“Tramontane” has long been a word for
the north wind in many European countries.
In Iowa, we have some pithier, less mythic
names for the north wind, most of which
are not fit to print in a magazine that young
impressionable people might be reading. I’m
guessing what the team at Lâg in France was
going for when they made it the name of
their steel-string line, however, was a sense
of refreshment and optimism—like a northern
breeze after a summer storm. The Tramontane
line is just one of Lâg’s offerings that will be
widely available in the US in coming months,
and our review guitar has us anxiously awaiting
the arrival of the rest of the Lâg family.
Our first introduction to the line is the
T400DCE acoustic/electric, and the northern
breeze metaphor seems pretty appropriate
for the guitar. It’s cool looking and has a
fresh, lively sound—and the fact that it was a
Winter NAMM Best in Show winner this year
certainly adds some gusto, too.
The T400DCE’s aesthetics are very attractive.
Teutonic, simple, and understated. The fretboard
is bare rosewood, with a black graphite
nut and saddle. The nut is 1 11/16” wide,
and the strings are 2 1/4” inches from E to
E at the saddle. The action could go lower
just out of the box, but it plays clean and
intonates true as is. We have a string-through
bridge here instead of a pin bridge, which
adds to the clean, minimalist look.
The top is solid Sitka spruce, and it’s complemented
nicely by the rosewood saddle and rosette,
which features simple marquetry with an Occitan
cross in maple. The Venetian cutaway is pleasingly
curvy and deep enough to give you some
usable additional room, especially when playing
with a capo. The back and sides are
Indonesian rosewood, which
has a less purple-ish, more
“shades of chocolate”
look than Indian rosewood.
All bindings and
purflings on this baby
are wood as well.
The T400DCE’s acoustic
sounds are very
good. It’s warm in the
lows and bright in the
highs, and the midrange
is just right, with none
of the nasally unpleasantness
guitars in this price
The tones are
to work in an
to a solo
The neck is
though it’s narrower
in the States lately.
The Tramontane’s electronics are intuitive
and easy to navigate. The pickup is a
Nanoflex piezo undersaddle, and the onboard
StudioLâg Plus preamp is made for Lâg by
Shadow. It features five EQ presets (more on
those below) and a built-in tuner that works
whether you’re plugged in or not, and it’s
quick to respond and wonderfully easy to use.
There are one green and two red LEDs, with
the green in the middle. The red LEDs blink
faster the further out of tune you are, and
slower the closer you get, until they blink off
and you’re just left with the green light alone.
Blue lights under each note assist with navigation.
As on so many other onboard preamps,
the labels on the controls are small and hard
to read. I guess I should just give up thinking
that’s ever going to change.
Beyond the tuner, you have Volume, a single
Bass/Treble knob, a Bypass button that gives
you just the pickup without the EQ presets,
and a notched knob for selecting the presets
(which were created in a professional studio
using a 31-band EQ). As implied by their
names—Natural Folk, Mellow Mids, Studio
Mid-cut, Fingerstyle Picking, and Mellow
Jazz—the EQ presets are intended to aid
with specific performance needs, though you
can also tweak them to taste with the Bass/
Treble knob. Let’s dig in, shall we?
I plugged the T400DCE into my trusty L.R.
Baggs Core 1 Reference Monitor to get a
really clear and honest sound out of this guitar.
I set everything flat, turned off the reverb,
and found that the pickup by itself in Bypass
mode sounds quite good. It’s balanced and
lively, and there don’t seem to be any strings
popping out obnoxiously over any others.
I thought it was plenty warm for solo playing,
and it could be brought instantly into
an ensemble without competing with a bass
player. It’s pleasant enough to listen to for a
two or three hour gig, that’s for sure.
We used four acoustic amps to test the presets:
the aforementioned Baggs Core 1, a
Fishman SA220, a Bose L1, and an AAD CUB
AG-100. After several of us listened, we decided
that although the presets are interesting,
we preferred the pickup in Bypass mode for
its honest tone. Two of my colleagues pointed
out that preset 3, Studio Mid-cut, would be
useful when you wanted the guitar to be an
“atmosphere” instead of a “character,” or if
you wanted to drastically reduce midrange.
In that context the Studio Mid-cut preset was
very pleasant, particularly through the Bose.
The Final Mojo
Well-made, attractive, and playable, the Lâg
Tramontane T400DCE is a terrific, quality
guitar at a very reasonable street price of
around $700. Acoustically, it’s a very pleasing
guitar, and the pickup is versatile and
representational. I’m not a fan of the EQ
presets in the preamp, but the rest of the
package is top notch.
you need a solid, stage-ready
axe at a wallet-friendly price.
you are more interested in the
electronics than the guitar.