Takamine celebrates its 60th anniversary this year with not one but two special models created for the occasion. The one we have before us today is the LTD2022 and is limited to 350 units worldwide, and the other, named ‘The 60th’, will have only 60.
The former will sell for around $3k/£2.5k, whereas its far more grand stablemate tips the scales at a smidge under $13k/£10k! We’re not about to compare the two, however, seeing as we haven’t even laid eyes upon The 60th model, and so we’ll instead focus our attention on the LTD2022 we have here.
T take a peek into the company’s past from a purely UK-based perspective then the story really begins around the mid-‘70s. This was when adverts began to appear in the music press from Ivor Mairants’ music shop in Rathbone Place, just off London’s Oxford Street, displaying Martin lookalikes for around the £50 mark.
Reviews indicated that these were remarkable value and, just to add context, seeing as it was still comparatively difficult to get hold of a decent acoustic guitar without spending a fortune in those days, curious players began to form an orderly queue.
This writer succumbed and still owns an original 1975 Takamine F307 from that period, the quality of build and tone apparent from the first strum. Of course, those early UK imports are now known colloquially as being from the ‘lawsuit’ period as it wasn’t long before more original designs, free of any derivative encumbrances, began to appear.
Coming up to date, Takamine has enjoyed quite an illustrious few decades, its instruments appearing in the hands of many top players from Jon Bon Jovi, Glenn Frey and Garth Brooks to Steven Wilson, Bruno Mars and Brent Mason, to name but a few.
Innovations have included the celebrated CoolTube pickup and preamp system, and reaching further back, the ‘Brownie’ Palathetic pickup, elements of which are included in the new CTF-2N featured here. More of that later, meanwhile let’s take a look at what makes this celebratory model tick.
Another nod to Takamine’s history is the LTD2022’s body style. This classical body shape first appeared in Japan around 1969 with the PT-05E and is reintroduced on both this and The 60th, updated to include a cutaway.
The body itself features a laminate of Hawaiian koa for the guitar’s back and sides, with a high-grade Sitka spruce top that has been colour-matched to the golden brown hue of the koa using what Takamine refers to as a ‘Burnt Sienna’ tint.
Needless to say, the top, back and sides look wonderful, the grain featuring koa’s signature 3D shimmering in the light. The top is particularly worthy of note as the grain here is shown off to great effect and the abalone trim sets things off a treat.
Takamine tells us that the bracing underneath the Sitka top has been specially designed to bring out the best spectrum of sound – basses, mids and trebles – from a small-bodied instrument and we’re talking really quite trim dimensions hereabouts, with a maximum lower bout width measuring only 370mm (14.5 inches).
The LTD2022’s neck is mahogany with an ebony ’board that features a special ‘diamond’ marker at the 12th fret, another tip of the hat to Takamine’s 60th anniversary. Tuners are weathered-looking brass-coloured Gotoh Grover style, and the perfectly seated 20 frets are low-profile medium in dimension.
Build quality is practically faultless throughout, as you might expect from a limited edition, and we can’t wait to hear what the guitar sounds like. But before we venture further, a few words about the specially developed CTF-2N pickup system.
As already revealed, this is modelled after Takamine’s original ‘Brownie’ preamp – but with a few modern twists to the tale. It was originally designed to partner the Palathetic pickup, and players have apparently been requesting a return to the Brownie system for quite a while.
Always willing to listen to customer feedback, Takamine obliged with this new take on the original FET-powered design, but the company has included a notch filter to tame any errant frequencies on the live stage and a chromatic tuner to keep everything sweet to the ear.
When you consider that enthusiasts for the Brownie system included connoisseurs of tone such as Ry Cooder and James Taylor, it will be interesting to hear what Takamine has done with its reinstatement here.
Feel & Sounds
Turning the LTD2022 over in our hands reveals an early feel-good factor. The finish is silky smooth, the smaller body comfortable to sit or stand with – and we haven’t played a note yet. The neck is a generous C shape, chunky enough to feel substantial but falling far short of anything that could be described as ‘clubby’.
The nut width of just under 43mm will be welcomed by players used to the dimension of electric guitar necks, but will just possibly cause a frown among fingerstylists who demand those extra few millimetres at this end of the fretboard to allow for their more gymnastic capabilities.
Sound-wise, the LTD2022 isn’t a particularly loud instrument in that it doesn’t overwhelm or run away with itself dynamically. Instead, we find a very controlled voice with basses and mids in proportion with each other and particularly sweet trebles.
It’s worth noting that this sweetness – and, for that matter, sustain – is present all over the fretboard and not just down at the campfire chord end. So whatever Takamine has done in shaping the guitar’s bracing has certainly had a beneficial effect on the tone overall.
It’s difficult to tell how much of an influence the presence of koa is to the sound of the guitar as it’s a laminate rather than solid. This is not an impediment, of course, because some makers – up to and including boutique level – insist that laminated back and sides gives a more solid foundation for the all-important vibration of the instrument’s top.
So koa’s sonic reputation for girthy basses and mids maybe isn’t quite so much in question here, but it might just be that it’s had an influence on the sweetness of the trebles.
Through an acoustic guitar amp the new CTF-2N preamp system comes into its own, and it’s simplicity itself to operate. The three sliders control bass, treble and volume, and the notch filter scans the frequencies with that familiar ‘wah’ sound as you turn the dial.
The tuner, meanwhile, mutes the signal to allow silent tuning on stage. We found it was easy to dial in a sound we were happy with through our AER Compact 60 and so no complaints there.
Needless to say, any guitar that is in any way limited or a special model is aimed principally at the collector market. But in this case, the hardcore is perhaps going to chase after The 60th model with its more rarefied accoutrements and very much more limited 60-unit distribution worldwide.
With that model, Takamine has included a genuine diamond on the headstock in the form of the dot on the ‘i’ in the Takamine logo, just to give you an idea of how luxurious the appointments are on offer there.
But our LTD2022 is a quarter of the price of its illustrious cousin and represents a very well-made and good-sounding instrument, the collectability being a factor on top.
- PRICE: $2,999 / £2,450 (with semi hard case)
- ORIGIN: Japan
- TYPE: Concert cutaway
- TOP: Solid Sitka spruce
- BACK/SIDES: Laminated koa
- MAX RIM DEPTH: 97mm
- MAX BODY WIDTH: 370mm
- NECK: Mahogany
- SCALE LENGTH: 644mm (25.35”)
- TUNERS: Takamine logo’d Gotoh
- NUT/WIDTH: Bone/42.67mm
- FINGERBOARD: Ebony
- FRETS: 20
- BRIDGE/SPACING: Ebony/53mm
- ELECTRICS: CTF-2N w/ volume, treble and bass controls plus notch filter and tuner
- WEIGHT (kg/lb): 1.97/4.34
- OPTIONS: None
- RANGE OPTIONS: Takamine is also producing another anniversary model entitled ‘The 60th’, limited to 60 guitars worldwide with seriously upgraded appointments including a genuine diamond embedded in the headstock. The selling price is an eye-watering £9,999
- LEFT-HANDERS: No
- CONTACT: Takamine