An affordable grand auditorium loaded with contemporary features.
by Teja Gerken
May 25, 2020
Although not as widely known as some guitar companies, Walden Guitars is hardly a newcomer to the acoustic guitar world. Walden can be traced back to the California boutique guitar maker CFox, a company that built a line of high-end flattops in the late 1990s and included luthier Charles Fox and future Walden co-founder Jonathan Lee. Following the closure of CFox in 2001, Jonathan partnered with Taiwanese instrument manufacturer KHS Music, using many of the advanced design concepts and manufacturing techniques that had been refined at CFox, to launch Walden Guitars. Although the guitars were met with critical acclaim and were distributed internationally, the first incarnation of Walden Guitars came to an end in 2014. Following stints with Breedlove and Washburn, Jonathan has now relaunched the Walden brand with a full line of models. I recently had a chance to check out the grand auditorium G2070RCE, which is part of Walden’s Supranatura collection and sells for well under $1,000.
The G2070RCE clearly takes its design inspirations from contemporary luthier-built instruments. With its clean design lines and minimal appointments, the G2070RCE is all about elegant functionality, and its plain ebony fingerboard with no inlay, though it does have position markers at the side of the fingerboard, recalls classical guitar design. The guitar’s most visible contemporary feature is its armrest bevel, which is beautifully executed in rosewood. But the guitar has more tricks up its sleeve. The neck is reinforced with a pair of graphite rails on each side of the truss rod, creating great stiffness and stability; the guitar’s scalloped X-braces have a “low-mass” design that includes several openings cut into the brace profile, thereby reducing weight; and the guitar’s GraphTech Ratio tuning machines have different gear ratios for each string, resulting in the same number of turns to achieve a whole step pitch change. The G2070RCE also includes Fishman’s Presys Blend electronics, which consist of an undersaddle pickup, an internal mic, and a side-mounted preamp with controls for volume, EQ, phase, mic blend, a notch filter, and a built-in chromatic tuner. Our demo guitar’s cedar top was so light in color that I first assumed it was spruce, and its mahogany back and sides had even hues and attractive grain patterns.
The Walden G2070RCE arrived with a low-action setup that is ideal for playing fingerstyle. The combination of cedar and mahogany is known for offering great clarity and a fast response, and those qualities defined the guitar’s overall character. The G2070RCE has a fairly pronounced midrange that helped make its sound assertive, while avoiding cloudy basses or boominess. Plugging into a Fishman Loudbox Mini amp, I was pleased to find the Presys Blend electronics to be capable and highly flexible. The three-band EQ allowed detailed tone shaping, and having both a notch filter and a phase reversal switch means that feedback is easy to control at higher volumes. But having a mic onboard is especially noteworthy on a guitar in this price range, as it not only adds a more airy tonality to the basic pickup signal, it also allows for an accurate transmission of percussive effects, such as the ones frequently used in modern fingerstyle playing.
Overall, the Walden G2070RCE is a very impressive guitar. Players who are on a budget but are looking for a forward-looking design would definitely do well to check it out.
SPECS:Grand auditorium body with cutaway. Solid cedar top with low-mass bracing. Solid mahogany back and sides. Mahogany neck with graphite reinforcements. Ebony fretboard and bridge. 25.5-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Bone nut and saddle. Armrest bevel. Chrome Graph Tech Ratio tuners. Fishman’s Presys Blend electronics Made in China. $899 street (with hard-shell case). waldenguitars.com
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