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Review: Mannedesign PFM + RDV

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Kitarablogi.com – Finland's premier Guitar and Bass blog

Mannedesign – logo

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.

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Mannedesign PFM – full front 2

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.

Mannedesign PFM – full back 2

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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Later in April… Acoustic Lap Steel

First view: Mannedesign PFM

Review: Yamaha CG142C + NTX900FM

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Kitarablogi.com – Finland's premier Guitar and Bass blog

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.

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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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Review: Yamaha CPX1000 + APX1200

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Kitarablogi.com – Finland's premier Guitar and Bass blog

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.

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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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Review: Yamaha A1R and A3R

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Kitarablogi.com – Finland's premier Guitar and Bass blog

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.

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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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Review: Walden G630CE + CD4040-CERT

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Kitarablogi.com – Finland's premier Guitar and Bass blog

Walden CD4040-CERT – logo

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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Review: Tanglewood TW1000N

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Kitarablogi.com – Finland's premier Guitar and Bass blog

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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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Review: Tanglewood TW28-CLN + TW1000HSRE + Seymour Duncan Woody

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Kitarablogi.com – Finland's premier Guitar and Bass blog

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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:

Tanglewood TW28-CLN + Woody – body angle

The Tanglewood TW28-CLN is one of the brand’s most affordable instruments, and is part of the Evolution-series.

Tanglewood’s Finnish distributor – Musamaailma – has equipped the test sample with a Seymour Duncan soundhole pickup, the humbucking Woody  (SA-3 HC).

Tanglewood TW1000HSRE – body angle

Tanglewood’s TW1000HSRE is the top model of the Heritage-series, and comes factory-equipped with a Fishman-pickup and Sonitone-preamp.

Kyser Lifeguard humidifier

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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Review: Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic

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Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – body angle 2

Schecter probably aren’t known so much as manufacturers of acoustic guitars, but they do carry a few acoustic-electric models in their current line-up. We picked up a new model from Schecter’s Hellraiser range for a review – the Hellraiser Studio Acoustic.

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Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – full front

The Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic (current street price in Finland approx. 600 €) is a stunning looker with a Grand Auditorium -sized, full-depth body.

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – full back

The whole body – top, rims and back – is crafted from beautiful, laminated quilted maple. Our review sample sports a fetching see-through-black gloss finish.

The glued-in neck, which is finished in solid gloss black, is made from mahogany.

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – headstock

Judging by its headstock shape, Schecter seems to be aiming the Hellraiser Studio squarely at the Rock and Metal crowd. The headstock features intricate binding in luscious grey pearloid framed by black and white strips of plastic.

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – Grovers

The sealed Grover-tuners sport a cool and moody black chrome finish.

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – fretboard

The bound rosewood fretboard comes equipped with 20 jumbo-sized frets, giving the guitar an effortless modern playing feel.

The Hellraiser Studio’s ‘board is adorned with cleanly executed gothic-style cross inlays, made from grey pearloid.

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – binding on back

The stylish dark pearloid theme is carried over onto the soundbox – seen here in the back’s centre line.

Schecter’s Hellraiser Studio comes factory-equipped with a second strap button.

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – body side view

The guitar’s flowing lines are a thing of beauty.

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – kerfed linings

The test sample’s bracings and kerfed linings look well made, even if there are a couple of glue specks in places.

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – soundhole rosette 2

The gothic theme continues in the rosewood rosette’s inlays.

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – bridge 2

A very dark finish is a double-edged sword for any manufacturer, because any tiny imperfection shows up more clearly. On the review instrument a tiny amount of white glue can be seen seeping out from under the bridge – the only small slip-up on this nicely-finished guitar.

The bridge is an interesting design, made from a composite material based on wood and black resin. The octave-compensated bridge saddle is Graph Tech’s man-made alternative to ivory, called Tusq.

The under-saddle-transducer is a Fishmanin Sonicore piezo pickup.

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – Fishman PreSys+

The UST’s signal is sent to a Fishman PreSys+ preamp featuring four-band EQ – bass, middle, treble and brilliance – a notch filter (to combat feedback or annoying stage resonances), a phase reverse switch (also for feedback removal), as well as a chromatic tuner, which also works without the guitar lead plugged in.

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – preamp opened

The PreSys+ makes battery changes a doddle.

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Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – beauty shot

Even though the Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic is aimed at Rock musicians, Schecter haven’t chosen an overtly “electric” neck profile for this steel-string – which is good in my opinion. The guitar’s well-rounded, medium D-profile feels great, giving you ample flesh to hold on to.

Sadly, our review sample suffers from some minor fretting issues, which lead to the high-e string buzzing at the first and 14. frets. Otherwise the set-up is good and the guitar plays well.

Nowadays it seems that many manufacturers have found out how to put together a good-sounding acoustic guitar using a laminated body. The Schecter Hellriser Studio is a good example of this. Even though you cannot find the out-and-out volume and punch of an all-solid shouter in a laminated steel-string, this Schecter really manages to hold its own, and do so with panache.

The all-maple body gives you a lively tone with a tight, sinewy bottom end, a clear mid-range (typical of maple-bodied steel-strings), as well as a nicely rounded top end. I see the Hellraiser Studio as a great choice for accompanying vocals, as the guitar’s clarity leaves ample space in the frequency spectrum for the singer.

The Fishman Sonicore/PreSys+ is a high-quality combination that sounds great right off the bat, without even touching the EQ. Fishman have managed to filter out most of the infamous nasal quack and attack click, so often found on lesser piezo systems. Thanks to this the Hellraiser’s EQ is freed up to fine-tune your (already great) basic tone, instead of having to combat any annoying tonal problems inherent in the original signal.

I recorded the following examples both acoustically (using an AKG C3000) and direct (with the Fishman’s EQ flat):

Fingerstyle – miked up (AKG C3000)

Fingerstyle –  PreSys+

Plectrum – miked up

Plectrum – PreSys+

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – back beauty

The review guitar’s fretting (or neck?) problem really is a shame, because overall this Schecter is an extremely nice acoustic-electric. Schecter are known for their stringent quality control, so maybe this here was the one guitar that slipped through.

Schecter’s Hellraiser Studio Acoustic is a beautiful instrument, offering easy playability and a great sound. The guitar’s clear voice records very well – regardless of whether you’re using a microphone or the fantastic on-board Fishman-system. I can only recommend a test run!

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Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic

Current street price in Finland approx. 600 €

Finnish distributor: Soundtools

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Pros:

+ beautiful design

+ overall workmanship

+ playability

+ acoustic tone

+ pro-quality Fishman-electronics

Cons:

– some fretting issues on review sample

– some glue visible at bridge

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – beauty shot 2