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This article was originally published in issue #38
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Value priced, solid wood acoustics are two a penny these days with all of the major manufacturers producing high quality instruments at prices that would have been impossible a decade or so ago. One of the best known of these manufacturers, especially in the UK, is Tanglewood. British based, the company produce a very wide range of affordable acoustic and electric instruments, the latest of which is the TW1 acoustic.
The TW1 is a small bodied, Super Folk Cutaway shaped guitar featuring high quality mahogany back and sides and a solid Spruce top. Rosewood is used for the fretboard and bridge with ABS 'ivory' binding around the neck and body and a natural satin finish across the whole instrument. Tanglewood has kept the design of the TW1 very simple and clean with small die cast chrome tuners, small, white dot inlays and a subtle rosette design that is mirrored around the edge of the body. A Fishman Presys preamp is included with the guitar and features a volume control, three band EQ, phase control and in-built tuner in a small footprint design that is both simple to use and with a quality sound from its Fishman Sonicore pickup.
The TW1 is a very attractive acoustic with a plain but classy look. The mahogany sports a lovely grain on both the back/sides and neck and the spruce top is very clean with a lovely sheen from the satin finish, resulting in a guitar that looks and feels like a much more expensive instrument in the hands. In the past some budget minded acoustics have felt very ‘plastic-like’ in the hands but the TW1 exhibits none of this feel and you can tell that quality woods and hardware have been sourced for this construction.
Construction is excellent throughout, adding more gravity to the quality feel of this guitar. The fretwork on our sample was exceptional at this price point, matched with a good factory set-up that was immediately easy to play with no buzzing or dead spots to speak of. The neck joint is very well executed, as is all of the internal binding and bracing, with no obvious corner cutting or shoddy workmanship that can sometimes be a problem at this budget end of the market.
The TW1 is a lovely instrument to play thanks to its comfortable neck profile and small body shape. Upper fret access is easy thanks to the generous cutaway and the guitar is very consistent across its range. It’s very hard to find points of criticism when an acoustic plays this well and costs this little and the gap appears to be closing in terms of playability between these very affordable guitars and instruments costing significantly more these days!
Played acoustically the TW1 projects a decent amount of volume and has plenty of sustain. The only thing lacking is a deep bottom end bass response but at this price and body shape that is to be expected. The tone is very even, with a good amount of bite and a wide dynamic response that is a lot of fun to play.
Plugged in, the Fishman Presys is a good sounding pre-amp that produces a pleasingly realistic acoustic tone with plenty of scope for tone shaping thanks to its 3-band EQ controls. The EQ remains musical throughout its range and the pickup never exhibits and quack or breakup, even when played hard and represents dynamic changes very well indeed. The phase control is a very basic way to help with feedback issues but should be adequate for most live scenarios. The tuner function is also basic but functions well for a quick tuning reference.
Tanglewood has been at the forefront of producing quality budget minded instruments for quite a while now, but the TW1 is a great step forward for the company as an instrument that really does feel like a much more expensive guitar both in terms of playability and tone. As the gap closes between this price range and the mid to upper range acoustic guitars it is a great time for the consumer and the TW1 is a great example of this. Well worth checking out.