Price paid: £ 199
Purchased from: Pooles Music, UK
Sound — 9
I play a wide variety of acoustic music, ranging from the hard Folk sound of the King Blues or Johnny Cash, to instrumentals from such artists as Andy Mckee and Tommy Emmanuel, and I can say it definately handles anything you can throw at it. I rarely plug it into an amplifier, except at gigs, but the acoustic tone is really rich and warm, and retains it when amplified. The electronics in the guitar allow for a range of tones to be dialled in, but my EQ tends to be set relatively flat, perhaps with the mids boosted slightly to gain clarity, as I find that adjustments on the amp work better, plus the natural tone of the guitar is put on show.
Overall Impression — 9
This guitar matches nearly any style I can throw at it, and does it well. I have been playing for nearly 6 years, and I have owned a fair few acoustics over the years, including my other main acoustic, my 12 string Yamaha, and it has always been a very special instrument to me, having played so many shows with it. If it was stolen, or I lost it, I would go out the next day and ask my local music shop to order me another one, as it is the main sound of my acoustic performances. Sure, my 12 string is a lovely instrument, but when used more than sparingly, it starts to annoy the audience with it's jangly tones, whereas my Ashtons tone is solid, dependable and very pleasant to the ears. The main things I love about this guitar are it's sound and it's playability, which both add up to make a great, affordable gigging guitar. there's nothing I hate about it, maybe aside from the fact that the tuners accuracy fails slightly when the 9v battery in the electronics compartment is running low, but that's to be expected, and I replace it regularly anyway. When I went out to buy an acoustic guitar, the Ashton had recieved a lot of publicity, from winning the 2006 prize for "Best Electro-Acoustic under 500", and it seemed obvious that if this was the best in my budget, why go for anything less? Needless to say, it hasn't dissappointed me, and continues to amaze me, nearly every time I pick it up. Ashton surely deserves more credit as a respected company whos acoustic guitars, in my opinion, are the best in the market for beginner/intermediate guitarists. Sure, there are the obviously well known brands, such as Martin, Taylor, Gibson etc, but you will be expected to be forking out in the thousands for these babies. For under 500, you really can't go wrong with an Ashton. Well done guys!
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar, and my 12 string are my mainstays for acoustic gigs, open mic nights and jame sessions alike, between the two, there is hardly any sound not included in the spectrum, and I have recieved no end of compliments from expirienced musicians about both of them. This guitar cannot be faulted for Live performance, it is simply wonderful to play Live, as it's playability is excellent and is light as a feather. Cannot fault it.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Probably the best set-up guitar, aside from my 12 string Yamaha (Reviewed here), that I have bought from the factory. The action was really low for an acoustic, and came with some decent strings, which I replaced with Elixers, after 2 broke while tuning. There were no flaws that I have found, and I hope to keep it in the condition that it is in.
Features — 9
This guitar, designed in Austrailia, as is custom for all Ashton products, delivers a wide variety of desirable features for nearly any level of guitar playing. it's specs include... - Solid Engelmann Spruce top - Rosewood back and sides - Ebony fingerboard and bridge - Mahogany neck - Dovetail neck joint - Bone nut and saddle - Real Abalone rosette - Multi-bound purfling - Single Pearloid back stripe - Maple body, neck and headstock binding - Chrome Deluxe 18/1 die-cast machine heads - Built-in tuner - D'Addario EXP16 strings from the factory This guitar won the coveted "Best Electro-Acoustic for under 500" in the 2006 Guitar and Bass UK Magazine Awards, which was one of the main features why I chose to check this guitar out. For the price you pay for the features, this deserves the score I have given it.