Gear Of The Year 2015 – Best Acoustic Guitar

Our picks of the best acoustics this year…

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If all-mahogany builds were the prevailing fashion in the acoustic guitar industry in 2014, this year it’s been torrefaction, as more and more manufacturers seek to emulate the sonic properties of old wood with thermal processes. Expect the great bake-off to continue into 2016…

Tanglewood TW130SMCE
TW130-SM-CE-1000x1000 copy
Price £369
First reviewed Vol 26 No 07
• Contact Tanglewood 0113 2872991

Eminently affordable, this slotted-headstock, all-mahogany orchestra-size acoustic with a solid top and sides and a cutaway has an updated depression-era aesthetic and a voice to match that lends itself to rootsy blues, country picking and bottleneck styles. Peering inside the TW130SMCE reveals that it’s neatly constructed, too. With such an engaging and enjoyable acoustic tone and a usable B-Band Crescent pickup system with soundhole control, there’s a great deal to like here, not least the very affordable price.

Martin 000-18E Retro
• Price £2,149
• First reviewed Vol 26 No 04
• Contact Westside Distribution 0141 248 4812

The perfect blend of vintage and modern? With old-school looks, features and acoustic tone combined with a pickup system that sounds outstanding, the 000-18E Retro isn’t cheap, but it’s good enough acoustically to be your main home and studio guitar, and good enough plugged in to be your main gigging guitar – so that’s two for the price of one. It’s difficult for heritage manufacturers to adopt modern technology without compromising the nature of their iconic guitars, but Martin has got it bang-on with the 000-18E Retro.

Taylor 614ce
Guitar & Bass August-13
• Price £2,922
First reviewed Vol 26 No 11
• Contact Taylor Guitars +31 (0) 20 667 6033

Maple has perhaps one of the most undeserved reps of all tonewoods. Clear, hard, bright, transparent – those are still the first words that come to mind, despite all we know about the variations you can find in vintage Gibsons and Guilds, not to mention archtops.

But maple is stable, fairly easy to work, has some beautiful figuring and is – very importantly – sustainable; 2015 saw Taylor, under the watchful eye of master luthier Andy Powers, aiming to annihilate that ‘clear, hard, bright’ notoriety once and for all with the 600 Series. Trust us, they went about the task with quite some vim.

In combination with a torrefied Sitka spruce top, redesigned bracing and a host of other changes masterminded by Powers, here, big leaf maple contributes to a voice that challenges preconceptions and does everything well, from contemporary fingerstyle to neo-country flatpicking and strummed chords. In addition, the onboard electronics are quack-free, with no undue harshness. If the 2015 614ce is a harbinger of the future of acoustic guitar manufacture, then the future’s looking – and sounding – pretty good.


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