When my studio career started gaining traction, I found myself exclusively using solid spruce acoustic guitars, like the Fender CD-140SCE. Despite what technology can do for modifying sound live and in the studio, your tone is still largely dependent on the “ingredients” you use first, and a well-built acoustic remains the backbone of millions of recordings.
One way to add to your “ingredients” is with a 12 string acoustic-electric, and the Fender CD-140SCE fits that bill perfectly. Crafted by the same company that brought us the Stratocaster, Telecaster, and Precision bass, the CD-140SCE continues that Fender legacy, but with a few updates.
In this Fender CD-140SCE review, we’ll take a look at this 12 string guitar’s features and how it may fit into your guitar collection.
Fender CD-140SCE Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Right from the start, you’ll notice there’s something a bit different about the Fender CD-140SCE – it’s a guitar with 12 strings! Despite its daunting doubling of strings, a 12 string guitar plays the same as a 6 string but offers a fuller, brighter sound. The main difference is that a 12 string requires a bit more effort to press all the strings down.
Using some deduction, we learn that the “S” means solid top, while “CE” means cutaway electric. An acoustic with a cutaway allows you to easily play chords and notes higher on the fretboard. Taking the quality just a step higher, the Fender CD-140SCE comes equipped with a Fishman onboard preamp, allowing you to easily tune your guitar and change its sound.
Whether you’ve never touched a guitar in your life or you’ve been playing for years, the Fender name is arguably the most well-known. With a guitar like the CD-140SCE, you can rest assured that it was crafted by a quality brand.
What We Liked
- 12 strings for a full, sweet sound
- Perfect for expanding your tonal palette
- Easy to play
- Built-in electric pickup and tuner
- Reputable brand
- Hardshell case included
What We Didn’t Like
- Potential problems with the bridge
- Battery can be hard to change
- 12 strings can be hard to tune
Construction of a great 12 string guitar starts with quality tone woods and reinforced parts to withstand the extra tension. In this section, we’ll dig into the construction and build quality of the Fender CD-140SCE.
The Deluxe Sound of a Solid Spruce Top
The Fender CD-140SCE features a solid spruce top, which is the tone wood of choice for nearly all acoustic guitars, including those at the $2,000 range. Even the famed violin maker Antonio Stradivari used spruce for his legendary instruments!
Spruce is known for its clear and projecting sound, and also its durability. Spruce is a lightweight wood capable of a lot of resonance, and great for both strummers and finger pickers. While you may be inclined to only strum the CD-140SCE, a 12 string guitar sounds absolutely beautiful fingerpicked.
Walnut – Is it a Real Tone Wood?
Rosewood was once the most commonly used wood for fretboards, even on the cheapest of guitars. However, scarcity of rosewood and recent environmental regulations have resulted in guitar builders turning to other woods.
The Fender CD-140SCE uses walnut as its fretboard material, providing durability and a look that closely resembles rosewood. With 12 strings pressing down into the neck, walnut is a strong choice. If you’re worried about it not looking the same (dark) as rosewood – oil it up with some lemon oil or F-One oil.
The Sustainability of Ovangkol
Ovangkol is another sustainable alternative to rosewood. It is similar in tone and appearance to rosewood and can be seen on expensive guitars made by Taylor and Yairi. As part of a new campaign for eco-friendly materials, Fender has chosen laminated ovangkol as their back and side wood for the CD-140SCE.
Why Play a 12 String?
While 6 string guitars are by far the most popular configuration, nothing says sophistication and skill like mastery over a 12 string. Sure, not every occasion requires 12 strings, but just think of all the great songs that do – Over the Hills and Far Away (Led Zeppelin), Hotel California (The Eagles), Hard Day’s Night (The Beatles), and so many more.
12 string acoustic guitar adds complexity to an otherwise average chord progression. It makes something as simple as C, G and D chords sound like the angels of tone personally blessed it with harmony.
You may wonder – are 12 string guitars harder to play? In short, yes, but only slightly. If you have a strong foundation in forming chords, a 12 string guitar requires just a bit more pressure to keep all the strings down against the fretboard. Your hand and fingers may fatigue quicker, but after a few days, you’ll be playing like Jimmy Page!
Fishman Preamp Power
One of the most popular brands in acoustic amplification is Fishman. Teaming up with Fender, the Fender CD-140SCE features a basic Fishman preamp system, with controls for volume, bass, and treble, and a built-in tuner.
If you are performing live or recording a track, there is nothing as simple as plugging your acoustic directly into the system. Back when I was first starting out, I would have to mic my acoustic guitar at bars. Not only is the microphone a bit awkward when you’re strumming along, it can also result in a lot of feedback through the speakers. An onboard preamp eliminates both of those issues.
The Fishman preamp is powered by a 9v battery, found at the input jack on the bottom of the guitar.
|Fender CD-140SCE Specification
|Back and Sides
|Nut and Saddle
|Graph Tech NuBone
What Customers are Saying
The Fender CD-140SCE is one of the few 12 string guitars on the market at this price range. For those that are produced by less reputable brands – beware. 12 string guitars are notorious for their high tension and pressure on the wood, so a quality build is a must.
Across all of the Fender CD-140SCE reviews, the praise for the price, build quality, sound, and electronic preamp are unanimously favorable. Many of the reviewers noted that the sound was very bright, balanced, and a joy to hear. Others welcomed the hardshell case for keeping their new guitar protected.
Most of the reviewers are players who started with a 6 string guitar but wanted to expand their sound. A surprising amount of reviewers were those who had been playing for several decades and finally decided to try a 12 string guitar.
Out of all the reviews, an extremely small minority had a few unfavorable things to say. First was that the back of the guitar was prone to scratches.
Another Fender CD-140SCE review would have preferred that Fender taper the neck of this 12 string, making it easier to play higher on the fretboard. Tapering of a guitar neck means that it is thickest at the nut (near the headstock) and gets skinnier the closer you get to the body.
With a solid spruce top, built-in electronics, hardshell case, and the lush sound of a 12 string, it is hard to beat the Fender CD-140SCE. A 12 string guitar like the CD-140SCE opens a lot of possibilities and can turn average recordings and live sound into a sonic masterpiece.
In this price range, Fender may reign king, but with a bit more money, the 12 string market widens. However, if you just want a nice 12 string to “get the job done”, the Fender CD-140SCE might be the right choice for you.