By 1999, Sheryl Crow’s 1962 Gibson Country and Western acoustic guitar was suffering the rigours of the road. Crow had become an a major artist almost overnight when six years earlier, an album of songs she’d made with a bunch of friends, Tuesday Night Music Club, had been an immediate success and spawned her first hit record, All I Wanna Do. Previously, she’d been a back-up singer for Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, Kid Rock and Sting, but by the end of the decade she was established enough for Gibson to start working on a replacement guitar for road use and songwriting duties. The result was the Sheryl Crow Signature Artist Series model.
She asked for a replica, but with modern appointments. The guitar they settled on was based on the Country and Western but had elements of Gibson’s Hummingbird as well as the J-45’s slope shoulder dreadnought design, albeit with wider, square shoulder accents on the upper bouts.
The top on the Gibson Sheryl Crow is made from AAA-grade Sitka spruce in a natural finish, with mahogany back and sides. An Indian rosewood fingerboard features slightly bevelled rolled edges with split parallelogram inlays made of genuine mother of pearl, which are inserted into the fingerboard using a process that eliminates gaps and doesn’t require the use of fillers. The model also features hand-scalloped, radiused top bracing, focusing the sound more toward the centre of the body to enhance projection. The bracing is a single X pattern similar to the design used inside Gibson’s traditional dreadnoughts, most notably the vintage J-30s. There’s also an enlarged, Hummingbird style ’tortoiseshell’ pickguard and compensated bridge saddle.
Other appointments include white Gotoh oval button tuners with a 15:1 gear ratio, a crown peghead logo, a double-ring rosette and an L.R. Baggs Element Active Acoustic Pickup System. The Element features a low-profile under saddle transducer combined with an onboard pre-amp with a removable volume control mounted just inside the soundhole. The system works with a standard 9V battery which is housed inside the guitar in a ‘battery Bagg’. The guitar includes a hardshell case.
The Sheryl Crow is a rather plain looking instrument, despite its specially selected timbers. However, once it’s in your hands any concerns on that score disappear as the easy playing neck – due in part to the rolled fingerboard edges – and the clean, crisp sound become the focus of your attention at the strum of your first G chord. Dreadnought size Gibson acoustics have a reputation for being rather ‘thuddy’ sounding but not this one, every note rings true, picked or strummed. A lovely sounding instrument, and probably a massive improvement on her old Gibson acoustic.