Anyone ever watched that movie ‘Crossroads‘? Ralph Macchio plays a young classically trained guitarist with a passion for the blues. Hooks up with an old-timer Willie Brown (Joe Seneca) and heads off on a road trip to Mississippi in search of the last song Robert Johnson wrote but never recorded. Well, the Adam Black Route 61 reminds me of that movie.
Indeed it is that whole 1930’s blues era that this guitar alludes to in both the way it looks and how it plays. Images of Sunnyland Slim, Johnny Young, and James ‘Son’ Thomas immediately come to mind.
Of course, the Adam Black Route 61 CE is very much a modern guitar and you don’t need to be a blues player to appreciate it. I don’t think the company was trying to recreate a genuine period guitar here. More giving you the aesthetics and vibe of an old blues guitar without any of the problems associated with instruments of that age.
- Orchestral/Folk Sized Body.
- Solid Mahogany Top.
- Laminated Mahogany Back & Sides.
- 3-Piece Mahogany Neck with Dot Inlays.
- 44mm Bone Nut.
- 25.5” Scale Length.
- String Spacing 7mm at 1st fret, 10mm at 12th fret and 11mm at the saddle.
- Purpleheart Fingerboard & Bridge.
- Fishman Presys II Preamp & Transducer System with Built-in Tuner.
- Black Chrome Diecast Machine Heads.
- White/Black/White Body Binding.
- Black Neck Binding.
- Finish, Mississippi Mud Burst.
- Supplied with a padded gigbag with 10mm thick padding, comfortable shoulder straps, carry handle and an accessory pouch.
The main thing that stands out for me there is the use of Purpleheart for the fingerboard. It is a very hard, dense wood with a feel similar to rosewood. Although a purple colour, it can often change to a sort of lightish brown if exposed to a lot of natural light and air. The wood is used quite a lot in higher-end fretless basses but we don’t often see it used for the fretboard on acoustic guitars. Not at this price point at least.
The Adam Black Route 61 CE is a well-made guitar. Everything is finished as it should be. The 3 piece mahogany neck is smooth and easy to play. Frets are finished well with no rough edges protruding from the fingerboard. The black chrome die-cast tuners are smooth and look great. And the ‘Mississippi Mud Burst’ finish is nicely done and certainly looks the part.
The addition of the Fishman Presys II is very welcome and provides controls for bass, treble, and phase. There is also an easy to read and very accurate tuner built-in.
I am not a fan of built-in preamps on acoustic guitars. Very few can even approach the true translation of how an acoustic guitar sounds. The Fishman Presys II doesn’t change my mind about these things but I must admit it does sound pretty good.
The company has also provided a padded gig bag with this guitar. I really wish guitar makers, in general, would follow that example. How much can it really add to the price? And wouldn’t all guitarists rather have a gig bag come with their guitars as standard? I know I would. So top marks to Adam Black for this one.
The gig bag has 10mm padding, a large front pocket for your accessories and straps on the back for easy transportation. Reminds me of a slightly thinner version of Taylor gig bags, which is no bad thing. Also a nice colour. Not the usual drab black that most gig bags come in.
I found the sound to be well-controlled without being too tight. Each note rings clear and it is not too heavy on the bass end. This is a guitar that, despite its looks easily lends itself to the sound of the modern singer-songwriter just as well as it does to the down south roadhouse blues player. The onboard Fishman Presys II tends to tighten things up a bit and almost sounds like it is compressing the sound. Still good though.
It’s a crowded market at the moment and difficult to stand out. There are quite a few guitars at this price point, most of which sport solid tops and built-in electronics. Some do come with gig bags but not many. So then it comes down to how do you differentiate yourself from the crowd?
Adam Black has gone for build quality over aesthetics although the black chrome tuners, pinstripe around the soundhole and smooth black binding notch it up a level. The actual finish, Mississippi Mud Burst is probably the most striking part of this guitar. It looks very “roadhouse blues” and it plays well to boot.
Adam Black has done a good job with the Route 61 CE and if you are in the market for a guitar in the sub–£ 350/$400 price bracket it is certainly worth a look. Now, where’s my copy of ‘Crossroads’…
More info from https://www.rosetti.co.uk/