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Very comfortable to play.
Sounds great plugged in with minimal tweaking.
Neck dive can be a little irritating.
Solid Spruce Top
Sapele Back and Sides
Nick Jennison reviews the TSP138C from Takamine's Thinline series. Boasting a full, dynamic acoustic response that even electric guitarists will should quite comfortable behind. The TSP138C is built from a tried-and-true cocktail of spruce, sapele, and mahogany to deliver a traditionally balanced and punchy sound.
When it comes to playing acoustic guitar on stage, compromise is often the name of the game. The qualities that make your favourite dreadnought so great in the studio - the thunderous lows and massive projection that come from the deep body - can be a pain in the neck on a loud stage. The large body is uncomfortable standing up, prone to feedback, and those glorious lows are either filtered out by the FOH engineer or swallowed up by the bass guitar and kick drum.
Takamine’s new Thinline acoustic guitars are specifically designed to address all of these issues, without sacrificing the look or feel of their more traditional acoustic guitars. Seen from the front, the TSP138C looks exactly like any other NEX-shaped Takamine. It’s only when you take a look from the side that you’ll see how slim this guitar is. At 60mm deep, it’s only 15mm deeper than a telecaster. This has a big impact on the way the guitar feels and sounds, but apart from the body depth the TSP138C is just like any other Takamine. There’s no electric guitar neck, no magnetic pickups, no plastic body - it’s a solid spruce top, laminate sapele back and sides and a familiar-feeling mahogany/rosewood neck.
Unplugged, the TSP138C does lack a little of the low-end weight that you’d expect from a traditional dreadnought/jumbo body shape. It’s definitely not an unpleasant experience (compared to many of the plastic-backed, small-bodied “live stage acoustics” I’ve played, it’s positively symphonic), but this guitar is definitely designed to be played plugged in. The slimmer body shape is very comfortable and makes the guitar a lot less prone to feedback than a larger box.
If you’ve played many Takamine guitars before, the neck profile on this guitar will feel very familiar. Takamine describes it as “slender”, but it’s actually fairly meaty - great for gripping during aggressive strumming passages, but perhaps a bit cumbersome for more intricate work. I’d prefer a smaller neck, but not for this reason. I’d prefer a thinner neck for balance reasons. The thick neck profile, combined with the lighter body, results in some serious neck dive. It’s nothing a grippy strap won’t fix, but if you’re fussy about the way your guitar sits (like I am) you might find this a little irritating.
The CT-3N electronics are the kind of side-mounted unit that I’m often fairly critical of - mainly because I don’t think cutting a large hole in the side of an acoustic guitar is a great idea! In the case of the TSP138C, I’m happy to make an exception. It’s a good sounding and user-friendly system, with that familiar Takamine “produced” tone that’s ideal for sitting nicely a live mix. With everything at noon, there’s a little too much honk for my liking, but the midrange control is perfectly voiced to dip out unpleasant frequencies in this range without sounding “fake” or “plastic-y”.
The Takamine TSP138C is an acoustic guitar for a very specific purpose: playing on stage with a loud band. If you’re the singer in a band who needs a comfortable, attractive acoustic that’s going to sit well in a live mix, or you’re an electric player who wants a familiar playing experience for your acoustic numbers, the TSP138C is a perfect choice, and a huge step up from many of the “electric-style acoustics” out there.