What is it?
We all know Tommy Emmanuel as being an endorsee of Maton acoustic guitars (opens in new tab) but in the studio there's a custom-built Larrivée C-10 12-fretter that is very close to his heart, and it is the inspiration behind the C-03R-TE.
Designed by Emmanuel with Jean Larrivée, the C-03R-TE is a tribute to the custom C-10, sharing much of its DNA yet costing half the price, and with enough to distinguish it as its own acoustic. And right out the case, it is very distinguished.
The construction is flawless. There's solid Sitka spruce on the top, solid Indian rosewood on the back and sides. Its neck is mahogany, topped with a maple-bound ebony fingerboard that joins the body at the 12th fret. There's a generous Florentine cutaway.
With maple binding and minimal detailing on the herringbone rosette, restraint is the order of the day here. That extends to the onboard electronics. There are none – after all, stage-ready electronics and the indigenous tonewoods are one of the big attractions for Emmanuel's Maton guitars, and this is his studio guitar.
A set of Larrivée tuners, a bone nut, an ebony bridge with bone saddle, and a tortoiseshell 'guard completes the picture.
Performance and verdict
The sheer depth of the Florentine cutaway guarantees that all 17 frets are going to be readily accessible here. This being a Tommy Emmanuel guitar gives you the impression that anything is possible. It might not endow you with Emmanuel's hybrid-picking skills, or his note choice, but the setup out of the case is accessible, with one of the lowest actions we have played.
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This is an acoustic that caters for all styles. When you are strumming through a chord sequence – and this is made immeasurably easier by the aforementioned action – the C-03R-TE has a big dreadie voice, albeit with a softer midrange. Nix the pick and it responds to the most gentle fingerstyle.
Devotees of Emmanuel's playing will love those dynamic responses, and the wide frequency range that helps you articulate busy passages with a thumb pick and a sense of adventure.
Such responsiveness doesn't come cheap. The C-03R-TE is priced £2,699, a considerable investment in anyone's book. And there are no onboard electronics. But we'd argue that it is still worth it. The quality of the craft in off the charts. The ease with which the C-03R-TE takes to new styles is evidence that it's an investment that'll pay off.
In time, the C-03R-TE is only going to sound better as it is worn in. Who can we recommend it to? Tommy Emmanuel fans will of course be interested. But this is really a signature model that'll adapt to whoever picks it up, and that's what great instruments do; they help the artist find their voice.
MusicRadar verdict: With its dynamic tones, stunning build and one of the slinkiest setups we have ever played, the C-03R-TE is an acoustic that will win over players of any number of styles.
- ORIGIN: USA
- TYPE: 0000 12-fret cutaway
- TOP: Sitka spruce
- BACK/SIDES: Indian rosewood
- MAX RIM DEPTH: 121mm
- MAX BODY WIDTH: 406mm
- NECK: Mahogany
- SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5”)
- TUNERS: Larrivée
- NUT/WIDTH: 44.45mm
- FINGERBOARD: Ebony
- FRETS: 17
- BRIDGE/SPACING: Bone/57.1mm
- WEIGHT (kg/lb): 9.92/4.5
- OPTIONS: None
- RANGE OPTIONS: Tommy’s tribute model is based around the Larrivée C-10 12-fret (£4,699)
- LEFT-HANDERS: Yes
- FINISH: Satin
- CONTACT: Larrivée Guitars (opens in new tab)