Takamine Acoustic Electric Guitars under $500 Reviewed: Japanese 6-Stringed Delights

GD30CE
GD30CE

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Takamine has produced acoustic electric guitars in Japan since the 1960s. Their instruments are still highly regarded today. I’ll take a look at those models that you can normally get for under $500 in this review.

Takamine (pronounced, ta-ka-mee-nay) makes a wide range of guitars, but here we’ll concentrate on just their best acoustic electric guitars for less than $500. (I’ll cover some of the higher priced instruments in another article.)

If you are pressed for time and just want to check out the pricing and availability of the Takamine guitars in this review at Amazon, you can click the links in the list below. I know this list is longer than it should be for an article like this, but there are so many options in this price range that I just couldn’t decide which ones to leave out.

You’ll see that there are really 4 groups of guitars here – dreadnoughts, classicals, NEXs, and Taka-Minis.

If you want to skip ahead to a specific section of this review, you can click a link in the box below. Otherwise, just keep scrolling and reading as usual.

Decoding the Takamine Model Names

Every guitar manufacturer has their own method of naming the distinct models they produce. It’s usually very handy to understand the system, so you can tell at a glance what kind and quality of guitar you are looking at.

All the guitars in this review come from what Takamine calls their “G Series”. The Takamine G Series of guitars is its most basic series. What does the “G” stand for? Either nothing in particular or “Guitar”, I guess.

As you can see in the list above (or in the information below), each Takamine assigns each guitar a string of letters and numbers, generally 5 or 6 characters long.

Following an initial “G”, the 2nd character refers to the body style. Takamine has a Dreadnought (D) style, FXC (F) which is similar to concert style, Classical (C) style, and NEX (N) style, which closely resembles a jumbo body. Taka-Mini guitars are smaller ¾ size guitars and are indicated with an “X”. These also have the NEX body style.

Next is the number that refers to the specific G series. Takamine has a G10 through G90 series, with the price and quality going higher as the number goes higher. Note that there is some variation in this system, especially with the Classical models.

The “C” after the number indicates that the guitar has a cutaway for easier fingering of the upper frets. If there is no cutaway, the C will not be present. Sometimes there is an “M” in this slot (either with or without a C after it). This tells you that the top (as well as the back, sides, and neck) of the guitar is made of mahogany.

The “E” after the number (and the possible “M” or “C”) indicates that the guitar has on-board electronics. If not, no E will be present. All the guitars in this article have this E because we’re only talking about acoustic electric models here.

The characters, if any, at the very end designate the color/finish: Sunburst (BSB), Natural (NAT, gloss), Black (BLK), and Natural Satin (NS). Sometimes you may see these letters connected to the rest of the model name with a dash.

The Takamine Dreadnought Acoustic Electric Guitars

There are 5 Takamine dreadnought (often simply called “dread”) style guitars that you should be able to get for less than $500 each. These are the GD10CE, GD11MCE, GD15CE, GD20CE, and GD30CE.

Each of these instruments features a 12-inch radius fingerboard, synthetic bone nut and bridge saddle, and chrome die-cast tuners.

The preamp in the GD20CE and GD30CE includes a 3-band EQ. Lower models simply have volume and tone controls. All preamps have a built-in tuner which is extremely handy whether you’re playing alone or in a group.

There are many variations within the 30 series. Besides the standard dreads mentioned here, you can get left-handed versions, FXC, and NEX (see below) models. The 30s are a very popular choice.

The table below (and others that follow) show you the main differences in construction materials as well as the nut (the piece at the top of the neck that aligns the strings) width.

Model Top Back Sides Neck Finger Board Nut Width (mm)
GD10CE Spruce Mahogany Mahogany Mahogany Rosewood 42.8
GD11CE Mahogany Mahogany Mahogany Mahogany Rosewood 42.5
GD15CE Spruce Mahogany Mahogany Mahogany Rosewood 42.8
GD20CE Solid Cedar Mahogany Mahogany Mahogany Rosewood 42.8
GD30CE Solid Spruce Mahogany Mahogany Mahogany Rosewood  42.8

You can get the GD10CE, GD11MCE, and GD20CE in natural satin finish. The GD15CE and GD30CE come in either natural (gloss) or black finishes.

The Takamine Classical Acoustic Electric Guitars

Model Top Back Sides Neck Finger Board Nut Width (mm)
GC3CE Solid Spruce Mahogany Mahogany Mahogany Rosewood 50.8
GC5CE Solid Spruce Rosewood Rosewood Mahogany Rosewood 50.8
GC5CE
GC5CE

As far as I can see, the GC3CE and GC5CE Classical style guitars only come in natural gloss finish.

The image at the right gives you an idea of the look of these Classical models.

The Takamine NEX Acoustic Electric Guitars

Model Top Back Sides Neck Finger Board Nut Width (mm)
GN30CE Solid Spruce Mahogany Mahogany Mahogany Rosewood 42.8
GN51CE Solid Spruce Rosewood Rosewood Mahogany Bound Rosewood 42.8

These NEX body guitars each come in 2 finishes. You can get the GN30CE in natural and in black, or you can have the GN51CE in natural or in sunburst.

Check out this video from Takamine in which Brad Davis talks about the NEX body style.

A commenter in the Takamine Forum mentions this about the differences between a dreadnought and a NEX guitar.

“The dimensions are virtually identical to the dreadnaught [sic] except for the depth. Dread is 15mm deeper. Dread has a little bigger bottom end and a tad more volume. But you’d be hard pressed to notice it.”

The Taka-Mini Acoustic Electric Guitars

Model Top Back Sides Neck Finger Board Nut Width (mm)
GX11ME Mahogany Mahogany Mahogany Mahogany Rosewood 42
GX18CE Solid Spruce Mahogany Mahogany Mahogany Rosewood 42

The Taka-Mini models only come in natural satin finish. These are ¾ size instruments that have the NEX body style.

Conclusions about the Takamine Acoustic Electric Guitars

These are the majority of Takamine acoustic electric guitars under $500, but they are not the only ones. If none of these suits you just right, look around and you’ll find a few others. One of them could be just what you want. I didn’t include more here simply because it feels like there are too many here to choose from already.

In general, these are considered beginner guitars. They’re the kind you get if you’re not exactly sure that you want to get into guitars full force and so don’t want to spend a lot of money.

Obviously, there are other brands in this price range – at least half a dozen by my count – and you could just as well go with any of them.

The reasons to pick Takamine over any other are things like the NEX body style, the materials used in construction, the body size, or the nut width.

Hopefully you can try out several guitars before deciding on which one you want. If you’ve already done so and have come to the conclusion that you want a Takamine – an excellent selection – just click the link below to shop for the model you want at Amazon.

Get your new Takamine acoustic electric guitar at Amazon today!


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