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FACTFILE Faith FS Natural Saturn DESCRIPTION: Dreadnought acoustic. Made in Indonesia PRICE: £559 inc. case

BUILD: Solid Engelmann spruce top, solid mahogany back and sides. Mahogany neck with 20-fret black-bound ebony fingerboard. Ebony bridge, Tusq nut and saddle, black-buttoned gold Grover Rotomatic tuners, two strap buttons OPTIONS: FS12 12-string (£659), FSCE cutaway electro (£675) with Shadow Performer Tuner system LEFT-HANDERS: Yes, the FSL (£589) FINISH: Gloss natural top, satin back, sides and neck

SCALE LENGTH: 650mm/25.6" NECK WIDTH: Nut 43mm 12th fret 52.5mm DEPTH OF NECK: First fret 20mm Ninth fret 23mm STRING SPACING: Nut 36.5mm Bridge 54.5mm ACTION AS SUPPLIED: 12th fret treble 2.0mm 12th fret bass 2.5mm MAX RIM DEPTH: 120mm MAX BODY WIDTH 393mm FINGERBOARD RADIUS: 16" WEIGHT:1.93kg/4.5lb

CONTACT: Barnes & Mullins 01691 652449

Like these? Try these.. Tanglewood TW15-NS Spruce/mahogany with one-piece voluted neck and bone nut and saddle RRP: £599

Vintage V1400 Features flame-maple body, neck binding and abalone rosette RRP: £429

Walden D2040 Finished in nitrocellulose and including wood bindings and rosette RRP: £466

Note: all the above are satin-finish all-solid spruce/mahogany. The Walden includes a case

Figured ebony bridge now comes with curved bridge pins

Rosewood binding and a second strap button as standard

These dreads look classy and play well, the sounds are on the money, and the Hex system offers that little bit extra for each string, individually routed to the preamp which has six trimpots. These enable you to balance output variances across the strings, a common problem with undersaddle systems. In reality the difference between min and max gain on each trimpot is fairly subtle, so it won’t rectify any severe imbalances, but it’s a neat idea and effective for fine adjustments.

Apart from a three-band EQ, phase and a system-muting tuner, there’s a pan control which, if using a ‘Y’ lead hooked up to two amps, enables the strings’ image to be shifted across the soundfield. When running through a single amp the control is best left at its centre setting. This neat feature raises the possibility of applying a different effect to each side of the sound.

Sounds With punch and projection well up to typical dreadnought levels, the acoustic delivery is sunny with nicely sparkling highs, though not at the expense of a reasonably firm low end. There’s some scooping in the mids, giving an even, open texture across the strings. Powered up, the Hex system’s gain is fairly modest but the sound is natural, with a sympathetic range of middle and bass, whether cut or boosted. The only caution is to go easy with the treble unless you like very zingy highs.

FS Natural Saturn Apart from not having a cutaway or electro system, this FS is essentially the Eclipse laid bare. The all-natural finish – satin with a gloss top – reveals a prettily cross-silked, close-grained Englemann spruce top, and the mahogany, with bookmatched back, looks smart, as does the front’s wood-purfled rosewood binding. The finishing, as before, is tip-top.

As on the Eclipse, the bound macassan ebony fingerboard doesn’t carry any front markers except for the octave ‘F’ motif, but there’s the essential line-up of side dots. The scarfjointed neck is a shade shallower under the first position but otherwise dimensionally – including string spacing – is a dead ringer for the other’s, and plays equally obligingly. The near-medium fretting on both instruments is very well dressed. One minor hardware variation is gold tuners rather than the Eclipse’s chrome jobs, though both feature black buttons.

Sounds Due probably to its largely satin finish – and maybe the absence of a cutaway – the FS has slightly more overall exuberance, an attack that’s a shade snappier in the midrange and a low end that subtly deeper and warmer. Beyond these tonal nuances, the sound is akin to the Eclipse’s and shares its likeably sunny disposition.

Verdict Brand owner Barnes & Mullins got it pretty much right with Faith from the word go, and the subsequent revamps see them just getting better and better. With its all-black livery the FECS Eclipse Saturn is aimed at the more rock-

minded electro performer, while the FS will please those looking for a more traditional vibe. There’s a reassuring precision to the build quality of both; these dreads look classy and play well, and the sounds are right on the money… and the Eclipse’s new Hex system offers something that little bit extra and different. Choose either model – both including case – and you’ll be making a worthwhile, affordable investment.

FINAL SCORE FAITH FS NATURAL SATURN Build Quality 19 /20 Playability 18 /20 Sound 18 /20 Value for money 18 /20 Looks 16 /20



88 Guitar & Bass FEBRUARY 2012

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