Price paid: £ 300
Purchased from: Thomann
Sound — 10
Over the last year or so I've been playing more and more acoustically and gaining interest in genres such as Folk and folk/punk. This guitar is very suitable to this style with a loud, well rounded sound that, particularly when amplified, can also give a kick and a bit of grit to the sound. I had feared that the bass would be a little too overwhelming to my taste but this turned out to be a short-lived concern. Its volume is also exactly what I had in mind for playing in, say, a pub open-mic night or busking on the street when no amplification may be available for the guitar. Sustain, unsurprisingly for such a large guitar, is very good, as are the harmonics and intonation. Considering my old electro-acoustic was a thinline Yamaha APX500FX (also a great guitar), I noticed a very large difference in sound that I found appealing. I also believe that the sound of the Fender is more suited to my style - a style I was relatively unaccustomed to at the time of the purchase of the Yamaha. Overall, high praise from me on the sound of this acoustic, especially for the price I paid.
Overall Impression — 10
In terms of my style, as I have mentioned, I am pleased with my decision to purchase the Fender CJ-290SCE. My impression is also that I could change style quite a bit and still be satisfied by this guitar. I have been playing guitars of some form since I was roughly 6 or 7 (so for 13 or 14 years). Of those years, I'd say roughly the latter half has been the time I've spent taking it more seriously. I admit that I am far from a studio professional but I have a pretty good idea of quality when I hear it, particularly in relation to a budget. I've read a fair bit of criticism toward the Fender acoustics in general arguing that the sound is too generic and nothing special. I haven't really found this and firmly believe that for the musician with limited cash, this guitar is one of the best in the price range. For a little context, my other present guitars include the aforementioned Yamaha APX-500 along with an Epiphone LP Black Beauty. As for the classic question of whether or not I'd replace the Fender in the event of it being stolen, I'd say I'd first check my insurance policy then, after most likely being done over in some form, would probably resort to vigilante justice on the kidnapper in the style of 'Taken'. All extremism and joking aside, I would probably try and replace it, yes, if at all possible. I chose this guitar over other jumbo guitars such as the Epiphone EJ-200 and a dreadnought Farida. This pretty much derived from my enjoyment of its sound along with the style of the guitar. Being quite a tall person with large hands, the prospect of a large guitar did not really worry me. Overall, I am very satisfied with this guitar and can only really fault it on the minor flaws outlined in the set-up. Some files and perhaps a little truss-rod adjustment should make short work of these. I would deduct maybe half a point from my overall rating of 10 for this so let's say I give it a 9.5/10. Round that up and you get what I really want to put: 10/10.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Admittedly it's only really been a week, but I have to say I am convinced it will survive for a long time. I would confidently play this guitar live and believe that the electrics were built to last. It's the kind of guitar that you can tell is strong just by knocking the top with a fist and enjoying the resonant, hollow sound it emits. The strap buttons are very solidly planted so I have no concerns there either. So yes I would depend on this guitar live without a backup if so required. Of course, given my financial situation this is very much my reality anyway. Call me a hopeless romantic but I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I was satisfied with the factory set-up in the sense that I could pull it out of the box, do a little tuning, and play both amplified and not thanks to an included 9 volt battery. Despite this, as I am sure many guitarists would agree, it was not long before I replaced the strings with some .10 D'Addario bronze phosphors. I also plan to take down the action a little, which can seem a little high. This was not as high as I had thought it would be based on other reviews so I was slightly relieved by this and will get round to it as soon as I can be bothered, quite frankly. Other than these alterations the factory set-up was fine. I haven't had to adjust the truss rod and all hardware is functioning as expected, providing a clear sound that I can't really flaw.
Features — 10
Made in China on the 2011 model I believe. The wide 20-fret rosewood neck is ideal for my playing technique and is very comfortable and natural for my large hands. The top is solid spruce and the back and sides are fashioned from flamed maple. Being a jumbo guitar, the body is quite large for an acoustic. There is also the option of using it as an electro-acoustic thanks to incorporated gold Fishman electronics. The player has the option of altering the volume and EQ as well as making use of the on board tuner and phase options. I haven't been able to identify the maker of the gold tuners but so far they seem reliable and satisfactory.