Worship Partner

Mitch Bohannon

Review – Gopher Wood G620EQ / G820 4.5R

While cruising around the NAMM show this past January with my worship leader friend, Marvin Mumford, we ran into the Gopher Wood Guitar Company. The beauty of the guitars caught our attention and we spent a good bit of time visiting with the folks behind the guitars. We met Paul Nam, the builder and designer and were totally impressed with his work.

The guitars are widely known in China and Korea, but essentially unknown in the USA. I continued to visit with Paul after the show and it worked out for me to get a couple of guitars to review. When the first guitar arrived, I was absolutely impressed with the detail not only with the guitar, but even the gig bag was top-notch. Starting with the bag… a dense brown fabric with plenty of form-fitted padding, a firm neck rest with Velcro wrap to secure the guitar in place, oversized pockets to hold whatever is needed, and extremely comfortable, padded, and balanced shoulder straps. The guitar I received is the G620EQ.

It’s all gloss with solid cedar top, solid rosewood back, and laminated rosewood sides with a rosewood fingerboard. A sharp cutaway and beautiful flamed maple binding dress the guitar well. The most unique feature, something I had never heard of before, is a “Sound Pillar.” I asked Paul about it and he told me, “The starting point of Gopher Wood Guitars was our interest in the sound post.I had heard that there have been many tries and also many fails to introduce it into the guitar. I wanted to find out how to make a better sound with an accessory. And I wanted to make various sound changing options. Our research team studied the principle of the sound post and modified its structure.

We applied a totally new-concept with a small tool into the guitar. We failed many times. Most people told me, ‘that is impossible’ and ‘you are crazy.’ It was just like Noah building the Ark. However, the South Korean government showed faith and supported our company. The sound pillar was created as a result.” Paul is a believer and it was because of the similarities to the doubt that Noah faced that he themed these guitars around the story of Noah’s Arc. Gopher Wood is the wood that God instructed Noah to build the ark out of. On the fingerboard at the 12th fret is an inlaid image of a dove. The soundhole rosette depicts the olive branch that the dove brought back to Noah and the headstock boldly displays a carved cross. The back of the headstock also displays the company’s motto: “You are worthy of all the glory.”

I was most interested in the sound pillar. It comes with the guitar and includes five different tip options. Each has it’s own EQ characteristic and to test it out,I strummed an “E” chord while watching the sound displayed on an RTA sound analyzer. I tried each of the different tips for the sound pillar, retuned the guitar, and played the same “E” chord. You can watch my test on the embedded video. The EQ change for each is visibly noticeable on the RTA. The G620EQ is equipped with proprietary electronics as well. In discussing with Paul, I found that the Gopher Wood team developed the pickup system to work well with the sound pillar. The system includes an under saddle piezo pickup and a condenser mic mounted on the endpin jack. Sound hole mounted controls include master volume, tone, and mic level. In visiting more with Paul, he was explaining his newest innovation with the introduction of “roasted” wood.

I asked Paul to give me the details on it… “The roasted woods undergo a unique high heat drying process.It has a similar level of the water content percentage with wood that has been naturally dried over a long time. It allows richer reverberation and a more vintage tone. The roasted wood is classified as an exclusive material. However, we have our own technology developed by our research team for this process. It allows for a more competitive price. The combination of the unique sound propensity of roasted wood and the sound pillar is a strong advantage for the Gopher Wood brand.” I was able to try the G820 4.5R with roasted wood top to compare with the G620EQ. The G820 has a solid roasted spruce top with solid rosewood back and sides and the same electronics.

Compared to the cedar top G620, the roasted spruce has a balanced warm tone. Playability and craftsmanship on both are identical. These guitars are fun to play and sound amazing.

The G620EQ will retail at $870 and the G820 4.5R will retail at $2000. Check out www.gopherwoodguitar.com to see the other models and keep up with their availability or email me!