Takamine guitars are made in Japan since 1962 and distributed in the US by ESP Guitars in Hollywood, California since 2015. The brandname was taken from Mount Takamine, a prominent feature in the skyline panorama of the small city of Nakatsugawa in central Japan and is correctly pronounced as “ta-ka-mee-nay”. After a decade of experimenting with woods and finishes in the 1960s, the company started its rise into the world with a reputation of superior acoustic guitars under the guiding hand of master luthier Mass Hirade, who joined the company in 1968 and whose classical guitar design that still carries his name “Hirade” to this day, put the company whose mission statement has always been “to design and manufacture instruments that perform far beyond its price class”, immediately on the map.
When global trading became an opportunity for Japan in 1975, some of the world’s top musicians finally were able to fist hand witness the exceptional quality of Takamine string instruments.
In 1978 the company developed a proprietary under-saddle pick-up (UST), called THE PALATHETIC pick up, which instantly revolutionized amplified guitar design as an intricate part of the guitar itself. Until then the problem of stage amplification had always been that pick up volume did not do justice to the tone and projection of a great acoustic guitar.
The Palathetic pickup changed that, by using six individually shielded piezo-electric elements, one for each string. The Takamine design employs twelve times the element mass of the typical under-saddle pickup. The six elements penetrate the bridge plate, soundboard and bridge to make direct contact with the saddle creating a sonic linkage with the string. The pickup casing is mechanically attached to the guitar’s top and bridge creating a sonic linkage with the soundboard. The result of this design is a signal that possesses the articulation of an isolated string signal and the rich harmonic content delivered by the resonating soundboard for a full, complete and accurate acoustic guitar tone at high sound pressure levels. From then on it became well known around the musical world that Takamine “is the acoustic-electric guitar to take to the stage”. While other guitars allow you to “plug in”, the rich and full sound of our guitars’ electronics provide a pleasant surprise to musicians and audiences who aren’t used to the fantastic sound of Takamine’s proprietary Palathetic pickup system.
When the company introduced its first acoustic-electric model in 1979, the PT-007S, the combination with the Palathetic became the one to beat worldwide.
In the early 1980s Takamine expanded for a short time into the production of a selection of impressively high quality solid body electric guitars, but later abandoned the effort (and its grueling competition in the marketplace) to focus entirely on the steel string acoustic-electric guitar market in general. Instead of pursuing the solid body electric guitar market, the company went back to its quality handmade wooden guitars with great success
Over the years Takamine constantly expanded their line into various size and shaped guitars. Jumbo, Dreadnaught, NEX, OM and others. They also experimented with many different tone woods including spruce, koa, rosewood, mahogany and maple. It is said that Takamine owns one of the largest guitar tonewood stockpiles in the world. The company also applied fine Japanese craftsmanship to the artistic aspect of the guitar as well. Elaborate inlays of abalone, various woods and other materials has become a trademark of Takamine.
In 1987, to celebrate their 25th anniversary, the company introduced what would become their first annual Collectors Limited Edition guitar. This yearly production of a limited quantity special edition allows Takamine to express some their most technically aggressive and artistically beautiful designs.
This tradition is now in its 30th year and has produced some incredible masterpieces as recorded in a 2007 book titled : “The Art of Wood and Tone” with the sub-title “Takamine Limited Edition Guitars 1987 – 2007. This beautiful coffee table book by German writer Rolf Jürgen Bruess describes the painstaking perfection that goes into the production of Takamine’s limited run guitars.
Unfortunately the book is sold out, but occasionally a copy becomes available on the German Amazon website
In the early 1990s Takamine expanded its global marketing with a limited series of Six Signature guitars, developed with 6 celebrity stage performers of extraordinary status.
Here are the stories of how these signature instruments came about:
1. Steve Wariner: http://www.takamine.com/signature-stories-model1
2. Garth Brooks: http://www.takamine.com/signature-stories-model2
3. John Jorgensen: http://www.takamine.com/signature-stories-model3
4. Kenny Chesney: http://www.takamine.com/signature-stories-model4
5. Glenn Frey: http://www.takamine.com/signature-stories-model5
6. Toby Keith: http://www.takamine.com/signature-stories-model6
Unapologetically, patriotic Toby Keith was asked once why the mezcal brand he established was distilled in Mexico and the acoustic guitar he played was built in in Japan, his reply was, “Show me who makes ‘em better and I’ll switch”. ….He still plays his Takamine!
And those few words kind of describe in honest accuracy the guitars that Takamine produces.
They’re finished with an eye for perfection, they sound like they sing a love song, they handle like a natural appendix of your arms and hands, they fit in your lap like your favorite pet and produce a stage volume that does not deviate from the sound and tone quality you’re looking for.
No wonder the list of celebrity Takamine players is so widely extended amongst today’s star performers.
Jerry Lee’s Music Store is an authorized Takamine Guitars Dealer here in St.Marys, Georgia. Come and check out our Takamine guitars and bass collection.