Frank Gambale’s Asia Clinic Tour ReportDecember 5, 2016
Fusion guitar legend Frank Gambale needs no introduction. Frank has been at the forefront of fusion guitar for around three decades now and he shows no signs of slowing down – both as a world-class virtuoso and recording artist. Last year Cort and Frank collaborated on a new signature acoustic-electric guitar and the result was the new Frank Gambale Luxe Signature Model that was introduced in January 2016.
Much more than a few mere tweaks on an existing model, the Luxe was designed and developed from the ground-up with a significant amount of input from Frank. Everything from the choice of woods and inlays to electronics and setup work were painstakingly reviewed by both Frank and the Cort R&D staff to design, engineer and manufacture this unique acoustic-electric guitar.
With this guitar in hand, Frank embarked on a three-week clinic tour of Asia covering nine venues in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and South Korea. Each clinic featured Frank talking about his musical inspirations, the famous and mind-boggling “Gambale Sweep Picking Technique” and the new Luxe acoustic-electric guitar as well as full-blown musical performances. Guitar players and musicians from all types of backgrounds and levels of experience came to the clinics to experience Frank’s playing and music as well as learn from the wisdom that Frank had gained during his long and illustrious career in the music industry.
Frank also talked extensively about his collaboration with Cort on the development of the Luxe guitar. “I really love being involved in the design of guitars,” Gambale told an audience in Jakarta. “So I had a lot of ideas for this guitar, and I’m very happy to say that Cort listened to all of my ideas.” Frank wanted to innovate, not just make a few changes to an existing model and put his name on it. Cort listened and agreed to give Frank the room he needed to design his ultimate acoustic-electric guitar.
Frank wanted a small-bodied, concert-style that still sounded big and full. He was also very specific about the extra light string gauge (including a plain G-string that is easy to bend) and low-action setup work to play and feel like an electric guitar. Add the fine materials like solid Adirondack spruce top and a flamed Australian blackwood body and mahogany neck with ebony fretboard and you have a very intriguing looking and sounding acoustic-electric. On top of this Frank himself designed the custom rosette and unique fretboard inlay that is inspired by the Art Deco period of the 1920’s and 30’s. These appointments provide a thoroughly unique look that makes the guitar stand out from the crowd.
The guitar’s sonic quality is further enhanced by the UV finishing process that allows the woods to “breathe” and achieve maximum resonance. This natural and organic tonal character is then faithfully and precisely delivered to an amplifier or PA via the low profile L.R. Baggs EAS-VTC EQ system hidden underneath the edge of the soundhole. Whether Frank is strumming folk songs or flying across the fretboard with his patented sweep picking technique, his style and tone come through loud and clear through the Luxe.
“Cort has delivered a really beautiful instrument, and it plays like a dream! All Frank Gambale Luxe come set up from the factory exactly the same as mine, which was very brave of Cort to take this chance. It is the first guitar of its kind to come from the factory set up with this kind of custom light gauge strings and low action. This is amazing to me in 2016. In my opinion acoustic guitars are generally way too hard to play with standard factory set up. It’s time to change that. It’s a simple thing, but it has never been done before. I want people to pick up the Frank Gambale Luxe, and not want to ever put it down. No fatigue, no sore fingers just straight to playing and the joy which a beautifully set-up guitar brings to the player, right from the factory!” Gambale said. As a point of comparison, he added “Cort’s Luxe matches the quality of a Martin or Taylor for a fraction of the price.”
To learn more about the Frank Gambale Luxe Signature Model by Cort, visit