Crossover





 

Many years ago, in response to inquiries, Kenny designed a nylon stringed guitar for steel string players. There was a kind of wave of interest and enthusiasm at that time for a hybrid instrument that would not be as daunting for the left hand but still have the warmth and softness of the classical guitar. There were a number of attempts by builders to deliver an instrument that could both play and sound great...and there was the issue of a pickup.

2016 saw a number of custom orders for a Crossover design encouraging Kenny to design a standardized model available for production. This new Crossover is the latest integration of modern Hill features for steel string players. While the original Crossover design both sounded and played significantly better than its competition, building the new Crossover integrating the advantages of a double top lattice braced instrument with the ergonomic benefits of the stand-up body, armrest and narrow neck radiused fingerboard.

The Stand Up Design started with the Signature Model, improving the balance of the instrument, the body has an extra taper from top to bottom. That is, the treble side is deeper than the bass side. This lets the guitar tilt back slightly and hang against the chest with more even balance, stability and comfort, and it gives the player a better view of the strings and fingerboard. It's a subtle change, but an effective one. The ergonomics are good for a player seated conventionally and with a foot stool as well.

While standing and playing guitar with a strap is not a unique idea, it is foreign to the classical guitar community. Standing up to play is interesting in a number of ways. It's immediately better for the lower back - years of classical guitar posture can lead to a variety aches and pains, and standing can really help. Being able to move about can be an advantage for the performer or just around the house. In an ensemble, it lets you interact with the other players.

Nylon strings will never play exactly the same as steel strings. There is only half the tension on the strings, much greater flexibility, and the design of the neck and the top have to take that into account. And for me that is the beauty of it. It's very sensitive, has so much color and dynamic possibility, and is so user friendly to play. This particular guitar has rosewood body with spruce/cedar double top, 640mm string length, 12 fret neck with a 48mm (1 7/8") nut width and a 16" radius fingerboard. The body has a sweet little cutaway, one sound port, a wedge tapered body and a wide beveled armrest. Add to this a beautifully natural sounding Barbera pickup and you have a new standard for a Hill Crossover Guitar.

Pickup and Amplifier
Over time there have been inquiries regarding our recommendations for pickups, and for many many years we were reluctant to identify any as 'the best.' Our criteria for such a choice would be the pickup's signal would be representative of what the instrument sounds like acoustically without its own coloration or noise. If possible, it would be minimally invasive and not impact the guitar's normal acoustic sound.

Through Kenny's personal experience, we are pleased to be installing Barbera Soloist Pickups designed specifically for classical guitars. Kenny is currently using the Henricksen amp, which provides a lot of very clean power for a medium size room in a compact package.

You can hear him describe how he arrived at this choice in this video.

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