O550

Natura N730 Classical Nylon String

By UK's Acoustic Magazine, October 2009.
More on the N730.

Quality materials, beautiful finish and great sound! Walden Guitars have scored again with the N730, a great guitar at an unbelievable price.

Walden Guitars have established a reputation for producing high-quality instruments at very competitive prices. Their instruments are designed in America, built in China, and clearly demonstrate that a properly managed overseas manufacturing operation can produce quality instruments at a fraction of the price of an entirely home-grown effort. The N730 classical guitar follows in this tradition and for the price the result is excellent. This instrument looks, plays and sounds like Walden have really taken serious note of guitarists’/ guitar teachers’ opinions of what they would like to see in an entry-level guitar.

Build and Features
The most striking and immediately obvious feature is the finish. Satin nitrocellulose lacquer, thinly applied, gives this guitar a natural, elegant and subtle aesthetic, enhancing the clean, simple and uncluttered lines of the instrument. An understated abalone rosette complements the natural appearance of the top. The soundboard is fine-grained solid western cedar, with solid Indian rosewood back, rosewood sides and fingerboard. Hauser/Torres inspired fan bracing, traditional rosewood bridge and saddle construction, and standard 650mm scale length ensure the N730 remains true to its heritage.

A cedar top generally gives an immediate and robust response and plays in quicker than spruce, so in the few days I had this guitar I noticed the instrument developing. The overall tone is resonant and clear, with an abundance of overtones, and for a guitar of this price quite remarkable. As is often the case with cedar tops you don’t need to coax the sound out as you sometimes have to with spruce - it’s just there, punchy and bold. The balance between bass and treble tends to lean towards the bass - usual in new nylon-strung instruments - but with a little more playing the treble should develop further.

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Sounds
The instrument responds well to a wide range of dynamic demands. The bass response is positive over the entire range and has a bell-like clarity in mid register. The treble is clear and bright with more than enough sustain in the upper register and no wolf notes. This guitar is loud, a result not just of the excellent materials and craftsmanship, but also the minimal use of finishing lacquer allowing the wood to breathe, move and resonate. I had to remind myself on more than one occasion that this is an entry-level guitar and comment accordingly.

The acid test with classical guitars is how the top three strings respond, especially in the higher positions. The N730 scores well in all departments. It has a consistency of tonal quality, producing a solid core sound throughout the entire range and an even sustain, especially above the seventh fret on the first string.

The string set-up is excellent and, importantly, the distance from the first string to the edge of the fretboard is sufficient to allow space for correctly executed ligados (not enough space is a common problem). The neck contours enable a comfortable playing experience, and the satin finish also ensures that the thumb glides smoothly along the back of the neck, with none of the drag sometimes associated with gloss lacquer.

Two minor negatives: the brown pearloid knobs on the tuners are at odds with the classic simplicity of the rest of the design, and the nut ends could be slightly flattened and rounded at the edge of the fingerboard – a small detail, but relevant, as the inner finger joint of my left hand occasionally caught the nut edge when playing in first position.