Takamine EF340SCO

Much of Takamine's focus this year has centred on the company's budget models, many of which are now being sourced from China rather than Korea.

However, the brand's core business – in prestige terms if not quantity – continues to be its Japanese-made instruments, now being produced in a recently opened state-of-the-art factory.

This electro is an example of this new facility's workmanship and a debut to boot.

Overview

Strictly speaking it's slightly inaccurate to describe this cutaway dreadnought as new, since the EF340SC has been a popular model for some years.

However, this one is a limited-run incarnation, the added 'O' suffix signifying ovangkol back and sides instead of the regular version's mahogany. Just under 100 pieces are scheduled for the UK.

Ovangkol, an African tonewood, is a popular substitute for rosewood.

Though invariably stripier in its graining, it can often resemble rosewood in colour (as it does here), and it attracts tonal comparison too, although some luthiers consider it contributes a more mahogany-like sound.

The EF340SCO's back and sides are laminated, which in one sense is a downgrade from the SC since that features a solid back.

Still, the timber is visually well chosen, and the laminations are genuine ovangkol, rather than some anonymous wood being used for the inner plies.

The guitar's solid spruce top is a little 'dirty' in some of its complexion, but it's close grained with a reassuring smattering of cross-silking.

A good looker!

Cosmetic shortcomings were rare from Takamine's old factory, and the presentation here is nigh on faultless too.

The all-over satin finish feels especially smooth to the touch, and the multi-ply top binding and soundhole rings are very precisely lined.

In fact, the only conceivable (very subjective) reservation is that the adornments are rather staid. But this is designed as a workhorse instrument and not one to be dripping in abalone.

Aside from very minor variations in low-position depth, the 644mm-scale mahogany necks on all three guitars are fashioned to a similar profile.

This means Takamine's usual, quite slender span and a tightish string spacing at the bridge, and a pretty-much evenly rounded grip – although this dreadnought has a little more wood along the shouldering than the other two.

A depth of 24.5mm up near the start of the heel turn is fairly full, but it doesn't feel too chunky thanks to the modest width.

Fretting on the bound rosewood fingerboard is very well fitted, nicely polished and with smoothly rounded ends.

It's good to find a second strap button at the heel too, which all review models came fitted with.

Something else our trio share in common is the powering combination of Takamine's palathetic under-saddle pickup and CT4BII preamp.

One of the company's interchangeable slot-in units, the CT4BII provides slider-based volume and three-band EQ, and includes a versatile auto-chromatic tuner that can be calibrated between 438Hz and 445Hz to allow for accompanying, say, dodgy acoustic pianos or other slightly 'off-key' instruments.

When activated the tuner usefully mutes the output, it can be used whether or not the guitar is plugged in, and is generally very easy to use and accurate.

The preamp's only drawback – applicable to all other slot-in Takamine systems too – is that its shoulder mounting gives an annoyingly oblique view of the controls.

We always raise this point, but probably in vain, since the company isn't likely to completely redesign or relocate a housing arrangement that is so well established. Still, you never know.

Sounds

As dreadnoughts go, the EF340SCO isn't the ultimate bruiser, but it's not meek either.

The tone is pleasantly and quite neutrally poised between brightness and warmth, and though a little more low-end gusto might be desirable in purely acoustic terms, that could run the risk of skewing the balance electro-wise.

Indeed, when powered up the CT4BII supplies plenty of low-end range as things stand, even though each of the EQ bands offers only a modest +/-5dB of boost and cut.

There's an advantage to this: it's pretty much impossible to set up a duff sound, because you can't take things to daft extremes.

So what we find is a mid-range that's never going to sound too meagre or nastily honky, and a top end that can either be relatively muted or sparkling but never too dull or too brittle. It's an arrangement that works well.

As far as perceived value is concerned, the one disadvantage Takamine has with this debut is that it might seem expensive compared to other electros that offer all-solid construction for less money.

The reality is that for the important criteria of build, playing enjoyment and sound, the EF340SCO comfortably justifies its price point.

MusicRadar Rating

4.5 / 5 stars
Pros

Super-tidy build. Good general duties sound.

Cons

Slightly grubby-looking top. Cosmetics a tad plain.

Verdict

It's a good-quality workaday all-rounder.

Accessories

quick-release battery cover

Available Controls

High Low Mid Volume

Available Finish

Natural

Back Material

Laminated ovangkol

Body Style

Dreadnought

Bolt-on Neck

No

Bridge Material

Rosewood

Built-in Chromatic Tuner

Yes

Case Included

Yes

Country of Origin

Japan

Cutaway

Yes

Fingerboard Material

Bound Rosewood

Max Rim Depth

125

Neck Material

Mahogany

No of Strings

6

No. of Frets

20

Nut Material

Bone

Pickguard

No

Pickup

Under-Saddle

Preamp

CT4BII

Scale Length (mm)

644

Top Material

Solid Spruce

Weight (kg)

2.68

Weight (lb)

5.9

Width at Nut (mm)

42.5

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.

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