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This article was originally published in issue #24
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Takamine has been one of the leaders in the everyday semi-pro and less expensive pro acoustic guitar market for some years now - particularly in the USA, where its guitars are pretty much everywhere. In Europe - notably in the UK - the brand has had some serious competition at the lower end of its range from hungrier rivals but has decided to hit back with the new G Series, which are solid topped, laminated body acoustics aimed at offering the less wealthy player the Takamine experience at a more affordable price.
The GD-30 NAT is part of that Takamine G series, which is the brand’s most affordable range but first impressions suggest little to reveal that this is a low cost guitar.
Firstly, let's ask the obvious question: why no pickup? Well, cost is one reason, and also not everyone wants or needs one. Anyway, maybe there's a different brand pickup you'd like to fit? But if a pickup is what you want, then Takamine has an option for that, too. But for now, let's concentrate on this pure acoustic Dreadnought and see what it's like.
Starting at the headstock, the GD-30 features a good quality set of chrome-plated tuners whose firm action is reflected in the guitar’s impressive tuning stability. The headstock joins the main neck shaft via a scarf joint and the mahogany neck itself has the slim modern feel that many contemporary acoustic guitar manufacturers have gradually adopted to help steel strung acoustic guitars convey an easy playability that is closer to an electric guitar.
The fret ends on our review sample were neatly finished and the guitar was a delight to play, the 14th fret neck join also allows reasonable access to the guitar’s upper range despite the absence of a cutaway. Down at the other end, the Takamine features a pinless split saddle design which no doubts contributed to good intonation and will assist easy string changes when the time comes.
The guitar’s traditional Dreadnought style body features a solid spruce top mated to laminated mahogany back and sides. Black pinstripe edge binding subtly masks the circumference where the tops and sides meet, complimented by the soundhole rosette’s low key but nonetheless attractive faux abalone trim.
In contrast to the satin finish neck, the body is finished with a high-gloss lacquer that looks very attractive whilst also serving to help ward off some of the minor bumps and scratches that can quickly affect the appearance of an all-satin finish guitar. The body features traditional ‘X’ bracing whose clean finish displays the thoroughness that Takamine applies to its instruments. At this price we’d probably overlook a spot of untidy internal finishing but our review guitar was as clean as a whistle, there are no loose ties or rough edges to spoil the bracings smooth lines.
The guitar’s tone displays the blend of evenly balanced frequencies and punchy delivery that that has seen the Dreadnought style endure as one of the most popular acoustic guitar body shapes. Strum an open G major chord and the GD-30 demonstrates an impressive consistency, the bass is solid but not overly dark or muddy and is complimented by a clear shimmering treble. The Dreadnought’s flexibility makes it a great ‘campfire’ guitar, meaning that one can grab a few open position chords and chug away happily all day. The combination of excellent projection and crisp delivery is definitely present on this instrument, factors that always render playing a Dreadnought such a rewarding experience. Switch to flat-picked single note lines and the Dreadnought still has the punch to make the notes pop out. Maybe there is a little loss of colour compared to the more complex tones of an all-solid guitar but at this price range and especially considering what the GD-30 offers in terms of a great all-round sound, who is really going to split hairs?
To conclude we’d say that this guitar represents good value for money. Its competitive price allied to its user-friendly neck makes it an obvious choice for the novice while we’d be seriously surprised if more experienced guitarists looking for a good ‘grab & go’ acoustic found this Dreadnought lacking.
Takamine has always been a brand that guitarists feel confident putting their faith in and it’s pleasing to see that the brand isn’t cutting too many corners when it comes to making sure that its lower priced instruments live up to the brand's reputation for quality. In its price range, the GD-30 is taking on both the big name rivals from the likes of Ibanez, Alvarez, Yamaha and so on, but also the smaller brands which claim to offer more bang for your buck. The GD30 is good but acoustic guitars are very personal, so we'd advise you to go to a shop with as many alternatives as possible and audition them all.