Price paid: £ 749
Purchased from: Mansons Guitar Shop
Sound — 10
When I bought this guitar I went to Hugh Mansons shop in Exeter, England and spent several hours playing some beautiful guitars and with a 2000 budget. I played a Gibson DLX Koa Songwriter, All the Taylors, Martins and Gibsons you can think of and was almost about to part with 1800 for the Gibson DLX when the assistant said 'have you tried any of the Takamines before'.. I have to admit to being a bit of a snob about guitars and their origins and was a believer that the far-east simply make cheap and nasty instruments.. How wrong was I. I was given the TAN10C and the EAN40C to play, I strummed an Emajor on the EAN40C and in 30 years of playing I have never played a guitar that sung back at me like this little takamine. You can feel the soundboard reverberating all the way up the neck, it is alive. I fully understand the reason you don't get a pickguard on the Natural series now. You wouldn't want anything that would choke that natural reverb. I played it for about 30 minutes before even picking up the TAN10C. The TAN10C was a beautiful sounding instrument but it wasn't the EAN40C, it just didn't have the same reverb or feling so after 2 minutes it was back on the shelf and I found myelf holding the EAN40C tightly (incase someone bought it when I wasn't looking) and found an assistant to plug me in. I have to say that in 30 years of playing you seldom find a guitar that sounds great unplugged and amped. There is usually a compromise to be made in one or the other but with the EAN40C this is not the case. It is a new instrument plugged in, the natural reverb with the cool-tube pre-amp delivers a warmth and fullness you will not find in any other sub 2000 guitar and in very few guitars over 2000. The pre-amp is well made and alows the tone to be manipulated almost endlessly.. My favourite feature was the ability to punch the mids without losing all the treble and bass. Ideal for rcording/live environments. Feedback only occurred when I turned the pre-amp volume up to the max and I was no-more than 2 feet from the amp so was to be expected and din't put me off. I found myself playing songs I haven't played for years and hearing sounds my current guitars just cannot voice (Martin D-15, Godin ACS-SA). I was inspired more in an hour with this guitar than with any other instrument.. I was layering songs in my head and finding new hooks. I play mostly fingerstyle with flesh-picking and Acoustic rock/blues. I record for several artists/labels in the uk and work as a full time session musician. I have around 30 acoustics at home, from Vintage classics to my Godin ASA and each has a unique timbre and tone that I like. The Takamine has a timbre and tone that I love.
Overall Impression — 10
I play all sorts, gospel, rock, blues, delta-blues, slide, fingerpicking, jazz and all else in-between. I think the strengths of this guitar lie in acoustic-rock, blues and fingerstyle. The warmth and resonance of the tone and punchy, rounded mids make it great for recording and live scenarios and it sings the blues to you. I got the guitar 3 months ago and in the last 20 years I haven't played so much.. I sit on the couch with it at night and play along to every bit of music that comes on the TV. As a working musician it is truly amazing to find a guitar that has made me remember that music is a love affair and not a job. I have recently seen people saying that you can't compare Takamines to the supposed USA 'big-hitters' and they are right, you can't. Recently, the big american brands have been relying on their names to sell guitars with very few guitars of note being made by any of the big names in the last 10 years. Meanwhile it seems Takamine has simply been making guitars that will sell themselves.. If I lost this guitar or it was stolen I would sell my 1957 Gibson J-200 to buy a new one if I had to, its that good. Its become a part of my everyday life. I still have to use other guitars for work but the Takamine always comes with me now.
Reliability & Durability — 9
As well as studio work I play in a couple of 'old-timers' bands around the area I live in. I usually take the Martin or the Godin with me gigging but I have to say I doubt either will be leaving the house again soon. I do love this Takamine but if I was being truly critical I would say that any busy musician (playing two gigs and rehearsing once a week + practice)would probably kill this guitar in two years. The fretboard is beautiful but possibly too soft for serious shredders to hammer everyday and the lack of pickgaurd and satin finish will mean you eat through the soundboard fairly quickly. However, I would not say that is a minus for the guitar. You are sacrificing longevity for a truly outstanding natural reverb and its not like its a 2000 guitar. Anyone who gigs enough to kill this guitar quickly can afford to replace it and would want to replace it. Only thing I can say about the hardware is that it will outlast me. Feels solid, well made and well fitted.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
I am a fussy bugger and will always find a flaw (flaws = discounts) but there just wasn't one to be found, Every part of this instrument has been chosen, fitted and finished with perfection in mind and it almost is perfect. The guitar was set-up professionally in store by the same guys who build guitars for Muse's Matt Bellamy so as expected, action, fit and finish were first class. The case was of the same quality and finish as the guitar. A perfect fit, closes tightly and gives you the reassurance that the guitar will arrive in its destination dry and undamaged an important factor for any working musician. I wish Takamine made cases for other brands as I would throw away all the other cases I have. Seriously, you will not find a better made case on the market.
Features — 9
A Japanese built Takamine from the Naturals series. 20.5 scale Nex dreadnought cutaway with a solid Cedar top, solid mahogany back and sides, rosewood fingerboard.. Rosette is made of concentric tinted wood rings. The guitar has a satin finish. This guitar comes with the cool-tube ct4 pre-amp. The tuning pegs are Takamine branded with amber inlays and are extremely high quality. No nasty little pegs to break/lose in the bridge as it is a pull through design. The nut is made of bone and seats the strings perfectly. This model should always come with a Takamine factory made hard-case built to the same exacting standards as the guitar, if your dealer tries to charge you more for it find yourself another dealer. No glitz or bling on this model. It has been designed to let the music do the talking not for visual impact. Build quality is faultless.