By Acoustic Magazine, December 2009.
More on the CG600CE.
By virtue of its minimalistic headstock design and distinctive scratchplate, it is its own guitar. But does it deliver sonic individuality?
The first thing that grabbed my attention with this guitar was the elegant body shape design, which is not dissimilar to certain brands in the marketplace. The cutaway adds more than just good access to the upper registers of the fingerboard in that it contributes to the flow of the guitar's proportions. Further finesse is to be enjoyed with the simple yet smart white plastic binding and bridge pins. The tidiness of finish on the Chinese-made instrument is genuinely impressive.
Set up with an average height on the action, this Walden was fun to play and will suffice as a solid workhorse for your gigging venues. The mahogany neck profile is just fantastic —a shallow C cross-section. It is slim enough to be well seated in your hand for delicate playing and yet substantial enough to give a great pivot for vibrato. I would have liked to have made a small adjustment to the truss rod to lower the action marginally, but this should be readily achieved by asking your retailer. It is light, well balanced, evenly fretted, with clean fret ends. Upon inspecting the back braces it's easy to see that they are quite tall and well finished in their tapered profile.
Extra consideration has been taken in assisting the live performer. The Fishman Aero Plus preamp features a three-band graphic EQ (bass, middle and treble), but unlike many systems available today it also comes equipped with some more professional touches. There are notch, brilliance and phase controls, all of witch help provide practical solutions to live-performance situations. Perhaps the notch filter is the most useful part of the preamp as it whips away unwanted frequencies which typically contribute to feedback —a particular burden in some venues when you have little choice but to sit virtually on top of your amplifier. To operate it, you set the volume to your desired level where feedback starts to occur, and the you gradually turn the notch filter clockwise until the feedback is vanquished.
The brilliance pot dials in more top-end sparkle and classy qualities to your sound. If you have ever become frustrated with finger noise coming from the strings when you are striving for a clean recording, this subtle control can also assist you with this, simply by turning it counter-clockwise.
If you are required to play at low volumes on your gigs, you may well find yourself using the phase switch, as it improves the bass response and also assists in reducing feedback at high volumes —a versatile sidekick.
The tuner itself has a large digital format readout of the note being played, with suitably clear indicators for overly sharp or flat notes. Note tracking is sensitive, responsive and distinct, much in the same way as the EQ operates with good integrity to each respective frequency. When plugged in, the breadth of this guitar's vocal character widens in potential immensely. After playing for a few minutes the battery expired and replacement was a painless process. Access is easy as the whole preamp rotates outward towards you. The battery itself is held in place with a simple and effective push-down locating clip.
The guitar is also thoughtfully supplied with a spare replacement saddle, bridge pin, Allen key, and even a Plant Waves humidifier designed to sit inside the soundhole. In addition you are provided with a simple booklet describing how to get the most from your preamp along with some practically useful suggested EQ settings for playing fingerstyle, with scooped mids, for strumming patterns and for cutting through the mix.
The features which are the best assets of this guitar are the quality Fishman Aero Plus preamp system, its rosewood back and sides, and intonated saddle. I found the rosewood fingerboard a little dry to my tastes, but this is nothing a small amount of lemon oil wouldn't rectify very quickly.
So in answer to the question, 'Does it deliver?', the CG600CE does so, and reasonably well at that. At £410 it represents a great tool which may perhaps offer you greater value for money than its more expensive and similarly proportioned cousins. This price point is fiercely contended, more so than ever, so it is refreshing to see the quality of components which make this guitar and accompany it, adding further to its value. The EQ system is the show-stealer and sets it up as a fresh competitor for your consideration. It is definitely worth your attention as a stock guitar for your rack.