RainSong CO-WS1005NS

Rainsong image

Posted by Adam Perlmutter

If you’re a tonewood enthusiast, you might expect to be unsatisfied with RainSong’s graphite guitars. But spend a few moments with the new CO-WS1005NS and luxuriate in its warm voice and great responsiveness. It’s easy to forget that there’s not a single wooden component on the instrument. This thoughtfully designed guitar inspires a more relaxed stance regarding the materials that make great acoustics in the 21st Century.

If you’re a tonewood enthusiast, you might expect to be unsatisfied with RainSong’s graphite guitars. But spend a few moments with the new CO-WS1005NS and luxuriate in its warm voice and great responsiveness. It’s easy to forget that there’s not a single wooden component on the instrument. This thoughtfully designed guitar inspires a more relaxed stance regarding the materials that make great acoustics in the 21st Century. 

The Sound & Feel

With the carbon soundhole on its upper bass bout, the CO-WS1005NS is nice and loud, and lends itself to a variety of pick-hand approaches, from Carter-style boom-chuck to frenzied, Pete Townshend strumming. When subjected to single-note lines played with a pick, the guitar’s voice is at once punchy and sweet.

That sound is well-balanced, with assertive mids surrounded by impressive bass notes and crisp trebles. Chords of all qualities and in all positions have great presence and clarity. The individual notes of an open E chord, for example, are just as easy to discern as those in a cluster of minor seconds played high up on the top three strings—a feat of stretching made easier by the instrument’s short, 24.9-inch scale.

Given its 1.75-inch nut, the guitar feels great when fingerpicking, whether in standard or alternate tunings. When I pick out the accompaniments to a couple of Nick Drake songs—“Northern Sky,” tuned B–E–B–E–B–E, and “Pink Moon” at C–G–C–F–C–E—the sound is well-defined across the spectrum, completely lacking in murkiness as the notes are allowed to ring together.

Thanks to its medium-sized C-shape neck and perfect factory setup, with an agreeably low action, this model is easy to play in all regions. The smooth, low-profile heel and accommodating Venetian cutaway encourage visits to the highest frets. The one complaint when playing it is that the strap button mounted to the neck’s heel digs into the fretting hand a bit.

Weather-Resistant Guitars

Traditional guitars made from the finest woods are beautiful, both sonically and cosmetically. But wood tends to swell or contract in response to the weather, and in the worst cases, traditional guitars can be rendered unplayable without significant—and costly—interventions. Since the mid-1990s, the luthiers at RainSong—which originated in Hawaii and is now based in Washington State—have used graphite to create solid, durable guitars. This has resulted in instruments with broad tonal voices that are virtually impervious to fluctuations in temperature and humidity—a major boon for the traveling guitarist.

Like all the models in RainSong’s Concert Series, the CO-WS1005NS pairs a graphite body with a unidirectional carbon soundboard—the company’s lightest top, designed with responsiveness and warmth in mind. To that end, this soundboard is engineered to simulate the tight grain pattern of a high-quality spruce. The guitar’s constructional materials render traditional interior bracing unnecessary, contributing to the guitar’s overall lightness—the test model was just under four pounds. 

 As for the offset soundhole—seen with increasing frequency on new guitar designs—it directs more sound toward the player’s ear, minimizing disruption of the soundboard’s vibrating area, which is said to result in enhanced highs and lows. Somewhat unusual for a high-tech guitar, the neck meets with the body at the 12th fret, rather than the modern standard of the 14th fret. Some players feel that a 12th fret junction—found on most flattop guitars before the 1930s­—enhances the sound, improving the transfer of vibrations from the strings to the soundboard, which also helps bolster the low end. 

Like the rest of the instrument, the neck is carbon, and it houses an adjustable truss rod. But the rod isn’t used to correct bending or bowing; rather, its function is to provide the amount of relief suitable for a given player’s style, and once it is set, it should stay put remarkably well.   

Design & Execution

Overall, the CO-WS1005NS has a smart modern appearance, without much unnecessary detailing. The rosette is a single, wide band of abalone, which also makes an appearance in dots studding the bridgepins as well as in the trademark shark inlays that line the fretboard. When inspected closely, fine grain-like lines are apparent on the soundboard. The neck’s material sports a checkered woven pattern, while the pattern on the back and sides is diagonally oriented; on the back, book-matched pieces form a neat design. 

 Unsurprisingly, considering the high quality of the other RainSong guitarsAG has reviewed, the CO-WS1005NS is a well-built instrument. The Tusq nut and saddle are perfectly slotted, and the fretwork is tip-top, without a hint of roughness on the crowns or at the edges. On the body and face of the headstock, the high-gloss polyurethane finish—which is UV protective, presumably to discourage fading—is smoothly applied. On the soundboard, however, the finish seems to reveal fingerprints more than most conventional guitars. 

The Electronics

The CO-WS1005NS comes with Fishman’s Prefix Plus-T, which includes a pickup and preamp whose interface is mounted on the guitar’s lower bass bout. The preamp’s controls include the usual volume and equalization controls, plus brilliance and contour sliders; a notch filter, for attenuating feedback; and a digital chromatic tuner that can be used even when the guitar’s not plugged in.

With the controls on the preamp and a Fender Acoustasonic amplifier set flat, the guitar has a robust, natural sound. These electronics also sound great when interfaced with a DAW, especially when used in conjunction with the guitar’s natural timbre, picked up by a good condenser microphone.

RainSong’s CO-WS1005NS will have some detractors, simply on the basis of its carbon-and-graphite construction. But with its uncommon stability, excellent playability, and fine sound that will work in practically any style, the guitar is a great choice for the guitarist needing maximum flexibility in an instrument that will require a minimum of upkeep.

At a Glance

RainSong
co-WS1005NS

BODY

• All-graphite body with 15.8-inch lower bout.
• All-graphite unidirectional carbon soundboard.
• No soundboard braces.
• Abalone rosette UV-protective, high-gloss, clear urethane finish. 

NECK

• All-graphite NS neck
and composite fingerboard
with custom shark inlays.
• Adjustable truss rod.
• 24.9-inch scale length.
• 1.75-inch nut width.
• Chrome-plated Gotoh tuners with 1:18 gear ratio.

ELECTRONICS

• Fishman Prefix Plus-T with built-in tuner. 

EXTRAS

• Elixir Nanoweb strings (.012–.053).
• Customized hardshell case.

PRICE $3,332 list; $2,500 street.Made in the United States. rainsong.com.

Contributing editor Adam Perlmutter transcribes, arranges, and engraves music for numerous publications.

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