Picking up this beautiful guitar uninformed, I would be very surprised by its price. This is a low mid range acoustic, retailing between £250 and £350 (I am unsure why such a large gap! Tanglewood website lists it at £349). It is incredibly good value for money, with impressive tidy build quality and nice features such as strap buttons and hidden fret tangs. I compared this guitar to the otherwise identical Parlor size but preferred the added tonal depth of this construction.
- Solid Mahogany Top and Back
- Mahogany laminate sides
- Mahogany neck with Rosewood fretboard
- 43mm NuBone nut and compensating saddle
- 25.6″ scale
- Natural Satin finish
- Orchestra body size
- Slotted headstock with open gear tuners
The bridge pins shown are Power Pins I installed. Purchased a while ago out of curiosity and mostly for aesthetic and restringing convenience. I highly recommend them for the convenience alone. They claim their product gives an increase in power – I do believe I noticed it very slightly but honestly haven’t tested carefully and it could be placebo. Certainly nothing to write home about but I love them for the other reasons alone!
The solid mahogany selected for the top and back is quite beautiful. I especially love the headstock/tuners, and the posts having two string holes is a neat touch for getting straighter string pull. It stays in tune incredibly well even with a fresh set of strings. The C profiled neck is very comfortable and the finish all over is lovely to touch.
The volume/projection of this guitar is not brilliant given the smaller orchestra body design, but this combined with the wood choice makes it a fantastic guitar for a warm, intimate and earthy tone – great for fingerstyle and a folk sound.
I have taken the folk sound of this guitar a little further in testing some rather strange guitar strings, the Classic S series from Thomastik-Infeld.
Rope core? And what about those gauges!? Quite unusual indeed. These strings run quite a high price but are well worth trying – they hold tune very well, last a very long time, and feel and sound great in their own unique way. They are alternative strings which perform somewhere between regular acoustic and nylon classical strings. Much like classical strings, they run lower tension without sounding or feeling too loose (they held up tuned in D just fine too). Also similarly to nylon strings they aren’t very suitable for bending. Despite the drastic gauge and construction change, the intonation remained spot on with the current saddle which was quite unexpected.
The core is a “highly flexible rope core of weaved steel wires” – I’ve never felt a string quite like this. They are lovely and soft to play, and are also flatwound which minimizes finger noise very effectively. You can feel some winding texture on the trebles, which is quite odd! In the KR116 set pictured here, the basses are silverplated copper flat wound on rope core, and the trebles are nylon tape wound on rope core. The tension is similar to a .009 set, and very evenly balanced across the board despite the odd looking gauge selection.
The other set in the Classic S series (KF110) is not different in tension but instead in construction, with a nickel flat wound steel core basses and stainless steel flat wound trebles (with a plain high E). I am curious to try this set – I imagine it would have a more traditional acoustic sound but with the lesser noise and mellowing of flatwounds.
The KR116 set however with the rope core and nylon construction, brings the sound much closer to that of a classical guitar – but still a long way off. Very much their own thing. With their low tension they are also perfectly suitable for installing on a classical guitar without causing any damage. I imagine they would sound fantastic with the more resonant classical construction.
Anyway, enough words! Here is a little clip of the guitar and strings. You will hear the rope core strings compared to D’addario Phosphor Bronze .011-.052. All fingers, no nails. The order of clips is;
Rope Core fingerpicked +3dB
Rope Core strumming +3dB
The above is then repeated without the +3dB gain so you can hear the slight difference in volume between the strings. However I thought it better to begin with the boosted clips for unbiased comparison (louder often sounds better by default, but in a recording or live situation they will be normalized).