Marc Beneteau has been building world-class guitars in his one-man shop in St. Thomas, Ontario since 1974, and he has perfected his art: his instruments are of the highest order, acoustically and aesthetically. This is Marc’s interpretation of a classic Lucas model guitar, close to the original in shape and size, but incorporating many of the improvements Marc learned over the long span of his career. For the statistically minded, the scale length is 25-3/8”, neck width at the nut is 1-3/4”, and string spacing at the saddle is 2-1/4”.
The top is high-grade Adirondack spruce, very close grain toward the center and increasing to wide spacing at the edges; many believe this is the ideal grain structure for an acoustic guitar top. The back and sides are intensely quilted “pommele” Sapele (entandrophragma cylindricum to its friends), with figure so deep and convoluted you’ll think it’s some type of exotic coral reef dweller. Your mind knows that the back and side are less than an eighth of an inch thick, but your eyes will tell you that the figure in this wood is at least a half-inch deep. This is simply amazing stuff. In case you didn’t know, “pommelé,” she is zee French word for “dappled,” meaning (auf Englisch) “marked with small spots or patches contrasting with the background.” The body binding is Macassar ebony, as are the fingerboard, backstrip, headplate and headstock backplate. The fingerboard is bound in ebony, to conceal the fret ends from prying eyes (Ah! You peeked!). The vintage-style pyramid bridge is Brazilian rosewood, and the six bridge pins they are bone. No. Wait. Looking closely, I find that the bridge pins are black buffalo horn, not bone (how could I miss that? I don't know). All of Marc’s purflings are hand-made and perfectly mitered – the top is bound in five plies of ebony-maple-rosewood-maple-ebony, and the sides, back and backstrip are bordered in two plies of maple and ebony. The soundhole rosette is a wide circle of quilted Sapele, surrounded by two rings of five-ply purfling just like the top, and the edge of the hole is bound in Sapele (pron. “sap-pay’-lay.”).
Overall, the decoration is simple and spare, even austere; the one dramatic exception is the use of the eight classic Nick Lucas inlays in the fingerboard. The one-piece mahogany neck is crowned with an unbound headstock in the distinctive Beneteau shape, with its single, elegant script “B” inlaid in pearl and the northerly end of the instrument, guarded by six nickel-plated Waverly gears with butterbean buttons.
And the sound, what of that, pray tell? It is like choirs of angels, someone once said. The use of sapele for the back and sides gives a level of all embracing warmth to this guitar’s voice that sets it apart from ordinary Lick Nucas guitars. It is very responsive, bright yet enveloping, an ideal instrument for fingerstyle soloing. Its condition is just about perfect – one can almost not find a blemish anywhere on this beauty. It comes with a custom-fitted Deluxe Calton case in fibreglass (the Canadian spelling, of course), with charcoal exterior and royal blue interior, with “Beneteau” inscribed on the nameplate. To paraphrase the “St. James Infirmary Blues” - “You may search the whole world over and never find another sweet guitar like this.”