BY ADAM MOORE
For all of the talk we do about boutique guitars – those high-end, high-maintence affairs requiring constant watchfulness
– we sometimes forget about the days when an acoustic guitar
meant freedom. From strumming on the front porch to the
beach, these guitars didn’t have an investment aura surrounding them; in fact, they lay on the other end of the spectrum.
Made with tone and reliability in mind, these guitars were made
for playing and playing often.
Tanglewood Guitar Company UK’s new TW15 H-B dreadnought
falls into this category. The leaders in a group of builders producing value-priced, high-quality guitars, the TW15 comes from
the company’s top-of-the-line Heritage series, which ups the
ante with all solid woods and some welcomed appointments,
like a bone nut and compensated saddle.
There’s a rustic beauty surrounding the company’s Heritage
series – the walnut binding and herringbone purfling compliment the AAA spruce top and the African mahogany back and
sides in a very woodsy way. There were a few minor imperfections in the binding, but unless you were looking for them,
like we were, it looks solid. The gloss finish contributes to this
guitar’s “natural” feeling, helping the top’s grain to pop without
being too showy. The appointments here politely stay out of
the way – there are some simple diamond inlays starting at the
fifth fret, and an unobtrusive T is inlaid in the headstock. The
pickguard is of the clear, see-through variety, and depending
on your particular design aesthetic you’ll either love it or hate
it. I would have preferred to go without, but that’s just because
I’m a diehard minimalist – after a few month’s worth of pick
scratches on the top, I’d likely change my tune.
The neck’s one-piece construction is solid and comfortable; it
comes across as slightly narrow and deeper, similar to Martin’s
low oval shape, and it gives this guitar a real sense of stability.
The fretboard feels a little cramped in the lower frets with a nut
width of 1 11/16”, but it noticeably widens out at the 12th fret
to 2 3/32”. Give bonus points to Tanglewood for the well-cut
bone nut. A diamond volute where the headstock and neck
meet gives the TW15 a sense of vintage craftsmanship, and
it works well with the gold vintage-style tuners found up top,
even if the tuner pegs might be a bit slender for those with fatter digits. That said, their travel was smooth, and they give this
guitar a great platform to build upon.
The finishing on the neck left a little to be desired – the satin
finish is a nice choice, as it gives the guitar a feeling of understated beauty, but it was a little spotty at points, with some
areas definitely feeling smoother than others. Especially rough
was the area between the volute and the first fret – perhaps it’s
an attempt to simulate years of loving wear, but either way, I’d
prefer to do that work. At no point does the finish take away