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Over the last few years smaller-bodied electro acoustic guitars, notably folk-derived OMs and 000s, have seen an upsurge in popularity, not least for their versatility and relatively compact handling comfort. However, when it comes to performance muscle - both acoustically and powered - it’s still the big-bodied dreadnought (and its cutaway variants) that rules the roost.
Pick a price, any price, and there’s a plentiful choice of cutaway dreadnought electros available from a host of brand names. One of the most significant areas is instruments hovering under £500. This is what our four big-name contenders aim to prove, all priced, coincidentally, at £419, allowing direct comparisons as far as value is concerned.
The foursome are superficially similar – gloss-bodied, square-shouldered, Martin-style dreads with Venetian cutaways and under-saddle strip transducers. At the heart of each, however, lies a different preamp system.
Takamine’s EG360SC carries a three-band TP-4T; the Baggs-designed LR-T-4T on Crafter’s DE-8/N adds a mid scoop and phase reverse to a similar EQ array; a significant feature of the three-band System 55T preamp on Yamaha’s FGX720SCA is an ultra-wide-range (80Hz-10kHz) mid sweep; the Vintage VEC1100N, meanwhile, has one of Fishman’s latest systems, the Aero+ with four-band EQ plus phase and notching.
All the systems handily incorporate an auto-chromatic tuner; the Vintage, build-wise, theoretically earns extra brownie points for its all-solidwood specification. The others have solid tops with laminated backs and sides. Will they suffer as a consequence? Let’s find out then shall we?