Reviewed: Tanglewood Guitars Java Super Folk Cutaway Acoustic

National Music | nationalmusic.com.au | Expect To Pay: $799

Tanglewood are a consistent performer in acoustic guitar productions. Their instruments are played worldwide and I think the Java Series of acoustic guitar reflect that in name and feel. The series is comprised of parlour, a dreadnought, acoustic bass, a 12 string model, and finally the Super Folk, a six string, Fishman equipped full-size acoustic guitar with a cutaway.

While the front of the guitar is solid cedar, and the sides amara ebony, the back of the guitar is an intricately constructed and shapely amara ebony and spalted mango timber that really helps the Super Folk stand out from the crowd. The sound of the Super Folk is, as it’s name suggests, folky and sparkly. A shimmering background to singalong and choral voices. It’s inspires more simple chords but takes licks and leads very well too because of it’s controlled and balanced response.

 

The Tanglewood Java Super Folk is a full size acoustic in Tanglewood’s Super Folk shape contracted from three different tone woods and arranged in a marquetry inspired design. The solid cedar top provides a good response that assist an articulate sound with plenty of attack and brightness while the ebony and timber resonate for bottom end and those important mids. The is finished in natural gloss besides the tech wood fingerboard and bridge, and all finished with mahogany binding. It’s a 25.5” scale length guitar, so you’ll feel right at home, and the cutaway offers access up to even the 20th fret. A classy ’T’ for Tanglewood signifies the 12th fret and the beautiful fingerboard is otherwise untouched.

 

The guitar plays really well and was in tune right out of the box. The highs are sparkling and… scattered, in the best sense of the word. The attack and sparkle from your notes scatter and diffuse or bounce around the room and fill the space with music. The midrange is present, constant and consistent, while the lows are balanced and remain controlled. The scale length allows for a comfortable play that won’t feel too different from a more standard electric guitar or different shaped acoustic. The Super Folk shape sits nicely against the body and stands out a bit from more traditional dreadnought style acoustic guitars. Noodling is a breeze as well, and while sounding somewhat thin, it does that with the abalone and control of those mids and lows. The guitar is also fitted with Fishman’s Presys preamp, an acoustic guitar preamp fitted with three-band EQ to dial the sound of the guitar itself, after you’ve tuned with the onboard tuner. A ‘notch’ button is an onboard anti-feedback EQ control, as well as a brilliance control to tame and highlight those sparkling highs. Wha’s really handy is the phase switch, allowing the user to switch phase, perfect for smaller gigs that may not be equipped with a proper mixing desk with pre amps and phase switches on onboard. Fishman thought of everything in this preamp, and it shows. It imitates the sound of the acoustic sound perfectly and doesn’t sound clinical like some acoustic preamps can result in.

 

The Tanglewood Super Folk fills a room with chordal inspiration and warms the listener. The guitar’s acoustic sound is clear and concise, in a balanced and controlled way. It plays well, and the cutaway allows for easy access and the Super Folk shape allows of a comfortable play with the resonance and sound of a bigger and more uncomfortable instrument body shape. The Super Folk is just one guitar in a great range of Java guitars that will suit literally any player. Strumming away is a breeze for the musician and a pleasure for the audience, and not only because you won’t have feedback issues thanks to the Fishman Presys.

Hits and Misses

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Definitive sound, resonant but controlled

Comfortable body shape

Great looks, especially on the back

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Nothing to report here

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