After building guitars since 1962, Takamine bring out their top-line Pro Series. This is their cutaway dreadnought packed with clout and an impressive set of electronics…
2012 saw the 50th anniversary year of this fine company. Their reputation has embodied fantastic tone and reliable build quality for thousands of professional musicians worldwide. As part of this celebratory range of instruments including the ornate, decorative and everything from grand auditoriums to parlour models, the P3DC is perhaps more aesthetically understated than some of its peers. Is it exceptional in other ways however and if yes, how so?
It’s really a wolf in sheep’s clothing but without the wolf notes. As soon as you pluck the instrument from the case you notice its friendly weight telling you this is a guitar of substance.
The neck profile is a healthy C-shape with a taper making the higher registers even more inviting. The lower open chord positions still provide a healthy pivot and a silken-soft lacquered finish. The playability is fantastic and well-complimented with the stylised yet subtle circular wooden inlaid fret markers. They add a classy touch to the guitar’s restrained visual presence. The neck itself appears to be of one piece of mahogany with a separate low profile and superbly mated heel. Access to the high frets is superb although you may wish to reposition the offset second strap button which lives on the side of the heel. It doesn’t particularly get in the way.
The bridge allows for at least three smart innovations, some of which were popularised by Lowden instruments many years before. Firstly, the split saddle allows for a greater degree of accuracy in intonation of the B and E strings thus avoiding them sounding slightly flat when playing open or barre chords. The through bridge stringing approach does away with the need of bridge pins and at the same time prevents any strings biting into the bridge material gradually eating into it over time when under tension. Instead, here the strings have a perfectly clean exit point from the back of the bridge and there is an optimal rake angle contributing to the volume output of the strings and top vibration. There is also an added benefit in that there are no bridge-pins puncturing holes in the top going though any otherwise essential internal bracing pattern that may be used to voice the top itself. No reinforcement plate is needed and perhaps it’s fair to say this can go some way to preventing the belly of the top raising over time although the guitar is nonetheless under great tension from the strings themselves.
A CT-4B II Cool Tube Preamp adorns the side of the guitar. The Seiko digital, mutable and chromatic tuner operates with clinical precision, offers pitch adjustment and sits next to the built in quick release battery compartment. It’s only found on Takamine’s Pro-Series Japanese made guitars and is very flexible with the 3 band EQ. Simple but effective.
Takamine are known for their studio quality definition and ability to sit well on top of a mix thanks to their famous zingy top-end. The cedar here enhances the breadth of tone rather than simply tempering the treble and offers an outstandingly insightful blend of typically very bright house style persona with tonewood enhancements.
The beauty of a cedar-topped guitar of this standard is that it instantly offers a rewarding and mid-range rich character – full of warmth and mellowed smoothness. It has the allure of sounding much more matured straight out of the box, (than say, a solid Sitka spruce top does), without hours of playing in. Add to that the benefit that it will also continue to deepen and become fuller is part of the reason why cedar-topped, high-calibre instruments make a wise choice. Further to that still, is the ability that this guitar has to deliver a wide soundscape of light and dark shades. It is often easier to remove mid-range richness by the EQ than it is to add it in from preamps in an attempt to manufacture a good tone. The crowning glory of this guitar is that it does in fact offer a lively yet seasoned tone full of sonorous textural personality which you can easily brighten to great dynamic effect by shifting your playing hand slightly towards the bridge. It’s tonally very dynamic and is accessible with the greatest of ease and is more obviously apparent than if it were a spruce top.
Due to this guitar’s sonic diversity it should win an award in its own right. It has power and presence as a mighty rhythm guitar with glassy harmonic-rich shimmer while retaining mid-range focused fingerpickers pokiness and poignancy. It’s clear, articulate and instantly rewarding to listen to and play. The action is superb and overall this guitar represents a sweet little slice of guitar making history. No one guitar can achieve ultimate tonally diversity, but this instrument goes a long way to achieving those musical goals. It’s understated but not one to be underestimated. You’ll love it.