Friday, March 14, 2014

1980 Takamine F-340 Acoustic Guitar Review


Over the years I have owned and played a few Japanese-made Takamine acoustic guitars and have never been disappointed with their craftsmanship, playability or tone.

Takamine is a Japanese guitar maker that has been in business for over 50 years now. They have started building guitars in other countries, but all of their high-end guitars still come from the land of the rising sun. Don’t sniff at their products and say that imports are junk, because they build some fantastic instruments. Though they have built some solid-body electric guitars, they are best known for their acoustic and acoustic-electric steel string guitars. By the way, the company is named after Mount Takamine in the Gifu Prefecture of Japan.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, this company became famous (or notorious) for building righteous Martin guitar copies that earned them a strongly-worded memo from the Martin legal department. Today we are looking at one of these animals: a 1980 F-340.

The F-340 (catchy name, isn’t it?) is a copy of the Martin D-18, their iconic dreadnought. They went whole-hog on their reproduction, with using Martin’s headstock shape and logo script. I can see why Martin was upset, particularly when you consider that this is a nice guitar, and surely provided unwanted competition for a fraction of the price. This would be a lawsuit guitar, if a lawsuit had ever been filed.

The body has the traditional dreadnought size and shape, with 14 frets free from the body. This one has a laminated mahogany body and back, and a laminated spruce top, as there is no S or SS in the model name, which is usually (but not always) the designation of a solid wood instrument. Who know, and actually who cares at this point? It is a nice-sounding guitar.

Like the Martin D-18, ornamentation is sparse. The body has a multi-ply binding around the top and a simple black binding around the back while the neck is not bound at all. The rosette is elegant, and combined with the black pickguard and black-painted bridge it fits in well with the visual theme of the guitar.

The mahogany neck has its original 20 chunky frets, and they are skillfully sunk into the rosewood fretboard. The peghead has chrome-plated sealed tuners, probably made by Gotoh. This Takamine shares the D-18’s 1 11/16-inch nut, and 25 ¼-inch scale. The fretboard is a bit more curvy with a 12-inch radius, instead of 16-inch.

The condition of this F-340 is very good, especially for a 34 year old guitar. There is very little wear to the original frets, no cracks or evidence of repairs, and only small dings and chips here and there – no signs of abuse here!

After a quick set-up with new medium gauge strings, I have to say that this Takamine is really a peach. It is not the loudest dreadnought I have ever owned, but I never expected that going into this deal. It has a sweet and mellow tone that is tolerant of the occasional mis-fretted note, and the volume is nicely balanced from string to string.

The frets are still level, and it is a very easy-playing guitar with no fret buzz. It is not the greatest fingerstyle guitar, but for the basic stuff I am using it for, it is a fabulous guitar. It would be a terrific instrument for a beginner, for sure. I am holding onto this as a guitar to loan to friends that are considering taking up the instrument.

If you are looking for one of these guitars, remember that they are 30 years old now, so you should look it over carefully or have a luthier check it out. Just look for the usual stuff: bridge lift, cracks, evidence of previous repairs, and fret wear.

Compared to other new guitars on the market, you get a lot of performance for the money on this one. Finding a used Takamine F-340 is not terribly difficult, and they are still very reasonably priced, at around $350 to $450 for a nice example, which is 25% of what you would pay for a playable D-18. If you need a durable budget acoustic, you might want to track one down!



  1. I just found one for $150 - between the price and your most excellent review, it's a no-brainer! Thanks for sharing your insights!

  2. Nice review. Back in ‘73 my F-340 which was my first guitar I ever bought, cost $168.00. I was making a $1.65 per hour back then and took 3 months on layaway at Winn’s music store. I still have that guitar. I fixed the belly lift on it with my own version of the bridge doctor which incorporates a piezo pickup under the top directly under the saddle. In time ,I plan on replacing the top with a 4 A Sitka top, new frets and reshape the fingerboard to a 16” radius. It has rosewood sides and a beautiful rosewood back.
    Back in ‘73, I didn’t understand anything about solid or laminated tops but my first baby deserves a few upgrades after all these years.

  3. Just bought a nice one with HSC for $200 :)

  4. Picked up an ‘81…still plays fantastic. Needs an electronics “bump”. But that’s about it.

  5. Tengo una Takamine go 1962 f-340 no se cuál es el precio real