NGD: Atkin The Forty Three

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I started this journey by lusting after a Martin 000-28 for those Clapton Unplugged tones and the smaller body acoustic that's sofa friendly. Managed to take a trip to the Martin factory earlier in the year as we were on holiday not too far away (which was awesome) and that was it: I must have a Martin! 

I eventually settled on a 00-28 as being the one for me, but I couldn't shake the high action thing. I understand they do this on purpose, but it doesn't feel right to me for some reason. I was never truly blown away by them. 

I first found out about Atkin guitars through this forum and having heard nothing but good things, I decided to take a look. After seeing that Ivor Mairants had some in stock and were having a 15% off sale I thought I must definitely go down! I finally went today and tried an OM-37 and this J43. I also tried out some Collings', but at over £4k they were ultimately more than I was prepared to pay. I was also "lucky" the strings were slightly on the dull side; had they been really fresh I might have been seriously tempted to part with the big bucks!

I'm amazed at how light this guitar is. It has such a lovely big bottom end, but still a tight crisp sound great for finger picking and using a pic, quite versatile. The OM was also nice, though I wasn't madly into the over tinted top, felt like a Donald Trump tan, each time I picked up the J43 though, it just felt right. So it seems funny that I set out for a smaller body acoustic and ended up with this, but I love it!

I'm slightly concerned I'm going to be wearing straight through the finish though as it feels super thin. I guess as it's a relic model it doesn't matter too much! On that note, I think the relic'ing helped as it just felt already well played in. I also love how pointy the heel is, just a nice detail. 

Fun!





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  • mixolydmixolyd Frets: 782
    edited November 2019
    As a lefty I played a right handed one of these upside down yesterday.  Extremely expressive, very light, ergonomic and yes that lovely rich bass!  Despite not being able to play it properly I didn’t want to put it down.  I’m not convinced that it sounds like a vintage J45 though, seems more like its own thing.

    Im not surprised you chose it over the OM: I tried a lovely Brook OM size and the lack of bass made me want to go straight back to the Atkin.  The slope shoulders on the Atkin also meant that the smaller bodied guitars weren’t hugely more comfortable.

    The one I tried was in natural, your sunburst looks way better.
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  • Yes, that's a good observation re the sloped shoulders, it didn't feel that much bigger than the smaller bodied ones - though the Collings did feel really nice. 
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  • Jimbro66Jimbro66 Frets: 1601
    What a great choice. Alister makes fantastic guitars. HNGD and many years of playing pleasure.
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  • Cheers Jim! I'm really pleased with it, it's a beauty!
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  • EpsilonEpsilon Frets: 321
    I played that very guitar at length in Ivor Mairants and it was absolutely fantastic - congrats! Ended up going for an Atkin OM37 myself elsewhere but it was an incredibly tricky choice, and I expect a 43 may be in my future (once the bank account has recovered).

    The comment about it not being like a J45 is spot on. It's very close aesthetically but this was miles better than any Gibson I've tried.

    Enjoy it!
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  • Looks lovely. Happy NGD.
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  • jellyrolljellyroll Frets: 2713
    Very nice - I’ve  also played that very guitar and have recently acquired an Atkin 0 for sofa duty. Great guitars.  Enjoy. 
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  • Thanks all! I'm very pleased with it. Aesthetically I was so drawn to the OM - the herringbone binding, gloss finish, rosewood B/S, volute and also the logo, I love the logo on that thing - but ultimately went with what felt right. Maybe someday in the future one of these will also be on the cards.... but doubtful as I've now bought 2 new guitars in about 3-4 months ha!!
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  • TimmyOTimmyO Frets: 4286
    Gorgeous
    "Congratulations on being officially the most right anyone has ever been about anything, ever." -- Noisepolluter knows the score
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  • That's spectacular. I need to try an Atkin or 6. 
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  • Cheers guys!
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  • TimmyOTimmyO Frets: 4286
    I spent a hour or so in Ivor Mairants trying Collings and Atkins and kept preferring the Atkins (across a few models) - fantastic things 
    "Congratulations on being officially the most right anyone has ever been about anything, ever." -- Noisepolluter knows the score
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  • Fifty9Fifty9 Frets: 346
    I nearly bought this but couldn’t stretch to it at the time. Fantastic guitar. Enjoy it.
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  • WhitecatWhitecat Frets: 3190
    Fifty9 said:
    I nearly bought this but couldn’t stretch to it at the time. Fantastic guitar. Enjoy it.
    Lol, literally same here. :)
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  • AlexOAlexO Frets: 638
    Mega guitars! Enjoy!
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  • You do know the action can be lowered on a martin right?
    The Bigsby was the first successful design of what is now called a whammy bar or tremolo arm, although vibrato is the technically correct term for the musical effect it produces. In standard usage, tremolo is a rapid fluctuation of the volume of a note, while vibrato is a fluctuation in pitch. The origin of this nonstandard usage of the term by electric guitarists is attributed to Leo Fender, who also used the term “vibrato” to refer to what is really a tremolo effect.
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  • You do know the action can be lowered on a martin right?
    Yes
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  • crunchmancrunchman Frets: 6384
    Resurrecting an old thread.  Played a "The 43" in Guitar Guitar today.  Absolutely stunning guitar.

    Would like to try one with a set of D'Addario phosphor bronze though, instead of Elixirs.
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  • greggreg66greggreg66 Frets: 176
    Must admit I'm yet to change the strings as the elixirs just sound ever fresh! But I don't like the way they feel greasy. It's a beautiful guitar for sure, but the shoulders on the neck are slightly on the large side for me so it gives me a cramp a little bit, which I can't recall having with another guitar before. As it sounds so lush I'm sticking with it
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  • brooombrooom Frets: 732
    I'm always baffled by the high action on Martin guitars as well... sure it can be lowered, but it's an additional hassle that you just don't want to have with a new guitar. I do however have a nice Adirondack top 000-18 that came from factory with a very nice action setup, so maybe they're starting to improve on this.
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  • brucegillbrucegill Frets: 264
    Must admit I'm yet to change the strings as the elixirs just sound ever fresh! But I don't like the way they feel greasy. It's a beautiful guitar for sure, but the shoulders on the neck are slightly on the large side for me so it gives me a cramp a little bit, which I can't recall having with another guitar before. As it sounds so lush I'm sticking with it
    I had the LG47 and had the same problem with the neck! I thought it was because they’re 1 11/16” but now have a Martin in that size and don’t get cramp. Such a shame as I loved that guitar and the 43 was really nice too, but I just can’t play them for long periods. 
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  • crunchmancrunchman Frets: 6384
    edited February 4
    brucegill said:
    Must admit I'm yet to change the strings as the elixirs just sound ever fresh! But I don't like the way they feel greasy. It's a beautiful guitar for sure, but the shoulders on the neck are slightly on the large side for me so it gives me a cramp a little bit, which I can't recall having with another guitar before. As it sounds so lush I'm sticking with it
    I had the LG47 and had the same problem with the neck! I thought it was because they’re 1 11/16” but now have a Martin in that size and don’t get cramp. Such a shame as I loved that guitar and the 43 was really nice too, but I just can’t play them for long periods. 

    Can you still go to Atkin and custom spec a guitar, or are they only going through dealers now they are bigger?  I'd quite like to spec one with a V neck like my HD28V.  I know it's probably not vintage correct for 1943 Gibson, but it's a great neck.
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  • brucegillbrucegill Frets: 264
    I think you can custom spec via the dealer, though Alistair was always helpful on the phone. 
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  • Andy79Andy79 Frets: 319
    crunchman said:
    brucegill said:
    Must admit I'm yet to change the strings as the elixirs just sound ever fresh! But I don't like the way they feel greasy. It's a beautiful guitar for sure, but the shoulders on the neck are slightly on the large side for me so it gives me a cramp a little bit, which I can't recall having with another guitar before. As it sounds so lush I'm sticking with it
    I had the LG47 and had the same problem with the neck! I thought it was because they’re 1 11/16” but now have a Martin in that size and don’t get cramp. Such a shame as I loved that guitar and the 43 was really nice too, but I just can’t play them for long periods. 

    Can you still go to Atkin and custom spec a guitar, or are they only going through dealers now they are bigger?  I'd quite like to spec one with a V neck like my HD28V.  I know it's probably not vintage correct for 1943 Gibson, but it's a great neck.

    Vintage correct is difficult for War time Gibsons. 4 piece tops, maple backs, laminate, pretty much anything went. The earlier Js had a V so close enough 
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  • greggreg66greggreg66 Frets: 176
    brucegill said:
    I had the LG47 and had the same problem with the neck! I thought it was because they’re 1 11/16” but now have a Martin in that size and don’t get cramp. Such a shame as I loved that guitar and the 43 was really nice too, but I just can’t play them for long periods. 
    That's actually reassuring to know as it means it's not just me! I just had a little jaunt down Denmark St and re-tried a Martin 00-28 and it felt much better to me. Tempted to try and trade the Atkin for a 00-28, chances of that happening are slim though! Could sell the Atkin, but there'd be a shortfall of £600 between that and a new 00-28. D'oh!
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  • Gorgeous guitar, would like to try one of these.
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  • brucegillbrucegill Frets: 264
    brucegill said:
    I had the LG47 and had the same problem with the neck! I thought it was because they’re 1 11/16” but now have a Martin in that size and don’t get cramp. Such a shame as I loved that guitar and the 43 was really nice too, but I just can’t play them for long periods. 
    That's actually reassuring to know as it means it's not just me! I just had a little jaunt down Denmark St and re-tried a Martin 00-28 and it felt much better to me. Tempted to try and trade the Atkin for a 00-28, chances of that happening are slim though! Could sell the Atkin, but there'd be a shortfall of £600 between that and a new 00-28. D'oh!
    It really effected how long I could play for to be honest. And I had to have a few days off at times, and that sucks. I ended up with a Lowden after that LG, so 1 3/4” nut and still a reasonable sized neck - not had the problem since to be honest. Might flare up every now and then, but it was constant with the LG.

    think the 0028 have a 1 3/4” nut too? 

    I’d honestly assumed (stupidly) that I couldn’t play 1 11/16” anymore, so the Martin dread with The Modified Low Oval neck shape was an eye opener. I don’t get the problem with this at all. Though I do prefer 1 3/4” now to be honest. 

    I know it’s £600, but if it means you can play all the time, and not be in pain, I’d get the old credit card out ;) Your J43 should sell easy! Really popular and probably one of the best they have to offer to be honest. At least you got it in the sale - their new prices look like they’re going up...  
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  • greggreg66greggreg66 Frets: 176
    I must admit that I've never really paid attention to nut widths before! Since I've been building a guitar I've become more in tune to the difference the shoulders on the neck make rather than thicknesses. If two necks are the same width and/or thickness, but one has more shoulder then it'll feel much bigger (I'm sure this isn't news to you!). The Atkin has pronounced shoulders on the neck (is that a D shape?) and I think that's the main difference that's making my hand stretch that extra bit further perhaps. The Martin felt more rounded to me today. It felt wider, but the roundness was more apparent and the extra width wasn't an issue. 

    Will have a ponder on it over the coming weeks and see what I arrive at. There's a large part of me that feels it'd be a shame to part with the Atkin, it's a beautiful guitar and I love the fact it's made in Kent where I'm from. 
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  • Jimbro66Jimbro66 Frets: 1601
    brucegill said:
    I had the LG47 and had the same problem with the neck! I thought it was because they’re 1 11/16” but now have a Martin in that size and don’t get cramp. Such a shame as I loved that guitar and the 43 was really nice too, but I just can’t play them for long periods. 
    That's actually reassuring to know as it means it's not just me! I just had a little jaunt down Denmark St and re-tried a Martin 00-28 and it felt much better to me. Tempted to try and trade the Atkin for a 00-28, chances of that happening are slim though! Could sell the Atkin, but there'd be a shortfall of £600 between that and a new 00-28. D'oh!
    This is interesting. I have an Atkin OM28-H Retrospective model and it has a very comfortable C profile neck. No issues at all with playing discomfort. In fact it’s the easiest playing acoustic guitar I have ever experienced and I’ve had quite a few nice acoustics. I wonder whether the D profile causing your problems is a feature of that particular model, The Forty Three?

    Rather than lose a lot of money on a sale/trade why not have a chat with Alister? He’s a very approachable guy and might perhaps suggest some solution. It could be worth a phone call if you particularly like the sound of your 43.
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  • artiebearartiebear Frets: 435
    Not in any way wanting to cut across the logic of this thread  (I have been through the gamut of hand/wrist problems over the years), but having played as a pro for the last (bloody hell !) 41 years, the best thing I have discovered is regular upper body, including arm and hand exercises. I have done these as part of my daily workout for the last 20 years and even though things tend to ache more and more I have no issues with changing from huge old necks to violin, regularly playing a longer than long scale guitar with 13's to a vintage 1-13/16 V neck with 12's. Playing an instrument is painful and challenging because you are asking your muscles to reform to doing something quite difficult. Basically, if you love the 43 ( and you should ) work towards letting it become part of you, that does not happen in hours ,weeks or, quite often, months. 
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