Tanglewood Sundance Natural TW15 OP
As if inspired by the notorious fugitive that bore the name, Tanglewood's Sundance Natural series is a bit of a steal, bringing premium features normally reserved for guitars twice their price well within the reach of the average cowpoke.
The trade-off here is that the back and sides of the TW15 are laminate rather than all-solid, but Tanglewood has compensated by putting every guitar through a meticulous set-up process for optimum playability.
The OP in this guitar's title denotes Open Pore, a finish of the wood that, although lacquered, lets the grain be seen and felt, while also allowing the wood to resonate freely.
What stands out about this finish is that it's consistent, not at all patchy and has a great textural quality to it that feels very organic, like a natural extension of your hands. There's none of the heavy resistance that you often find with glossier neck finishes because this one is so slick, but at the same time it feels very solid and controllable.
A guitar this tactile is just asking for a musical massage and, don't forget, this is a solid spruce top guitar - only the back and sides are laminates, mahogany in this instance. As a combination, these tonewoods blend comfortably, producing great dynamics and highly desirable looks.
A snappy appearance is all well and good, but the TW15 is a sharp shooter, too, thanks to its immaculate set-up. The action is smooth and reliable, from the low frets all the way to the higher registers, and the fingerboard is immensely playable thanks to a middle C-shaped neck profile.
The headstock volute adds some traditional style and also strengthens the neck joint without being obtrusive to open chords.
Strumming the guitar, there's a lot of midrange character to be enjoyed simply by playing at the soundhole and varying your pick attack. This holds particularly true for flatpicking because the guitar generates a healthy resonance courtesy of that open pore lacquer.
Fingerpickers aren't left out, though; there are plenty of overtones and crisp details in the treble end of the spectrum that really lend themselves well to all kinds of playing.
Right now, Tanglewood is arguably the fastest on the draw in its price bracket. The Sundance Natural TW15 is clean, simple and classy (thanks to the Open Pore finish, small yet clear fret marker inlays and maple neck binding).
Best of all, these looks are backed up by a lively and resonant mid-rich tone that's suitable for just about any playing style.
Subtly stylish; lovely finish; tonal versatility.
It's not all-solid - but at this price, who's complaining?
This is one guitar that deserves to be on your most-wanted list, and you won't have to spend an outlaw's bounty to get it.
Natural Satin Open Pore
Scale Length (Inches)
Solid Sitka spruce