At first glance, the Michael Kelly Forte Port might seem like nothing special. After all, it has laminated sapele back and sides, a two-piece mahogany neck, a nylon nut, black ply binding, and a sticker price of just $299.
Yet, it is special.
This plain-looking cutaway flattop has been hanging out in my office for about six weeks. Every time I pick it up, I’m pleasantly surprised by the warm tone emanating from the soundholes, one of which is placed on the top side, about a foot from my ear. The other is offset on the solid spruce top. That second soundhole is part of what Michael Kelly calls its Port Technology, a combination of soundhole placement and special bracing designed, in the company’s words, to make the guitar “dynamic” and “responsive” with a “big, bold sound.”