The Dreadnought Slopeshoulder and the Grand Auditorium were recently tested in the renowned Dutch magazine Gitarist and were rated with the maximum five stars: “Our impression is that the Javatar guitars can compete with instruments that are a lot more expensive. Striking high quality guitars” (Guitarist No. 362, May 2021).
The Parlor is tested in the August issue of Gitarist.
English translation of the test from “Gitarist” magazine.
Two first editions of an all-new brand
The Dutch Homestead company introduce a new series of guitars called Javatar. Can they boast of the same quality as their upper class blood brothers?
Javatar DS & GAC
The brand name Javatar is a contraction of “Java” and “Guitar”. The instruments are hand built on the isle of Java in the same factory the Homestead guitars come from. And, as is the case with the Homestead guitars, the Javatars are being designed in Heemstede, The Netherlands. However, there is a difference. While Homestead offer a choice of body shapes, lacquer finishes and headstock shape, the Javatar formula in principle includes just three options: a dreadnought model, a grand auditorium (with cutaway) and a parlor model. Headstock, scale, lacquer finish and electronics of each guitar are identical.
Carrying a price tag of substantially under a thousand euros, the Javatar guitars should appeal to a different kind of public than the much more expensive Homestead guitars. Granted, with each and every Javatar guitar a deluxe gigbag with one inch thick padding is included. Additionally, all Javatar instruments are equipped with a Fishman Sonitone pickup as a standard. We welcomed the grand auditorium (GAC) and dreadnought (DS) models as our guests-to-be-tested. It doesn’t happen very often that one is in a position to test instruments carrying serial numbers 001 and 002 respectively. The parlor model is still being worked on.
Half man, half bird
With these guitars, Javatar enters a segment of the market which offers lots of nice goodies for sale and guitars should distinguish themselves in order to attract any attention. From a visual point of view the Javatar guitars admirably succeed in doing just that, for the guitars most certainly can boast of distinctive personalities. Lacquer colour – the designers call it “warm” – has a tendency towards orange, depending on light conditions. The headstock is asymmetrical and emblazoned with the Javatar logo: a Garuda. This mythical creature is half man, half bird and the mount of the Vishnu God. It also graces the Indonesian coat of arms. The designers repeated the Garuda motive in the position markers on the fretboard, which are made of tamarind wood. With the exception of the twelfth fret position, which has a of mother-of-pearl inlay.
As is the same with the Homestead guitars, carefully selected woods have been chosen throughout: mahogany sides and back, AAA Engelmann spruce for the top and ebony for the fretboard. Additional finery which makes some, let’s say, more affordable guitars look more expensive (and, by the way, makes them more expensive as well) such as bindings along the fretboard, decorated pick guards and so on have been left out.
Just as with the previous test concerning two Homestead guitars it is interesting to hear instruments with identical specs, with the exception of the body shape, one after the other. We begin with the dreadnought (DS). This is a ‘slope shoulder’ model, has a rather ‘deep’ body (approx. 3.4″) and as such by and large resembles a Gibson J45. It boasts a solid and warm tone, without boomy lows or mids.
The Grand Auditorium (GAC) has an elegantly shaped cutaway. It sounds lighter and more frivolous than its slightly larger brother. When plugged in, the difference between the two guitars is less noticeable. However, by applying some careful EQ a lot of the individual character of the guitars may be maintained.
Javatar guitars may well compete with instruments al lot more expensive
Both guitars can boast of a nice, balanced tone, ample volume and a fine sustain. Tuning of both guitars is almost identical and intonation is excellent. Really difficult to choose from; one might observe that finding a ‘well-rounded’ dreadnought in this price range is a hard thing to do indeed. In this we would like to stipulate that we most certainly don’t mean to say anything against the GAC.
■ Gibson G-45
■ Taylor 214ce
Comparing musical instruments is always a tricky thing to do. In this price range it’s not budget guitars we are talking of. Martin as well as Gibson already operate in this segment and for 150 euros more you can buy the lowest priced Gibson. If you happen to see these distinctive guitars in the music shop, do try one. We think the Javatar guitars may well compete with instruments a lot more expensive and for the money thus saved you can do a lot more other nice musical things. With the Javatar guitars, comparison with the Homestead guitars of course forces itself on this subject. The materials used with the Javatar guitars may be less costly, but as far as price/quality ratio is concerned these instruments are of the right stuff – just as the other guitars that come from this Dutch-Indonesian partnership.
Dreadnought Slope Shoulder – DS
Grand Auditorium – GAC
JAVATAR DS & GAC
€ 860.- each (gigbag included)
English translation of the test from “Gitarist” magazine.
In our “Gitarist” 362, May 2021 issue we tested the first two models of a new series of acoustic guitars by Javatar Guitars – the new Homestead related acoustic guitar brand. These Grand Auditorium and Dreadnought models are now being followed by a most attractive Parlor model.
An other word for ‘parlor’ is ‘salon’. So, presumably a Parlor model guitar should be meant for home use rather than on stage. As it is, for the latter you have the big guitars with the big sound, alive with solid lows (although this once hard and fast rule lost somewhat in conviction since acoustic guitars come with built in pick ups and pre amps). At home, even delicate sound will hold its own and will make you enjoy even the softest notes. Furthermore, you’ll probably play in a sitting position, which makes it more pleasant to hold a smaller instrument. The funny part is that a Parlor, because of its small size, will also double as a traveling guitar – and that goes especially for this Javatar.
Not only the body is smaller, the 609 mm scale is shorter than those of the bigger models. Moreover, the fact that the neck joins the body at the twelfth fret not only results in a more compact guitar, but also that better use is made of the top as a sound board as the bridge is more favourably positioned in the middle of the lower curve. Above all, it’s the body that is smaller; depth and height have not been adapted which provides for an elegant and slim look for the Parlor. Just as its bigger brothers the Engelmann spruce top is finished in what Javatar prefers to call a ‘warm’ shade; a colour that resembles that of a Spanish guitar. Body and neck are mahogany and the ebony fretboard has the Garuda motive inlays. The gold coloured Grover tuning machines emphasize the characteristic look of this guitar, that emanates simplicity as well as style.
Tone and playability
For those who doubt the playability of a short scale guitar: have no fear. As I, thanks to the standard neck width, have ample room to put my long fingers. At the same time, chords for which one really has to stretch become pleasantly simple to execute. As could be expected we do not hear the piano-like lows such as with a jumbo or dreadnought; with the Parlor these are a tad more subordinate to the warm mids and pleasant highs. Words such as velvety and pleasing to the ear come to mind when describing the tone. Intricate chords also sound beautiful, but the sustain is absolutely extraordinary. It seems there’s no end to a final chord as it slowly tails off. Delightful! Thanks to the Fishman Sonitone system, the Parlor is a cinch to amplify, and you can adjust volume and tone. It eminently does the job, be it that the system doesn’t do justice – but only just slightly so – to reproduce the full individual character of this guitar.
■ Taylor Gle Urban Ash
■ PRS SE Parlor
■ Sheeran by Lowden W02
€ 849.- (Deluxe gigbag included)