Friday, April 18, 2014

1977 Takamine F360 Acoustic Guitar Review

Hiya!

Over the years I have owned and played plenty of Japanese-made Takamine acoustic guitars and have found nothing to gripe about 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 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 1977 F-360.

The F-360 is a shameless copy of the Martin D-28, 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 rosewood 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 knows, and actually who cares at this point? It is a nice-sounding guitar.

Like the Martin D-28 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-28’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-360 is ok, especially for a 37 year old guitar. There is very little wear to the original frets, no cracks or evidence of repairs, but plenty of dings and chips here and there. It has been around the block a few times!

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. By the way, it weighs in at around 4 pounds, 10 ounces, in case that makes a difference to you.

If you are looking for one of these guitars, remember that they are over 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-360 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!

Mahalo!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review. I just bought one of these and similar to what you mentioned it has been around the block a few times in its nearly 40 years. The one I found has a lovely tone. Brights are great and clear and digging into some heavy strumming brings a full and dynamic sound. Bluegrass licks sound great as do 12 bar blues up and down the neck. I only paid $220 for mine. I feel like I got a pretty sweet deal as this guitar definitely sounds like it cost considerably more .

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