tan­gle­wood sun­dance Per­for­mance Pro se­ries X15sDTe & X70Te

Guitarist - - Contents -

CON­TACT Tan­gle­wood Gui­tar Co PHONE 0113 287 2991 WEB www.tan­gle­wood­gui­tars.co.uk

De­scribed as its big­gest launch in 15 years, Tan­gle­wood’s new Sun­dance Per­for­mance Pro Se­ries starts with the acous­tic-only dread­nought X15 (£699), fol­lowed by the ‘su­per­folk’ elec­tro-cut­away X45AVE and X45E (both mod­els at £799), and the all ma­hogany X47E at £899. The range is topped by a pair of very clas­sic-look­ing elec­tro mod­els in vin­tage sun­burst gloss, re­viewed here, the orches­tra/000 X15SDTE and the slope-shoul­der dread X70TE. The en­tire range uses all-solid wood con­struc­tion, while our two re­view mod­els em­ploy spruce tops that are tor­refied. This is a method of ‘age­ing’ new wood to sim­u­late decades-old tim­ber, usu­ally re­served for high-end gui­tars, but – as we saw at this year’s NAMM show – a fea­ture that’s creep­ing into the af­ford­able mar­ket. In other words, £899 gets you a big slice of gui­tar.

Both acous­tics are non-cut­away, 14-fret de­signs with the same ‘long’ 650mm (25.6-inch) scale, 43.3mm nut widths and 53mm bridge spac­ing. Those tor­refied tops, which typ­i­cally have a darker hue than un­treated spruce, have a moody two-tone ’burst. The back and sides are left nat­u­ral gloss; the neck backs are nat­u­ral satin. Tan­gle­wood tells us that the gui­tars use “par­al­lel and fan ta­pered brac­ing pat­terns”, although look­ing and feel­ing inside, things ap­pear fairly stan­dard X-brace and we sus­pect the darker spruce top brac­ing has also been tor­refied com­pared with the cleaner, whiter back braces.

Necks ap­pear to be one piece with an added heel piece and there’s a classy ma­chined di­a­mond-shaped vo­lute be­hind the nut that adds strength to the nar­row­est part of the neck, although ad­just­ment of the truss rod is via the sound­hole, not be­hind the bone nut. There are min­i­mal mi­cro-dot fingerboard in­lays that tie in with the un-posh vibe, not least the sim­ple white­band sound­hole dec­o­ra­tion. The body, fingerboard and head are bound with a bright white plas­tic – an older off-white would have suited the vin­tage vibe bet­ter – while fret­ting is pretty tidy, although a fi­nal pol­ish would have avoided the new scratchy feel as you bend strings. Both fingerboard and bridge are spec’d as sonke­lin (sic), usu­ally ‘sonoke­l­ing’, a rose­wood from In­done­sia that is botan­i­cally iden­ti­cal to In­dian rose­wood (Dal­ber­gia lat­i­fo­lia).

Un­like the trend for vin­tage-style or open-back tuners, the ones here are fairly chunky Grovers, and equally chunky rose­wood bridges fea­ture a com­pen­sated bone sad­dle and clean white plas­tic bridge pins. With a cou­ple of mi­nor ex­cep­tions, it’s a hugely tidy job and, while the fin­ish doesn’t ap­pear to be the thinnest we’ve ever seen, you can cer­tainly see some rip­pling of the spruce top through that nicely ’bursted gloss.

Pow­er­ing comes from a side-mounted Tan­gle­wood­l­ogo’d Fish­man Presys Plus preamp that fea­tures an ac­cu­rate and fast tuner and three-band EQ with ad­di­tional bril­liance con­trol, plus both a notch fil­ter and phase switch to at­tack feed­back.


There’s noth­ing par­tic­u­larly ‘vin­tage’ about the slim, well-shaped necks or slinky playa­bil­ity of this pair – both have a re­ally main­stream feel that doesn’t shout strum­mer or fin­ger­picker, just ‘do any­thing and get on with it!’ The sounds are sim­i­lar, and while it’s im­pos­si­ble to hear what the tor­refied top alone is ac­tu­ally bring­ing to the ta­ble, both gui­tars have an en­gag­ing voice. The 000, for ex­am­ple, is sur­pris­ingly rich, nicely mu­si­cal with trimmed but not de­fi­cient lows, a strong but not boxy midrange and clean, clear highs that don’t sound overly box fresh. The dread, of course, is sub­stan­tially big­ger in size, espe­cially in depth, and its sound re­flects that, but again we have this rich, sonorous mu­si­cal char­ac­ter.

Plugged in, the im­pres­sion of well-sorted gui­tars con­tin­ues with ex­cel­lent out­put bal­ance across the strings. Lis­ten­ing with EQs (on­board and out­board) all set flat, the dread’ is a lit­tle thick sound­ing, the 000 lighter and tighter in the bass, but nei­ther need any ex­ces­sive tweak­ing. We use the on­board preamp’s EQ spar­ingly to trim those dread­nought lows and a slight midrange re­duc­tion to open the sound a lit­tle. With some out­board com­pres­sion, lower-mid EQ, a soupçon of TC’s BodyRez and a dash of re­verb, we’re good to go.


A ther­mally treated, tor­refied piece of spruce will not turn a mid-priced gui­tar into a vin­tage Martin. But here it’s one part of this Sun­dance recipe that, in com­bi­na­tion with a well-sorted build and smart pre­sen­ta­tion, cre­ates two ex­tremely vi­able mu­si­cal­sound­ing pieces that have a lit­tle more give and res­o­nance, more ma­tu­rity, than we’d ex­pect – not only at this price point but also from very new in­stru­ments. Is that enough to stand out in the ag­gres­sive mid-priced mar­ket? Time will tell, but it’s cer­tainly enough to make both of these in­stru­ments more en­gag­ing than the of­ten ev­ery­day fare of so many ‘im­port’ gui­tars. We strongly rec­om­mend you give ’em a strum. [DB]

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.