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Can a guitar be art?

Patrick James EggleWe think so, and so does Faith Guitars’ designer, Patrick James Eggle. From the conception of each piece, through the careful selection of material, to the final hand-finished instrument, the artist realises his visual and aural goal. Art touches the soul of those who experience it, as will your Faith Guitar.

Patrick says: "My approach to building guitars could easily be described as obsessive. My life has been driven by guitars of all types since I was a young boy, and having built my first instrument at the age of 15, I have been refining the design ever since."

"Much like a sculptor or material artist, I start with a clear picture of the end result. Then I choose the appropriate tonewoods, bracing pattern and touch-point materials, and can set about the process of shaping these raw materials into both a playable and desirable instrument."

"Whether it’s one of my own UK-built PJE guitars or one of my Faith designs, my goal is the same: the creation of an instrument that is both highly desirable and highly functional. A piece that would be as visually effective when silent as it would be sonically when in the hands of a skilled musician."

Solid Foundations
"The use of solid tonewood is central to the sound of all Faith Guitars. Although laminated woods have their place in instrument building, wherever possible solid woods are preferable, as just like a fine wine, solid wood will mature and improve over time, as will the instrument's tone."

The Soundboard

"As with many of my own PJE instruments, I selected Solid Englemann Spruce for the tops of all Faith guitars. These slow-growing trees found mainly at altitude in and around North America have been chosen for their special acoustic properties for many years. The colours can range from a stark white to cream with pronounced vertical grain evident throughout. "

“Tonally, Spruce will give a clear, crisp tone with high levels of harmonic articulation especially when matched to specific tonewoods on the back and sides of the instrument"

The Back and Sides

"Mahogany guitars such as the Faith Natural Series, Faith Eclipse Series and Faith Naked Series deliver a tone focussed on the mid-range. If you visualise the tonal characteristics in terms of a

frequency curve, it would look like a frown: lower at the bass, curving up through the middle and dipping again at the top end.

The resultant tone will be warm and sweet. This tonal character means that all the notes blend together well and therefore is ideal for strumming and accompaniment purposes, and when recorded, it sits comfortably in a mix."

"In comparison to Mahogany, Rosewood – as used on the Faith HiGloss Series - has more natural low-end and high-end power, delivering more audible harmonics and resonant overtones.

Again, to visualise this as a frequency curve, it would be shaped like a smile: high on the bass, dipping down through the middle and rising once again at the top end. Therefore greater string separation and articulation is achieved, lending itself to fingerstyle and solo pieces in particular."

"The Trembesi wood, as used on Faith Trembesi series instruments, is a recent addition to the Faith range, and was a great discovery. Indigenous to Indonesia – where the Faith workshops are based – this

beautifully grained wood sits comfortably in between the tonal offerings of Mahogany and Rosewood. The response curve starts high, dips a little and rises once more toward the top: somewhat less markedly than rosewood. The resulting sound is remarkably loud and responsive with evenly balanced harmonics."

Approaches to Lacquer

"The top of all Faith guitars - except Naked - are coated in a thin coat of protective lacquer, as not only does this prolong the aesthetic integrity, it also ensures the spruce soundboard is controlled correctly. However, I have chosen to take a number of different approaches with the back and sides of the various Faith guitar series."

"In my experience, satin finished guitars sound livelier: the Natural series and Trembesi series are testament to this. The unrestrained tonewood can move more freely therefore allowing more sympathetic resonance throughout the instrument, creating a more naturally 'woody' tone. This tone is equally evident in the Naked Series which has a simple 2-stage satin finish on the top, back and sides. The Naked series

are stripped of pretty much all decoration, leaving the beating heart of the guitar in its un-lacquered glory."

"However, the gloss lacquer used on the HiGloss series guitars does more than just protect the wood and enhance its natural beauty. Even the thinnest coat of lacquer will control the wood’s movement a little, focussing the sound, rounding off harmonic peaks and creating a more consistent, predictable and reliable tone."

"With the Eclipse series, the black colour is actually part of base coating process, with a thin layer of lacquer applied on top. As with all Faith guitars, we never apply the lacquer so thick that it restricts the sound, rather we allow the thin layer of lacquer to sink into the grain of the wood a little, ensuring the wood is free to move sufficiently."

"Despite all this theory however, the beauty of guitars is that each one has its own distinctive voice, and that's what makes them so special."


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