Rosewood Reserve is a posh name for guitars in the affordable bracket, so do these
new Tanglewoods really exude the sound of exotic timbers? Jerry Uwins finds out
The theme of the Rosewood Reserves is laminated rosewood backs and sides – well, up to a point. Both this jumbo and our super folk (and, presumably, the rest of the range) have rosewood-veneered back and sides, but the innermost plies are mahogany, or something similar. It’s anybody’s guess what timber makes up the third, in-between lamination.
The TRSJ-VS is about as big a jumbo as you’ll find. The width across the lower bouts is 436mm (about 17.2") while the rims are an ample 123mm at their deepest. The ‘VS’ suffix tells us that the solid spruce top carries a vintage sunburst, and when you add maple-bound herringbone purfling and a rosewood-inlaid rosette, it all looks jolly handsome. The sunburst option is also extremely good value, costing only £10 more than the natural version. The quality of the body’s gloss lacquer is excellent, and the back of the instrument is cosmetically coordinated with binding, a centre strip and a heel capping all of maple. The fingerboard and headstock are likewise edged in maple, and the tuners are an attractively retro-esque set of gold Kluson-types.
The 642mm-scale satin mahogany neck – a three-piece scarfjointed affair – is moderately proportioned, kicking off at 43mm across the nut with a shallow ‘C’ profile. It’s an instantly comfortable player with well-dressed fretting, the only reservation being a fairly high action on the treble side. That would be fine, but there’s very little remaining break-angle over that area of the bridge saddle with which to lower string height by any significant degree. In the absence of any bellying, this possibly raises the question of neck pitch, though I’d say the existing bridge design is more at issue. It’s quite thick, and having a lower profile would allow more action latitude.
This is one jumbo which does what it says on the tin and sounds properly like a jumbo. The low end really whacks it out under hearty strumming, and the dynamics are supple and forthcoming. The overall timbre is more mid-scooped than you might anticipate of a rosewood-backed instrument, but then this isn’t wholly rosewood and the generally warm, open-voiced tone corresponds to the mahogany-like element in the constructional mix. Either way, it’s a strong and very satisfying performer.
We've no reserve about giving these keenly-priced Tanglewoods a stamp of approval, action concerns aside. The jumbo delivers hearty strummage while the TRSF-CE is an excellent electro and a likeable unplugged companion.