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December 2014
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Takamine Glenn Frey Signature EF360GF Acoustic Guitar Review


The Nitty Gritty
Possibly the most amazing thing about Takamine guitars is their incredible consistency. Frey’s description of the EF360GFs he’s played—warm, perfect mid-to-top without a lot of overtones in the lows, sounds and plays great—accurately describe this guitar, too. That’s part of their promise: if you play one EF360GF, you’ve played them all. Takamine guitars are the choice of countless touring bands simply because they offer few surprises—in a really good way. For somebody who lives and dies by the axe, that’s extremely important.

That doesn’t mean this guitar isn’t fun to play or lacks personality. The neck is comfortable, much like a Les Paul neck, actually. At 1-11/16” wide and just a little chubby, it’s good for chord strumming or for singer-songwriter- type fingerstyle playing, though after tackling some intricate fingerstyle pieces, I found myself wanting a wider fretboard and string spacing.

One advantage to having a guitar so balanced on the high-to-mid side is how well it fares in an ensemble setting. It can be heard clearly through the mix, making it ideal for Eagles-style rhythm duties, or even Bluegrass-style flatpickin’. Having spent most of my gigging life as a solo guitarist, I found the lack of oomph in the lows a bit disconcerting; with my trio, where bass is somebody else’s responsibility, it was much more satisfying.

The electronics are the other key to Takamine’s success. The built-in pickup and onboard preamp sounded great through any amp or PA I played through; it’s practically soundman-from-hell proof. There’s a 3-band EQ, Volume control and a tuner right under your nose, making it effortless to tweak your sound on the fly. The tuner responds almost fast enough to be more useful than frustrating. Battery changes are convenient and lightning quick.

Recording
I did a little experimental recording with the EF360GF and a Zoom H4 hand-held recorder, using the built in stereo mics (at 24bit 96K). The clarity of the mids and highs was just stunning, and you could hear every detail. The highs sparkled, while the mids offered oomph without any nasal unpleasantness. The lows were warm without being muddy. This guitar really shines when you’re strumming big chords, and it positively glows when dropped into DADGAD. I look forward to hearing Frey’s guitar mixed into future CDs.

The Final Mojo
The EF360GF is a remarkable instrument, and Glenn Frey has every reason to be proud of it. Takamine is now going through the same cloning process with his Number One 12-string, and if this guitar is any indication, that one should be equally remarkable. At a reasonable price point, the playability, onboard electronics and terrific sound make this guitar a fantastic value.
Buy if...
you play a lot of gigs and need a rock-solid, great playing and sounding axe.
Skip if...
most of what you do is intensive and intricate solo fingerstyle playing.
Rating...
4.5 

MSRP $1999 Street $1399 - Takamine - takamine.com