The polished frets with rounded tips make for effortless sliding along the bound neck, and the tonal response is bright and balanced with a little extra snap—courtesy of the maple in the construction, and, particularly, Parkwood’s unique “scooped” bridge. In this design, wood is removed from the area behind the compensated saddle in order to lower the bridge pins, and create a stronger break angle for the strings. The result is an increase in string pressure on the bridge that helps enhance sustain and drive the top more efficiently. It works, too, as very little effort is required to get a big sound from the PW-340, yet the guitar responds beautifully to a light touch with bare fingers. This is a guitar that you can play hard without it yielding to excess compression, and the low end is reined in just enough to prevent boominess at louder volumes. Even so, you don’t feel the need for more bottom when playing this guitar lightly. The PW-340’s response is well balanced top to bottom, and that’s a quality you can appreciate whether you’re banging out rhythm parts in a band, weaving in sly melodic lines behind a singer, or trying to captivate a coffeehouse crowd with some sweet fingerpicking.
There are plenty of hip details on this guitar—including well-attended bindings on nearly every exterior edge, a smart-looking abalone inlay on the black-faced headstock, rounded corners on the nut to prevent pokes to the hand, and nifty abalone-in-brass tops on the ebony bridge pins. The story continues inside with smoothly sanded braces, tight-fitting joints, and no sign of excess glue dribbles. A “P” is branded into the maple heel cap (the heel is glued seamlessly to the neck), and a comfy volute strengthens the neck-to-peghead transition.
It appears that no effort was spared toward the goal of creating an outstanding guitar, and the PW-340 looks, feels, and sounds like a much more expensive instrument. Parkwood’s intention may be to raise prices as the brand becomes better known, and, judging by what this example delivers, they’d have every right to do so. The PW-340FM’s lightness owes much to the fact that its woods were carefully chosen from well-aged stock. And with quality tone lumber becoming scarcer these days, the fact that Parkwood has put so much attention in this area is all the more impressive.
It all adds up to a guitar that is well suited for bluegrass pickers, fingerstylists, and singer/songwiters. Even playing bebop tunes on the PW-340FM was a gas—it feels that nimble! Factor in the deluxe padded gigbag Parkwood includes at no extra cost—which features dual backpack straps, a huge accessory compartment, and a smaller zip pocket for a tuner or mp3 player (a reinforced jack opening for your ear buds is sewn in)—and you’ve got an outstanding package for anyone in need of a pro-quality flat-top for a way cool price.