Andrew White’s Cybele 1013W, which takes its name from the Greek goddess of nature, seems like a study in contradictions. With its stylish profile, the guitar has a modern look, but when you dig into the instrument, it has the bark and growl of an old blues guitar. And it sounds a great deal louder than you’d expect from a small, narrow-waisted guitar. In other words, the Cybele is far from your standard-issue Far East–made import.
The Cybele was designed by Andrew White, a luthier known to experiment with body shapes, bracing patterns, and the like. The average cost of an instrument he builds in his West Virginia workshop is more than $10,000, but the 1013W, the manufacture of which White has entrusted to Artec Sound, a Korean guitar company, sells for a tenth of the price.
If the test model is any indication, Artec is doing good work under White’s direction. The all-solid-wood Cybele is a terrific-sounding instrument. It has a warm and rounded tone, nicely balanced between fundamentals and harmonics, and a lush natural reverb. The balance between registers is good, though the bass is just a little timid.
The guitar’s voice lends itself just as nicely to an old folk song, like Elizabeth Cotten’s signature number, “Freight Train,” as it does to “Day and Age,” by the contemporary jazz wizard Julian Lage. And it’s a good host to a range of nuances, like pick-hand articulations and harmonic choices. It takes well to a pick, too, responding with sweetness when strummed at a moderate volume and with punchiness when goaded with aggressive single-note lines.