REVIEWS

Tanglewood Sundance TW40 O AN E Acoustic

Published 13 years ago on August 23, 2011

By Guitar Interactive Magazine

It is with a tip of the hat to the 'classic' manufacturing period of the 1940's that Tanglewood conceived its brand new 'Sundance Historic' range of acoustic guitars. To help them, the UK company called on Swedish guitar builder Michael Sanden - not the first time he's loaned Tanglewood his highly regarded design expertise. From the aesthetics right down to the playability it's clear, though, that this range is not just a recreation of an existing guitar. It's a character in its own right.

I must admit that I wasn't quite sure what to expect - 'modern vintages' can be a mixed bag - but from the moment the TW40 O AN E  was unboxed I couldn't help but be impressed by its beauty. The first thing to catch my eye was the fabulous natural gloss finish , coupled with those distinctive vintage features. The 'O' refers to the fact that it is an 'Orchestra' shape (like so many acoustic designations, originally a CF Martin size), while the 'E' indicates that it is an electro-acoustic model. That might have been awkward on a guitar designed to look like an old-timer, but the electrics have been very cleverly hidden inside the guitar to maintain the impression.

In terms of specifications, Tanglewood have opted for a solid spruce top with laminated mahogany for the back and sides. The word 'laminate' can set off alarm bells with purists, but it shouldn't. The most crucial part of an acoustic guitar is the soundboard and the Tanglewood's solid top is what matters here. The use of laminated wood for the back and sides keeps the guitar affordable and is common in this price range. The neck is also made of mahogany and profile wise does feel like a bit of a handful, but that's testament to Tanglewood's desire to keep things as authentic as possible and is by no means a negative, because it really does feel great to play.  It's a traditional one-piece design with a reinforcing diamond volute at the rear of the headstock. The fingerboard is rosewood, as is the bridge, while bone is the material of choice for the nut and saddle. The bridge pins are made from Ivory ABS and the 'tortoiseshell' pick guard really does add to the guitar's vintage vibe. I found the 'squared off' headstock also particularly attractive and the open back Waverly-style machine heads really made me feel that I was playing a very unique guitar - a far cry from the countless more or less identical Chinese acoustic guitars currently out there.

From the moment I started playing the Sundance it became quite apparent that its size has no bearing on the sheer volume and quality of tone that it can produce. I put it through its paces playing styles ranging from very subtle classical fingerpicked arpeggios, to full on powerful open chord strumming and it responded to everything I gave it with ease and class. Yes, this really is a lovely guitar.

Amplified, the result was no different thanks to the inclusion of a Fishman Sonitone pickup and pre-amp. The pre-amp itself, comprised of a volume and tone dial, is housed just within the sound-hole for easy access and although at first I found it to be a little fiddly to access, it didn't take long to get used to.

It's not that often that I come across a guitar that is not only a pleasure to play straight out of the box, but that also has good looks and tone and comes at such an attractive price. And that's really the key here. There are dozens of electro-acoustic guitars selling around the price of this Tanglewood, but few of them look anything like so nice, thanks to the vintage inspiration, few are as well built and few sound as good - acoustic or amplified.  If this is your target price range, check this one out. It's going to be hard to beat.

It is with a tip of the hat to the 'classic' manufacturing period of the 1940's that Tanglewood conceived its brand new 'Sundance Historic' range of acoustic guitars. To help them, the UK company called on Swedish guitar builder Michael Sanden - not the first time he's loaned Tanglewood his highly regarded design expertise. From the aesthetics right down to the playability it's clear, though, that this range is not just a recreation of an existing guitar. It's a character in its own right.

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