B&G Guitars are made in Tel Aviv by a talented shop that translates the best traits of traditional guitars into high-quality instruments for today’s player. With the Caletta, their aim was to merge a Stella and a Martin – that is, combine the compact size, playability, and tone of guitars played by early blues fingerstylists (think Blind Lemon Jefferson or Charley Patton) with the warmth and richness of a folky D-28.
The two most immediately striking characteristics of the Caletta are its super-light weight and the big boom of its low-to-mid response. Both warrant a double-take. At about 3.5 pounds, the guitar is so light it’s a surprise each time you pluck it off the stand. And for a guitar of this size – somewhere between a parlor and a 000 – such volume and low-end resonance is counterintuitive if not downright confounding.
It’s a fool’s errand (but a luthier’s job) to suss how exactly that could be accomplished. Factors include the old-growth Sitka top (just 2mm thick), shaves in the X-bracing, and the tight-grain mahogany back and sides (also available in Indian rosewood). The soft-V neck, with its slotted headstock, is a single piece of mahogany as well, meeting the body at the 12th fret with a joint set deep into the body, enhancing stability and resonance.
The playability of that neck is Caletta’s third pleasant surprise. Our test guitar arrived with a great setup (from Israel, mind you). Low action across the neck from the 1.68″ nut to the 12th fret made it a dream for fingerstyle. The ease of play is matched by responsiveness; it’s forgiving yet articulate. There is a softness under the hands that calls you back, abetted by the 24.75″ scale length, which lessens tension.
The highest compliment we can pay to the B&G-built piezo pickup system is that the Caletta’s tone through a good acoustic amp maintains all the character, balance, big lows, and strong highs that are there unplugged. A single control – a small thumbwheel for Volume – sits nearly hidden at the top of the soundhole (we played for half an hour before realizing the guitar was wired).
Calettas have a satin nitrocellulose finish and ship in a high-end case. Our test model was in Tobacco Sunburst with cream binding – warm, dark and strong, much like the tone that awaits.
This article originally appeared in VG’s April 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.