Takamine EG440SC

In the beginning, Takamine was the name of a craggy old mountain outside the Japanese town of Sakashita.

It seemed a strange place to set up a business making handcrafted acoustic guitars, but that's exactly what happened in 1962 when a family of luthiers opened their premises in the foothills.

Logically enough, the fledgling company took its name from the mountain and thus Takamine was born.

Over a 44-year timeline studded with guitar innovations, awards and artist endorsements, Takamine has become one of the most prominent names in the acoustic guitar sector.

You could argue that Takamine's success is down to the sheer quality of their premium instruments (built in Japan to shit-kickingly high standards).

We would counter that it's equally down to their G-Series: the entry-level range of Chinese instruments that was introduced several years ago to blanket acclaim.

Overview

In the EG440SC, we're looking at a cutaway example of Takamine's 'NEX' body shape that has a rounded top profile, a narrow waist and a rounded bottom like those ladies in the hip-hop videos.

We're told that the dimensions of the soundboard should give a balanced response over the bass, treble and midrange, and that's exactly what you want from an acoustic.

This guitar boasts a neat finish. From the fretboard to the soundhole, there is very little to criticise here in the construction stakes.

We did find that the gold tuners gave a slightly jerky adjustment of pitch. Otherwise, the time we spent with the EG440SC didn't reveal any hidden nasties.

We weren't surprised to discover that the EG440SC's back and sides are made from laminate mahogany, but we were pleased to find a solid spruce soundboard on this model.

Inevitably, using fewer chunks of tonewood produces a more even and responsive sound than a plywood mash-up and should make a marked difference to the EG440SC's performance.

The neck and fingerboard are less exciting, following the usual mahogany/rosewood format on virtually every G-Series model.

We were delighted to clock a swanked-up preamp in the form of the TP-4T (the additional 'T' refers to a chromatic tuner that tells you to tighten or slacken via a small LED screen).

We're hoping it shouldn't take much tweaking to dig out a decent sound. The moment you play a chord on the EG440SC you can tell the quality has gone up a couple of notches.

Despite the larger body size, this was a tighter playing experience than many of the acoustics we have tried in this sort of price bracket and instantly offered a more 'compressed' unamplified tone that doesn't let the bass swamp the sonic spectrum or allow the treble to cut your throat.

Sounds

For once, TG would actually agree with the manufacturer's blurb. This is a supremely balanced instrument that lets the quality of the spruce and mahogany shine.

It also complements its tone with an enjoyable fretboard and neck profile - we didn't really think about what our fretting hand was doing and that's always a good sign.

Sometimes TG plugs in an electro-acoustic in the hope that we can sort out its raw tone with a bit of EQ action.

In this instance, we plugged in the EG440SC in the hope that its gorgeous unamplified tone wouldn't be lost somewhere between the piezo pickups and amp speakers.

Fortunately, it wasn't. If you want to stick to the blueprint, simply set your levels at half-mast and get strumming.

If you would prefer a bit more bass or added bite, it's easy enough to do that too. The critical point is that wherever you set the EQ, you will always hear the subtle flavour of the tonewoods working hard beneath the surface.

We guess you could say that it gives this guitar a real sense of identity. As with the EG260C, the other major benefit of plugging in is the increased level of subtlety.

Moving bass notes, trills and ghost notes were all noted and conveyed to the amp, encouraging us to play with panache.

The only downside is when you unplug and go play in the park. Despite the EG440SC's physical comfort, TG couldn't help feeling like Superman without his powers.

MusicRadar Rating

5 / 5 stars
Pros

Real character to the tone and great attention to detail.

Cons

Tuners are a bit jumpy.

Verdict

The EG440SC is a gorgeous guitar from top to toe.

Top Finish

Natural Gloss

Includes Bag

No

No. of Frets

20

Inlays

Abalone Dots

Hardware

Gold

Country of Origin

China

Fingerboard Material

Rosewood

Neck Material

Mahogany

Top Material

Solid Spruce

No of Strings

6

Guitar Body Material

Mahogany Laminate

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.