For players seeking a break from the traditional, the GD20CE from Takamine combines a solid cedar top with mahogany back and sides to produce a warm, detailed tone that works beautifully for a wide range of musical styles. The slim satin-finish mahogany neck and 12" radius ovangkol fingerboard provide great feel and playability, while the onboard Takamine TP-4TD preamp system gives you a built-in tuner with three-band EQ and gain controls for excellent amplified performance and versatility. Here's Nick Jennison to tell us more.
Who doesn't love a dreadnought? Whether you're a singer songwriter looking for a powerful and authoritative guitar to accompany yourself with, a recording guitarist looking for a solid all round acoustic or a hobbyist looking for your first acoustic guitar, you can't go wrong with a dread...and it seems like just about every manufacturer has their own take on it.
Takamine's GD20C all-round fine example of their elegant and refined-looking cutaway dreadnought body shape, but with some unusual wood choices to set it apart from the spruce-topped crowd. Notably, it sports an ovangkol fretboard and a solid cedar top.
Cedar, for the uninitiated, is more commonly used as a top wood for classical guitars. Compared to spruce, it's a warmer and more "seasoned" sounding wood with a lot less upper-midrange bite and more of a silky and extended top end. As a rule, cedar doesn't do as well when played hard when compared to spruce, but the complex overtones sound beautiful with a more delicate touch.
That's definitely the case here. Affordable dreadnoughts tend to be quite un-subtle affairs made to be pounded on, but the GD20CE really shines with fingerpicking, hybrid picking and more measured flatpicking styles. That said, there's enough weight and midrange from the mahogany body for strumming too. There's a really nice balance of detail and power on display here for what is a very affordable guitar.
Out of the box, the setup is rather stiff with quite a high action - the sort of setup that works well for a guitar that's designed to be played very aggressively, but it's a little at odds with the subtle and complex tones this guitar has to offer. That said, lowering the action is a relatively simple procedure that any competent tech can accomplish, and the synthetic bone saddle will make this process even simpler.
The built-in preamp is full-featured and easy to use, with a three-band parametric EQ and a clear and accurate tuner, which is a very nice addition. I'm not a huge fan of giving the guitarist this level of EQ control on their guitar, but as long as you're fairly conservative with the sliders you'll get a really pleasant and natural tone when plugged in - it's a really nice sounding system.
The Takamine GD20CE is a much more versatile and sonically complex take on an affordable dreadnought. The spruce top gives it a level of complexity and detail that's quite rare for this kind of guitar, especially at this price range. Even factoring in the cost of a pro setup, you're getting a really nice guitar for the money.
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