthetics may take some of the sheen off it, but this is a versatile and playable instrument.


  • +

    Versatile, ballsy performance.


  • -

    Tacky headstock trimmings. The price seems a touch excessive.

MusicRadar's got your back Our team of expert musicians and producers spends hours testing products to help you choose the best music-making gear for you. Find out more about how we test.

The entry-level acoustic market is a competitive and the quality of such instruments is currently at a level that you could only dream of in previous decades.

The Adam Black Guitar Company is another brand to thrown its hat into this somewhat crowded ring.


The Indonesian-made S-8 is an entry-level dreadnought that features a dovetail neck joint, solid top and scalloped bracing.

Scalloped bracing is an important feature, as in theory it allows the guitar's solid top to resonate more freely, thus enhancing the tonality and dynamic response of the instrument.

Along with construction features that impact upon the way that the guitar sounds, the S-8 has a number of decorative additions over and above what one might expect for the price.

The abalone-inlayed rosette is attractive and adds an element of luxury to proceedings, although sadly the same can't be said of the headstock logo.

The font choice for the logo itself isn't the most inspiring and we felt that the abalone was a bit superflous.

Despite the welcome presence of sealed Grover machine heads, we're not entirely sure why the S-8 requires gold ones, as its strap button is chrome.

In combination with that abalone logo, the S-8's headstock creates the impression of trying a little too hard to impress, which is a shame when the rest of the instrument is pleasing to the eye.

At the other end of the strings, a rosewood bridge is present and it's compensated to aid intonation.

The neck has a comfortable, relatively shallow 'D' profile - approximately 23mm in depth at the first fret - that allows for a wide variety of playing styles and will feel inviting and fluid to players who usually lean towards electric playing.

The S-8 features an unusual, eye catching rosewood back that has dramatic dark streaks running near parallel to the back's centre join.

The S8 has a solid spruce top with a rich and appealing hue, accentuated by the darker-stained rosewood back and sides. The cream plastic binding is attractive and well finished, inspiring confidence in the build quality.


On picking up the S-8, it's immediately clear that this dreadnought is a versatile proposition.

The high and mid-frequency content is bold and promotes Townshend-esque raucous strumming as readily as it does delicate finger picking. Indeed, finger style really sings out with a crisp, articulate edge.

There isn't an enormous amount of luscious, piano like bass on offer, or any huge degree of subtlety, but there remains an appealing, workmanlike quality to it.

The way that the S-8 plays and sounds really encourages the player to dig in and belt out chords with conviction.


Despite our aesthetic quibbles regarding the headstock logo, the S-8 remains an undeniably appealing and versatile dreadnought with a bold character.

Although the price is a shade high, you are getting appointments such as Grover tuners and an abundance of inlays and purfling in exchange for your hard-earned.


Guitarist is the longest established UK guitar magazine, offering gear reviews, artist interviews, techniques lessons and loads more, in print, on tablet and on smartphones Digital: If you love guitars, you'll love Guitarist. Find us in print, on Newsstand for iPad, iPhone and other digital readers