Category Archives: acoustic guitars
This review could also carry the headline: “Tanglewood brings vintage to the masses”. Tanglewood’s Sundance Historic guitars have been designed to give you plenty of that “pre-war” charm at very player-friendly prices. Take the two models on review, for example, which have price tags well below 700 Euros, despite even coming with on-board Fishman pickups and preamps!
The TW40O-AN-E and the TW40D-AN-E are both quite reminiscent of certain legendary Martin-models from the 1930s and 40s.
The Tanglewood TW40O–AN-E (current price in Finland 673 €) is the Sundance Historic series’ version of a Martin OM-18 model – the first Martin steel-string acoustic to feature a neck joint at the 14th fret when it was introduced in the Thirties.
Tanglewood’s TW40D-AN-E (673 €) is a tip of the hat to Martin’s D-18, which is the most copied, most referenced steel-string of all time. Even Gibson went out and bought a Martin in 1960, so they could use it to reverse engineer their own Hummingbird and Dove models.
Both of these models can also be had without the pickup system for 598 Euros each.
The necks of the TW40O and the TW40D have been built in the traditional fashion employed on classical guitars:
The neck is a one-piece mahogany affair – headstock and all – save for a separate, glued-on neck heel.
The bodies are crafted using solid spruce tops and laminated mahogany rims and backs.
The “AN” in the model designation hints at the beautiful Antique Natural finish of these Historic Series instruments.
The nut is genuine bovine bone.
The machine heads are very decent copies of 1930s open-geared Grovers. They do a great job of keeping the tuning stable, but their action is a little bit stiffer than what you’re used to with modern die-cast tuners.
The slender and small frets fit the vintage brief of the TW40O and TW40D to a tee.
Here’s a good example of how different two pieces of rosewood can look:
The reviewed TW40O-AN-E’s bridge is a nicely-grained light example…
…while the dreadnought carries a much darker counterpart.
The compensated bridge saddle is genuine bone on both instruments.
Both Sundance Historics have been equipped with a Fishman Sonitone pickup and preamp.
The piezo transducer sits beneath the bridge saddle and feeds its signal to the preamp – featuring master volume and master tone controls – that has been glued to the underside of the soundhole’s bass side edge. The Sonitone is powered by a 9 V battery, which is stowed away in its own pouch that is velcro’d to the neck block. The downside is that changing the battery is a much more involved affair than with a quick change battery compartment, but the advantage of this Fishman system is that it doesn’t spoil the guitar’s looks.
Both Tanglewoods sport an end pin output jack.
The care that has quite obviously gone into building these two Tanglewood Sundance Historic guitars really puts a smile on your face. The workmanship is clean and precise, and both instruments look more expensive than they really are.
Even though both guitars are from the 500-800 Euro price bracket, Tanglewood have gone the extra mile to match the wood grain on the sides of both guitars. The tops of the shoulders look bookmatched.
The vintage brief extends to more than simple cosmetics on the TW40O-AN-E:
Vintage OM-guitars (OM stands for Orchestra Model) are known for their slightly wider necks with soft V-profiles. You will also often find a slightly wider string spacing at the bridge, which makes fingerstyle playing much easier.
Tanglewood has used these vintage specifications for their Sundance Historic OM:
The neck has a very nice, soft V-profile, with a width at the top nut of 46 mm. The low E to top e spacing at the bridge is a very comfy 58 mm, which is good news for fingerpickers, working equally well with a plectrum.
The TW40O plays like a dream with a nice set-up on our review sample (string height at the 12th fret: bass-E – 2.1 mm/treble-e – 1.9 mm).
There a lot of debate about the pros and cons of solid backs in acoustic guitars. Some claim that a solid back is almost as important as a solid top in a steel-string acoustic, while others point to the use of laminated backs in the legendary Selmer-Maccaferri guitars (and newer exponents of the Gypsy Jazz genre) or to the great sound of arched-back vintage Guilds.
My own position in this debate is that most (but not all) guitars with laminated backs a bit quieter and drier-sounding than their all-solid brethren. Nevertheless, I feel that a solid top and an overall well-crafted instrument are much more important to the sound as a whole.
An OM-sized steel-string will have a “sweeter”, less bass-heavy tone than a Dreadnought of similar build, which is due in large part to its smaller and differently-shaped body.
Tanglewood’s TW40O has the trademark OM-sound – the guitar’s voice is open and well-balanced, with a projection akin to that of a Dreadnought, and it is very easy to record and place in a mix.
These two clips have been recorded with a pair of Shure SM57 microphones:
Fishman’s Sonitone system is a decent and easy-to-use choice to amplify your guitar on stage with the least amount of hassle:
The original aims in designing the Dreadnought were the need for more volume and a fatter bass register. At first Martin’s D-models were aimed squarely at the “singing cowboys”, which were so popular in the US in the 1930s and 40s. These musicians, such as Gene Autry or Hank Williams, needed loud guitars that would build a strong foundation for their vocals. This is what started the phenomenal success of the D-model, making it fairly ubiquitous in most genres of music.
Tanglewood’s TW40D-AN-E is a well-made homage to a 1930s-style D-18, both in terms of looks and sound.
The TW40D’s neck is virtually identical to the one on the TW40O – a nice soft-V affair, which is slightly wider and bigger than the neck on many contemporary steel-strings.
The craftsmanship displayed on this D is of the same high standard as on the reviewed OM, really leaving nothing to be desired in terms of the TW40D’s playability and set-up (bass-E: 2.2 mm/top-e: 1.7 mm).
We all know how a Dreadnought should sound: a big bottom end, coupled with a warm mid-range and chiming treble.
The Tanglewood TW40D doesn’t disappoint:
Fishman’s Sonitone system also works very well in the context of the TW40D-AN-E-model:
In my opinion Tanglewood’s TW40O-AN-E and TW40D-AN-E really do offer something special in their price range:
Here we have a pair of steel-string acoustics at player-friendly prices, which take the terms “vintage” and “historic” above and beyond mere cosmetics. Thanks to the “vintage correct” neck dimensions and neck profiles of these two instruments, and the wider string spacing, genuinely vintage-feeling guitars become available without custom shop price tags.
These are well-made, great-sounding guitars. Too bad I have to give them back…
Tanglewood Sundance Historic
TW40O-AN-E – 673 €
TW40D-AN-E – 673 €
Finnish distributor: Musamaailma
+ authentic neck profile
+ Fishman pickup and preamp
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Mannedesign is the more affordable, Far Eastern-produced brand of Italian company Manne Guitars.
Apart from Mannedesign’s wide array of electric guitars and basses the brand’s model range also includes several steel-string acoustics, two of which are featured in this review:
The Parlour-sized Mannedesign PFM and Roberto Dalla Vecchia’s signature-Dreadnought, the RDV.
The Mannedesign PFM (660 €) is an all-solid, small-bodied instrument for the Blues-, Folk- and Roots-guitarist, who is looking for a vintage-toned guitar.
The deep and rich matte finish on the PFM’s cedar top embues the instrument with a good dose of street credibility.
The mahogany neck is one-piece, save for the upper half of the headstock, and a another piece used to get the neck heel up to its full length. The neck joint is a the 12th fret, just like it was on many guitars in the 1930s.
The back and rims of the…
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There’s surprisingly little information available on the net when it comes to classical/nylon-string guitars.
Now Kitarablogi.com comes to the rescue:
Yamaha’s C- and CG-series instruments are the best-selling classical guitars in Finland. We selected a solid cedar -topped Yamaha CG142C for this review.
The Yamaha NTX900FM is a very interesting hybrid model – a nylon-string with a pickup and preamp system, as well as a narrower-than-classical nut width.
Typical of the company’s output, Yamaha’s CG142C (current street price in Finland approx. 300 €) is an extremely clean piece of work with the understated charm of a classical guitar. All CG-series guitars are build with solid tops – spruce-topped models have an “S” suffix to their name, while cedar models are denoted with a “C” at the end of their model name.
The neck, as well as the body’s back and rims, has been crafted from nato-wood. Nato is…
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Yamaha’s CPX- ja APX-lines have received new additions recently in the form of Chinese-made top models carrying the model numbers of 1000 and 1200, respectively.
Kitarablogi picked up a Mini-Jumbo-bodied CPX1000…
…as well as a shallow-bodied APX1200.
Yamaha’s CPX-series – which is also known as the Compass-series – originally was designed to appeal to the Country fraternity in the States. As a result of the APX-range’s success in the 1990s many Country pickers got in touch with the company, and asked for a larger, showier sister model, equipped with the same pickup and preamp, but featuring a fatter neck profile. And Yamaha duly obliged…
The brand-new CPX1000 (current rrp in Finland: 869 €, available in limited numbers) sure is a pretty thing: The solid spruce top is finished in a fetching Brown Sunburst, with the same deep shading applied to the back which is made from laminated…
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This review could have carried the title “Elegant Twins”, as both models from Yamaha’s brand-new A-series look very much alike.
The A-series looks like Yamaha’s answer to Taylor Guitars – it encompasses eight guitars in all, half of them Dreadnoughts and the other half in Grand Concert -size. All models feature a cutaway and a pickup system, as well as a new, organic-feeling type of matte finish rather reminiscent of some Taylors.
The Yamaha A1R (current recommended price in Finland: 639 €) is the less expensive guitar of the two on review here. The model’s nicely grained sitka spruce top is solid wood, with the rosewood sides and back being made of veneer.
The A1R’s headstock has received a rosewood facing.
Yamaha uses the same type of sealed tuners on the bulk of their steelstring acoustics. The lower A-series models sport necks made from three long and narrow pieces of…
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Amongst Chinese-made acoustic brands Walden is a special case. The company’s instruments aren’t just Walden-branded rebadged OEM-guitars, instead they are crafted at their own factory to their very own specifications and using their very own methods.
Walden’s main man is American luthier Jonathan Lee, who not only knows how to make fine acoustic instruments, but also affords special attention to things such as working conditions at the Walden plant, as well as environmental issues; or, as the man himself put it in a recent Guitarist-interview: “I want to go to bed at night and not wake up sweating about being a bad guy and getting kicked out of the gates by [Saint] Peter!”
Based on Jonathan Lee’s experience as a boutique builder, Walden Guitars feature an enticing mix of old-school and contemporary building methods: For example, all Waldens sport graphite (or fibreglass) reinforced bolt-on necks, as well as traditional…
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Tanglewood Guitars combines British design with quality luthiery from Asia for a winning value-for-money-mix. Especially the brand’s acoustic guitars have won over many fans.
The Tanglewood TW1000N (current price in Finland: 721 €) is a real Dreadnought-beauty from the company’s Sundance-series, and features a solid spruce top mated to a laminated back and sides made of rosewood.
The bound headstock looks fashionably understated, sporting a rosewood veneer, as well as the company logo in abalone.
The nicely finished top nut is genuine bone.
A volute strengthens the area where the neck changes into the headstock. The gold-coloured tuners are sealed Grover Rotomatics.
The TW1000N’s neck is a one-piece mahogany affair, save for a small glued-on bit for the neck heel.
Tanglewood have added a nice little detail for the gigging guitarist – a second strap button.
The TW1000N has been generously endowed in the looks stakes, but always with good…
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The UK’s favourite brand of acoustic guitars – Tanglewood – is steadily growing a devoted following in Finland, too, thanks to their wide variety of different models, as well as the company’s knack for providing fantastic value for money.
This time Kitarablogi.com takes a closer look at two guitars from opposing ends of Tanglewood’s price range:
The Tanglewood TW28-CLN is one of the brand’s most affordable instruments, and is part of the Evolution-series.
Tanglewood’s TW1000HSRE is the top model of the Heritage-series, and comes factory-equipped with a Fishman-pickup and Sonitone-preamp.
By the way, Musamaailma throws in a nifty Kyser Lifeguard humidifier for free with the purchase of any Tanglewood acoustic guitar, so you can be sure that your new instrument won’t suffer the detrimental effects…
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