Tanglewood has such a good rep for its acoustic guitars that it's easy to forget that the company also makes some pretty decent electrics.
Its latest baby, the snappily named TSB C 58 LTD2 (need to work on that model name, folks) is a well constructed, single cutaway electric that at first glance appears to pay faithful tribute to a '50s classic.
The double-bound mahogany body, twin humbuckers in the engine bay, the familiar control layout: yeah, there are no prizes for guessing where the inspiration for this guitar comes from. But read on, all is not as it first appears…
Let's get this out of the way. The highly figured top on this guitar is made from a wood called crotch walnut. As double entendres go it's not quite up there with Electro-Harmonix's Big Muff but, yes, it did make us giggle.
The crotch walnut gives the guitar a striking look that, accented with its gold hardware, is a bit bling for our tastes. Luckily, there's more to this guitar than its appearance.
The thru-body stringing on the TSB C 58 LTD2 is the first indicator that this guitar is more than just a copy of a classic. Add to that the slim profile neck, loaded with 22 big fat frets on a rosewood fingerboard, and you've got a guitar that mixes old-school looks with the playability of a modern rock beast. We weren't expecting that.
We were also surprised by the quality of the Entwistle HV58 humbuckers. According to the manufacturer, these pickups are built to an original '50s spec with Alnico magnets, enamel-coated wire and scatter-wound coils.
Plugging in, we were impressed by the great tone on offer. The bridge humbucker is bright but full sounding; the neck unit doesn't suffer from that muddiness you'd expect from mid-range guitars. There's plenty of clarity there, even when you dial in some overdrive.
The TSB C 58 LTD2 electric comes over like a '50s hot rod with modern running gear. Thanks to that slim neck, and the big frets, even disciples of lightweight, widdly metal axes would find this guitar a breeze to play.
The fantastic pickups sweeten the deal. Tanglewood's new baby faces some stiff competition from guitars on the market from the likes of PRS, Washburn and Epiphone. That said, and the unnecessary bling aside, this guitar offers a level of build quality, tone and feel that sets it apart from the crowd.