Veillette Guitars
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Articles

Wild Thing
by Pete Prown. Guitar Shop, November 1997.

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If you've ever played a Les Paul through a full Marshall stack, you know that special feeling when a power A chord smacks you in the chest. Alas, acoustic players have never been able to duplicate that sublime sensation…until now. Meet the Veillette Mark III ($1,650), an instrument that puts together the guitar puzzle like no axe in recent memory. First of all, it's a 12-string, imbued with a glistening, harpsichord-like tone. Second, it's an acoustic/electric, so you can put it through an amp, mixer or, PA and crank the hell out of it. Third, and most important, it's a baritone, meaning that you play it the same way you play a regular guitar, but it's just lower in pitch, closer to a bass' range. Okay, enough poetry, Shakespeare: What does the Veillette Mark III 12-String Baritone sound like? In the humble words of creator Joe Veillette, "It sounds…and feels…like a different kind of animal."

On the tech side, the Mark III has a solid poplar or alder body with a maple top, a lovely stained-maple fingerboard 26 1/16" scale (Joe believes that the 12-string scale should be slightly shorter than the 6-string for proper tension and tone), and an Alvarez active piezo-pickup system. According to Veillette, the guitar is very function-oriented: "There aren't a lot of inlays or fancy bindings - this is a simple, elegant guitar. It's really a tool for making music…and I think it's the best thing I've ever done." As if to sanctify the birth of this 12-string beauty, Joe was thumbing through a book the day before he finished the Mark III. On the last page was a picture of Leadbelly's main axe, a 26 3/8" scale 1929 Stella 12-string that the folk-blues legend tuned down to the C, in other words, a vintage 12-string baritone. Consider it a heavenly email from the man who put the 12-string on the map to a modern luthier who was attempting to reinvent the instrument. The next day, Joe finished the Mark III and knew he had built a different kind of guitar. Better still, the guitar has been getting instant thumbs-up from every top player who's tried one, and each one Joe's made has sold instantly. And for the record, when you play a deep E minor chord on this axe, you are getting the big smack in the chest only previously experienced by electric players. With the Mark III, acoustic players can now feel the earth move.

Despite the fact the guitar is tuned two and a half steps below a normal guitar, each string had twangy definition. It wasn't really muddy at all. Plus the bridge design offers excellent sustain. Played through a Tech 21 Bronzewood 60, harmonics literally jumped out of the speakers and hung there for days. Any acoustic artist looking to give their sound a little something different really needs to check this thing out. Besides, if you REALLY need standard tuning, just capo up five frets.