In a world where traditional guitar-building woods are becoming more scarce, many builders have started seeking out alternative materials for ethical and economic reasons (you're free to speculate on how this breaks down behind the scenes). While alternative woods are the most common substitute, one of the most interesting materials being used is carbon fibre. Nick Jennison reviews Enya's impressive X4 Carbon Fiber Acoustic.
Carbon fibre acoustics have been around for a while now—and are rightly treasured for their bright, powerful tone, resilience and consistency - but usually not their price. Carbon fibre acoustics have traditionally been prohibitively expensive, which is why the Enya X4 is such a pleasant surprise, coming in at just three figures.
There's not a single piece of organic material on this guitar, with a carbon fibre weave top and what appears to be a resin back, sides, neck and bridge. The result is a guitar that's quite heavy, but reassuringly solid feeling, with a very clear and "well organised" sound. There's a weight to the low transients that I haven't heard from a traditionally made wooden acoustic, but there's still a ton of sparkle and detail in the highs and upper mids. Played fingerstlye, it provides killer projection and consistency, but doesn't collapse under heavy strumming like many other "fingerstlyle-oriented" guitars. Quite the opposite, in fact: the X4 roars like a full-blooded mahogany dreadnought.
Aside from the unique construction, the other big surprise the X4 has up its sleeve is the electronics. Plugged in, you're treated to a very accurate and natural-sounding rendition of the X4's acoustic tone, but with the option to blend in the on-board reverb, chorus and delay! The reverb comes in two flavours - room and hall. Both sound very pleasing, and add a three dimensional depth to the tone without ever becoming corny or overpowering. Similarly, the chorus is very classy sounding, allowing you to dial in everything from subtle thickening to a pseudo-12-string shimmer with just the single mix control. The delay is a little more "situational", as the mix is set to a fixed amount, with the single control adjusting delay time. This feels like an oversight to me, and I'd much prefer a mix control with a tap tempo to control delay time. Similarly, it feels a little odd to have all this tech on board - a mic, a piezo, built-in effects and an actuator (more on that in a second), but no tuner.
Speaking of the actuator though, this is one of the X4's best party tricks. You can engage the actuator to turn the top into a "speaker" of sorts - one that allows you to use the effects with the guitar unplugged! Being able to add a little reverb to your sound in a dead space like a living room (or our studio) makes for a very fun playing experience, and one that you'll no doubt miss when turning it off, or switching to another guitar.
The Enya X4 is a unique instrument in so many ways. It's the most affordable carbon fibre acoustic I'm aware of, and it comes with a host of electronic toys and tools to make your playing experience that little bit more pleasant. Traditionalists will scoff, but if you can open your mind wide enough, this guitar will reward you.
For more information, please visit: