From Australian Musician magazine, February 2008. More on the D2040.
Not a lot is known about Walden guitars other than they’re designed in the United States and built in the small town of Lilan, China. The name Walden is also the title of the autobiography of Henry David Thoreau, which is based around solitude and life in the woods. This may have absolutely nothing to do with where the company gets its name from, but it’s a fitting title for an instrument that would look right at home in an Alaskan log cabin.
Currently the market is flooded with a massive range of mid priced acoustic guitars, so in order for manufacturers to stand out they need to make guitars that appeal to a certain calibre of muso. The Walden D2040 is such an instrument, with a cosmetic appeal that sets it up more as a luxury item than a tool to craft music with. It looked superb straight out of the box and on closest inspection the only flaw I noticed was the dot-inlay was slightly crooked at the 12th fret. A sturdy brown leather case escorts this guitar and it seems reasonable that any decent acoustic should come with its own case these days (manufacturers take note).
The D2040 is part of Walden's SupraNatura series, sporting all wooden manufacturing (including end pins) as well as thin neck to assist with speed and barring of chords. The tone woods employed are a Sitka spruce top, African mahogany body and neck, and rosewood fingerboard.
A scalloped “X” bracing lies beneath the silky spruce top for additional strength and longevity. The Martin Guitar Company employed this process in the 1850s, and a scalloped brace differs from a standard brace in that it tends to vibrate more and produce more bass. Older Martin guitars feature scalloped braces, resulting in a vintage tone that appealed to bluegrass players.
African mahogany is becoming the manufacturing norm as Honduras mahogany (South American) declines to the point of extinction. Luckily enough deforestation laws are now protecting this prized tone-wood for future generations, and its African counterpart sounds equally pleasing. Mahogany is highly regarded for its warm, rich tonal properties and thick midrange and its influence on this axe is also apparent. An ebony bridge is used to hold a set of D’addario EXP strings with beautifully crafted rosewood endpins providing the anchor, making this guitar a certifiable timber orgy.
The neck is also a sturdy slab of mahogany with a rosewood fret board, that’s smooth to the touch and features the most beautifully finished frets I have ever come across on an acoustic guitar. The frets were thin, smooth and even along the entire neck and a two way adjustable truss-rod is also routed into the neck cavity (becoming the new “norm” on acoustics) ensuring additional stability and the ability to straighten the neck.
Gold Tortoise shell machine heads adorn a sleek headstock, and the travel on the strings is flawless from bridge to tuner without any annoying “chinks” when tuning. A bone nut and saddle are superb additions adding to some already great sustain and the setup would have been perfect for me if the action wasn’t so high. To top it off, the satin nitrocellulose finish on this instrument is superb, with no risk of oily finger-prints or sweat stains being left behind like on gloss surfaces.
Okay, a lot has been said about how great this guitar looks and feels, now let’s get to the important stuff. What’s the tone like?
First off, the tone is very balanced, smooth and not too ‘boomy’ in the bum (bottom end). I’d describe the sound as sweet with no ugly frequencies jumping out even with an angry strum. Finger style picking resulted in rich, smoky overtones that would sit great in a jazz track.
This guitar's only real setback is a lack of volume, which can be an issue if you decide to use it live or are fighting to be heard when its your solo. The thin neck makes barring chords a tad easier but, the action is too high for Al Di Meola style shredding if that’s your calling.
However, for an RRP of $795 you get a quality acoustic guitar with a sturdy case that plays wonderfully, looks fantastic, sounds great, with the only issue being volume. If you need a great acoustic to play in your apartment or record with, then I’d recommend the Walden D2040 to you.