#1
Right now, I'm deciding between these two.
I'm not familiar with Takamine's quality and reputation. But I know Yamaha are good guitars for beginners. I hear good things about Takamine, though..

I'm planning on doing mostly strumming, rhythm type songs...
So yea,
Yamaha FG720S
Takamine G340
#2
A Takamine would be a good choice. However, if at all possible, I would try to go to a local shop and try some out before you buy. You might find a brand you've overlooked, and it helps to really get the feel of a guitar.
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#3
That Takamine model is all laminate. So between that Yamaha and that Tak, I think the Yamaha would be a better choice because it has a solid spruce top.

If you can move up a little in price, the Takamine G340SC has a solid top. They used to make a G330S with a solid cedar top, but I just looked on their website and it's not there anymore - seems to be discontinued. Too bad, those were nice guitars.