By Craig White, Australian Guitar magazine, Xmas2009/Summer2010
More on the CG2000CEQ.
SIMPLICITY, SIMPLICITY, SIMPLICITY!
I have reviewed a couple of Walden guitars over the past year, an orchestra body and a dreadnought, both from the 500 series of the Natura line. Retailing for about $400, they were exceptionally good instruments that we contend would have been just as compelling at twice the price. With solid spruce tops, and mahogany back and sides, they had the sort of well-balanced voice that distinguishes a good acoustic instrument, though more than that, they had character; an indefinable something one doesn’t usually encounter with instruments in that price range. This issue we are going to take a look at a considerably more expensive Walden guitar. The CG2000CEQ is one of the premium 2000 series models from the Concorda line, which is basically the gloss finished range, while Natura and SupraNatura models are satin finished. In addition to the orchestra bodied CO2000, which like the review model features a Sitka spruce top with rosewood back and sides, there is the CG2010 (grand auditorium shape, as is the review model, with Engelmann spruce top and rosewood back and sides) and the CD2040 (dreadnought with Sitka spruce top and mahogany back and sides). All have a mahogany neck, the 2000’s with an ebony fretboard, the 2010 and 2040 with rosewood.
Retailing for almost four times as much as the Walden models we have seen before, the CG2000CEQ raises our expectation considerably – it is one thing to unexpectedly discover character in a $400 guitar, but we demand character (and a whole lot more) from a guitar retailing for $1500. Obviously materials will be superior, and the CG2000CEQ is constructed entirely of solid timbers, whereas the cheaper models had solid tops with laminated back and sides. Of course, this issue’s review model has a Fishman Prefix Pro preamp and cutaway, whereas the corresponding models with such appointments in the 500 series (albeit the Fishman Classic 4 instead of the Prefix Pro) retail for up to $600, which of course closes the gap significantly. The timber used in the making of this guitar is absolutely gorgeous. The deep dark grain of the back and sides is mesmerising, and the face of the headstock is finished with a veneer of the same rosewood. The neck is mahogany, which is also used alongside maple in creating the elegantly simple rosette. The Sitka spruce top is quite blonde, and though it appears relatively plain, there is a subtle quilting that is very attractive.
The grand auditorium shape is one I like very much. It is most similar to, but not as waisted as the orchestra shape, both of which are rounded and more waisted than a dreadnought. To my ear, these shapes produce a more focused and better-balanced bass and mid-range, and are generally more mellow than dreadnoughts. The grand auditorium is a little larger than in the lower bout than the orchestra, and indeed it shares characteristics with what other manufacturers might term a mini-jumbo. Though it has a warm and balanced voice, mellow relative to the dreadnought, you should not assume that this one is a wallflower. The tone is rich and powerful, and even in an ensemble with a couple of other acoustic guitars, confidently projects. As with the other Waldens we have seen, balance is the key, and in that regard the CG2000CEQ is superior. Dynamic variations are as much about saturation as volume, and finger-picked passages retain their presence. The Prefix Pro is the perfect pre-amp to translate the CG2000CEQ’s gorgeous natural voice, it perfectly conveys that sense of balance and manages to capture the essence of the instrument’s complex tone. It features a 4-band EQ (bass, mid, treble, brilliance), plus a notch filter and phase reversal switch, and the control panel is hinged to allow access to the battery compartment.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Well, the 500 series Waldens were so good, it was difficult to imagine how the top shelf Waldens would stack up relative to them. I am happy to say that the high standard they set in terms of design and construction, when executed with premium materials, produces an instrument that is absolutely deserving of its place toward the top of the range. It is like this guitar delivers on a promise that the 500 series only hinted at. The much feted character exhibited by those earlier instruments springs fully to life with the CG2000CEQ; it is a guitar that can confidently play whichever role you assign it, and all with a voice that you just want to keep hearing.