A guitar with understated good looks and a great deal of charm – David Mead joins the Bicycle Club…
This signature model comes from Jamie MacColl of Bombay Bicycle Club and is one of a pair of special models from Farida, the other belonging to his partner in crime and fellow Bombay cyclist, Jack Steadman. Both of the guys delivered the brief to Farida that they wanted their signature models to be exactly the same as the guitars they use themselves in every respect – and affordable at the same time. Our review sample is number 21 of a very limited edition of 25, so let’s get cracking before it’s snapped up!
The body size of this instrument is very slight, having been dubbed a “superfolk” by Farida. It measures in at just under a standard OM, with an inch or so shaved off in each direction. Either way, it’s a very neat, trim package with a nicely unfussy air about the design. Jamie says that he favours this body size in preference to anything too bulky like a jumbo or dreadnought because of its clarity and ability to take a pounding in the strumming department without any undue muddiness.
The A-62’s top is a very tidy piece of bookmatched spruce and this particular guitar has some attractive patterning in the grain. The rosette looks like a single ring of mahogany and suits the general homeliness of the design down to the ground.
Back and sides are solid rosewood – both the guys from the Bicycle Club insisting that quality was to be kept as high as possible. It’s very dark in colour and the matte finish reveals some of the contours of the grain throughout. Once again, this is a nice touch and lends the instrument a very pleasant tactile vibe overall. The binding around the edge of the body looks like it’s figured maple, but the spec doesn’t confirm this. In any case, its pale look offsets the darkness of the rosewood nicely.
Working our way up the back of the instrument we find a mahogany neck with a separate heel and scarfed headstock. Right at the top of the neck, above the Grover tuners are a pair of numbers to let you know where your guitar falls within the limited edition. Ours says “21 – 25”, in case you’re wondering!
The white star on the front of the headstock is not just cosmetic filler – it’s there for a reason – the significance being that it was used on the cover of the band’s single ‘Lights Out, Words Gone’ and is also a tattoo on Jamie’s arm – nothing like the odd personal touch to emphasise the connection between player and signature model.
The Farida’s fingerboard is rosewood, with no position markers on the front, again adding to the overall simplicity of design and, I have to say, aesthetic charm of the A-62.
A rosewood bridge and compensated string saddle sit at the body end of the string length and wooden – probably rosewood – string pins complete the A-62’s furnishings, the latter being a particularly nice touch.
I’ve seen plenty of instruments coming out of the Far East recently and the quality of manufacture really is quite remarkable. The workmanship in evidence here really is of a terrifically high standard and a very encouraging thing to see at this price point.
As far as sound quality is concerned, the A-62 comes with a very intriguing offer from Farida. Both Jamie and Jack use LR Baggs M1 active pickups on their guitars and wanted to be able to offer this as an option on their signature guitars at a knock down price. So, if the idea of having the LR Baggs pick-up factory fitted tickles your fancy then it can be done for you at the extremely generous discounted price of £180. I can remember being very impressed with the LR Baggs pickups when I reviewed them in Acoustic a few issues ago and so this really does represent something of a bargain as the retail price of the pickup alone is £199!
Our review model is acoustic only, however, and so I can only speculate as to how the amplified voice of the A-62 would shape up. Acoustically, though, it was something of a surprise…
To begin with I wasn’t expecting quite so much volume from a relatively small-bodied instrument. It’s useful volume, too, without a hint of harshness; instead there’s a good deal of focused tone on offer here with quite a lot of sweetness in the mix, too. So the combination of spruce, rosewood with a trim body size really has paid off – bravo to Farida and Jamie!
I tired a variety of playing alternatives – fingerpicking works extremely well as does hard strumming and just about everything else in between. You don’t expect this kind of versatility from a small-bodied instrument and so I really do tip my hat to the Farida design team, once again.
I’ve said elsewhere in this issue that signature models have to be approached with a good deal of caution from a reviewer’s standpoint. They rarely have an everyman appeal, but I can honestly say that I think the Farida A-62 is a superb all rounder. Anyone who is in the market for a slender bodied instrument that packs a considerable tonal punch would do well to seek one out. Also the option to have a top of range pickup fitted for less than the asking price of the stand alone item is not to be missed as it means that for £679 (i.e. £499 + £180) you’re getting a very able little instrument indeed. Better be quick, though – there are only 25 out there!
Model: A-62 JM
Retail Price: £499
Body Size: Superfolk
Made In: China
Back and Sides: Rosewood
Nut Width: 43mm
Scale Length: 655mm
Onboard Electronics: Optional
Strings Fitted: D’Addario 12s
Left Handers: No
Gig Bag/Case Included: Hard case
Pros: Wonderful, tone-fuelled little instrument with plenty of different applications for different styles
Cons: At this price, there’s really nothing to gripe about!
Overall: Certainly one of the biggest – and most pleasant – surprises I’ve had this year. A charming little acoustic with a very lovely voice
Contact Details: Dawsons Music