It seems like I have been on a Takamine lawsuit guitar kick the past few months, but I have seen quite a few of them lately. But, today we are looking at an F369, which is a very rare bird – in fact, this is the only one of these I have ever seen.
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. Over the years I have owned and played many of these Japanese-made Takamine acoustic guitars and have found nothing to gripe about with their craftsmanship, playability or tone.
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 1982 F-369.
The F-369 would be a shameless copy of a Martin dreadnought, if Martin sold all-rosewood guitars. They went whole-hog on their reproduction, even 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 an East Indian rosewood body, back, AND TOP! There is no S or SS in the model name, which is usually (but not always) the designation of a solid wood instrument in the Takamine world, but this one appears to be made of solid wood. Who knows, and actually who cares at this point? It is a nice-sounding guitar.
The body has a multi-ply binding around the top and back while the neck is not bound at all. The rosette is elegant, and combined with the black pickguard and the ebony bridge it fits in well with the visual theme of the guitar.
The mahogany neck has 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 Martin’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.
This guitar was unsold new old stock, so the condition of this F-369 is fantastic, particularly for a 32 year old guitar. There is no wear to the original frets, no cracks or evidence of repairs, and no dings or scratches. It is a real time capsule!
After a quick set-up with new light gauge strings, I have to say that this Takamine is really a winner. It is not terribly powerful, but it has a sweet sound with fabulous overtones. The volume is well balanced from string to string.
The frets are level, and it is a very easy-playing guitar with no fret buzz. It is not super-good for fingerstyle, but it is still a fabulous instrument and it would be terrific for a beginner or intermediate player. By the way, it weighs in at around 4 pounds, 12 ounces, in case that makes a difference to you.
If you are looking for one of these guitars, remember that they are all 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.
But, good luck with finding one! As I said earlier, this is the only one I have ever seen…