Our final two top acoustics ever (and one is solid!)…
Takamine EN10C 1993
The ‘people’s’ electro-acoustic that became an industry standard
Takamine started out as a small company building mainly classical instruments for the domestic Japanese market, but in 1975 began exporting its products worldwide. Three years later the first Takamine electro-acoustics hit the streets, and since those days the brand has gained an enviable reputation, due to consistent build quality, innovative onboard electrics and a degree of visual style rarely seen in the acoustic world. Takamine electros were also seen as a more traditional alternative to the bowl-backed guitars of Ovation.
Although various models had been produced since 1978, it was the EN10C with its playable neck, accessible cutaway body, attractive soundhole ring and modernistic headstock styling that created an industry standard Takamine instrument. The company’s guitars soon started finding favour with stars of the Nashville country scene, such as Garth Brooks, and it’s been said that Takamine is now the acoustic-electric guitar of choice in Music City.
Takamine broke with established tradition by using cedar for many of its acoustic guitars’ tops, and this spicy coloured, close-grained wood can clearly be seen on the EN10C (now EAN10C), as can its distinctive ebony block soundhole inlays. As pioneers of shoulder-mounted preamps and controls, Takamine electros were stage-friendly, modern sounding guitars and the EN10C deserves its place in any top 10.
Line 6 Variax Acoustic 2004
As technology marches on, could instruments like this be the future for the ‘acoustic’ guitar?
In 2009 the world is run by digital technology. And today even the acoustic guitar, one of the purest musical instruments known to man, does not escape its attentions. One groundbreaking guitar has recently made the headlines: it’s radical, but no more in its way than Martin’s 14-fret neck, Gibson’s giant J-200 and Ovation’s bowl-back or under-saddle pickup systems were, at their launch.
The Line 6 Variax approach is to ‘model’ or electronically re-create the sonic DNA of a number of famous acoustic guitars. So in this pickup-less solidbody we’re treated not only to models of classic jumbo, triple-0, folk 12, blues 12, dreadnought, gypsy and other great sounds (16 in all), you can also add invisible capos and even electronic open tunings. Other features include a compressor that simulates the recorded sound of an acoustic guitar, and a virtual mic placement that brings subtle tonal nuances to the range of tones on offer.
Naturally no genuine acoustic sounds exist in this solidbody guitar, as it’s totally designed for live or recording use, but the models are accurate and the technology exciting.
Variax Acoustic 700 costs no more than a medium level far Eastern acoustic, but offers literally thousands of £££s’ worth tones; many of the sound samples are taken from priceless vintage instruments, which would be impossible to take out on the road. While it will never replace your Martin parlour, Variax is a fascinating next step on a well-worn road of acoustic guitar discovery.