RainSong A-WS 1000NT

RainSong pioneered the use of graphite construction for acoustic guitars to mitigate the effects of extreme humidity, and the company is currently the world’s only manufacturer of guitars that use pure graphite for the body, neck, and soundboard. The advantages of making guitars out of graphite include enhanced strength and stability, resistance to climate-induced stresses, and the fact that no wood is used. In fact, RainSong guitars are made entirely without bracing in order to provide uniform stiffness across the soundboard, eliminate dead spots, and increase volume. RainSong also points out that graphite construction produces a sound that is uniquely clear and resonant with extended treble response and a warm—but not muddy—low end.
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The top banana of RainSong’s Advanced Series, the A-WS 1000NT combines some qualities of large- and small-bodied guitars. It features a deep body for strong projection and bass response, and a narrow waist and compact upper bout for enhanced clarity and definition. The neck is created using the company’s proprietary Performance Shape- Casting—which allows the neck and fretboard to be formed simultaneously as a single graphite unit, complete with double-action trussrod installed. The fretboard is then CNC machined to provide an ultra-consistent radius, and the end result is a neck that is strong and free of dead spots.

Ideal for smaller hands, the thin neck of the A-WS offers a low, buzz-free action, and it sports nicely crowned and polished frets. The non-rolled fretboard edges are rather sharp, however, and the fret ends feel a little pointy. With a deep cutaway—and no heel to interfere with your hand—it’s very easy to reach the upper frets. The curved edges on the back of the body make for a comfy fit against your torso, and the only thing in this package that’s a little wonky is the tape “binding” around the top—which looks like a racing stripe, and can be easily peeled off with your thumbnail. The matching rosette stripe is well protected by the clear UV finish, however, which also highlights the weave pattern of the graphite on the soundboard and neck.

High-Tech Tone

The A-WS has a deep, full acoustic sound with a strong bottom, punchy mids, and a crisp top. The tones are well focused and musical with just a slight bit of intonation dissonance when comparing chords in open and high positions. The sustain is excellent, the volume is impressive, and the guitar indeed exhibits some of the pianistic qualities that RainSong touts.

Plugged into a Genz-Benz Shenandoah Acoustic Pro amplifier, the A-WS 1000NT delivered good-sounding tones without much fussing with the Fishman Prefix Plus-T system’s controls. In fact, you have to be mindful not to launch into any deep attenuation of the A-WS’s midrange, as is often necessary with piezo-equipped flat-tops. That might seem like big “duh,” but this guitar is a little more sensitive than most in this regard. For example, using the powerful Notch control to zap an offending lower-midrange howl did allow for a significant increase in volume, but it also obliterated much of the warmth that’s so essential to this guitar’s sound. I found it best to leave the Notch control alone and lightly excavate the mids using the Contour and Frequency sliders. In this mode, all it took was a little bump of the Bass slider and a touch of treble emphasis to obtain a bright, full, and balanced sound. Worth noting is that the Brilliance control doesn’t do much of anything by itself, but used in conjunction with the Treble slider, it’s an essential function for revealing high-end harmonics.

Graphite Goodness

The A-WS 1000NT is happening for stage use, and it also sounds very satisfying in intimate, non-amplified settings. For a guitar that can take an immense amount of punishment without flinching—as long as you leave that binding alone—the A-WS is remarkably personable. I put this guitar into the hands of several players who use standard instruments, and they were generally quite impressed with the playability and sound of the A-WS—a testament to the care that RainSong puts into the design and construction of its guitars. If you’re keen to the advantages of RainSong’s unique recipe, but are shy about plunging into an instrument made from composite materials, fear not, as a very earthy soul resides within that hull of aerospace-approved graphite.