This all-gloss spruce/mahogany dreadnought strongly displays its vintage vibe. The black-stained rosewood fingerboard sports early Martin Style 45 abalone position markers; the spade headstock with its Kluson-type butterbean-knob tuners and classy pearl logo and motif is the epitome of trad, even if the crown inlay is slightly askew on our sample. The mahogany neck, including a diamond volute under the peghead, is a one-piece affair; rare to find on such an affordable instrument, as is bone for the nut and saddle.
Trim elsewhere is tastefully functional. The body is purfled in narrow ivoroid binding with inner multi-plies; the back carries a simple black centre strip. Rather than the usual thin wafer of plastic, the tortie scratchplate is a thicker edge-bevelled type that adds to the quality aura. The ebony-resembling bridge does likewise and, like the fingerboard, is stained rosewood. The internals look a little dusty in places and there are odd traces of excess glue, but things are otherwise neat and tidy.
If looks are retro in flavour, so too is handling. The 644mm-scale neck is fashioned to a ‘V’ profile, which may deter some players. However, the grip actually feels very comfortable, thanks mainly to a moderate span at the nut and only gentle broadening further up. Depth is reasonable, too, more so than on a similar Johnson we reviewed last year, which was quite a handful at higher positions. The regulation 55mm string spacing at the bridge provides practical strum-cum-picking ease.
A very likeable performer, this. The sound combines warmth, clarity and brightness in pretty much equal measure, allied to a punchy delivery and responsive, sustainful dynamics. In short, just what you’d want from a decent dreadnought.
Description: Dreadnought acoustic. Made in China
Build: Solid Engelmann spruce top, solid mahogany back and sides. Mahogany neck with 20-fret unbound rosewood fingerboard. Rosewood bridge, bone nut and saddle, vintage-style nickel tuners, tortie pickguard, bottom strap button
Options: Rosewood-back RD27 (£379). Sunburst available in both models – same prices
Left-handers: Yes, RD26-L (£299) and RD27-L (£379)
Finish: Gloss natural
Scale length: 25.35"/644mm
12th fret 53mm
Depth of neck:
First fret 22mm
9th fret 23.5mm
Action as supplied:
12th fret treble 2.0mm
12th fret bass 2.6mm
Max rim depth: 123mm
Max body width: 397mm
Fingerboard radius: 15"