As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 3 – Ladies Rock the Blues – June 2018
B&G Handmade Guitars started back in 2007 when luthier Kiki Goldstein, craftsman Eliran Barashi and artist Avi Goldfinger joined forces with their passion for vintage instruments. They wanted to replicate classic instruments from the ‘50s with the same craftsmanship and materials as what was used back in the day. Together with the help of famous jewelry designer David Weitzman, they came up with the Little Sister in 2011. Weitzman was inspired by listening to the one and only Robert Johnson and began to wonder how to replicate the fat and throaty tone of the small-bodied parlor guitars used by Johnson and other Delta blues guitarists of the time. He began collecting antique guitars and studying how to repair them. After studying at The Algranati School of Lutherie in Israel, he designed and built the first Little Sister guitar. He then took it to B&G so they could add some finishing touches. A week later, he got a call from Goldstein saying that his clients loved it and wanted to produce the guitars.
B&G has a rule that everything must be made in house, which they feel helps to create the best sounding guitars. They cast their own brass hardware from a unique alloy that conducts the fullest frequency range using the best electronic parts available in the market (they even use thick brass pickup covers to isolate the coils instead of the chip pressed tin covers used by other manufacturers). They wind and make their own pickups which are 100% identical to the best classic pickups that were made back in the ’50s during the golden era of the electric guitar.
The wood they use on their custom guitars has a crucial influence on the sound of an electric guitar. They use their own rare stock of aged wood such as Brazilian rosewood, Madagascar rosewood, Amazon rosewood, Honduran mahogany and Eastern rock maple (some of it is 90 years old!). They even make the glue they use.
The result is consistency in the quality and the sound of their instruments. Nitrocellulose is the original lacquer that was used on almost all of the vintage classic guitars and is still the perfect finish for modern classic instruments. For the neck, B&G uses the classic and comfortable soft V shape ’50s style. Custom neck shapes are also available.
We reviewed The Little Sister Crossroads, which is made in Asia, making it a much more affordable guitar than the “Private Build” model, which is made in-house. It features an African Mahogany body and neck, Ovangkol fingerboard with pearl dot inlays, and solid Maple top and is available in two variations – the cutaway and dreadnought. I was sent the cutaway in Tobacco Sunburst.
On first impression, I was not a huge fan of the finish. It does have some vintage elements aesthetically, but the body to me seems more reminiscent of something you would see in the 1990s rather than the 1920s or ’30s era that they are trying to replicate, or perhaps their aim was to have a more modern meets vintage look. However, on playing the guitar, it does have the feel of a well-loved vintage guitar of the ‘20s and ‘30s with features of one from the ’50s.
The Little Sister Crossroads has a perfect balance between a solid and a hollow-body. This is why it has great clarity and a warmer sound. Acoustically, it has good volume- louder than most. It has such versatility that it sounds great, either played with a pick or fingerstyle, with low throaty bluesy twangs and fat, clear tones. It has a vintage-sounding quality that is perfect if you are looking to create ’50s jazz or blues tones.
The guitar is definitely best used clean just with an amp, but being a bit of a pedal nerd, I tried it with some different tones to see how it faired. It didn’t take too well to any kind of distortion other than an amp overdrive but did sound great with a little reverb and tremolo. Chorus sounded pretty good, too. I was really impressed with the clean tones of this guitar and you can just hear that it is real quality. It has a superb feel and excellent playability.
I would definitely like to play one of these guitars live and add it to my collection for when I play my more stripped-down rootsy kind of music, although I would go for a different overall finish, so it could be mistaken more for an old parlor guitar rather than a modern replica. All in all, this is a wonderfully made and beautiful guitar.
To find a dealer and for specs, visit: https://bngguitars.com