Takamine guitars have become a staple in the music industry, earning a reputation for quality and innovation in guitar craftsmanship over the decades. Since its inception in the late 1950s, this Japanese brand has grown from a modest family guitar shop to a globally recognized name, recognized as one of the finest acoustic and acoustic-electric guitar manufacturers.
However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that Takamine started to shape its identity as we know it today, tapping into the international market with instruments that offered both quality and affordability.
Takamine has solidified its place in music history through continuous innovation, reflected in its unique designs and the introduction of limited-edition models that often incorporate ornate, artistic embellishments. The company has maintained a balance of traditional techniques and modern advancements, making its guitars a preferred choice for budding strummers and seasoned performers.
Founding and Early Years
Takamine grew its roots in Sakashita, Japan—a small town at the base of Mount Takamine. The company’s journey began in 1959 with a humble family instrument shop focused on the craft of classical guitars and mandolins.
1962: The guitar’s popularity took off in Japan, and the family business was formally renamed “Takamine Gakki Ltd.” This marked the official starting point of Takamine as a brand dedicated to guitar craftsmanship.
A commitment to quality craftsmanship characterized the early years. This was the period when Takamine began to distinguish itself with the careful construction of each acoustic guitar.
1975: Takamine’s coveted instruments became available worldwide for the first time.
1978: With the introduction of their under-saddle Palatheti pickup, Takamine revolutionized the industry in terms of amplified acoustic guitar design.
1979: Moving beyond just acoustic models, they introduced their first acoustic-electric model.
As you can see, their early years took the company from its humble beginnings to a world-renowned leader in musical instruments.
Development of Guitar Lines
Offering various lines ranging from classical to modern acoustic-electrics, Takamine’s guitar lines each boast their own unique blend of innovation and tradition.
Takamine’s journey into guitar craftsmanship began with classical guitars, influenced by traditional Spanish designs. Classical guitars like the Hirade series, which featured superior construction and sound, set a high standard for the company’s commitment to quality.
Steel-String Acoustic Guitars
The leap into steel-string acoustic guitars gave Takamine a wider audience. Among these, the dreadnought models with a spruce top became especially popular for their robust, versatile sound suited for various playing styles.
After Takamine introduced its first acoustic-electric guitar, the PT-007S, it (and they) became a game-changer in the industry. This innovation allowed musicians from Bruce Springsteen to Kenny Chesney to amplify their music without compromising the acoustic quality.
You might find a connection to your favorite artist through Takamine’s signature models. Guitars designed for Steve Wariner, Glen Frey, and John Jorgenson, among others, reflect not only the artists’ uniqueness but also Takamine’s adaptability and craftsmanship.
For those with a bit more money to spend, Takamine’s special editions resonate with guitar aficionados. Commemorating milestones like the 50th anniversary, these limited edition guitar models are crafted with extra attention to detail and often feature elaborate designs and rare materials.
Major Endorsements and Artists
Takamine Guitars are renowned for their strong ties to high-profile musicians and signature models celebrating the artist’s unique style.
The Eagles are one of the iconic bands often seen with Takamine guitars. Notably, Glenn Frey used a Takamine to perform timeless hits like “Hotel California” during live performances, enhancing the guitar’s acclaim. This relationship helped cement the brand’s reputation in the music industry.
Country music legend Garth Brooks collaborated with Takamine to create the Garth Brooks Signature Model, reflecting his style and the rigors of performing on the road. Similarly, Grammy Award-winning guitarist and singer Steve Wariner has his own Steve Wariner Signature Model, celebrated for its distinctive sound qualities and craftsmanship.
Musician John Jorgensen, known for his versatile musical talent, has multiple John Jorgensen Signature Models with Takamine. These guitars showcase attention to detail and designs to meet the diverse needs of his playing style, whether it be rock, country, or bluegrass.
A longtime staple in the country music scene, the Grand Ole Opry commissioned Takamine to create a commemorative guitar for the establishment’s 80th anniversary.
Business Expansion and Global Reach
In the 1970s, Takamine transformed into a guitar manufacturer known worldwide. The introduction of the groundbreaking “Natural” series in 1986 further cemented Takamine’s status among acoustic guitar makers. This period of growth saw the headquarters bustling with activity as new designs and technologies took shape.
- 1979: Introduction of the PT-007S acoustic-electric model
- 1986: Launch of the first “Natural” series guitar
- 1987: 25th-Anniversary Limited Edition model, the EF25, is announced
In the decades following, Takamine’s continued adoption of innovative features, such as the parametric EQ system in their preamps, triggered a surge in global demand.
The company’s global presence grew stronger through relationships with prominent musicians like Garth Brooks. They also gained distribution through internationally recognized partners, which ensured that your favorite Takamine guitar was available anywhere you were.
Product Lines and Series
Takamine is well-known in the industry for its wide range of guitars crafted to suit various musical styles and players’ needs. Each series is designed with specific features, from entry-level models to professional-grade instruments.
The G-Series is your gateway to the Takamine experience. Aimed at the budget-conscious musician, the G-Series offers a wide range of models. For this series, you’ll find:
- Acoustic Models: Various body shapes, from dreadnoughts to jumbos, are available with or without electronics.
- NEX Body Style: A Takamine original, giving you a comfortable, smaller body with a large, resonant sound.
The Pro Series is where you’ll land if you’re seeking higher-end features and craftsmanship. With a sterling reputation for quality, the Pro Series includes:
- Pro 1-7: Each number represents a different level of adornment and features, with attention to detail and premium materials.
- EF25: A notable limited edition model that was part of a celebration marking Takamine’s 25th anniversary.
Beyond six-string guitars, you’ll discover Takamine’s reputation carries over to other instruments:
- Bass Guitars: They’ve crafted acoustic and acoustic-electric basses that provide deep, warm tones for bass players who prefer a more organic sound.
- Ukuleles: The perfect choice for a smaller, more portable instrument.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below, you’ll find the answers to some of the most common questions guitar players have about Takamine Guitars’ history.
What is the origin and significance of the Takamine brand name?
The name Takamine comes from Mount Takamine in central Japan, where the company’s original instrument workshop was founded in 1959. This mountain represents the brand’s origins and symbolizes its dedication to quality and tradition.
How has the production location of Takamine guitars changed over the years?
Takamine guitars were initially handcrafted in the town of Sakashita, Japan—where the brand was founded. Over time, while maintaining its headquarters in Japan, Takamine has expanded its production capabilities in other countries to meet global demand without compromising the quality for which they’re known.
What led to the legal dispute between Martin and Takamine?
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Takamine produced models that closely resembled those of Martin guitars, leading to a legal dispute. The issue revolved around trademark and design infringements claimed by Martin due to similarities with their iconic guitar designs. This prompted Takamine to create its distinctive designs and move away from making Martin-like models.