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This article was originally published in issue #40
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The P3NY is part of Takamine's New Yorker range, the P3 being a Parlour-style-acoustic which is the smallest body type Takamine offers. Parlour ('Parlor' in US English) sized guitars are hugely popular just now as players who would once have dived straight for a dreadnought discover that small doesn't necessarily mean restricted in terms of tone. In fact, the best guitars in this size range ooze subtle tones that record superbly.
Another advantage is that they are easy to handle and this Takamine is the company's smallest full scale guitar but the body shape has been designed to make it super comfortable to play sitting or standing. Fit and finish overall on our sample was very good. This is what one has come to expect from Takamine over the years and it's good to see standards still high from this respected brand.
The P3NY's 'Classical style' headstock and tuners are a great touch, adding to the overall quality look of the instrument. The neck is a very comfortable C shape that fits the hand well feeling much like an electric guitar neck and not a miniature guitar. Obviously, this has distinct advantages for players who are constantly swapping between electric and acoustic, as well as being generally easier to play. The frets were all seated and finished nicely, with an easy going action, low enough to make barre chords and lead playing easy, but not so low as to introduce fretbuzz or intonation issues.
There is no cutaway on this guitar, as you can see, but you would probably lose a fair bit of tonal depth if it did have one, so there are no complaints there, though the neck joint and strap button do hinder the upper fret access a fair bit. Then again, on this style of guitar you probably aren't intending to visit the dusty end that often!
Constructionally, the P3NY features a solid cedar top matched with a solid sapele back and sapele sides and the combination delivered a very pleasing tone. Despite its size, the sound it makes is sweet and clear with a frequency range that makes it stand out in the mix. Having a mahogany neck and a rosewood fingerboard matches perfectly with the body wood, probably adding more depth and warmth to the overall tonal palette. It's a very versatile guitar yielding plenty of dynamic range and warmth right across the tonal spectrum. Despite its size, plenty of volume can be achieved once you start to dig in. Takamine's split saddle bone bridge provided faultless intonation and excellent acoustic coupling to the top.
The electrics on this guitar are courtesy of Takamine's own CT4B II pre-amp system. Included in this set-up is a three band equaliser, volume control, plus built in tuner. The tuner worked well and all the controls were straightforward to use. However, they are all placed quite far around the guitar, near the neck joint, meaning a fair bit of neck 'craning' to see them, making adjustment a little tricky on the fly.
There is always an issue with plugging in an acoustic. It seems that however you do it, a lot of natural tonal characteristics are lost as the sound winds its way through the various systems, but the electronics in the P3NY worked well, with no feedback issues and the three band EQ is a great thing to have at your fingertips. It did lose some of its warmth and bottom end compared with the pure acoustic tone but that is to be expected and by adding a bit of bass on the EQ you can claw back some of that. Plugging into a standard PA or good acoustic amp will suit this guitar down to the ground, but if you are recording with it, definitely use a mic capture its true, and really very good, resonance.
The P3NY is a great, small and comfortable acoustic that despite its size hasn’t had its tone compromised. Well set up and easy to play straight out of the box, the headstock and saddle are nice design features that give it a unique look. This is not just a good small acoustic but a great all round acoustic guitar. If you want great tone without the size, then this could be the acoustic for you.