Posts tagged ‘Sonicore’

21/11/2016

Review: ESP LTD Thinline TL-6Z, TL-4Z + TL-6N

Playing an acoustic guitar live on stage in a Rock/Pop-band setting is not as easy as one might think. A large acoustic body that has a floor monitor pointing straight at it is a recipe for howling feedback.

There are ways to lessen the danger of feedback, like applying equalisation in strategic frequency bands or using a mechanical sound-hole plug, but the easiest road to pursue, by far, is using a thinline (or even solid-body) acoustic guitar onstage.

ESP offers a model range for just this purpose, called LTD TL (TL = Thinline):

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The steel-string acoustic guitar goes by the model name TL-6.

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The bass guitar is called TL-4.

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And there’s the TL-6N, a nylon-string acoustic guitar.

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Kitarablogi received the bass and steel-string models in their most visually stunning versions – the ESP LTD TL-6Z  (650 €) and the LTD TL-4Z (682 €).

Both instruments sport zebrano tops. Zebrano is an African hardwood with a very striking wood grain that is reminiscent of a zebra’s stripes (hence the name). Zebrano has been in use since the 1990s in some boutique-grade bass guitars, but it has recently been adopted for more and more acoustic guitars and ukuleles, too.

The TL-6 is also available in a plainer, maple-topped version (in natural or black).

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The nylon-string LTD TL-6N (625 €) comes with a maple top, either with a gloss natural or a piano black finish (as reviewed).

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These instruments aren’t super shallow acoustic instruments, instead LTD’s TL-range features genuine thinline construction.

The bodies are based on solid mahogany backs, which have large areas routed out from the front before the top is glued into place. A ”centre block” is left standing from beneath the bridge all the way to the end of the body.

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A body chamfer next to the neck heel makes reaching the top frets a little easier.

The mahogany neck is glued together from three long side-by-side strips.

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All TL-instruments come with quality tuning machines:

The steel-string instruments use Grover machine heads.

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LTD’s TL-6N sports a set of open Hauser-style tuners.

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On the TL-6Z the strings are fed through the back part of the rosewood bridge, which makes for much faster and easier restringing than a traditional pin bridge.

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We find through-body stringing (with back ferrules) on the TL-4Z bass.

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It’s traditional knot-stringing for the nylon-string version (TL-6N).

All top nuts and compensated bridge saddles on these TL-Series instruments are made from Graph Tech’s high-quality NuBone material, a man-made alternative to bovine bone.

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Both the TL-4Z and TL-6Z come with a Fishman under-saddle-transducer and a TL-3 preamp.

The Fishman TL-3 features a built-in chromatic tuner and a three-band EQ section.

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For the nylon-string guitar ESP has chosen B-Band’s T7 system, which features a tuner, a three-band EQ section, and a feedback-reducing phase reverse-switch.

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Our review sample of the TL-6Z was the lightest guitar of the trio. Its thin body (5 cm) makes it sit nicely in your lap. This guitar’s strapped-on balance is also very good.

ESP call the neck profile a Thin U – I’d say the neck feels very comfortable, with a nicely rounded, not-too-thick cross section.

You can’t say anything negative about the workmanship on this guitar – this is a cleanly built guitar with a great feel, not least because of the smooth fret job.

Played unplugged, the TL-6Z isn’t very loud. In terms of volume it is on a par with an ES-335-style semi.

Plug the TL-6Z in, though, and it really comes alive. This is what this LTD is meant for, and the guitar delivers a quality piezo sound with plenty of dynamics:

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The LTD TL-4Z-bass is a well-made quality instrument, and plays great.

The TL-4Z’s neck profile is similar to that of a Jazz Bass, but the LTD’s jumbo frets and flatter-than-vintage fretboard radius take this bass into a much more modern direction.

The basic amped-up sound of this bass is fantastic. Our review sample suffered from a mild volume reduction in the g-string’s output level, though. Usually, problems like this one are caused by a tiny piece of wood, caught between the underside of the bridge saddle and the surface of the piezo pickup, which prevents the bridge saddle from making full contact with the pickup. In most cases this is very easy to remedy.

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As a builder of thinline classical guitars you have the choice between two options:

Some manufacturers equip a guitar of this type with an electric or steel-string neck, to make it easier for an occasional nylon-string user to switch between different types of guitar.

ESP has gone for the second option, namely for making a thinline instrument with a neck that feels like the neck of a full-blown classical guitar. The LTD-6N has the wide and flat neck profile so typical of most traditional nylon-string acoustics. In my opinion this is a good choice, because the neck profile has a bearing on how you approach and play such a guitar. This is a thinline classical that feels ”real”.

Because of the much lower string-pull of nylon strings – when compared to steel strings – the TL-6N is the quietest instrument of this trio, when played unplugged.

The TL-6N will win you over with its tasty amplified voice, though. The B-Band pickup system is a fantastic choice for a nylon-string guitar, because the B-Band pickup – which works similar to an electret microphone – won’t give you any of that infamous piezo quack, which tends to make nylon-string guitars sound rather annoying.

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Here are two different versions of the demo song:

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In my view, ESP’s LTD TL-Series is a great choice if you want to add acoustic guitar tones to your onstage arsenal.

The TL-Series features instruments that combine stylish looks, great playability and quality electronics into instruments, which will give you a fine range of acoustic tones in a live setting, combined with a far lower susceptibility to feedback.

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LTD Thinline TL-6Z, TL-4Z + TL-6N

TL-6Z: 650 €

TL-4Z: 682 €

TL-6N: 625 €

Finnish distributor: Musamaailma

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Pros (all models):

+ stylish design

+ workmanship

+ playability

+ amplified sounds

Cons (TL-4Z only):

– slight volume drop on g-string

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17/11/2016

Testipenkissä: ESP LTD Thinline TL-6Z, TL-4Z + TL-6N

Akustinen kitara on Pop/Rock-bändin kontekstissa aina hieman haasteellinen soitin keikkatilanteessa, koska iso, akustinen kaikukoppa ja siihen suunnattu lavamonitori ovat herkästi feedbackia tuottava yhdistelmä.

Tarkalla ekvalisoinnilla ja mekaanisella kaikuaukon tulpalla pystyy kyllä vähentämään kiertämisen riskiä ideaalitapauksissa huomattavasti, mutta helpompi ratkaisu on käyttää keikoilla livetilanteita varten kehitettyä, lankkumallista akustista.

ESP tarjoaa nyt myös tällaisia soittimia LTD TL –sarjan muodossa (TL = Thinline):

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Kuusikielisen, teräskielisen kitaran mallitunnus on TL-6.

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Basson nimi on TL-4.

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Ja nailonkielisen kitaran mallitunnus on TL-6N.

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Kitarablogi sai testiin teräskielisestä kitarasta ja bassosta erittäin näyttävät ESP LTD TL-6Z  (650 €) ja LTD TL-4Z (682 €) -versiot, joissa on upeat kannet zebrano-puusta.

Zebrano on afrikkalainen jalopuulaji, jonka vahva syykuvio muistuttaa seepran raitoja. Zebranoa on käytetty jo 1990-luvulta lähtien mm. useissa boutique-luokan sähköbassoissa, mutta viime vuosina puulajia on nähty käytettävän yhä useammin myös akustisissa kielisoittimissa.

TL-6 on saatavissa myös vaahterakannella (värivaihtoehtoina musta tai natural).

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Nailonkielinen LTD TL-6N:ssä (625 €) on varustettu vaahterakannella, ja soitin on saatavilla vaaleana natural-versiona sekä kiiltävän mustaksi lakattuna.

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LTD TL-sarjan soittimissa on aito thinline-rakenne, sen sijaan että ne olisivat ainoastaan hyvin ohutkoppaisia akustisia.

Soittimien mahonkirunkoihin on jyrsitty edestä suuret kolot, ennen kuin kansi on liimattu paikalleen. Tallan alta rungon päätyyn asti ulottuu TL-soittimissa ”keskipalkki” runkopuusta.

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Kaulaliitoksen kohdalla runkopuuhun on veistetty kätevä viistotus, joka helpottaa otekäden pääsyä ylimpiin nauhoihin.

Mahonkikaula on kolmiosainen.

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TL-soittimet on varustettu laadukkailla virittimillä:

Teräskielisiin soittimiin on asennettu nykyaikaiset Grover-koneistot.

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TL-6N:ssä taas on sulavasti toimivat, Hauser-tyyliset, avoimet virittimet.

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Teräskielisen TL-6Z:n ruusupuisen tallan takaosassa on reiät, joista kielet kulkevat läpi. Kielten pallopäät juttuvat reikiin, mikä on nopeampi ja varmempi tapa kiinnittää kielet kuin perinteinen tappikiinnitys.

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TL-4Z-basson kielet taas vedetään rungon läpi.

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Nailonkielinen TL-6N luottaa perinteiseen solmukiinnitykseen.

TL-sarjan satulat ja kompensoidut tallaluut valmistetaan Graph Techin laadukkaasta NuBone-materiaalista, joka on synteettinen vaihtoehto naudanluulle.

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TL-4Z ja TL-6Z on molemmat varustettu samalla Fishman TL-3 esivahvistimella, jossa on sisäinen viritysmittari.

Volume-säätimen lisäksi TL-3 tarjoaa kolmikaistaisen taajuuskorjaimen.

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Nailonkitaran tapauksessa ESP taas luottaa B-Band T7 -järjestelmään, jossa on viritysmittarin ja kolmikaistaisen EQ:n lisäksi vielä vaiheenkäännin.

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Testissä käynyt TL-6Z on tämän kolmikon kevyin soitin, ja sen ohut runko (5 cm) istuu hyvin syliin. Myös hihnan varassa tasapaino on hyvä.

ESP kutsuu tämän kitaran kaulaprofiilia Thin U:ksi – minä taas sanoisin, että se on oikein mukavan tuntuinen kaula, pyöreällä, hieman keskivertoa ohuemmalla läpimitalla.

Työnjälki on kiitettävää tasoa – erittäin siisti nauhatyö (22 jumbo-kokoista nauhaa) on tästä vain yksi esimerkki.

Akustisesti soitettuna TL-6Z ei ole kovinkaan äänekäs. Lankkuakustisen tuottaman äänen taso on samalla viivalla esimerkiksi ES-335-tyylisen puoliakustisen kanssa.

TL-6Z onkin tarkoitettu akustisen vahvistimen kautta tai suoraan linjasoitolla miksauspöytään (tai äänikorttiin) soitettavaksi, jolloin se todellakin herää henkiin. Tarjolla on todella laadukas ja dynaaminen piezosoundi:

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TL-4Z-basso on laadukkaasti toteutettu lajinsa edustaja, jota on erittäin mukava soittaa.

TL-4Z:n kaulaprofiili on Jazz-basson kaltainen, mutta LTD:n jumbo-kokoiset nauhat ja tasaisempi otelaudan kaarevuus (= isompi radius) tekevät soittotuntumasta selvästi nykyaikaisemman.

Basson vahvistettu ääni on sinänsä erittäin laadukas, mutta testiyksilön hieman muita kieliä vaimeammin soiva g-kieli johtaa lievään pistevähennykseen. Usein tämänkaltaiset ongelmat johtuvat pienestä puulastusta, joka on päässyt tallan uraan, luun ja mikrofonin väliin, estäen kielen värähtelyn optimaalisen välityksen piezomikrofoniin. Tämä ei ole iso ongelma, vaan sen saa ratkaistua useimmiten hyvinkin nopeasti.

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Tämän kitaratyypin ”klassisissa kitaroissa” kitaravalmistaja voi valita kahden koulukunnan välillä:

Jotkut valmistajat tekevät nailonkielisiä lankkukitaroita teräskieli-tyylisillä kauloilla, koska he uskovat tällaisen kitaran käyttäjän todennäköisesti olevan pääasiallisesti sähkökitaran soittaja.

ESP taas kuuluu niihin valmistajiin, jotka haluavat, että myös nailonkielinen lankkukitara tuntuu aidolta klassiselta kitaralta. LTD TL-6N -mallissa on siis aito klassisen kitaran kaulaprofiili, joka on tunnetusti teräskielisen kitaran kaulan profiilia leveämpi ja harteikkaampi. Minusta tämä on ainoastaan hyvä asia, koska soittotuntuma on sen ansiosta ”aidompi”.

Nailonkielten teräskieliin verrattuna heikomman kielivedon vuoksi TL-6N on akustisesti tämän kolmikon hiljaisin soitin.

TL-6N:n vahvistettu soundi kuulostaa erittäin terveeltä. B-Band-mikrofonijärjestelmä on mielestäni todella hyvä valinta juuri nailonkieliseen kitaraan, koska elektrettimikrofonin tavalla toimivasta B-Band-mikistä puuttuu täysin se useista piezomikrofoneista tuttu ärsyttävänkin naksahteleva atakki.

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Tässä vielä kaksi versiota demobiisistä:

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ESP LTD:n TL-sarjan soittimet tarjoavat mielestäni erittäin toimivia ratkaisuja tilanteisiin, joissa halutaan tuoda bändisoundiin akustisia vaikutteita.

TL-soittimissa tyylikäs ulkonäkö, hyvä soitettavuus ja laadukas elektroniikka muodostavat toimivan kokonaisuuden, jolla saa vaivattomasti hyvän lavasoundin todella vähäisellä feedback-vaaralla.

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LTD Thinline TL-6Z, TL-4Z + TL-6N

TL-6Z: 650 €

TL-4Z: 682 €

TL-6N: 625 €

Maahantuoja: Musamaailma

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Plussat (kaikki mallit):

+ tyylikäs ulkonäkö

+ työnjälki

+ soitettavuus

+ sähkösoundi

Miinukset (vain TL-4Z):

– g-kieli soi hieman muita heikommin

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02/11/2016

Guitar Porn ESP LTD Thinline TL-6Z, TL-4Z + TL-6N

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Lisätiedot: Musamaailma

31/10/2016

Now on SoundCloud: ESP LTD Thinline TL-6Z, TL-4Z + TL-6N

Lisätiedot: Musamaailma

24/10/2016

ESP LTD Thinline TL-6Z, TL-4Z + TL-6N – the Kitarablogi-video

Lisätiedot: Musamaailma

21/10/2016

First View: ESP LTD Thinline TL-6Z, TL-4Z + TL-6N

Demo Track

Cover version of ”Big Love” by Fleetwood Mac (Lindsey Buckingham).

Demo track recorded using all three instruments plugged straight into a Focusrite Saffire 6 USB sound card.

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Lisätiedot: Musamaailma

07/10/2016

ESP LTD Thinline TL-6Z, TL-4Z + TL-6N ++ Testi tulossa ++ Review coming soon

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Video by Stephen Lane

Lisätiedot: Musamaailma

31/01/2013

Review: Tanglewood TW28-CLN + TW1000HSRE + Seymour Duncan Woody

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The UK’s favourite brand of acoustic guitars – Tanglewood – is steadily growing a devoted following in Finland, too, thanks to their wide variety of different models, as well as the company’s knack for providing fantastic value for money.

This time Kitarablogi.com takes a closer look at two guitars from opposing ends of Tanglewood’s price range:

Tanglewood TW28-CLN + Woody – body angle

The Tanglewood TW28-CLN is one of the brand’s most affordable instruments, and is part of the Evolution-series.

Tanglewood’s Finnish distributor – Musamaailma – has equipped the test sample with a Seymour Duncan soundhole pickup, the humbucking Woody  (SA-3 HC).

Tanglewood TW1000HSRE – body angle

Tanglewood’s TW1000HSRE is the top model of the Heritage-series, and comes factory-equipped with a Fishman-pickup and Sonitone-preamp.

Kyser Lifeguard humidifier

By the way, Musamaailma throws in a nifty Kyser Lifeguard humidifier for free with the purchase of any Tanglewood acoustic guitar, so you can be sure that your new instrument won’t suffer the detrimental effects of central heating during the cold season.

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Tanglewood TW28-CLN + Woody – full front

Tanglewood’s TW28-CLN (current price in Finland: 201 €) is a Dreadnought with a soundbox made from plywood, and a set mahogany neck.

The top is crafted from very nice looking cedar…

Tanglewood TW28-CLN + Woody – body back angle

…while the rims and the back have been made of laminated mahogany.

The whole instrument – with the exception of the gloss-lacquered headstock veneer – has been finished in a very thin, clear satin finish.

Tanglewood TW28-CLN + Woody – headstock

The TW28-CLN’s headstock sports a rosewood veneer.

Tanglewood TW28-CLN + Woody – tuners

In this picture you can clearly spot the glue line, where the headstock has been added to the neck, as well as the very decent sealed machine heads.

Tanglewood TW28-CLN + Woody – fretboard

Even though the Evolution-series is all about affordability, this Tanglewood has been spruced up with some nice cosmetic touches: The rosewood fingerboard, for example, has been bound using genuine maple!

The frets are of medium size, and the fretwork looks and feels very crisp and clean.

Tanglewood TW28-CLN + Woody – heel cap

The neck’s heel-cap has been adorned with a maple overlay and a ”Tanglewood-T” made from holographic aluminium foil.

Tanglewood TW28-CLN + Woody – beauty shot

Tanglewood’s TW28-CLN exudes a certain down-to-earth, organic stylishness: There is no scratchplate, but the instrument features multiple binding, and also sports a pretty, bird-shaped bridge.

Tanglewood TW28-CLN + Woody – Duncan Woody

The looks of the Seymour Duncan Woody pickup (current price in Finland 61.70 €) complements the TW28’s earthy looks. This magnetic pickup is a stacked humbucker featuring double-potted (wax and resin) coils in a maple casing.

The Woody fits most regular soundholes (with a diameter between 9.8 and 10.4 cm) and is kept in place by chunky foam inserts on its sides.

Tanglewood TW28-CLN + Woody – jack plug

The pickup’s quality lead is approximately five metres long.

Tanglewood TW28-CLN + Woody – interior

Tanglewood’s standard of workmanship is delightfully crisp, even when it comes to their most affordable models.

Tanglewood TW28-CLN + Duncan Woody – bridge

Both the top nut, as well as the compensated bridge saddle have been carved from bovine bone.

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Tanglewood TW1000HSRE – full front

There is a certain logic behind the Tanglewood TW1000HSRE’s (current price in Finland: 1,137 €) hard-to-enunciate model designation: The letters in the suffix stand for the guitar’s Herringbone-trim (H), its solid rosewood back and sides (SR), and the factory-installed Fishman-electronics (E).

Engelmann spruce has been chosen for this model’s solid wood top.

Tanglewood TW1000HSRE – back beauty

The fine Indian rosewood used for the TW1000 is breathtakingly beautiful.

Tanglewood TW1000HSRE – headstock

The same material has also been used for the headstock veneer.

Tanglewood TW1000HSRE – tuners

Vintage-aficionados will be delighted at the sight of the diamond-shaped headstock volute, so reminiscent of vintage Martins (and their reissues).

The gold-coloured tuners may look light straight vintage copies, but they have been designed to feature a much more practical, modern gear ratio. The result is a very smooth and precise tuning feel.

Tanglewood TW1000HSRE – fretboard

Only the best ingredients go into the making of Tanglewood’s top models – this Dread’ sports genuine mother-of-pearl inlays (in a D-45’s hexagonal style) in its ebony fretboard.

The inlay work and fretting are top-notch!

Tanglewood TW1000HSRE – body back angle

Just look at that rosewood…

All Tanglewoods come equipped with a second strap button – a small, but nevertheless very nice little detail.

Tanglewood TW1000HSRE – binding + rosette

Genuine mother-of-pearl inlays in the rosette, along with Herringbone-binding – this is a guitar enthusiast’s wet dream come true!

Tanglewood TW1000HSRE – bridge

Here’s a second glimpse at Tanglewood’s stylish steel-string bridge – this time crafted from luscious ebony.

Tucked away beneath the bone saddle is a Fishman Sonicore piezo pickup, which feeds a Sonitone-preamp.

Tanglewood TW1000HSRE – Fishman Sonitone

The Sonitone’s controls are mounted beneath the soundhole’s bass side edge.

The system is simplicity incarnate, offering a volume control (bridge-facing side) and an easy-to-use tone control (neck-facing side).

Tanglewood TW1000HSRE – battery pouch

Tanglewood have chosen to keep the TW1000HSRE’s good looks intact, by using a battery pouch, velcro’d to the neck block. There is one drawback, tough: You have to loosen the strings to get to the pouch, meaning quick battery-changes mid-set are impossible.

Tanglewood TW1000HSRE – output jack

The output jack is integrated into the guitar’s end pin.

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Tanglewood TW28-CLN + Woody – full front 2

Our review sample of the TW28–CLN is a very lightweight and comfortable instrument, even though its broad shoulders are a few millimetres wider than those of some other Dreadnoughts. The guitar sits nicely in your lap and feels well-balanced.

For the guitar’s price the standard of its satin finish is quite good – there are a couple of tiny grainy spots on the back of the neck, but overall the feel is very nice.

The neck profile will fit into most players’ hands – it’s a D-profile of medium depth with a slight whiff of a soft V blended in.

The TW28-CLN is a very decent player, thanks to its clean fretwork and comfortable set-up (string height @ 12th fret: bottom-E = 2.6 mm, top-e = 1.7 mm). String spacing is a good middle-of-the-road choice – 3.7 cm at the nut and 5.5 cm at the bridge. It’s a workable compromise for both fingerstylists and plectrum strummers.

I was surprised by the test sample’s punch and volume! After the first few strums I really had to check the label to make sure I hadn’t been given this model’s solid top cousin (the TW28-CSN) by mistake.

The TW28-CLN wins you over with its warm and clear voice. Thanks in no small part to its tight bass response, this model is very easy to record with a condenser microphone set up in front of it.

Seymour Duncan’s Woody sounds old-fashioned in a very nice way: The bottom end is warm, the mid-range is plummy and the trebles are airy and pleasant. If you’re after an authentic Sixties Pop guitar tone, the Woody will get you there in no time. Many of the early Beatles-stuff (pre-1966), for example, was recorded with their Gibsons miked up, as well as plugged into their Vox amps. Furthermore, I’m quite sure the Woody’s vintage-tinged tones will also please the slide guitar fraternity.

Here are some sound examples of the TW28-CLN recorded with an AKG microphone, as well as using the Duncan Woody:

C3000 – fingerstyle

Woody – fingerstyle

C3000 – plectrum

Woody – plectrum

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Tanglewood TW1000HSRE – beauty shot

To say Tanglewood’s TW1000HSRE is a ”great guitar for its price” or a ”very decent Chinese-made instrument” would do this guitar a grave injustice. The TW1000HSRE is simply a great guitar, carefully crafted from top quality materials – period! Our review sample is that sort of guitar that puts a quick stop to any kind of brand snobbery.

The guitar’s finish is flawless, and the instrument plays like a dream.

We have a mid-sized, oval C-Profile, coupled with a generous string spacing – 3.95 cm at the nut and 5.75 cm at the bridge – which makes a lot of difference to fingerstyle players.

The set-up is superb, with the guitar playing cleanly across the whole neck, despite the comfortably low action (bottom-E: 2.0 mm, top-e: 1.6 mm).

The TW1000HSRE’s acoustic tone and punch will bowl you over! The bottom end is fat and rich, the mid-range has character in spades, and the top end sparkles like a diamond. This is a very hard guitar to put down.

The Fishman Sonicore-piezo and Sonitone-preamp seem like the perfect match for this Tanglewood – a really inspired choice. The Fishman system sounds surprisingly ”acoustic” with not so much as a whiff of piezo quack or dryness. The amplified tone is a couple of degrees more upfront, and a tiny bit fuller, than the TW1000HSRE’s acoustic voice, but it’s very close. Coming to grips with the Sonitone only requires seconds. I left the tone control on full – if you need more scope for adjustment you’ll most probably find it in your acoustic amp or at the mixing console.

C3000 – fingerstyle

Fishman – fingerstyle

C3000 – plectrum

Fishman – plectrum

****

If there’s a conclusion to be drawn from this review, then maybe it is that Tanglewood seem to consistently offer fantastic value at any price-point. And this is regardless of whether you chose one of their affordable models (like the TW28-CLN) or something from the very top of their catalogue (like the TW1000HSRE).

Tanglewood TW28-CLN + Woody – end pin

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Tanglewood TW28-CLN

Tanglewood TW1000HSRE

Seymour Duncan Woody soundhole pickup

Finnish distributor: Musamaailma

****

Tanglewood TW28-CLN

Current price in Finland: 201 €

Pros:

+ value-for-money

+ workmanship

+ playability

+ sound

****

Tanglewood TW1000HSRE

Current price in Finland: 1,137 €

Pros:

+ top grade instrument

+ value-for-money

+ workmanship

+ playability

+ acoustic sound

+ preamp sound

****

Seymour Duncan Woody (SA-3 HC)

Current price in Finland: 61.70 €

Pros:

+ very affordable

+ easy to install

+ stylish

+ vintage-type tone

Cons:

– vintage-type tone

29/01/2013

Review: Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic

****

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – body angle 2

Schecter probably aren’t known so much as manufacturers of acoustic guitars, but they do carry a few acoustic-electric models in their current line-up. We picked up a new model from Schecter’s Hellraiser range for a review – the Hellraiser Studio Acoustic.

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Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – full front

The Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic (current street price in Finland approx. 600 €) is a stunning looker with a Grand Auditorium -sized, full-depth body.

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – full back

The whole body – top, rims and back – is crafted from beautiful, laminated quilted maple. Our review sample sports a fetching see-through-black gloss finish.

The glued-in neck, which is finished in solid gloss black, is made from mahogany.

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – headstock

Judging by its headstock shape, Schecter seems to be aiming the Hellraiser Studio squarely at the Rock and Metal crowd. The headstock features intricate binding in luscious grey pearloid framed by black and white strips of plastic.

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – Grovers

The sealed Grover-tuners sport a cool and moody black chrome finish.

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – fretboard

The bound rosewood fretboard comes equipped with 20 jumbo-sized frets, giving the guitar an effortless modern playing feel.

The Hellraiser Studio’s ’board is adorned with cleanly executed gothic-style cross inlays, made from grey pearloid.

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – binding on back

The stylish dark pearloid theme is carried over onto the soundbox – seen here in the back’s centre line.

Schecter’s Hellraiser Studio comes factory-equipped with a second strap button.

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – body side view

The guitar’s flowing lines are a thing of beauty.

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – kerfed linings

The test sample’s bracings and kerfed linings look well made, even if there are a couple of glue specks in places.

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – soundhole rosette 2

The gothic theme continues in the rosewood rosette’s inlays.

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – bridge 2

A very dark finish is a double-edged sword for any manufacturer, because any tiny imperfection shows up more clearly. On the review instrument a tiny amount of white glue can be seen seeping out from under the bridge – the only small slip-up on this nicely-finished guitar.

The bridge is an interesting design, made from a composite material based on wood and black resin. The octave-compensated bridge saddle is Graph Tech’s man-made alternative to ivory, called Tusq.

The under-saddle-transducer is a Fishmanin Sonicore piezo pickup.

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – Fishman PreSys+

The UST’s signal is sent to a Fishman PreSys+ preamp featuring four-band EQ – bass, middle, treble and brilliance – a notch filter (to combat feedback or annoying stage resonances), a phase reverse switch (also for feedback removal), as well as a chromatic tuner, which also works without the guitar lead plugged in.

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – preamp opened

The PreSys+ makes battery changes a doddle.

****

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – beauty shot

Even though the Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic is aimed at Rock musicians, Schecter haven’t chosen an overtly ”electric” neck profile for this steel-string – which is good in my opinion. The guitar’s well-rounded, medium D-profile feels great, giving you ample flesh to hold on to.

Sadly, our review sample suffers from some minor fretting issues, which lead to the high-e string buzzing at the first and 14. frets. Otherwise the set-up is good and the guitar plays well.

Nowadays it seems that many manufacturers have found out how to put together a good-sounding acoustic guitar using a laminated body. The Schecter Hellriser Studio is a good example of this. Even though you cannot find the out-and-out volume and punch of an all-solid shouter in a laminated steel-string, this Schecter really manages to hold its own, and do so with panache.

The all-maple body gives you a lively tone with a tight, sinewy bottom end, a clear mid-range (typical of maple-bodied steel-strings), as well as a nicely rounded top end. I see the Hellraiser Studio as a great choice for accompanying vocals, as the guitar’s clarity leaves ample space in the frequency spectrum for the singer.

The Fishman Sonicore/PreSys+ is a high-quality combination that sounds great right off the bat, without even touching the EQ. Fishman have managed to filter out most of the infamous nasal quack and attack click, so often found on lesser piezo systems. Thanks to this the Hellraiser’s EQ is freed up to fine-tune your (already great) basic tone, instead of having to combat any annoying tonal problems inherent in the original signal.

I recorded the following examples both acoustically (using an AKG C3000) and direct (with the Fishman’s EQ flat):

Fingerstyle – miked up (AKG C3000)

Fingerstyle –  PreSys+

Plectrum – miked up

Plectrum – PreSys+

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – back beauty

The review guitar’s fretting (or neck?) problem really is a shame, because overall this Schecter is an extremely nice acoustic-electric. Schecter are known for their stringent quality control, so maybe this here was the one guitar that slipped through.

Schecter’s Hellraiser Studio Acoustic is a beautiful instrument, offering easy playability and a great sound. The guitar’s clear voice records very well – regardless of whether you’re using a microphone or the fantastic on-board Fishman-system. I can only recommend a test run!

****

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic

Current street price in Finland approx. 600 €

Finnish distributor: Soundtools

****

Pros:

+ beautiful design

+ overall workmanship

+ playability

+ acoustic tone

+ pro-quality Fishman-electronics

Cons:

– some fretting issues on review sample

– some glue visible at bridge

Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic – beauty shot 2

29/01/2013

Review: Roland AC-33RW

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ac-33-rw_front_gal

Roland’s AC-33RW (current price in Finland: 467 €) is the new sister model to the all-black AC-33. The acoustic combo is finished in a faux-rosewood finish – the same kind as seen on many pieces of furniture.

ac-33-rw_angle_2_gal

The AC-33RW is the company’s smallest amplifier for acoustic guitar and vocal. It can be plugged into a wall socket, using the power adapter included with the amp. Alternatively, the AC-33 also runs on eight AA-size batteries, giving you somewhere between eight and nine hours of continuous use (depending on the type of battery used).

The AC-33RW weighs only a little over four and a half kilos, but is still able to dish out a whopping 30 Watts of power (20 W, if run on batteries)! The cabinet comes equipped with a pair of five-inch speakers, with a bass reflex port placed between them.

ac-33-rw_top_gal

There are two channels on offer in the AC-33RW:

The Guitar-channel, which is meant for use with an electro-acoustic guitar, comprises a volume knob, as well as three-band EQ. The second channel is called Mic/Line, and it is best used for the amplification of a dynamic microphone or a line level sound source (which could also be a second acoustic guitar). Mic/Line only offers you two-band equalisation in addition to its volume control. By the way, you cannot use both of the Mic/Line-channel’s inputs simultaneously! Plugging into the phone jack mutes the XLR-input.

Both channels feature a nice, switchable chorus-effect in two different permutations – Space is a light chorus setting, while Wide will give you quite a fat chorus sound.

The AC-33RW’s master section offers you an automatic anti-feedback circuit, a looper with 40 seconds of recording time, a headphones output for quiet practising, the Reverb/Ambience-control, as well as the master volume.

ac-33-rw_back_gal

Regardless of its diminutive size, Roland’s AC-33RW sports a well-equipped back panel, too:

Next to the power supply input you will find two foot switch connectors. With two (optional) twin foot-switches you can control all looper functions, as well as turn on/off the chorus and/or reverb effects on the fly.

The amp’s output can be sent to a mixing console or a sound-card via the stereophonic line output. The Line Out signal is routed pre-master, meaning you can use the Roland freely as your stage monitor, without inadvertently changing the signal level going to the front-of-house mixer.

The Aux In offers you a choice of two different connectors (RCA and mini-jack), and even has its own level control. The incoming signal is also send through the looper, meaning you can even use your mp3-player to provide the raw material for your live loops.

Roland AC-33 RW

The additional fold-out stand angles the combo for a better listening position, whenever the Roland is placed on the floor.

****

ac-33-rw_room_guitar_gal

The Roland AC-33RW is a very nifty little combo for acoustic guitarists and solo performers. The amp sounds clean and clear, and dishes out a surprising amount of wallop for its compact size. There’s enough power on tap for busking and small-scale, bistro-type gigs. For larger venues I’d suggest turning to one of Roland’s larger models – like the Roland AC-60 – because otherwise the usual din in a pub will most likely drown out your playing.

I tried both channels using the same guitar (a Tanglewood TW1000HSRE), and found out that they’re voiced slightly differently. The Guitar-channel has a perceivable presence lift, while Mic/Line sounds more neutral (with both channel-EQs set to neutral).

There are two small points I’d like to raise, though:

Even if the life of an acoustic performer most probably isn’t as rough as a Rock gig, I would have liked to have seen corner protectors on the AC-33RW. As it stands, you will have to be rather careful not to bump into things with the combo during set-up and teardown, if you want to preserve the Roland’s pristine looks. My second point of criticism concerns the global Reverb/Ambience-control. It would be nice to be able to set different amounts of reverb for each channel – either via separate channel sends or a reverb balance knob. The compromise on offer now is workable, but having different reverb-levels for guitar and vocals would be just that bit more convenient.

I recorded some AC-33RW sounds by miking up the combo:

Fingerstyle with Ambience

Plectrum with Wide-chorus and Reverb

Vocals and guitar

Even though this small unit has been designed specifically to work with modern acoustic-electric preamps, I also tested the AC-33RW with a magnetic soundhole pickup (Seymour Duncan Woody). The Guitar-channel didn’t really offer enough preamp gain for this application, but Line/Mic worked rather nicely:

Magnetic soundhole pickup (Mic/Line-channel)

****

The Roland offers a great basic sound, nice effects, and all the most important features. The combo works really well. I’d warmly suggest buying a set of foot-switches to make the most of the AC-33’s cool looper.

Regardless of its small size, the Roland AC-33RW really is a fine little amp for acoustic performers in small settings.

****

Roland AC-33RW

Current price in Finland: 467 €

Finnish Distribution: Roland Scandinavia

****

Pros:

+ size

+ weight

+ power

+ sound

+ effect quality

+ looper

+ value-for-money

Cons:

– global Reverb-control

– no corner protectors