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This article was originally published in issue #56
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The “Thunder” to the Angelus’ “Angel”, the non-cutaway Tonare Grand body shape maximises punch and low end without sacrificing sparkle and detail.
Punchy and articulate, perfect for cutting through a mix
Feels a lot more expensive than it is!
The midrange focus and forward projection might not be for everyone, but In that case, consider the 40 or 50 series…
Solid Sitka Spruce Top
Mahogany Back & Sides
Tonare Grand Body Shape
Fishman GT1 Pickup System
PRS SE Tonare TX20E
MSRP £549 (UK) $599 (US)
With mahogany back and sides, a solid spruce top and traditional “X” bracing—the PRS SE TX20E promises a warm and balanced tone, with superb resonance that can comfortably cut through the mix. Nick Jennison takes a closer look at this exciting new acoustic guitar.
In 2009 PRS Guitars released their first acoustic guitars, the Angelus Cutaway and the Tonare Grand. Created as part of the Private Stock project, these guitars are works of art with a price tag to match. They’re made without compromise, and money is no object in the pursuit of the absolute best in terms of tone, response and feel.
Of course, not everyone has Private Stock money! Also, even if you did have the dollar to blow on one of these masterpieces, would you gig it? Would you take it to a jam night? Perhaps the new SE acoustics are the answer, then…
NAMM 2018 saw a significant update to the SE acoustic range, with six new models available in two body styles (Angelus Cutaway and Tonare Grand) and three wood combinations. Every guitar in the range features a solid Sitka spruce top, paired with an ebony bridge and fretboard. The neck, back and sides are either mahogany (20 series), ovangkol (40 series) or maple (50 series), with the latter two sporting PRS’s new “hybrid classical” bracing pattern inspired by a beautiful vintage Torres classical guitar. Notably, rosewood is not on offer anywhere in the range.
Inspired by speaker cabinet construction, the design ethos with these guitars is to “lock down” the back and sides with heavy bracing, thus encouraging all of the energy of the strings to project through the top. This makes them loud and punchy with lots of forward projection, and no guitar in the range embodied this more than the mahogany Tonare Grand.
The “Thunder” to the Angelus’ “Angel”, the non-cutaway Tonare Grand body shape maximises punch and low end without sacrificing sparkle and detail. Pair this with mid rich mahogany and a more traditional X bracing pattern, and you’ve got a guitar that’s perfect for cutting through a dense mix with authority. The wide fat neck profile will feel very familiar to PRS players, with a comfy soft V shape that fills the hand without being excessively bulky.
Under aggressive strumming, the tone is slightly compressed and balanced across the frequency spectrum. There are no spikes in the midrange or awkwardly booming lows. More delicate playing styles reveal a sweet high end that flatters fingerstyle and flatpicking without sacrificing cut and punch.
The Fishman GT1 pickup and preamp are as simple as simple gets, with volume and tone controls inside the soundhole and not much else. The tone is very natural and organic and takes to processing very well. On its own, it can sound a little uninspiring, but pair it with some tasteful EQ (perhaps from a dedicated acoustic DI pedal?), and it really starts to shine.
Very reasonably priced and including a hard case, the PRS SE TX20E puts Private Stock expertise within everyone’s reach. It’s a great sounding guitar, perfect for the working musician.