Cordoba Acero D10 - A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Some guitars take a while to reveal their charms. Others, like Córdoba’s new Acero D10, with its booming, but balanced voice and easy playability—to say nothing of its elegant modern appearance—win you over right away. The guitar behaves like a classic dreadnought, but there’s a subtle complexity to its sound and responsiveness, attributes that owe to the instrument’s unique build.
The Feel & Sound
Thanks to its Spanish-style construction, the D10 is lightweight, around 4.75 pounds. It’s well balanced between neck and body, and comfortable to hold in both seated and standing positions. The C-shaped neck has a generous profile, but feels fast and easy in all registers, and the wide nut, 1.8 inches, allows plenty of room for the fretting fingers. With a perfect low action, it feels effortless to play barre chords for extended periods and swift single-note excursions.
When strumming a single open-E chord, you’ll find the D10 sounds terrific, with a rich dark voice and a bold presence. The sound has a nice balance between registers and between fundamentals and overtones; the instrument feels responsive and has an impressive amount of sustain and overhead.
And the D10 handles that open-E chord just as well as it does a complex harmony like an 11th-position E altered seventh chord (fretted, lowest string to highest, 0-11-12-12-13-12), on which there is an appreciable separation between the notes.
I try a variety of accompaniment approaches on the D10, from Carter-style to Hot Club-style strumming. All are satisfying to play, thanks to the instrument’s resounding bass and overall liveliness. (And you needn’t worry that all the strumming will cause cosmetic damage, because inside the case’s accessory compartment Córdoba has included a transparent, adhesive pickguard.)
A versatile performer, the D10 fares as well for fingerpicking. The wide nut and saddle spacing provide ample room for the picking fingers to do their work. It takes very little force to get decent volume from the guitar, which sounds equally robust in standard as in alternate tunings like DADGAD and open C. The sophisticated voice lends itself to fare ranging from Celtic fingerpicking to country-style blues, and even classical.
The Design & Build
Córdoba has long offered crossover designs in which nylon-string guitars are modified with attributes like narrow nuts and slenderer necks, making them friendlier to steel-string players. The company turns this idea on its head with the D10, a steel-string guitar that is constructed in the manner of a nylon-string. Instead of a traditional dovetail joint, the D10’s neck is assembled using the Spanish heel, an integrated method in which the heel is notched to accept the sides, and the entire body is then built around the neck and sides. This makes for a more stable neck-to-body junction, which is said to increase the guitar’s resonance. Instead of the standard steel-string X-bracing pattern inside, there’s a neat composite of the Torres fan and the X styles, a system devised to enhance the soundboard’s vibrating potential, with the goal of producing a more robust tone.
The D10 boasts all-solid-wood construction. Its soundboard is made from Engelmann spruce, while the back and sides are rosewood; the guitar’s mahogany neck sports an ebony fingerboard. The review model is built from a selection of these tonewoods that would not look out of place on a boutique guitar. The finely grained spruce has a lovely pale yellow coloring that works nicely with the dark-chocolate-colored, quarter-sawn rosewood.
A pleasing use of wood is also seen in the D10’s gracefully restrained ornamentation. The body binding is made not from celluloid but mahogany, with a matching back strip and end strip. The rosette is formed by a duo of acacia (an Asian species comparable to koa) rings, and the same wood is used on the fretboard for a subtle, segmented inlay at the 12th fret. The fretboard’s side dots are made of maple and the guitar is rounded out by a raised central layer of rosewood on the headstock and a rosewood heel cap whose carved motif echoes that of the fretboard inlay.
Despite its modest price tag, this D10 review model is a nicely built guitar by any standard. The fretwork is meticulous, and the TUSQ nut and saddle are precisely notched. On the body, the thin polyurethane finish is rubbed to a
faultless gloss, and in the box things are similarly clean.
The D10 includes a Córdoba archtop wood case with HumiCase technology installed inside. This handy feature is a plus for a guitarist traveling among different climate zones, or one whose instrument must contend with drying indoor heat during winter. It’s fast and intuitive to refill the humidifier, which is basically a circular sponge-like material housed in a plastic enclosure that snaps into the lid of the case.
Made to Play
With the Acero D10, Córdoba has successfully applied nylon-string construction principles to steel-string design, resulting in an instrument with a smooth playability and an outstanding sound and responsiveness. Some players will no doubt be opposed to an imported guitar, but those unconcerned with provenance will be rewarded with a smart companion that will stack up favorably against much more expensive guitars.
At A Glance
BODY Dreadnought. Solid Engelmann spruce top with solid rosewood back and sides. High-gloss polyurethane finish.
NECK Mahogany neck. Satin finish. Ebony fretboard and rosewood bridge. 25-inch scale length. 1.8-inch nut width. Gold Grover tuners.
EXTRAS Elixir Phospor Bronze Nanoweb (12–53) strings. Córdoba HumiCase. Also available with a cutaway and electronics (D10–CE).
PRICE $1,020 list; $849.99 street. Designed in California; made in China. cordobaguitars.com.
Contributing editor Adam Perlmutter transcribes, arranges, and engraves music for numerous publications.