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With its offset elliptical soundhole, Port Orford cedar tonewood and five inch “tail block,” the McPherson acoustic 5.0 XP is a sight to behold offering ultimate comfort ability and exquisite harmonic balance.
As soon as its oddly shaped soundhole and sloping upper bout come into view there is no mistaking the McPherson® 5.0 XP acoustic six-string guitar. Nevertheless, McPherson® understands looks will only get you so far, consequently the 5.0 XP is available with some exceptional features and unusual tonewoods.
One size does not fit all
McPherson® brings instrument ergonomics to an entirely new level by manufacturing acoustic boxes with a variety of depths. Known as a “tail block” to a luthier, McPherson talks about the dimensions at the lower end of their guitars on the company’s website:
All McPherson® guitars are 4 inches at the block but range in depth from 3 – 5 with 1/2 inch increments at the tail block.
Why the different sizes?
McPherson® explains, “As the guitar strings are set in motion, vibrations are transferred to the top by the saddle, bridge and bridge plate. Any sound waves produced at the top are reflected off the back of the guitar. If the top is closer to the back it will result in a quicker response with more projection.”
Following the McPherson® formula, the 5.0 XP has a five inch tail block.
McPherson®’s cedar 5.0 XP is a bit of a misnomer because the top is actually cypress. Advertised as Port Orford cedar, the soundboard timber is taken from a Lawson’s cypress tree, indigenous to Oregon and some parts of Northern California, making it no less valuable. The grain and hardness are said to be fine sound conductors.
The options for the back and side woods, much too long a list for this article, includes Cocobolo, highly figured Bubinga and Pau Rosa.
The 5.0 XP comes equipped with McPherson®’s cantilevered neck design, which uses an aluminum plate and spring washers that provide better sound transmission than a glued instrument. Characteristics of this unique design don’t stop there.
According to McPherson®, “Inside the neck is a triangulated system which stabilizes the neck and eliminates the need for adjustment.”
The “triangulated system” uses a non-adjustable carbon truss rod connected by brass taper pin and a stainless steel screw.
McPherson® guitars all have a 25-1/2 ” scale length, 20-1/8″ body length and an overall length of 41″. An ebony fingerboard, bridge and matching bridge pins as well as a natural bone nut are standard on all models.
The 5.0 XP also uses the Buzz Feiten Intonation System (BFIS) for improved quality. The BFIS moves the guitar strings closer to the first fret by using a “shelf nut” which extends lower on the neck than would a normal nut. At the other end, the strings are then tuned accordingly.
Onboard electronics, by way of L.R. Baggs, are also available.
McPherson®’s research shows the offset position of its trademark elliptical soundhole allows for maximum sound projection. The curious shape and position of the soundhole are probably as famous as the celebrated McPherson® sound.
Who uses a McPherson?
Country songsters Amy Grant and Brad Paisley, as well as spiritual finger-picker Phil Keaggy, have all played a McPherson®. Those are among the only musicians who can afford to own one.
Prices, which start at $5,800 for the Indian rosewood, African mahogany or Granadillo body/side options alone, can run as high as $14,000 for the Brazilian rosewood.
While the 5.0 XP cedar acoustic may sound and look terrific, at these prices, not many players will be able to enjoy the McPherson® philosophy of guitars.