I became anxious to try this guitar with my
trio. Working with a bassist and drummer has
been an adjustment for old solo-guitar me,
and learning how to share frequency space
has been a real revelation. I am now on the
lookout for highly responsive and playable guitars that will let me leave the low end to the
bass man without leaving my ears unsatisfied.
This one does that trick extremely well. It’s
the aural equivalent of shining a spotlight on
the sound while using backlights to add depth
and drama. In fact, my bass player could cover
even more territory than usual because we’re
not in competition for the range at all—and
when it was time for me to solo, there was no
trouble hearing what I had to say.
like that—in my ears, the more you put in the
worse it sounds.”
The electrified side
The MasterDesign Series guitars come with
B-Band UST pickups and A1.2 preamps
installed, and they seem to be a terrific complement. I plugged into a SanGreal Acoustic
Amp and just about rocked my windows
out with not even a hint of feedback, which
impressed the hell out of me. It was slightly
brittle with the amp’s EQ flat, so I rolled the
highs back a smidge and beefed up the bottom end slightly. I was rewarded with a very
rich tone that retained the brilliance but lost
the brittle. It’s a simple setup with just a volume control set right under the soundhole.
Sanden’s goal was to keep it simple. “Today,
you can get anything except for a sofa built in
your guitar,” he says. “There is so much gadgetry you can put on the inside of the guitar
with tuners and notch filters and everything
I like to gig with the equipment I’m reviewing, because that’s one of the main points of
buying gear—to play it for other folks. I took
it with me to a small venue with an L-shaped
space. The guitar carried through the whole
place clearly through the SanGreal. I used
the Tanglewood for the entire performance,
going from standard tuning to DADGAD to
CGDGBD to DADGAE in fairly rapid succession, and the guitar stayed where I put it. I
had to tweak it a couple times when I put
the capo on, but other than that it was very
stable. My hands felt good after the first full
hour, and I didn’t worry about either of us
making it through the gig.
thunderstorm tuned down to C. Because my
ear is so familiar with that guitar, I wanted
to use it to “reset” the way I was hearing
the TSR2. These two guitars are not braced
alike, they’re slightly different shapes, and
the Gallagher isn’t as deep through the lower
bout. The Gallagher definitely had more bass,
but it was equally clear and brilliant and the
highs and mids were just as shimmery. When
I picked up the Tanglewood again, I was a
lot more aware of the mid-range, but it’s not
unpalatable, and that mid-to-top emphasis
makes this a very stage- and ensemble-friendly guitar.
Back at home, I decided to plug into my
LR Baggs Core 1 Reference Amplifier. With
a little more tweaking with the multi-band
EQ, I was able to dial in more bottom end.
You’re never gonna go swimming in the bassi-ness with this guitar, but you can get your
feet more than wet. I spent a little time in
DADGAD, and dropped to CGDGBD again.
I got an incredibly well balanced spectrum
from low to high. The lows weren’t overwhelming, the highs weren’t brittle or fragile,
and the mids were fully present without a hint
The Final Mojo
The Europeans may be onto something here.
The more I play the TSR2, the more I like it,
and the more applications I find where it’s
extremely complementary. As a soloist, I did
miss the bass response, even though my ears
adjusted after a while. But for playing with a
folk-rock or pop ensemble, this guitar shines.
Bass addicts, this is not your guitar, but if
you’re looking for a high quality guitar that
will make your bass player happy, this may
just be the ticket.
I picked up my Gallagher GA- 70 (another
rosewood and spruce grand auditorium), which rumbles like a really good
you want an affordable, stage-friendly,
gig-worthy guitar that will let you pop
out of a mix.
you crave the booming bass
response of a dreadnaught.
Click here to hear sound samples
of the guitar in action at
Tanglewood Guitar Company UK