While perusing various guitar players on YouTube I stumbled upon a great clip of master classical guitarist and Grammy award winner Sharon Isbin performing on what was one of the most unusual looking, (and frankly, coolest), guitars I have ever seen. The guitar had an ergonomic body with the headstock at the bottom of the guitar. There was no ‘real’ body to guitar other then an aluminum frame that gives the perception/feel of a body. The guitar immediately caught my attention and I began doing some research. It turned out that the guitar was the SoloEtte travel guitar.
I contacted Rossco Wright, the owner of the company, and he sent me out the Jazz Songbird model for review. I already knew their guitars sounded remarkable because I saw Sharon Isbin, (Director of Julliard’s Classical Guitar Dept.), playing the SoloEtte, yet I was eager to play and hear one for myself. (There are also great sounding clips of jazz guitar master John Stowell playing the SoloEtte on YouTube).
After inserting the tubing of the guitar, (this took all of 30 seconds), I plugged the guitar into an amplifier and was blown away. Everything felt and sounded amazing! When the guitar is plugged in it sounds big, full, warm, and beautiful. I have no idea how they did it, but they did, and it’s incredible!
I immediately realized how advantageous this guitar could be to me for the rest of my life. For example, I would never have to worry about the stress of traveling with a guitar ever again. Recently, when doing some work in Mid-West I brought the guitar on the plane and was actually able to practice while sitting in my airline seat.
I plugged in some headphones into the guitar, practiced for the duration of a three-hour flight, and didn’t disturb anyone. (Except for my funny looking guitar faces that are inevitable when I play). Not only does the SoloEtte serve as a convenient practice guitar, it can be used in any live situation and sounds astonishing. In fact, I have used the guitar on more than dozen gigs in the past month and it continues to amaze me. I wouldn’t hesitate to do any gig for any situation on this guitar.
The Jazz SongBird is intended for the archtop player. It includes an EMG neck position humbucker pickup that provides a fat/warm sound. The neck width is 1 ¾ and has a body radius 16”. The guitar features 22 frets, strap buttons, dot inlays and a cutaway frame.
All of the SoloEtte models are a solid-construction, disassembling frame-design, travel, practice, and performance guitars that can be plugged into an amp can be used with headphones. The frame comes apart and fits into a small carrying case. When the SoloEtte is disassembled for traveling, it’s only 33 inches long and no wider than a guitar neck.
Some outstanding guitarists that play on SoloEtte guitars include Sharon Isbin, John Stowell, Gustavo Assis-Brasil, and Don Latarski, among many others. The SoloEtte is made in the USA in Eugene, Oregon.
Review by Dr. Brandon BernsteinPublished in