Purchased from: SamAsh
Features — 9
Current year model available at SamAsh for $300 or less . Made in Indonesia or China, but do not be afraid... It's all mahogany and I DO NOT own it, but I was tempted. I own an EF series that used to sell for $1200 and is the nicest Dread A/E I ever owned (Taylor, Gibson, BlueRidge, etc.). The GD11MCE is a dread with a cutaway and good electronics and a nice tuner that shows you as you are getting close to on-pitch. Standard controls on the plate and a jack rear strap button type plug in. I rate '8' since there is no 3 prong mic type jack, but it is a basic guitar. You do not get a lot of swell features on a basic guitar... but wait.
Sound — 9
THIS is what to wait for. The Sam Ash had this one's nut slots perfect and the action almost dead-on. So you could hear what it can be even with worn strings going dead. THIS is a guitar ! It sounds rich, complex, sensitive, plenty loud and clear and is cheap to buy! And if you get an unbleached bone saddle, it will be louder and even better for maybe $20-30 installed. Get UN-bleached real bone... harder, prettier, and takes a buffing to look like marble. '9' is my rating no matter the cost... this one is getting close to the 500 series from Taylor at $1200-1600.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The one I handled felt quite nice. I want gloss all over with that 'dry' poly finish (versus the sticky wet feel), but satin all over is OK. The guitar is obviously well made (look inside at the lack of glue marks and at any binding and how the nut is installed. This is a factory guitar made with quality control at a foreign plant (not Japan...), but for a low price, it is quite a guitar.
I saw no flaws anywhere on this one and the tuners are smooth with no backlash. The tuner blinks arrows at a changing speed as you approach correct tune (it spots sharp/flat tuning automatically and shows that). So you get visual feedback even if noise around you keeps you from hearing the guitar as it is tuned.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I do not own it, but Takamine are not shoddy guitars. You can dismiss faulty workmanship in that brand; it's a solid guitar all over by one of the few best makers anywhere of factory guitars. I feel the budget lines of Takamine are a better value than any US guitars (they are made in cheap-labor factories). You get better guitars for less money... simple as that. I rate it '9' from owning several over the years from Takamine and I never heard of any problems with any of them. That is not the case with Gibson, Martin, Taylor and some Ibanez.
Overall Impression — 9
'9' since a 10 is perfect and this is a budget priced yet full featured guitar for most any stage or private use. It is not perfect, but it is a remarkable value and I didn't even buy one, so I have no axe to grind. And I own one of the finer Japan Taks that cost 4 times this price and are worth every penny ! If you are a casual player or can actually play country/bluegrass/rock and roll/ some classical pieces... this may be THE dread you want. Cheap to buy, well-featured, sounds excellent and complex and delicate, looks and feels fine and is reliable and almost certainly trouble-free. All for about $300.