The Fender CD-160SE 12-String Dreadnought is a 12 string dreadnought from Fender’s ‘Classic Design’ series. Fender are not well known for their acoustic guitars, or their 12 strings, and this guitar didn’t quite make our list of top 10 12 string acoustics
Despite this, the Fender CD-160SE 12 string Dreadnought offers a full, rich sound, and is a steal at this price!
Overall: (3.5 / 5)
The guitar has a mahogany back and sides, and a solid spruce top, topped off with a natural finish. Key features include the tortoise-shell pickguard, the mother of pearl rosette design, aged bridge pins and the smaller fretboard dot inlays.
The guitar also has a compensated rosewood bridge, and 20 fret rosewood fretboard. Unfortunately, there is no cutaway, so you’ll only really have access up to the 14th fret. However this should never affect normal acoustic playing!
With the low action and thinner neck profile (for a 12 string), you would struggle to find any other complaints about the playability of this guitar! It is comfortable and easy to play, and with this tone you’ll be wanting to play it a lot!
The electronics on this guitar are supplied by Fishman, with an onboard preamp that includes tone and volume control along with an onboard tuner. You’ll also be pleased to know that the guitar has a built in ‘low battery’ warning light, for when your running low on juice.
- Snowflake Position Inlays
- Inlaid Pearl Headstock Logo
- Black Pickguard
- Wood Mosaic On The Back Center
- Compensated TUSQ Nut and Saddle Black Bridge Pins
- Laminated Mahogany Back and Sides, Solid Spruce Top
- 20 fret rosewood fretboard
- Fishman Presys Pickup System with Active On-Board Pre-Amp
- Integrated Electronic Tuner with LED Display and On/Off Switch, Volume, Bass, Mid, Treble, Phase Switch
- Low Battery Indicator Light
- Rosewood bridge with Compensated Saddle
- Chrome hardware
- Scalloped X Bracing
- Scale Length: 25.3″ (643 mm)
- Body Depth: 3.94″ (100 mm) to 4.92″ (125 mm)
- Width at Nut: 1.89″ (48 mm)
- Width at Heel: 2.44″ (62 mm)
- Chrome, (Die-Cast) tuning pegs
- Fishman Sonicore Pickup
- Comes with Fender 60-12L Phosphor Bronze, p/n 0730060123 strings gauges, .010 to .048
What We liked
The Fender CD-160SE 12-String Dreadnought is very comfortable and easy to play for a 12 string acoustic. The neck is about the same thickness as you would expect on a 6 string, which is great for playing chords.
Although some may argue that the strings are a bit too close together, especially nearer the bridge. This shouldn’t stop you from being able to fingerpick- but then again, if you have especially big hands or thick fingers it may become an issue.
We also love the fairly low action, which is really easy on your fingers. This is something you’ll definitely appreciate on a 12 string guitar, which are generally more difficult to play in the first place.
The Fishman pickup system amplifies the lower end a bit more, which gives the impression of a bigger, more resonant sound. Exactly what you’d expect from a dreadnought acoustic. This can- of course- be adjusted by the onboard pre-amp, or by whatever amp you plug into.
The electronics are not noisy at all. The sound quality when amped up is almost the same as when played acoustically (depending on amp settings etc.). The bass is nice and strong, but the treble is nice and clear- so your notes wont start to sound muffled or muddy.
What We didn’t like
As well made as this guitar is- with no obvious construction flaws, or defects- there are a few problems on closer inspection.
The paint job is imprecise at times. You can see where the guitar has been taped up when painted- not a huge flaw, but something that may bother you. Just like how the manufacturing process is actually outsourced to China.
Again, Chinese manufacture is not a huge flaw, but it can indicate lower quality. We didn’t notice anything obviously wrong, and the guitar seems pretty well made.
The tuning pegs are a little tight, and we wouldn’t recommend tuning this guitar to standard tuning. Many 12 string guitars just aren’t designed for that, and this would be one of those.
We suggest tuning down two frets to D standard (D G C F A D) in order to reduce the tension over the neck. Then you can use a capo at the second fret when you want to play in standard.
The reason is that 12 strings produce a lot more tension on the neck than 6- and this can damage the guitar over time. It will also cause intonation problems.
Conclusions on the Fender CD-160SE 12-String Dreadnought
If you’re annoyed by a few minor cosmetic flaws, then you’re probably looking for another 12 string. However, if you want a low cost 12 string, with great playability and a beautiful, lush tone, this may just be the the guitar for you.
Yes, there are better, more expensive 12 strings out there, but they would struggle to compete with the Fender CD-160SE 12-String Dreadnought on value!