Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

The Tenor of the Times

Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

The Tenor of the Times

Article excerpt

At first glance, Ibanez's Artwood Vintage AVT2E-NT looks like a tiny dreadnought. In fact, it's a tenor guitar-the type of fourstring instrument (not to be confused with a tenor ukulele) that has gone in and out of style several times since it was first offered by makers like Gibson and Martin in the 1920s. The AVT2E-NT, with its sweet, lively sound, might conjure up the music of the swing era and the folk boom, but it boasts smooth modem playability in an affordable package.

With a body length of 16.25 inches and a scale length of 580mm (about 22.8 inches), the AVT2E-NT initially feels a bit dinky, but it bal- ances comfortably in both seated and standing positions and requires little time to get accustomed. And, with perfect low action right out of the box, it feels effortless to zip around the 20-fret, gently-V-shaped neck, in both singlenote and barre-chord formations. All of the notes sound clear and faithful, without any buzzing or intonation issues.

Like a violin- or mandolin-family instrument, the tenor guitar is customarily tuned in perfect fifths-C-G-D-A, lowest note to highest-and so none of the standard chord grips apply when playing the instrument. Ibanez's website offers a handy, downloadable chord chart of major and minor triads and dominant seventh chords, but it's very satisfying to experiment on the instrument and happen upon less idiomatic harmonies.

Whether played with a more traditional approach or an idiosyncratic one, the AVT2E-NT has a warm and lovely sound, with a respectable bass response (perhaps owing to its miniaturized dreadnought body) and a nice balance between the different registers. While it's got a decent amount of projection and headroom when strummed with a plectrum, it also responds well to delicate fingerpicking.

CLASSIC TONEWOOD COMBO

The AVT2E-NT is built from a classic tonewood combination: The soundboard is solid Sitka spruce, while the back, sides, and neck are mahogany; rosewood is used for the fretboard and the bridge. …

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