TSE 505 review by Tanglewood

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  • Sound: 5
  • Overall Impression: 4
  • Reliability & Durability: 5
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 2
  • Features: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 4.6 Poor
  • Users' score: 8.2 (40 votes)
Tanglewood: TSE 505
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Price paid: £ 140

Purchased from: Ebay

Sound — 5
Reasonable sound until you turn the volume down on the guitar and it hums. Looked at the electrics and can't spot anything obvious so it may be the pickups? It has the usual Les Paul tones covered in a fashion, nothing amazing. Bought specifically for an REM band were Buck used a Les Paul on certain songs, did'nt want to spend a lot to start with but it looks like I might regret that, read on...

Overall Impression — 4
I play all different styles and use Fender or old Japanese stuff like Yamaha or Ibanez. In hindsight I should have spent more on something like an old Greco or Tokai but I took a gamble on this. Bought specifically for the Monster era REM stuff, it looks the part. I think it will get me started, its not like I need to be all over the fretboard for REM, good job LOL. Been playing 20 years, owned a lot of stuff, wont look at Tanglewood again. Its a shame, it looks the part and could be a good guitar.

Reliability & Durability — 5
Once the issues are sorted out I think it will hold up okay, after all its a Les Paul clone.

Action, Fit & Finish — 2
Bare in mind I got this in great condition second hand so the following issues cannot be blamed on the previous owner. Came with high action so I started to set it up. First issue: the Bridge is trash. The posts are a poor fit in the mounting cups and the saddles have no springs so the whole thing rattles and moves. I secured the posts by using PTFE tape (plumbers teflon tape) on the thread which has helped but it basically needs upgrading. Second issue: high frets. Choke out on string bends and dead spots in random places. Tried all the usual procedures; truss adjustment, compromising the height of the string action, etc. Little joy. So I put a steel engineers ruler on the frets and yes there are some high frets. I have set lots of guitars up, built a few even (from parts) but never attempted a fret level so this is the part that has pissed me off. I can live with changing a bridge, a pickup or a pot but I don't expect it to need a fret level. Seriously bad quality control here from Tanglewood, very disappointed. The guitar has potential so why these few corners have been cut is beyond me, or maybe I just got a lemon?

Features — 7
I presume this is Chinese made. Standard Les Paul job, set neck, two humbuckers etc. Supposedly some type of mahogany body (its light on the shoulder) with a maple neck and rosewood fretboard. Maple top? More likely a photo finish under the lacquer. It came with a Standard fitted hard case.

1 comment sorted by best / new / date

    rv_phoenix
    andr3vv wrote: i bought this guitar for 250 about a year ago .other people have told me its got a nice tone but i hate it! its got no excitement theres nothing that makes me want to pick it up and play it..i dont recommend buying this guitar and i think anyone that does is mental
    And I think - no offence! - that you don't know anything about guitars. Tanglewoods aren't the greatest guitars money can buy, but, if well built (some have flaws and there are quality gaps between guitars in the same batch), they sound much better than their price would make you think. Tanglewoods are reliable workhorses for anyone who can't afford a Gibson... and hasn't heard of Vintage Guitars yet. The bad thing about this model, however, is its basswood body. Basswood is tender, while LPs mahogany is hard. So this axe has a different resonance than the original Led Paul, hence it's not good for modding. It doesn't actually sound like a Les Paul, no matter how good are its Entwistle pickups (too moddy, IMHO). It's close, but only for amateurs. Pros will instantly notice the difference.