Purchased from: Cars & Guitars
Features — 10
This electro-acoustic guitar from Tanglewood's "Sundance" series is a real beauty! With solid cedar top, mahogany neck, and American walnut back and sides, it's certainly an unusual one. The "super folk" body style is a great size as it feels really comfortable, you don't have to struggle to get your arm over it. The "open pore" finish is lovely to play, feels very natural compared to most acoustics with a high gloss coating - especially on the neck. The active pre-amp system is a Fishman "Presys" which features a tuner as well as standard EQ control. The "phase" switch is nice as well, for a bit of variety. Features are few, but that's what I like in a guitar!
Sound — 10
I play acoustic mainly to accompany vocals (rarely my own) which is usually just strumming chords but I get more adventurous with finger picking and underlying melodies in chord sequences where possible. For that, I find it's absolutely perfect! For something which a relatively small body it's incredibly loud acoustically, and the tone of what I assume is the walnut is absolutely outstanding. The whole sound is huge not only in volume but in tone as well, with brilliantly bright highs but is far from lacking in lows. Makes a change from a lot of particularly high-focused acoustics which struggle to articulate bass notes. I try and use this guitar through a Tanglewood T6 acoustic amplifier wherever possible (brilliant amps!) but it sounds pretty good going straight into a PA system when that's not an option for whatever reason.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The action was pretty high when I got this, which was largely due to excessive neck relief that I've now fixed, but it still needs to come down quite a lot. Intonation is perfect though, so I definitely can't pick holes in that. Frets are all lined up as expected, there are no sharp or uncomfortable edges poking out, and they all seem to be perfectly level too, which is a relief! The quality of the build is brilliant, there are no obvious blunders in any of the joins, and everything is very neat and tidy.
Reliability & Durability — 10
With the action the way it is, it's very hard work to play for a long time at a gig! It's otherwise fantastic though, the EQ system seems very power efficient as I rarely have to change the battery, I've not had any issues with the jack blowing out as on a cheaper Tanglewood once upon a time, and everything is built to withstand a fair bit of abuse! The tuners are great as well, meaning I hardly ever have to tune it up. The only time it really slips out of tune is if I go from warm to cold or cold to warm, when it stays in one room it stays in tune for weeks!
Overall Impression — 9
Over my 7 or 8 years of playing and collecting I've tried and owned a lot of terrible acoustic guitars, that even though they might cost £300+ ($500ish) still sound weak, are impossible to play and sound much cheaper when you plug them in. The TW45 W OP E is definitely not one of those! I was massively impressed when I first strummed a chord that the tone was so huge, and even more impressed to see how well that was replicated through the on board electronics. Having a great amp helps, but even through a PA you can tell it's got real quality about it. After comparing with guitars like the Faith Jupiter and some similarly priced Yamaha acoustics, this just had the best all round tone by quite a margin. The only real reason I'd ever sell it would be to upgrade, one day to a Taylor perhaps or try the PRS SE Angelus, but this is definitely up in my top 5 electro-acoustic guitars for under £1000! Maybe Tanglewood are a lesser known name, but definitely worth considering!