The availability of Lakewood guitars in Blighty has been undeservedly patchy over recent years, but the appointment last spring of Synergy Distribution has thankfully changed all that. To concentrate the brand's focus here, the German maker and Synergy have formulated a presently eight-strong range of models with specifications exclusive to the UK, denoted by a ‘G' suffix in the catalogue designations. Certain details differ from equivalent models in Germany, but all instruments remain solid woods throughout.
In this cutaway electro guise the spruce/ovangkol A-18CP doesn't exist in the German catalogue - that distinction is reserved for a variant of the cheaper mahogany-backed A-14. Still, the highly unusual A-18CPG is something of a masterstroke: it's a compact, 12-frets-to-body instrument with both cutaway and pickup system as standard - collectively features normally the preserve of bespoke, custom-made acoustics.
The most inspired aspect is the cutaway, allowing a reach comparable with non-cutaway 14-fretters on a guitar that retains a 12-fretter's intrinsic poise.
In size the A-style comes at just under 15" across the lower bouts, and has an elegant tight-waisted profile. The rims, though not as deep as the M's, are still quite generous at 113mm down by the baseblock. The open-pore finish is similar to the other instrument's, while the body binding is yew.
As on the M-32G, timber quality looks excellent, especially the pristinely clean, nicely cross-silked European spruce top. The neck, save for its slot headstock, open-geared tuners and micro-dot markers, is pretty much a ringer for the M's, so again this is very much pickers' territory.
Powering is Lakewood's dual-source Sonic System comprising a Shadow Nanoflex undersaddle transducer and a Nanomag magnetic pickup, the latter installed in a rout under the upper reaches of the fingerboard, before the neck is fitted. The system is controlled by a soundhole panel with blend slider, volume and tone thumbwheels, and a latched compartment for two long-life 3V lithium batteries.
Though the A-18CPG has a more demure sound than the bigger-bodied M, it has a pleasingly fluid, lyrical unplugged voicing with an engaging purity of tone combining gently sparkling highs and a satisfyingly warm lower-end bloom. Very becoming.
It's no powered slouch, either, the Sonic System supplying a near-seamless progression between the brighter-voiced Nanoflex and the creamier, jazzier timbre of the Nanomag. Mixing the blender and tone settings reveals an impressively varied - and high quality - range of tones.