Price paid: $ 750
Purchased from: Ciderville Music, Powell, TN
Sound — 10
I play a LOT of blues on my Taki, as well as oldies pop, country and light rock. This guitar lends itself well to everything I play on it. I play it amplified through a Roland Street Cube amp, which has several built-in effects, and it sounds fantastic on everything I've done with it. I haven't had it that long, but I can already see that I'm going to be able to get a world of sound out of this thing! I have recently been working on an original Acoustic version of Jimi Hendrix' classic blues/rock tune, "Hey Joe", and my Taki, combined with the Roland and a little boost in gain, plus a phaser tossed into the works, has blown me away with the sounds I've been getting. And from an Acoustic guitar! Using a soundhole cover at higher volumes, there is no extraneous noise at all from the guitar. I am totally IN LOVE with it!
Overall Impression — 10
So far, my Taki has been a good match for just about anything I play. It's great for blues, country, and just about anything else, with the exception of hard rock and classical music. This guitar has a wider range of sound potential than my beloved Gibson Hummingbird and the pickup system is vastly superior to the add-on ones. Takamine builds the guitar around the pickup/preamp system and my ears can tell me the difference that makes. The amplified sound quality is superb. If my Taki were stolen, you might see a grown man cry and, yes, I would definitely buy another one, as soon as I could save up the money. But, having said all that, I specifically chose my Taki because of the great unamplified sound that it produces. Plugging it into an amp is the very LAST thing I do when I'm checking out a new acoustic/electric guitar. I want to know how it sounds without being plugged in. My Taki is louder, with better sound projection, acoustically, with my "bare meat" fingerpicking style than my Gibson is. I plunked around on it about 20 minutes, played it plugged in for five or so, then told the clerk, "I'll take it!" So far, I love everything about my Taki.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Takamine has forged a reputation for building their instruments for working musicians, so it's hard to imagine that one of their guitars wouldn't hold up to live playing very well, even though I don't play live myself. My Taki is a well-made, very strong guitar that seems as solid as a rock when I play it. The hardware is durable and the strap buttons aren't going to come off anytime soon. With all the sound potential that this guitar has, it might well be my solo acoustic, if I were playing gigs. As far as the finish goes, it's hard to tell about its durability at this point, but if it's of the same quality as the rest of this guitar, then I'd have no problem believing that it will hold up just as good as Martin's or anyone else's finishes do. Some discoloration is normal, as any guitar ages, so I'm not one to get all upset about that.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I haven't done one thing to my Taki since I bought it and haven't had to. I checked the neck relief myself when I restrung it and it was perfect, right "out of the box", so to speak. The action is nice and low and it came set up perfectly for the .054-.012 gauge strings that I use on it. The intonation is dead-on and the neck feels great in my hands. One of the strap buttons was a bit loose when I first got it, but a few seconds with a Philips screwdriver took care of that. The finish is flawless and since it's new I haven't even gotten any of the inescapable belt buckle scratches on it as yet. Another unique feature is that the Cedar top has NO pickguard at all on it. Takamine's literature states that they didn't want anything to detract from the resonance of the wood, so they left everything off that could possibly do so. To be honest, I can't tell a lot of difference in the sound with, or without a pickguard. I don't think that the average human ear can discern such a minute difference, so I'm thinking of having my guitar tech add a pickguard to it, since I do use a flatpick on some things and a pickguard is put there to protect the finish of the instrument. I have to be very careful with a flatpick, to avoid scratching or gouging up the top. I feel like the factory should have just stuck one on there, to begin with.
Features — 10
My "Taki", as I call it, was hand-made in Japan and it is a newer, 2010 model. I bought it brand-new. It has 21 frets, I believe, rosewood fingerboard, solid mahogany (although their catalog calls it something else it's still mahogany) neck and sides, with a top of cedar, instead of the typical spruce found in most acoustics. The Cedar top is unique on a steel-string acoustic, as that is commonly used only on classic guitars. It is a full dreadnought body style, with a single cutaway on the treble side. It has a unique split bridge saddle and features gold Gotoh tuners (with Takamine name on them), non-locking, and gold strap buttons. It has Takamine's own, proprietary, pickup/preamp system built in, with a 3-band slider EQ, master volume slider, and a built-in tuner. The control panel is built into the upper bout of the body, on the upper curve. Battery box is right there on top -- no more reaching through the soundhole to get at it and replace it. The finish is a transparent satin coating of probably nitrocellulose, or something similar. It has full binding on the body and neck and a distinctive strip on the backside. The soundhole rosette is also unique; it's not pearl, or pearloid plastic, but is instead made up of several small pieces of different colored wood. The fingerboard marker dots are also made of wood, maple, instead of the usual pearl or plastic. It is, in a word, beautiful. The guitar comes with a hardshell case.