GuitarNation.com Classic Guitar Review - E. A. (Ed) Foley Custom
Great luthiers, like many talented craftsmen, spend
their lives putting their hearts and souls into building great
instruments, receiving little of the recognition that they deserve.
A well-known and highly-respected luthier may not be known outside
of the region in which he works. Living on the West Coast, I can
say that Ed Foley's name and guitars are not exactly household
names. This is particularly puzzling because Ed has made guitars
for the Legendary Father of Bluegrass Bill Monroe, Owner and Founder
of Groove Tubes and G.T. Electronics Aspen Pittman and Country
Music Star George Strait. Not every luthier has 4 pages of testimonial
excerpts from letters of owners!
The "Classic" Guitar under review is a
1992 scallop-braced dreadnaught made with an Englemann Spruce
Top and 3-piece Brazilian Rosewood back and sides. Other features
1) Top trimmed with Abalone & Abalone rosette;
2) Ebony fingerboard completely trimmed in Abalone;
3) Abalone Hexagon-shaped fret markers;
4) Headstock with Ebony face-plate, Abalone custom inlay &
4) Carved diamond volute on back of headstock;
5) Ebony bridge with diamond Abalone inlay;
6) Bone nut, bone saddle & bone endpins;
7) Gold-plated Martin tuners;
8) Round neck shape with 1 11/16" nut width & 25.4"
Ed's inspiration comes from the legendary Martin
guitars of the 1930's through early 1940's; the Pre-War years.
The guitar under review, #57 was Ed's contemporary version of
the very rare Pre-War D-45. While the D-45 was Martin's most elaborately
inlaid model, Ed has taken things a bit further by inlaying the
ebony fingerboard with abalone as well as inlaying the border
of the Ebony-plated headstock.
Picking up the guitar for the first time, its' sheer
beauty is enough to take your breath away! The abalone trimmed
top, fingerboard and headstock with the abalone rosette reflect
the countless hours that were spent inlaying handpicked slivers
of abalone into a channel between the binding. Once these slivers
of abalone are set into the channel, they are sanded and lacquered.
There is also a custom abalone inlay of a heart on the headstock,
which itself has an ebony face-plate. The care, dedication and
time that it must have taken to do this means that Ed wants his
guitars to be the best!
Hitting the obligatory E chord for the first time
is a revelation. There is a richness in tone that is reminiscent
of a grand-piano. It sounds deep, yet very clear with excellent
separation and superior sustain. You know from the very first
chord that this is one special guitar made by a very talented
builder. It is also a very sensitive guitar that responds well
to a light touch. When I played this guitar in front of non-guitar
playing friends, they all commented on the sound and were very
taken with the guitars aesthetics.
Doing a little flatpicking, Ed's dread really shined.
I guarantee you that you will be heard over the crowd with this
guitar! I was struck by the rare tonal qualities exhibited - crisp,
warm, ringing and powerful. Like a highly-tuned sports-car, Ed's
guitar was genuinely exciting and left me with the feeling that
there was much more horsepower waiting in reserve. It delivered
low-end boom when you want it as well as ringing, clear, bell-like
Having established that it was great with the heavy
lifting of rhythm work and flatpicking, it was time to try a little
fingerpicking. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. The volume
was plentiful, note separation and sustain were excellent with
the same elegantly rich tone coming through.
Conclusion: VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! If the opportunity
presents itself to play a Foley, you will have a guitar-playing
experience that will be absolutely inspiring. From it's drop-dead
good looks, tone that has to be heard to be believed and playability
will make you want to keep playing it, Ed's guitars are very special
instruments. They inspire the player to try new and different
things because it gives the player more than they expect a guitar
to be able to deliver, making for a guitar that is a great partner
for a long term relationship. Viewed in this long-term context,
a custom Foley's are very reasonably priced. Whether you order
a guitar that has abalone everywheres or a plain-Jane, you get
a guitar that delivers high-quality tone and playability that
makes it something that you want to keep and keep playing and
playing and playing.