I'm not much of an acoustic player, in skill or in time on the instrument. But at Experience 2012 I was moved by the SE Angelus Custom. I was drawn by its vibrancy as well as how dark it was without being muddy, so I put it on my list of guitars to acquire. It has been haunting me for half a year, but thanks to Brandon at Willcutt it arrived Friday.

When assessing guitars, I look for three things, in this order: playability, tone, looks. If I can't play a guitar because the neck is too wide or because the body shape is uncomfortable, I won't buy it. If it has Hello Kitty stickers on it but has monster tone I'll embrace it. This one just feels like home: the neck, the body, the balance.

The tone just blows me away. I find it maturely dark without being broody. The lows and low-mids are voluminous yet crystally clear. The guitar is quite loud and has absolutely insane resonance. When I touch the top after strumming a chord I'm amazed at the vibrancy, as well as the sustain that lasts almost as long as it takes me to write this. How much of this monster tone comes from the curved top and back? How much from the bracing? How much from the wood choices? I have no idea, but the sum of the parts blows away my expectations for guitars at more than twice price point.

Regarding my least important concern, looks, this one looks like furniture. My wife approves of it so much it might actually spend some time upstairs. The top is flawless, while the back looks like something Phenny might have designed. The fit and finish is spot-on, and the binding provides excellent contrast between the spruce and crackwood. Basically, it just looks sharp in a "yeah, i'm all that; I look mighty fine but wait until you hear me" way.

And to top it all off? Whe I took it out of the case for the first time it was still in tune. I'm psyched.