Brand new for 2014 is the TW45 EGE by Tanglewood guitars. It's part of the company's successful 'Sundance' range of instruments, some of which we have reviewed very favourably in the Quiet Room, and which is subdivided into five separate product lines: Heritage, Pro, Historic, Natural and finally, the 'Elegance' range, which includes our review model.
Tanglewood has built for itself a solid reputation for manufacturing high quality products at affordable prices and, at present, are reckoned by some to be the best selling brand of mid-market acoustic guitars in the United Kingdom and several European countries. Now more widely available across the other side of the Atlantic (and elsewhere, too) this is a Tanglewood quite a lot of GI readers might find themselves looking at in a guitar shop before long, so now's a good time for a review.
My hopes were high as we unboxed this newcomer. I've reviewed several of the company's models in the past and have always been impressed by their consistently high build quality, tone and playability. Let's take a closer look at the TW45 EGE and see if the story remains the same.
The TW45 EGE is a super Folk shaped guitar with a solid spruce top coupled with sides made from mahogany and a three piece back that consists of a combination of mahogany with quilted ash. The quilted ash does look beautiful indeed. The back and sides have been bound with maple and the finish is of a very high quality. The binding of choice for the top consists of a combination of ABS black/ivory and maple, which looks very classy and sets off the wood really well. The neck for this instrument, which has a scale length of 650mm, is a two piece type with volute, with the wood of choice being mahogany. The fretboard is made from rosewood, has microdot fretboard markers and also features the same maple binding as the sides, again, the finishing was to a very high standard.
The headstock features a beautiful rosewood veneer and again sports a maple binding, with the Tanglewood logo set between the open back nickel Waverly tuners. The guitar is finished with a classy natural gloss finish and comes with a cutaway for easy access to the top frets.
Making it the sort of guitar that can go anywhere with you, the TW45 comes ready-fitted as an electro-acoustic, featuring a discreetly positioned Fishman Sonitone, which is positioned just inside the soundhole, making it very quick and easy to access.
As with any electro-acoustic, the first thing you should do is forget that it has a pickup and try it as an acoustic! I did so with the TW45 and it performed just how I'd hoped, proving itself capable of some lovely warm tones, with plenty of sustain. It has some serious volume too, thanks, in part, to the body shape and I found it to have a nice balance between the lower register and the higher register.
It doesn't just sound good. The TW45's playability was equally impressive and, to me, it felt like I was playing a guitar that I'd normally expect to find in a much higher price bracket.
OK, so finally, we get to plug it in and see how the Fishman performs! Again, as you'd expect from two companies as experienced as Tanglewood and Fishman, the combination works extremely well. The Fishman Sonitone is certainly capable of reproducing this guitar's essential tonal characteristics, with a nice clear signal and low noise, although, I did find it to be a little trebbly on occasion. Playing a scale through from low to high gave the TW45 an opportunity to show how nicely balanced it is and that cutaway really gives the freedom to venture higher up the fretboard whenever I felt the need to.
There's lots to like about the TW45 EGE and, to be honest, very little to dislike. Tanglewood always seem to me to be very consistent especially when it comes to build quality and the TW45 was no exception. There are some great tones to be had with this guitar and the Fishman Sonitone sounds great too, with the small caveat about a slight treble bias. That said, you're likely to be using this through either a PA with a mixer or a dedicated acoustic amp, so that's easily compensated for.
Once again, Tanglewood has produced a well built, great sounding guitar at a very attractive price. If you are in the market for an affordable electro acoustic, which offers reliability for gig after gig, great tone, a good pickup and this is the body shape you're interested in, you'll definitely want to put this one on your 'to try' list.