The Zemaitis GZA500-H&D acoustic guitar is manufactured by Greco and boasts many features and the attention to detail players have come to expect from instruments carrying the Zemaitis name.
Along with the Japanese-made GZA series Zemaitis also offers a custom shop series made in Ireland and features jumbos and small-body acoustics made out of some cool woods like solid Cuban mahogany, sycamore and purpleheart.
The GZA500-H&D has a jumbo acoustic body measuring 17″ at the lower bout, 12.75″ at the upper bout, 21″ overall and tapers from 4″ to 5″ in depth. Its tone woods include a solid spruce top, solid maple back and sides, spruce bracing, an ebony bridge, and ebony bridge pins. The 25.5″ scale length one-piece mahogany neck joins the body at the 14th fret via a glue-in dovetail neck joint and has a bound ebony fretboard. The host of unique Zemaitis appointments include a heart-shaped soundhole with a beautiful mother-of-pearl rosette, smile-shaped bridge, abalone inlaid heart-an d-diamond cluster just below the bridge (which puts the “H&D” in its model designation), diamond/dot fretboard inlays, engraved metal truss rod cover and headstock logo, and multi-layered mother-of-pearl body binding. Hardware includes a set of top-of-the-line Gotoh Delta sealed tuning machines in chrome finish. From its high-gloss ebony finish to the meticulously executed inlays and fretwork, craftsmanship on the the GZA500-H&D is outstanding.
Playability is equally commendable; the slim, C-shaped neck profile and low action make it easy to play, and the longer 25.5″ scale length with its tighter string tension lets a player dig and strum hard with very little string rattle. The lack of a cutaway makes access to the upper frets a bit difficult. The jumbo-sized body, however, doesn’t feel at all cumbersome.
The combination of solid spruce top, solid maple back and sides, 25.5″ scale, and bone nut and saddle produce a loud, full, clear tone with articulate highs, present but not overpowering mids, and clear, round bass. Low-end response wasn’t as boomy or punchy as you might get out of a dreadnought, but is still full, round, and very well-balanced, typical for a jumbo. Open chords and barre chords ring clearly, with no muted or dull notes. The guitar’s clear, bright tone lends itself well to both flatpicking and fingerpicking. True, its lack of dreadnought boom may keep it from making any list of bluegrass/flatpicker’s first choices, but its excellent, balanced tone, and good projection should give it high marks amongst folk, rock, and blues players.
The GZA500-H&D’s funky, cool looks fit the Zemaitis vibe, and the top quality tone, playability, and craftsmanship fit the name’s reputation.
Contact Kanda Shokai Corporation/William Hames Inc., 2965 Passmore Drive, Los Angeles CA 90068; www.zemaitis.net.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s September 2007 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.