Sound — 9
It came with D'Adarrio strings and I replaced them with Martin FX Silk and Phosphor's .011-.047 gauge. The tone is perfect for fingerstyle playing and it really shines when playing delta-blues. It isn't bass heavy, yet it is well balanced from top to bottom. The bass, mids and highs are all heard at the same volume. If played with a pick this guitar can easily be heard with it's dreadnought counterparts. For it's size, I consider it a very nice sounding guitar. Until 1916 all guitars were this size anyway. They accompany your vocals, I think, better than their larger counterparts because of their volume. You could easily play this guitar in the round and be heard nicely. I did notice that if you held the guitar away from your body, just the slightest amount, the volume would increase enough to change the way I play it now. I do think I'll put a John Pearse armrest on it. They help to keep your arm from dampening the sound on the soundboard. They do work. They're on over half my guitars.
Overall Impression — 10
I play several different styles of music and it's not a bluegrass instrument, but it has the setup and sound to be a wonderful alternative to a dreadnought. Adding to the tonal qualities of any song. Filling the spaces left by other instruments. I've been playing guitar 35 years and find this to be one of the finest playing instruments I've played. I own a D-35 Martin and the back of this guitar is what drew me to it. The quilted maple adds a distinctive quality not found on this guitars contemporaries. At first I had hoped it had a pickup system, but I already own enough acoustic/electrics. I also believe the addition of a preamp and pickup to the body of this guitar could only take away from it's tone. If it were stolen I would be devastated. This guitar is not in production anymore and would be difficult to find. I've played other "parlor-sized" guitars and none (including the Baby Taylor and little Martin) sounded any better and they cost a lot more. The look and finish of this guitar is exceptional and I really believe that if kept in mint condition, it will only increase in value. I would be remiss if I didn't divulge I played this guitar almost a month before I traded a guitar another guitar for it. It kept bothering me until I called the shop owner and asked him if I could trade the guitar I had purchased for the Takamine. It was a mahogany Takamine 12-string that I knew I wouldn't ply nearly as much as I do this. He told me he didn't have a 12 in the shop. So we traded. There wasn't even a scratch on it. Every day I practice at least two hours. Some I spend as many a 5 or 6. Since I bought this guitar, it's the only one I've played. I own 6 more acoustics, including another parlor. My final word to you would be, if you can find one of these little guitars, buy it. You won't be sorry.
Reliability & Durability — 9
As stated before, Takamine's master builders oversaw the making of this guitar. I believe it's construction will last as long as my more expensive guitars. I will play this guitar any time I need it an acoustic-only venue. I have several upper-end guitars and this guitar is as well made as those. With the exception of the laminate. The top isn't laminated so I think it will open up to be a more beautiful sounding instrument than it is today. The Vintage finish reminds me of one of those old Vintage Gibson sunbursts from the 1960's. I will have this guitar for many years to come.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Straight out of the box, the guitar had just a little too much space between the strings and fretboard. That was easily solved by taking out the thicker of the two shims located under the bridge saddle. Lowering the strings to a very nice level where the volume didn't suffer and neither did my fingers. If picked heavily there was no fret buzz. The neck required no adjustment. The binding on the back between the rosewood pieces and the maple piece weren't matched really well, but nevertheless, the guitar looks pricey. The nut needed just the slightest stroke with some 340 sandpaper so the "G" and "A" strings wouldn't hand. I also put a little graphite in the nut. To prevent any further problem. It worked.
Features — 10
It was made in China, but under the watchful eye of Takamine's master luthiers. It's Takamine's smallest body size. It has 20 frets with a rosewood fretboard and binding with beautiful abalone inlays. The top and back binding are wood. The neck is mahogany. It has a solid spruce top with rosewood sides and a 3 piece rosewood with quilted maple center. The back and sides are HPL. The striking thing about this guitar is the bracing is scalloped. This feature is generally not found on guitars less than $3000.00 The finish is gloss and it has the "Vintage" look. The tuners have this soft rubber-like material on them. The features on this guitar should, by themselves, make this guitar cost much more than it actually does.