Hey guys, it’s Brian from World Music Supply here again, to supply you with your usual dose of guitar and gear reviews, and today I have a few cool acoustics from our friends over at Fender. Fender has always been a company that really tries to push the limits of what a guitar really is, and in the past they took this mentality to the rather conservative world of acoustic guitars. Many of these guitars went by rather clever monikers, like the Kingman, the Malibu, and the Newporter. Fender tried to introduce their “reinventing the wheel” style of production which had served them so well in the world of electric guitars, basses and amplifiers, however, in the hyper traditional world of acoustic guitars, their efforts failed for much of the companies history. Guitarists just weren’t comfortable having an acoustic with a bolt on neck, or an intonatable metal bridge on their flat top acoustics.
For many years, Fender just couldn’t figure out what to do to with their acoustic guitar line to make them more acceptable by the mainstream world of guitar players, and it wasn’t until Fender was bought from CBS by FMIC that the quality of their acoustic guitars improved substantially. Nowadays, the acoustic guitars being produced by fender are some of the best selling, and best sounding in the industry. For today’s review I am going to start with the Fender CD-220SCE which features a solid spruce top, laminate ovangkol back and sides, and a fishman pickup system.
The Fender CD-220SCE might seem like a relatively standard acoustic affair, with some relatively standard tones, and some rather typical looks, but while on the surface it looks simple and straight forward, it has so much more depth. The CD-220SCE has a very comfortable neck profile, which is slightly more reminiscent of an electric than a normal acoustic, and the body of the guitar, while being labeled a dreadnought, this guitar feels slightly more slimmed down, and more comfortable than a standard dread. The attached strap button is a nice addition, as surprisingly many acoustic guitars still don’t feature one, and I’ve personally had to install a few on acoustic guitars and am always worried what it will do to the guitars overall value. The inclusion of a strap button makes this guitar extremely comfortable to hold on stage, and the fast playing neck makes it easy to do everything from basic chord work, to lead runs and all the familiar electric guitar style work that acoustic guitars sometimes keep us from executing correctly.
Unplugged this guitar has a very warm tone, with plenty of snap and bite on top. The tone of the CD-220SCE is very modern with lots of bite and chime, the tone is exactly what you would want from a solid spruce guitar, and the ovangkol back and sides add just enough bite to help boost the slightly darker tone of spruce up out of the mix. Plugged in this guitar has a very true acoustic tone, with a nice darker spruce style tone, with enough of that nice piezo sizzle to help really lift your guitar out of the mix. The snappy tone really does a lot for this guitar, and the CD-220SCE is surprisingly resistant to feedback despite the very resonant spruce top. The CD-220SCE is a nice straight forward acoustic electric, with plenty of modern sound and stage worthy power. For its ability to cover so much ground, at such an affordable price point, the CD-220SCE earns a solid 8 out of 10.
Next up is the CD-230SCE which is a slight variation on the CD-220SCE in that this version features a solid cedar top and mahogany back and sides. Cedar features a slightly more vintage sound than spruce does, and has a more “worn in” feel to it, and this guitar features the same super comfortable mahogany neck as the CD-220SCE. Unplugged the CD-230SCE certainly features a more worn in sound than the CD-220, with a lot more mid range warmth. This means that the CD-230 sits in a mix in a nice comfortable place, where it sits along side vocals without taking up any of the frequencies of the singers’ voice, and instead just lives around it.
Plugged in this guitar has a similarly powerful sound to the CD-220SCE, but instead of the darker tone of spruce, the 230SCE has the nice, strident midrange focused tone of cedar, which is great when playing with a band, as it avoids the frequency ranges of the lows of the bass, and the highs of the cymbals, allowing the guitar to cut through the mix with ease. The comfortable neck profile is great for playing lead lines, and the added body in the mix that cedar provides definitely helps fill out the sound, and make your acoustic playing really pop. For its more full bodied tone in comparison to the CD-220, but still retaining the comfortable feel and style, the Fender CD-230SCE earns itself a solid 9 out of 10.