Hey guys it’s Brian with World Music Supply again, here to bring you another dose of guitar and gear reviews. In today’s blog, I got to take a look at two great guitars from our friends over at Takamine. I always love Takamines, they make such consistently good guitars, that sometimes its easy to get caught up in the sound of one, and totally ignore how amazing they look, and how good their build quality is. Today however I got to play a few that just couldn’t be ignored, and the list begins with one of our best sellers right now, the EF340SCGN.
The very first thing you notice about this guitar, is that stunning vintage finished Cedar top, which is an almost caramel or cognac color and is down right beautiful. The workmanship is as close to perfect as I’ve ever seen, and the Nato back and sides are just as handsomely (although a little more subtlety) finished. The guitar also features a real bone nut, and real bone saddle to provide very clear, and resonant tones. Acoustically this guitar has a very vintage character to it, with lots of warm mid tones, sparkly high end, and a nice soft, almost jazzy low end. The neck is a very comfortable shape, and the Indian rosewood fingerboard is amazingly quick. Chords rung out with a distinctive boom, and single note lines had a very clear, defined character to them.
Amplified, this guitar was amazing. Acoustic guitar amplification has come leaps and bounds over the years, and the preamp technology always surprises me, how even with the same pickup, the guitars can sound miles apart based solely on their preamps. Sure, even low end instruments can have a pleasing character to them, but as you move up in quality, the quality of the sound changes dramatically. Sitting high atop the list of Takamines dozens of preamp designs is the Cool Tube series, which uses a small 12AU7 dual triode vacuum tube to help flesh out, and “warm up” the sound of the guitar.
The CT4BII pickup in the EF340SCGN is no different, and the second you hear this guitar, you understand just how important the cool tube is to the sound. The sound through a good acoustic guitar amp, or a good PA cabinet is just spectacular, with a sound that actually rivals the unamplified sound in beauty and clarity. The guitar was surprisingly resistant to feedback, and actually took quite a bit of volume to slide into that typical violent acoustic guitar feedback, and with a soundhole cover applied it took a ton of volume to switch into feedback mode. Tone wise the guitar has a lot like the actual acoustic tone, but with a bit fuller low end, and a slightly warmer sounding high end. Chords had a nice smooth character to them, with almost none of that usual piezo sizzle.
The sound of the EF340SCGN was amazing both amplified and unamplified, with tones that could cover anything you threw at it. For all of that, and its amazing looks, the EF340SCGN earns itself an easy 10 out of 10.
Next up is the Takamine EF508K which has the unusual appointment of having a Figured Koa top. I’ve seen Figured Koa as a back plate, and I’ve seen Figured Koa as sides on a guitar, but I’ve never seen it on a production guitar as a top wood. The reason its so rare as a top wood is because, first off its typically very expensive, as it is only grown in a few places around the world, and the cost tends to go up when it is as curly as the top on the EF508K. The sound of Koa is distinctive, with a lot of sparkly high end, some very warm mids, but not a whole ton of bass. This means it cuts through the mix very well, and helps to support the mix very well without overpowering it.
The feel of the NEXC body is nice, with its slightly smaller body, and a bit more even sound to the guitar, it really compliments all of the Koa in the guitar. Acoustically the EF508K has a pleasing, even sounding voice, with lots of note definition, and sustain. Chords ring out with almost piano like clarity, and they really do sustain for quite a while, far longer than almost any other acoustic I’ve had the pleasure to play thus far in my musical life. The only drawback is that Koa is hardwood, and as such is a slightly quieter wood, so the overall volume of the guitar is slightly quieter than say a spruce top guitar, although the fact it is an electric acoustic makes this point rather moot, as it can actually be as loud as your amplifier is.
The sound acoustically is remarkable, with tons of fantastic warmth and presence. The clarity of the guitar was also just dumbfounding, I was playing big jazz chords, full of 7ths and flat 5ths and there was never any overlay or woofy dissonance, just pure tone. The guitar was a tad bit quieter, athough no quieter than a smaller body size, like a mini jumbo or a parlor, and the guitar was still plenty loud enough to sing with as long as you aren’t really belting.
Amplified, this guitar is breathtaking, the definition and tone are just beyond anything I could have imagined. The sustain lasts far longer than a typical acoustic and the fact the top is made of a hardwood, the guitar is also very feedback resistant. Meaning I could play this guitar without a sound hole cover for quite some time, and at a pretty high volume without the body resonating to the speaker too much.
The EF508K was a downright magnificent guitar, with features well above your average acoustic. The figured Koa sounded like nothing else I had ever heard in an acoustic guitar, and the beauty of it was equally as profound. The EF508K easily earns itself a10 out of 10.