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)
English translation of the test from “Gitarist” magazine.
Javatar Deluxe Sunburst GAC & Deluxe Sunburst DS
WELL SUITED UP
Deluxe versions of Homesteads Javatar guitars.
Text: Hein van Dongen
Javatar is a second brand of Homestead guitars. As the name implies, the company is located in Heemstede. The guitars are designed in the Netherlands and according to carefully crafted specifications built in Java by a family business that has been has been building guitars since 1959. The name Javatar is therefore a combination of Java and guitar.
The more expensive models from Homestead can be completely adapted to the wishes of the future owner. It is possible with the types of wood, the shape of the body, and all sorts of other features to choose from numerous options. So, Homestead guitars are in a certain way comparable to a tailor-made suit.
Taking the equation further, Javatar would be a ready-to-wear suit, like most guitars you buy at the store. But it’s not mass production and for the guitars, the materials are selected with care.
We discussed the first series of Javatars in Guitarist 362 and 365 (May and August 2021). It involved a slope-shoulder dreadnought, a grand auditorium with a cutaway, and a parlor, with a price under 900 euros. The new series has the designation ‘Deluxe’ and is priced a bit higher. These guitars deserve the name Deluxe mainly because of a different type of wood for the top: Adirondack spruce instead of Engelmann spruce. Also there is a different Pickup fitted: an LR Baggs VTC instead of the Fishman Sonitone of the basic models. That leads to a price of 1.180 euros for the GAC and 1.170 for the DS.
We picked up the guitars in the nice, sturdy gig bag that came with it. The first inspection immediately tells us that, just like in a previous test, we have serial numbers 001 and 002 in our hands. Both guitars have a beautiful and carefully applied sunburst lacquer which changes from dark to light brown. Although they have a traditional and time-tested body shape they are visually immediately recognizable by the shape of the head and the inlay in the fretboard. Obviously, Javatar did not choose to build another Martin imitation.
The Javatar logo refers to Java: it is a Garuda, a mythological creature that is half eagle and half man, and which also appears in the coat of arms of Indonesia. We see the logo also reflected in the position markers, those of tamarind and (at the twelfth fret) mother-of-pearl. The body of the guitar is made of Javanese mahogany and the fingerboard of ebony. The neck is of mahogany and the nut and saddle are made of Tusq. The tuners are gold color plated Grovers. A pickguard is optional, at no extra cost.
Furthermore, the implementation of the instruments is without bells and whistles. The finish of both instruments is excellent and, except for the shape of the body, all external features are otherwise identical.
The dreadnought (DS) has a model with ‘slope shoulders’ and a deep body and therefore has generally the silhouette of the Gibson J-45. Unlike the Gibsons, the Javatar DS has a scale of 65 cm. The grand auditorium with a cutaway is slightly shallower and has a somewhat smaller body dimension, although it is slightly wider at the ‘hips’ than the DS. If you have to select one of the two models only on appearance, that will be even more difficult. Some people will welcome a cutaway on an acoustic guitar as a sensible innovation, but there are traditionalists who still abhor it. At most, you could say that slope shoulder dreadnoughts are a bit rarer than the GAC models offered by many manufacturers nowadays.
When we start playing and listening, it is also noticeable that the guitars are very related. That’s always interesting again because you can investigate how the body shape affects the sound, the character, and the playability. If you do a “blind” AB test, probably every listener can hear the difference between the two guitars. But that’s something else than giving words to it. The DS has a less dominant bass than I expected, it has a sparkling sound that hardly resembles a J-45. The top vibrates to my delight. It projects extremely well, the sound fills the room and it never seems like the sound is coming from the guitar. The resonance of the chords and the individual notes all over the neck are impressive.
The GAC also sounds surprising. The sound is certainly no thinner or softer than that of the DS. Projection and sustain are also wonderful. On some other guitars, the cutaway appears to be merely built for the eye because the treble sounds thin and short or the neck is not comfortable to play. But this GAC has a singing and resonant sound in the highest regions and is also very playable high up the neck.
There is certainly a difference in sound between the brothers (or are they sisters?), although it is difficult to appoint. But the similarity is much greater: the nice warm tone, the high volume, the impressive sustain. So it will be difficult to choose: both guitars sound different, but each is sublime in its own way.
The LR Baggs piezo pickup on both guitars has a great basic sound to amplify and does its job properly. The volume and tone controls are modestly hidden in the sound hole and easy to operate.
Everyone knows the name Avatar these days from movies, games, and all sorts of other gadgets. And then there is already a ‘groundbreaking talent show’ with the name Avastar. Then the name Javatar should not be difficult to remember. The guitars have nothing to do with science fiction they are quite traditional. But once you’ve played a Javatar guitar, in addition to the name, you will not soon forget the quality and sound.
Among their distant relatives from other brands, they not only stand out because of their appearance. In terms of finish, construction, playing comfort, and sound, they belong in this price range as the best money can buy.
JAVATAR DELUXE SUNBURST GAC & DS
GAC: € 1180, DS: € 1170 (both incl. gig bag)