Guitar Review: Rainsong CO-WS1005NST Acoustic-Electric Guitar

An acoustic-electric guitar is no longer uncommon as it was 50 to 60 years ago.  They now make up the majority of acoustic guitars produced.  Carbon fiber guitars are no longer an anomaly, more and more manufacturers are emerging, e.g., we have the long established Rainsong brand to the newer Irish made Emerald Guitar brand, and established all-wooden companies are now producing carbon fiber guitars such as McPherson Guitars.  Reviewed in this posting is the relatively novel Rainsong CO-WS1005NST.  It is novel, in my opinion because it is a “12-fret” acoustic-electric guitar. (To add to this Rainsong’s attributes, it also has a 24.75 inch scale length.)

A “12-fret” model does NOT mean the guitar has only twelve frets.  Rather, it means the the neck meets the guitar’s body at the twelfth fret.  Although at one time this was typical for acoustic guitar production, at some time about 80 to 90 years ago Martin expanded the acoustic guitar’s construction.  With this innovation the neck now met the body at the fourteenth fret.  The result was a bolder, and clearer tone.  This quickly became the “standard.”  Go to any guitar store and you will see the vast majority of guitars are “14 fretters.”

Most major acoustic guitar makers offer a 12-fret model:  Taylor, Larrivee, Martin, Takamine, and the list goes on to now include the Rainsong reviewed in this posting (which I now own!).  .

Why did I buy a 12-fret guitar?  Let me begin to answer this with my own observation in playing the typical 14-fret acoustic.  I have noted that if I capo a 14-fret guitar at the second fret, I have a more comfortable playing experience.  I see that I am more articulate with my fretting hand.  So, if in any form of tuning (standard or open-D, etc.), why not capo at the second fret and continue the comfort by simply tune-down a whole step and have the same experience?  For one reason, a 12-fret guitar has its own unique characteristics.  The first tonal difference is volume:  a 12-fret acoustic will tend to be a volume canon when compared to most 14-fret acoustics.  This is because the bridge is placed lower on the guitar’s top, and the result is more vibration on the surface of the sound board.  Notice the distance from the body’s top to the bridge:  it is 30.1 cm in distance.  This stand in comparison to my Rainsong Nashville Jumbo’s 28.2 cm distance from body top to bridge.  This is a notable distance.  Volume is also added by the sound whole’s off center position in the upper bout — there is even more surface area created for vibration of the sound board.  Again, increased volume is the result.

Additionally, a 12-fret guitar has more mid-range, and this Rainsong is possibly the exemplar of this characteristic.  Mid-range plus volume offer can offer a challenge to the guitarist who plays with a pick such as me (“you can have my pick when you can pry it from my cold, dead fingers!”).  Hence, I have to overcome the “muddiness” in two ways:  use a thin pick, or (a frightening possibility) begin some finger style techniques.  (As an admission I have tried the first few bars of Vivaldi’s “Gloria” and was somewhat pleased with my initial, faltering attempts).

This is the third Rainsong acoustic guitar I have reviewed.  Previously, I have reviewed two jumbo body guitars:  The Rainsong N-JM1100N2 (Guitar Review: Rainsong N-JM1100N2, AKA the Nashville Series Jumbo) and the Rainsong  JM100N2 (Guitar Review: RainSong JM1000N2.)  Rainsong’s WS body style is its take on the Auditorium body.  This WS body model reviewed is all carbon fiber construction with a copper to orange-burst finish.  It comes with Fishman Prefix Plus-T electronics with added built-in tuner.  I am no authority on electronics, but when plugged in the control were easy to find and adjust, and seemed fine when played through my Fishman Loudbox Mini-charge.

As with any carbon fiber guitar you have structural advantages.  Primarily you never have to worry about humidity – no need to humidify or dehumidify based upon your climate.  Carbon fiber means no worries about structural breakdown in commonly encountered temperature extremes.  Carbon fiber guitars will hold tune very well when compared to their wooden cousins.

I am a Rainsong fan — sign me up as a card carrying devotee, and I hope to own a 12-string model in the not too distant future.  In my humble opinion Rainsong’s are very well made guitars with great acoustic tone, and the carbon fiber construction will bring great longgevity to any guitar you would purchase.  Finally, though this 12-fretter will require technique challenges and resulting (albeit painful and frustrating) growth beyond flat-picking, it is a welcome addition to my collection.

Keep on playing,

Fr. Irenaeus