World Music Supply | Takamine Pro Series

Hey guys its Brian from World Music Supply, sorry for yet another rather lengthy hiatus from the blog, what with all of these new products flying in after NAMM, its difficult to find time to even breathe, let alone sit down and review a guitar or three, just not enough hours in the day.  Well today I got a free minutes, so I used it  to look at a couple of cool guitars by way of our friends over at Takamine. Over the past couple of years Takamine has been more or less consolidating some of their higher end models to try and get a better, more applicable guitar into the hands of some of today’s most demanding musicians.

Takamine P1JC PRO Series 1 Acoustic Electric Guitar

Takamine P1JC PRO Series 1 Acoustic Electric Guitar

First up on that list is the Takamine P1JC, which is part of their Pro Series 1 level of guitars. The Pro Series is divided into different levels, to help really hone in what a guitarist needs, so that each series can really be just about what the guitar plays and sounds like, rather than having to worry about having a guitar of every type of tone wood in every series, or having to worry about different inlay work for one specific guitar, or different brands of tuners etc. because each series level is outfitted the same, the only thing that changes is the body style.

I picked what I consider the quintessential model from the Pro Series 1 Level, the Jumbo. I love the way Takamine does Jumbos, especially when they use warmer sounding tone woods like Cedar and Sapele, which long time readers will know, I simply adore. So maybe I’m a little biased, but when it comes to guitars, aren’t we all? The Cedar top on the P1JC was stunning, with tons of super tight grain, and a gorgeous orange hue to it. The sapele back and sides were rather nicely figured, and since they are within the same general family as mahogany, it had a similar bold, yet warm sound.

Combined together, these two tone woods, and the jumbo body generate a plethora of amazing sounds. With gigantic low end, a driving powerful midrange, and crisp, pristine highs, the P1JC was really something to behold. Fingerstyle lines really popped, with clear definition, but still lots of body to even single notes. Strummed, this thing was a cannon, it was amazingly rich in harmonics and sustain, with all of the tone you have come to expect from Takamine, oh and did I mention it was loud!

Plugged in, the Palathetic pickup and the CT4B II preamp come together to recreate the sound of the acoustic guitar with flying colors, and more so, this guitar almost sounds better through an amplifier, as the already harmonically rich sound of the Jumbo Cedar top is further enriched by the natural harmonics inherent within the preamp tube. The sound was clean, pristine, and amazing. The guitar is a little more prone to feedback than I am used to, but with a top carved so eloquently to resonate like this one does, it can only be expected to respond to harmonic feedback just as well, so a sound hole cover is a must.

For the first guitar I got to review in over two weeks, this one was a genuine treat. The tones were jaw dropping, the looks were subdued yet handsome, and the playability of the whole ensemble was just to die for. The P1JC easily snags itself a solid 10 out of 10.

Takamine P2DC PRO Series 2 Acoustic Electric Guitar

Takamine P2DC PRO Series 2 Acoustic Electric Guitar

The other guitar I got my hands on today was the P2DC which is part of the Pro Series 2. The construction between the Pro Series 1 and 2 at first seemed rather minuscule, the Series 1 has a Cedar top, while the 2 has Spruce. Now while the differences are small, the sounds are worlds apart. While the Cedar has that familiar old world warmth, and charm, the Pro Series 2 with its Spruce top had something else, something new. I love Spruce topped guitars, I do have a personal bias towards Cedar, but my main guitar on and off stage for years was a cheap no name Spruce topped guitar that I have put through its paces for close to 10 years now, so I know how Spruce tends to sound, but this guitar, it was so much richer.

The sound was crystal clear, big huge low end, mid range that had a depth to it that ate up a ton of frequencies, but left more than enough room for my voice to live within, and enough high end presence to bring the guitars jangly side out to the fore front. This guitar had a classy, very round sound to it, that took fingerstyle amazingly, with tons of definition between notes, with a brilliant warmth and harmonic richness that you just don’t usually hear with many spruce topped guitars.

Plugged in, this guitar has a very crisp sound, thanks in part to the palathetic pickups unique construction technique, but also thanks to the CT4B II Preamp which enhanced the pure sound of the guitar, with its added harmonic richness. The sound was as close to the true sound of this guitar as I think you can get without a microphone, all of the highs and lows recreated perfectly, and the mids were as close to the real thing as possible. The guitar wasn’t as prone to feedback as the P1JC, but I think it had more to do with the actual size of the guitar this time around, as it is slightly smaller and thus less prone to feedback than the jumbo, but still with the volume up much past 5 or 6 I had to put a sound hole cover in.

The P2DC seems perfectly suited for any job you would usually leave to a dreadnaught, be that studio work, stage work, or song writing, the bold, beautiful voice of the P2DC is second to none in its class. It easily deserves its score of 10 out of 10.

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World Music Supply | Fender Squier Vintage Modified

Hey guys, it’s Brian from World Music Supply here yet again to bring you your usual dose of gear and guitar news. In today’s review we’re going to cover some cool guitars from the Fender Squier Vintage Modified line of guitars. Squier came up in the midst of the CBS ownership of Fender, first coming into being in the mid 60’s as a company that would produce strings for Fender guitars, it wasn’t until 1982 that Squier guitars became a reality. You see, at the time, Fender was having a tough time competing with the huge number of Japanese made Fender copies that were flooding the market, as now anyone could have a guitar that looked and roughly sounded like a Stratocaster, for a tenth the price.

Fender did their best to compete, with lines like the Lead series which was an attempt for American made instruments to meet a similar price point as their Japanese made counter parts, the problem was, people weren’t buying. Fender soon realized that if you can’t beat them, you need to join them, and they bought up a factory in Japan to begin producing cheaper variants of their U.S made guitars under the name Squier.

The initial idea of creating Fender guitars that anyone could afford has stuck with us through the years, and though their factories have migrated, with some being made in Indonesia, Korea, and even a few in the USA, Squier has always delivered on creating great sounding, and great playing guitars at an affordable price. The Vintage modified series is a great example of this fact, as they are guitars based around an excentric grab bag of classic Fender style and function. Reflecting the myriad of modifications that people have made to their beloved Fenders over the years, the Vintage modified series was designed to give players what they normally would only be able to get from either pawn shops, or through hours and hours of rewiring, and in some cases, wood working their classic Fender instruments.

Fender Squier Vintage Modified Surf Stratocaster Red

Fender Squier Vintage Modified Surf Stratocaster Red

First up in today’s review, is the Squier Surf Stratocaster which is exactly like a typical Strat, except that instead of the typical staggered pole pieces, features retro style lipstick tube pickups. Lipstick pickups are a very straightforward style of pickup, with a cool history, and an even cooler sound. See back in the 60’s, a company called Danelectro needed to keep costs down on their new line of solid body guitars; they did everything from making guitars out of masonite and plywood, to using surplus lipstick tubes as the housing for their pickups. Now while plywood guitars never caught on, the strange, jangly sound of lipstick pickups did. They have a very round tone to them, with a very mellow bass response, full sounding mids, and a very smooth treble tone to them, that helped shape their distinctive surf tone.

This guitar is called the Surf Stratocaster for this very reason, as it has all of the jangle and smooth attack that a 60’s surf band could ever dream of. While it for all intents and purposes looks and feels like your typical Stratocaster, plugged in it certainly has a totally different sound. The sound is definitely more transparent than your typical single coil, with less of a twangy edge, and a very smooth attack that is so round, it’s almost jazzy in its execution. Plugged into a Randall RT503H with the reverb cranked, and the bright switch engaged, this guitar suddenly had all of the cool swinging surf tones that made bands like the shadows and Dick Dale and the Deltones so famous back in their day. The smooth, round tone is very reminiscent of a typical single coil tone, but at the same time, has its own character and strengths.

The strength of the pickup is the fact that it is very clear sounding, with a roundness that is defined and smooth, which translates to chords that are very clear, with each string ringing out with a clear and distinct voice. This is useful, as you can drench the amp in reverb and delay, and still have plenty of clarity in your notes. However, this clarity can also prove to be a problem when you crank the amp, as those crystal clear tones tend to distort in an odd way.

Overdrive this guitar has a character that is wholly unique, and if you’ve ever played a guitar with lipstick pickups, you should know what I mean. Where typical single coils follow the telecaster strategy of having a very bright, and twangy pickup in the bridge, and a more “acoustic” sounding neck pickup, the lipstick pickup is warm and clear across its whole range. Sure the neck is warmer sounding than the bridge, and you can still get some twang out of the bridge, it certainly doesn’t have nearly as much snap as a typical strat pickup in the same position. This means that when it distorts it has a very fluid sound, which is good for single note runs, and lightly overdriven chords, but doesn’t lend itself as well to drop tuned power chords quite as well. While this guitar does have a very unique sound, with a clarity and warmth that is hard to find in many modern guitars, it won’t suit the needs of many hardcore, or straight ahead rock guitarists, but if you’re an alternative guitarist, a lover of surf rock, or just someone who wants a strat that is a little outside of the norm, this guitar gets a solid 9 out of 10.

Fender Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster

Fender Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster

Next up, is the Vintage Modified Telecaster, with its more or less classic tele features, but adding in some cool Fender approved mojo. First thing that you are sure to notice is the oversized early 60’s style Jazzmaster headstock. The second thing you are sure to notice is that the typical nickel covered neck pickup has been replaced with the giant neck pickup off of a Jazzmaster, and as I have mentioned in previous blogs, these giant pickups were not modeled on P90 pickups as many believe, but rather based on steel guitar pickups, aiming to have a much wider frequency response with a clearer, more direct sound.

Through an amp this guitar certainly delivers on that idea, with all of the snap and treble of a tele in the bridge, and all of the jazzy, hollowbody esc tones you typically get from a Jazzmaster in the neck. This design feels like something that would have made Leo Fender laugh back in the day, as it combines two markets that he viewed were completely separate from one another, the Telecaster with its country style spank and swagger, and the Jazzmaster with it’s artsy tones, and crystal clear response. Oddly enough the marriage of the two seems to have worked out wonderfully, as this guitar certainly has all of what you would want from both guitars.

Through a clean amp, this guitar delivers all of the classic Tele tones, but you also can creep into the world of jazz guitar by switching to the neck, or live in a strange world in between the two in the middle position. The middle actually proved to create a very distinct, and frequency rich tone combining the clear twang of the brass plated bridge pickup, with the bell like sound of the neck, making a very round, and warm tone. Strumming chords proved to create an almost acoustic guitar like attack, with plenty of percussive bite, but at the same time, long bell like sustain.

Switching to a dirtier channel, this guitar had a life all its own. The swampy textures of the bridge pickup contrast nicely with the smooth, spacey textures of the Jazzmaster neck pickup. The two together create a sort of “super Tele” kind of sound, with far more of that round neck pickup tone in the mix than a typical Tele. This guitar even distorts well thanks to the typically aggressive quality of the Tele bridge pickup, which takes distortion and over drive with ease, and the neck pickup sounds amazing as well, with a very round tone that sustains for days. The Jazzmaster neck is appropriately comfortable, and fast, allowing you to travel effortlessly along its length. The Vintage Modified Telecaster has a very beautiful voice which would be at home in any situation either of its parents, the Tele or the Jazzmaster would be acceptable in, from country to alternative, to even jazz, this guitar can do almost anything. If you’re looking for a cool Tele with a slightly different voice, this guitar could very well be it. It’s thanks to this versatility that the Vintage Modified Telecaster earns itself a 9 out of 10.

Fender Squier Vintage Modified Stratocaster Sunburst

Fender Squier Vintage Modified Stratocaster Sunburst

Last up in today’s review, is the Vintage Modified Stratocaster with the Duncan Designed Humbucker in the bridge. This guitar is a veritable dream team of classic Stratocaster design. From the oversized 70’s style head stock, the classic finishes from charcoal metallic, black and classic three tone sunburst, and the engraved neck plate. The genius of this guitar, is it takes a mod that became so common that it eventually became an actual standard guitar for Fender, the Fat Strat, the idea of placing a hot humbucker in the bridge to fatten up the guitar might not be anything new, but what is new is the fact that this guitar uses three Duncan designed pickups.

The Duncan designed pickups are blisteringly hot, which allows this guitar to play all of those classic Strat sounds, but still have all of the punch and clarity that a modern guitarist would need. Playing this guitar through a clean amp was a treat, as the pickups can easily nail all of those classic clean Strat tones, but at the same time are powerful enough to drive most amps into that weird almost overdriven, yet still clean world that Strat players love to live in.

This guitar also can live in the purely distorted realm with no problem, as the hotter pickups allow it to lay down big down tuned chords with ease and play flutey lead tones for days. This guitar can live in any world it chooses, from snappy hot country licks, blues runs, rock & roll rhythms, or searing metal chops, this guitar can do it all. For that fact alone, this guitar easily earns itself a 10 out of 10.  

World Music Supply | Takamine Guitars

Hey guys, Brian with World Music Supply here again, to bring you your usual dose of guitar and gear reviews, and today I have a great set of acoustic starter packages from our friends at Takamine. as I’ve mentioned in the past,Takamine was founded in 1962 in Sakashita Japan, as a small family business crafting well made acoustic guitars. In all of the years since then, they have kept the tradition of building affordable good quality guitars alive.

More than all of that, the guitars I’m reviewing today are starter kits, meaning they are great first guitars, but more than that these are great guitars to hold on to, great guitars to keep around long after you’ve learned your craft. One of the best pieces of advice I give to people calling in to ask about buying their first guitar is, think about where you’ll be in five years? in ten years? and will this guitar still be what you want? will it still be relevant musically to you? When it comes to guitars like these, that answer is a resounding yes. Beautifully crafted guitars, with good grained spruce tops, and stunningly figured mahogany back and sides, all satin finished for maximum style and comfort. So without further ado, let’s move into the review of the first guitar in the round up.

The Takamine G320-NS

The Takamine G320-NS

First up is the G320-NS, which is a great sounding spruce and mahogany bodied Dreadnought. The Dreadnought is the typical acoustic guitar shape, having been more or less the standard guitar shape since its inception, when it became one of the biggest guitar shapes of the time, and soon became famous for its big, full bodied tones. The G320-NS carries on this illustrious tradition in stride, with its big full sound, and bright chimey top end. This guitar feels great right out of the box, as its satin finished body and neck make it both comfortable, and a super fast playing neck. Now the G320-NS is marketed in a kit, as a starter guitar, but as someone who has been playing guitar for quite some time now, I can solidly say that the G320-NS would be a great guitar for any collection, as it is loaded with tons of great tones, has a great feeling, and great playing neck, and on top of that, it’s a Takamine which means it’s made by one of the leading guitar manufacturers in the world.

This is by and large the most common style of guitar to learn on, as the Dreadnoughts body isn’t too big, or too small, and more comfortable to get accustomed to, than say a flying V. Not only that, the Dreadnought is by and large the most commonly played, and most commonly recorded guitar style, as almost every artist has recorded at least one or two songs with a Dreadnought. When it comes to learning to play guitar, nothing beats lessons, but these can tend to be expensive, and sometimes not as effective as the student would like, which is why Takamine has included an instruction book that includes a  DVD, CD combo pack full of hands on, lesson material to get you started off on a good note. The kit also comes with a deluxe padded gig bag for the guitar, an electric tuner, and a set of picks. For its ability to get any guitarist started off right, and to just be a great playing guitar to add to your collection the G320-NS gets a solid 10 out of 10.

The Takamine G220-NS

The Takamine G220-NS

Next up is the G220-NS which is another great guitar starter kit, but instead of a Dreadnought, the G220-NS is one of Takamines signature shapes called a NEX, which is like a mini jumbo but with smaller shoulders. What this means is the G220-NS has a very even, and overall homogenous voice. So you have a guitar that sounds just as bold at the 12th fret as you do at the 1st. The NEX is also a very focused sounding guitar shape, with bass that is tight and punchy, and a high end that is snappy without being too sharp.

The G220-NS would also be a great candidate for a first guitar, or just another guitar to add to your collection, as the NEX body shape is a little bit different than your average acoustic, it does have a rather distinct voice that is favored by everyone from jazz guitarists, to country players, to even singer songwriters. The clean and focused tone  of the G220-NS makes for a versatile guitar, while never being overbearing or dense sounding, and just like the G320-NS, this guitar comes with an instructional book with a  DVD CD combo pack, a gig bag, a tuner, and a set of picks.

So even if you’ve played a few other guitars, and you’re just looking for something different, or this is your first guitar and you want to stand out from the crowd a bit. The G220-NS with its cool NEX body shape might be right up your alley, with its smooth, warm tones, and its super fast neck, the G220-NS easily snags itself a 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Takamine Guitars

Hey guys it’s Brian here with World Music Supply again, I hope you guys had a fun forth of July, and for our international readers, I hope you all had a great Wednesday. Getting down to business, today I’m here to talk about some fantastic acoustics made by our friends over at Takamine.  Takamine was founded in 1962 in Sakashita Japan, first as a small family business crafting well made acoustic guitars, which were a rarity in Japan at that point in time. By the mid 70’s they were one of the first manufactures of Acoustic-Electric guitars, and were subsequent pioneers in the art of pre-amp and equalizer technologies. Takamine is still revered in the acoustic guitar world, for their fine crafted and reasonably priced guitars.

Today I want to talk to you about two of these instruments, specifically the EG450SMCSB, and the EG540DLX. Both of these are fine acoustic guitars, each with their own specific voices and characters, so without further ado, lets dive right in. First up is the EG450SMCSB, here after simply referred to as the EG450. The EG450 features one of Takamines signature body shapes, the NEX which is sort of like a scaled down jumbo, with similar body woods and construction, but not as petite as say a typical mini-jumbo. The EG450 features flamed maple back and sides and a solid spruce top, as well as Takamines TP-4T pre-amp.

The Takamine EG450SMCSB

The Takamine EG450SMCSB

I tested the EG450 by itself and then with a band, just to see how it dealt with a more “live” situation. By itself, with no amplification, the EG450 features a very big speaking voice, with plenty of body thanks to its shape and size, and more then enough snap and twang thanks to the maple back and sides. Playing the EG450 finger style was no problem as the strings are spaced out enough that it’s never uncomfortable to play, but they aren’t spaced so far apart that it feels like you’re playing a classical guitar. The design is supposed to lend itself well to singers, as it leaves plenty of room for vocals, which it really does well.  This guitar really does feel like it was tailor made to sing with, because of its deep bass and snappy treble, it leaves a lot of room in the middle for vocals to fill up, without the guitar ever seeming thin, and without the guitar ever overpowering the singer.

Plugging the EG450 into a P.A and playing with my band proved a fun experiment, as the guitar dealt with volume surprisingly well. Anyone who has ever stepped onstage with a standard acoustic guitar knows that it is like walking into a sonic minefield, at any moment the guitar could just erupt into a harmonic frenzy. The EG450 seemed to cope with it far better then most, this I think had a lot to do with its body woods, as maple is a stiffer tone wood, meaning its harder to cause that annoying harmonic feedback. The guitar did get a little squirrelly at higher volumes, but for practice or a smaller gig, it wouldn’t really need a sound-hole cover. The tone through a Acoustic amp, or a P.A. is pretty amazing, it’s got all of the snap and sizzle that you’ve come to expect from piezo equipped acoustics, but thanks to the TP-4T pre-amp the sound still has plenty of body and power even through a moderately expensive amplifier.

Over all the EG450 is a very amazing guitar, and there aren’t many rivals in its particular price bracket. Because it really does sound nice through a P.A, and it would deal with both live and studio situations like a champ, the EG450SMCSB receives a solid 9 out of 10.  

The Takamine EG540DLX

The Takamine EG540DLX

Next in the line up is the EG540DLX which features Sepele back and sides. Sepele has often been branded as “African Mahogany” or some other fun marketing name aimed at people who are attracted to the more traditional tone woods, like big leaf mahogany or the many different species of maple that have found their way into the guitar world. The truth of it is Sepele is a close relative of mahogany, and as the price of traditional big leaf mahogany is sky rocketing, and the public is beginning to be more aware, and more accepting of exotic tone woods in their guitars, Sepele has taken its rightful place next to Koa, Cocobolo and Ovangkol. Thanks to its mahogany like tonal characteristics, the EG540 sounds amazingly like guitars that cost at least twice as much. I tested the EG540 the same way I did the EG450, alone, and then electrified with a band.

By itself the EG540 definitely sounds like a guitar costing at least a grand or so, with a big bold bottom end, sweet singing midrange, and a nice treble zing that never felt thin or tinny. The EG540 lent itself well to finger style playing as it filled the tonal spectrum amazingly well, with plenty of body and structure to its sound, strummed it sounded harmonically complex and dense, which is a great feeling when you need a guitar that really fills out the areas around a singers voice. With a band the EG540 was suited about as well as the EG450, it did need a sound hole cover slightly sooner then the EG450, as its body is a little more harmonically responsive then its maple bodied cousin. The EG540 features Takamines TK40 pre-amp which features a handy notch filter as well as all the typical features of a pre-amp (tuner, bass, middle and treble, gain control). The inclusion of a notch filter means that the EG540 is a handy feature, but once I had put the sound-hole cover in the guitar didn’t seem to have any more problems.

Amplified the guitar had a nice warm sound, with a fat bottom end, a bite-y mid range, and a nice fizzy high end that never sounded plasticy or metallic. It filled its respective role in the band very well, letting me fill out a lot of frequencies without ever stepping on anyone’s sonic toes, so to speak. I loved that the EG540 can be as cheap as a mid range guitar, sound like a fortune and let me know that I’m playing a guitar that isn’t ruining the planet, so to speak, and its because of this that the EG540DLX receives a deserved 10 out of 10.

So there you have it, two great guitars, both at an amazing price. Both of them are equally at home on stage or in the studio, and each looks and feels like a guitar that costs easily twice as much. So why don’t you hurry and get one while supplies last, right now at Worldmusicsupply.com!