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Over the years, Douglas Harrison has proven his ability to evolve and innovate when it comes to the principles behind his guitars’ designs. Harrison’s latest creation, the Neo Jazz 17″ archtop, is an absolute masterpiece. Several subtle adjustments to the traditional archtop design combined with flawless execution create an instrument that simply screams quality. Visually, the Neo Jazz has a striking look, both elegant and modern. The real brilliance behind the Neo Jazz’s design is that the very features that are the most visually bold are the same features that make it such a sonic powerhouse.
At first glance, I noticed the unusual shape of the Neo Jazz’s sound holes. As Harrison explained to me, the visual design of the sound holes allows a wider uninterrupted center mass across the top of the guitar. The center of the guitar top is commonly thought of as the cornerstone of the instrument’s tone. It is after all the focal transfer point of all vibrations that pass down from the strings. A traditional f-hole design cuts quite far into the middle of the guitar top, curbing the amount of potential top vibration. Playing the Harrison Neo Jazz 17″ is proof of concept. The acoustic tone of this guitar is full and bold, with a truly impressive amount of pure volume. What is really special is that the guitar achieves this level of projection without sacrificing any sonic detail or subtlety.
Another key design feature of the Neo Jazz 17″ is the multi-port side vent. A variation of a standard side port, Harrison has used multi-ports for several years now. The multi-port design covers a much wider portion of the side than a standard side port, without sacrificing strength or structural integrity. The result is a surprising amount of sonic projection pointed directly at the player. Side ports also have an interesting effect on the bass frequencies of a guitar. Lower notes seem to get a little extra bloom, but the sound doesn’t over-saturate or get muddy.
All these wonderful acoustic properties translate beautifully when amplified, thanks to the Bartolini 5J pickup’s clear, natural tone. The Harrison Neo Jazz 17″ is truly an absolute joy to play… everything just feels right. The feel, sound, look, fit and finish are all unmatched. Douglas Harrison has hit a home run with this one!
- Nevin Douglas
* Top – Engelman Spruce
* Back/Sides – Highly Flamed Big Leaf Maple
* Neck – Hard Flamed Maple
* Fretboard/Tailpiece/Pickguard/Bridge – African Ebony
* Electronics – Bartolini 5J Pickup
* Body – 17″ lower bout
* Finish – Nitrocellulouse lacquer