Hey guys,

I'm looking at a new acoustic, the Tanglewood TW45, and comparing different models. I remember playing one years ago but was stupid enough not to write down the model number and have only just found it again, so I can't remember exactly which of the series it was...

The two I'm looking at are the OPE, and W OPE. One has laminated walnut back and sides, the other has mahogany sides.

I figure the mahogany is better, rather than laminated? Can anyone give an outline of what the tonal differences would be between the two?

PRS SE Chris Robertson
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I don't know about the exact model of your guitar, but i can tell you what i have heard from experience playing on each.

I own a Cordoba c5 with a mahogany back, I can tell you the base is just out of this world, it is a relatively thin wood however (that depends on the manufacture), it has a ceder front. It handles the trebles really nicely, don't sustain that long though, but the base is fantastic.

I've played on a couple of walnut guitars too, typically they are pretty thick in body and weigh a bit more, They have a relatively thick sound and can sustain fairly well especially with the trebles.

Again, that's not pertaining to your model, i would recommend you try them both out and seeing which you like better.
the W OPE seems to have laminate walnut back and side and a solid cedar top, the OPE has laminate mahogany. in the case of most laminate woods used in guitars, they have a thin veneer of the wood listed by the manufacturer (in this case, walnut and mahogany) over another, usually cheaper wood - likely the same wood in both cases, so there may not be much in the way of tonal differences.

in all solid guitars, i find that mahogany has a strong fundamental, not much in the way of complexities. a lot of old school blues guitars have mahogany back and sides, as do my husband's recording king 000 (sweet tone!) and my blueridge parlor. black and english walnut have more sparkle in the top end and nice presence. claro walnut i haven't been impressed by tonally, but some really great, great guitars have walnut back and sides - the gibson jackson browne and the breedlove focus redwood are two great sounding guitars with solid walnut b&s.
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I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
Walnut if a mix of mahogany and maple if that helps. Much more important is the top wood though. As long as both models have solid tops, I'd go for the solid mahogany.

When I was going to school to be luthier (dropped out, not really my thing) my professor had a saying about plywood. Something about how the plywood tree doesn't add much to the sound of a finished guitar.