Walden introduces us to their guitar universe with two reasonably priced lines—the entry-level Natura Series, and the more plush SupraNatura Series. The lightweight Natura G570 ($349 retail/$250 street) offers a grand auditorium-size body, a solid-red cedar top, sapele mahogany back and sides, and Walden’s signature satin-matte nitrocellulose lacquer finish. Nitrocellulose is typically associated with high-end and vintage instruments. Besides the fact this type of finish is much thinner—allowing the guitar to vibrate and breathe more freely—it’s also comfortable to play, with none of the tackiness or stickiness of some high-gloss finishes.

The factory setup was just about right for me—a fairly straight neck with a low action and the strings following the radius of the fretboard. Other neck features are the smooth Indian rosewood fretboard with a matching rosewood head plate and a pearl logo, and a carefully carved dovetail neck joint. The nicely plated chrome die-cast tuners are stable, and they turn smoothly with no grittiness. Some of the nut slots are cut a bit low, causing a little open string buzz, although nothing too bothersome. The fret job is admirable, with no excess glue, sharp ends, or noticeable high or low spots. Although the pickguard is cut a little roughly, the basic plastic rosette, binding, and trim were carefully cut and attached.

The 570’s voice is warm and mellow—especially when strumming open chords. Overall, the G570 is an attractive and approachable guitar that gives up enough rich tone and sustain to totally inspire a developing guitarist. In terms of price, features, and playability, the G570 is perfect for the beginning or intermediate player. There was a time—not so long ago—when there was no such thing as a solid-top guitar streeting for $250. Instruments such the Walden G570 may inspire a whole new generation of guitars and guitarists.

The D1030 ($799 retail/$569 street) features the same comfy-feeling nitrocellulose finish as the G570, as well as a solid-red cedar top (possibly chosen for its richly dark tonality that is favored by many fingerstyle players). The dreadnought body offers pre-war-style scalloped X-bracing, Indian rosewood sides, a solid Indian rosewood back, and a rosewood bridge with wood endpins. Other appointments include die-cast gold-tone tuners with faux-tortoiseshell buttons, maple trim with wood purfling, and a maple and mahogany inlaid rosette.

The neck is what makes the SupraNatura series unique in the Walden line. My first impression was that it felt too thin. However, the bolt-on, rosewood-on-mahogany neck is as strong and rigid as can be, reinforced by two inlaid rows of stiff carbon graphite. The neck is shallow front to back and is described by Walden as a modern profile, designed for “smooth execution of the most complex fingerstyle techniques.” The lack of depth may feel a little weird for traditionalists, but it’s excellent for beginners, electric guitarists who play acoustics every once in a while, or players with smaller hands. Graphite adds strength without a lot of excess weight, contributing to a neck that should require fewer adjustments due to string gauge or climate changes. (The neck is equipped with a 2-way adjustable trussrod when that day eventually comes.) The D1030 also includes a compensated bone nut and a compensated bone saddle. These improve sustain, as well as helping the guitar play more in tune in all positions.

When strumming open chords, the D1030’s notes are focused with lots of fundamental and punch. It’s hard to say how much influence the graphite reinforcement has on the tone, as it takes the place of some wood and affects the vibration of the neck. The rigidity of the neck does transfer to the overall feel of the guitar, which, along with the tight mids and treble, will make it an excellent choice for recording situations. The D1030 has good string-to-string balance while picking, but it may not have the volume that some fingerstylists crave.

Many features on the D1030 are characteristic of much more expensive guitars, such as solid top, solid back, and wood binding. It adds up to a smart-looking instrument with a sturdy feel and a strong sound. Walden’s SupraNatura Series is sure to get plenty of looks from guitarists shopping in the under-$1,000 price range.