Can you buy a top quality acoustic for under £200? Ben Morgan-Brown finds out.
However nice it is to dream of owning a handmade guitar from one of the great names, reality dictates that for most of us something more affordable is what we have to settle for. There was a time when this wasn’t a happy prospect – cheap acoustic guitars usually came with unplayable actions and were made from what could be best described as orange box tonewood! Thankfully, those days are now long gone and manufacturers are slugging it out in a furiously competitive market, each trying to outgun the other by offering more luxurious features at lower and lower prices.
This means that even a brand like Tanglewood, which was the pioneer of affordable but still high quality guitars in the UK, has had to dig deep and try that little bit harder to take stave off its rivals and its relatively new Union series is designed to do just that. Plain in looks, the Union models (you can choose from a Dreadnought, a Folk or a cutaway shape) they are nevertheless made of decent materials, feature the all-important solid tops (mahogany in each case) and are made to a respectable standard.
Complementing the African mahogany tops are laminated mahogany backs and sides, mahogany necks and, in a departure from the once ubiquitous rosewood fingerboard (rosewood now being heavily controlled under CITES regulations) Tanglewood has opted for a fingerboard made of Eboncore, which is a man-made composite material designed to look like ebony. Tanglewood isn’t the only maker to be looking at alternatives to rosewood and ebony and this seems good enough from our sample, though only time will tell how it performs in the long run.
So, put your headphones on and find out just how much fun and tonal quality you can buy for not very much money at all!
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Tanglewood Union series TWU D
UK price £199
Model: TWU D
Top: Solid Mahogany
Neck (Material): Mahogany
Bridge: Black Walnut
Binding (TOP): Abs Black/White
Binding (SIDE): Maple
Saddle: Abs Ivory
Nut (Width): Abs White (43mm)
Scale Length: 650mm
Bridge Pins: Abs Ivory With Black Dots
Machine Heads: Chrome Die Cast
Finish: Natural Satin
Strings: Phosphor Bronze 12-53 Gauge