By Acoustic Guitar magazine, November 2009.
More on the CG670TB.
Affordable grand auditorium with elegantly understated style, a slim neck, and versatile, full-bodied tones.
In just a few short years Walden Guitars has carved out a stellar reputation for manufacturing beautifully designed, well-crafted, great-sounding guitars at affordable prices. The instruments are built in Lilan, China, and designed by luthiers in the United States. Walden division head and chief designer Jonathan Lee was an associate of master luthier and custom-guitar builder Charles Fox and vice president at CFox Guitars, and the pedigree shows in Lee's well-considered aesthetic as well as design elements like a simulated Spanish foot and Walden's distinctive bridge shape. All of the Walden instruments—from the relatively humble Standard models through the top-notch SupraNatura series—exhibit elegant lines, superclean detailing, and understated details that belie the bargains on the price tags.
GLOSS FINISH, SOLID WOODS
Walden unveiled its new Concorda line of mid-price instruments earlier this year. In contrast to the satin finishes on previous Walden instruments, the Concorda line boasts high-gloss finishes on every model, as well as solid-wood tops and solid back and sides on some models. The CG670TB, which we received for review, is constructed with Walden's grand auditorium body shape, which has a 15 7/8-inch lower bout and a depth of 4 5/8 inches, giving it a slightly wider lower bout than a traditional dreadnought but a narrower upper bout and waist. It's a bit curvier than a Martin 000, with dimensions similar to Taylor's grand auditorium. The guitar sports a rich, carefully modulated tobacco sunburst on a solid western red cedar top. The laminated sapele back and sides and solid African mahogany (khaya) neck are lightly stained to accentuate the grain and contrast nicely with the darker top. Appointments are minimal but well chosen: White plastic binding inset with black/white/black purfling on both top and sides provides a richness of detail and accentuates the curvy profile of the body shape. Black fingerboard binding, a maple and mahogany inlaid rosette, microdot position markers, and a simple pearl logo complete the elegantly understated scheme.
THIN, COMFY NECK
The overall feel of the neck was very comfortable in all positions, but the 1 11/16-inch nut width resulted in tight string spacing that might be challenging to some fingerstylists and anyone with large hands. However, there is sufficient room in the nut slot to accommodate wider string spacing, and modifying the stock instrument with a new nut that has slightly wider spacing would make this a more comfortable instrument for many players. Although the stock bridge had conventional compensation built in, the intonation at the 12th fret on the lower strings was a tad sharp. This wasn't noticeable in the lower positions, and it could be corrected by having the guitar properly set up, especially since the action was a bit high.
STRONG, BALANCED TONE
Walden characterizes western red cedar as having a "dark, rich, smooth tonality" and suggests that guitars made with cedar tops are favored by fingerstylists and those favoring a light touch. Although the CG670TB sounded just fine with light fingerpicking on some blues and folk songs, it stood up well to more aggressive picking, and seemed to really shine when strummed with full, open chords. I used standard and dropped-D tunings and played a variety of song accompaniments, ranging from boom-chuck bluegrass rhythm to strummed pop songs. I also flatpicked some country dance tunes—hoedowns, jugs, and waltzes. The guitar was very comfortable to play and worked well in all the styles I tried. It has a pleasantly bright, full-bodied tone that would be perfect for accompanying a voice, flatpicking melodies, or fingerpicking blues or folk tunes. It doesn't deliver the bass frequencies demanded by a hard-driving bluegrass rhythm machine, but nearly everyone else should find an appropriate and pleasing sound in this versatile guitar.
Walden's Concorda CG670TB bundles elegant design with easy playability and pleasing, balanced sound at an affordable price. The striking sunburst finish and simple, refined appointments lend it a classy appearance that makes this guitar stand out from the pack. The full, well-balanced tone is appropriate for almost any music that doesn't need a big, thumping bass, and the comfortable neck should please players who prefer narrow string spacing.