SMG REVIEW: Walden’s Concorda CO500 Acoustic Guitar

WALDEN GUITARS

Walden Guitars was formed in 1996 as a collaboration between luthiers Charles Fox and Jonathan Lee, and KHS Musical Instruments of Taiwan. Operating in the small town of Lilan, China, Walden manufactures acoustic and classical guitars. The CO500 represents one of the steel-string models from their Concorda series.

FRESH OUTTA THE GIG BAG

A durable nylon gig bag is included with the guitar. Lightly padded, it includes backpack straps, a cushy side handle, and a large front pocket with the Walden logo stitched on its face. Inside the pocket is a truss rod wrench and the thoughtful inclusion of an extra bridge pin and saddle. Along the lines of thoughtful, Walden includes a Planet Waves humidifier. These are very inexpensive to purchase on your own, but I give Walden big props for promoting proper instrument care. I would love to see all guitar manufacturers follow suit.

The CO500 is Walden’s smaller Orchestra Model, or “O” size, which is based upon pre-war designs. The target market includes finger-stylists, females, and younger or smaller-framed musicians. The top is solid sitka spruce with Indian rosewood back and sides. The neck is mahogany with a solid rosewood fingerboard and is supported by a two-way adjustable truss rod accessed through the soundhole. Strings run from the rosewood bridge over a plastic saddle and nut into simple die-cast chrome tuners. Appointments include black plastic binding front and back with alternating black and white purfling, a simple multi-ring rosette of maple, mahogany, and black pinstriping, a junior sized faux tortoise shell pickguard, understated fret dot inlays, and a pearl Walden logo adorning the nicely arched rosewood veneer headstock. The guitar is finished with a polyester/polyurethane high gloss finish. Though heavily applied, the quality of the finish was very clean and professionally done as were all the features making up this instrument.

PLUCKIN’ THE SIX-STRING

Smaller in size, the guitar was very easy to manage. Contributing to this is a relatively shallow neck profile with a fingerboard and frets that play smoothly. The guitar was well setup with fairly low action that could be tweaked further, but felt good right out of the bag.

Tone-wise the guitar is on the mild side. It’s no surprise that with a smaller form factor and heavy finish, you’re not going to get the projection and bass response as you would from a fuller-sized instrument. Higher registers, though lacking in breadth and chiminess, rang with good clarity. Middle and lower registers offered reasonable balance, but felt contained and muted. I dug in and increased my attack to really engage the strings and push for a more open response, but found the best result came from a softer approach. As a whole, the guitar isn’t going to win any prizes for tonal response and dynamics, but for someone just starting out or as a backup to kick around with for fun, it’s fine.

THE FINAL WRAP

Walden has brought respect to the lower end steel-string market. There are aspects of the CO500 which are indicative of a lesser quality instrument, however when looking at enhanced features generally reserved for higher end guitars, and especially the quality of construction and finish, it deserves a second look. Eyeball the price tag and you just may end up going home with one whether it’s for a backup or traveling instrument, or a great introductory guitar for your kid or significant other.

STREET PRICE – $260.00

Dan Coplan is senior staff writer at SMG. Dan is a Los Angeles based cinematographer and self-admitting guitar junkie. Email: dancoplan@sharemyguitar.com

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  • Hi Dan, I largely agree with your well written assessment of the CO500. I think the cheaper O550, a Walden Natura model, has a better depth of tone and is a more playable instrument. That being said though, I love all Walden guitars. They are the best value acoustics going around.

  • Dave Karsenough

    Hi Dan: is there any significant advantage to the CO500 over their G570, cedar-top model? Doesn’t seem like this one is appreciably superior. Thanks.

    http://www.waldenguitars.com/G570.html

  • Dan Coplan

    Hi Dave,

    Would love to give you some intelligent feedback regarding your question, but I haven’t reviewed the G570 so I can’t answer your question. Your best bet is to review the models online and determine the differences that way or contact Walden directly. I really have no idea, but differences between guitars may be as significant as tone woods and hardware which truly affect the playable quality, or more aesthetic like different veneers or appointments which don’t affect tone and playability as much, but offer a different aesthetic appeal.

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