Fender CD160E 12 Review
Type Of Gear: Acoustic Guitars
Brand Name: Fender
Model: CD160E 12
Review - Please try to include as many details as you can: 12-string Acoustic-Electric Guitar.
Dreadnaught body style.
Solid Spruce top
Mahogany [laminate] backs/sides.
1-piece Nato [Pcific Mahogany] neck.
Under-saddle piezo pick-up. Built-in pre-amp/tuner. Pre-amp has 4 bands [hi, mid, lo, brilliance/presence] EQ.
First, the construction details. The neck on this thing is massive [think--like a baseball bat]. While this could be seen as a negative by some, I view this as a necessity in a 12-string. The more massive the neck, the less likelihood of instability problems inherent to a budget 12-string. The interior is clean. The bracing is properly spaced and solidly glued to the top and back. The kerfing is glued properly. No signs of sloppy workmanship here. The frets are cut/filed evenly--no rough edges or burrs protruding from the sides of the fingerboard.
On the costmetic side of the equation, the markers on the fretboard are "snowflake" (to use Fender's terminology--but the correct designation would be "slotted diamond").
Secondly, playability. The action on this was factory set-up according to the tech at the store where this was purchased. The action is low--but there is no fret buzzing or rattling.
How does it sound? Superb. The sound is well-balanced and evenly projected. The bass announces its presence without being muddy, boomy or overpowering. The treble notes are clear without being tinny. The spacing of the strings allows for fingerpicking--which screams for me to learn Roger McGuinn's banjo-roll technique from "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
But this baby accepts being aggressively strummed without protest. The notes were still well-articulated with no hint of breaking up.
This baby also shines when plugged in. The EQ sliders on the pre-amp are center-detented so that one can find the flat-response setting as a start point--even in low stage lighting. The controls are responsive to even the slightest adjustment but hold the setting without needing to be constantly tweaked.
I checked the built-in tuner against a Peterson strobe tuner and it is perfect.
Kudos to Fender for this outstanding entry into the $500.00 and under 12-string market.
Additional Comments/Final Verdict: While I rate this a solid 10 stars, this is not without some qualifications. First off, Fender's website describes this model as having a laminated spruce top. The unit I purchased clearly has a solid spruce top. I do not know if this was an accident on the production line or if there has been a change in specs which has not yet been noted on the website or in other promotional materials. I note this in case someone ventures into a music store to try one out and that unit has the laminate top because the difference in sound quality will be noticeable. In addition, the promotional material indicates that this model is only available with a black finish. The unit I purchased has a natural finish.
In addition, the Fender promo literature/hang-tag fail to mention what the expected battery life is for the pre-amp battery. It uses a standard 9-volt battery. I plan shortly to cough up the $10.00 at Lowe's to purchase an extended life lithium battery for it.