Takamine is a beloved Japanese guitar manufacturer that is very popular amongst professionals all around the world. This is all thanks to reliable, stable instruments that have a great sound when plugged in. Additionally, a lot of their models have an affordable price point, so their gear is accessible to all. The company’s attention to detail is even felt in the entry-level models. This is the case with the GD11M-NS dreadnought acoustic I’ve received recently. Keep reading to get an idea of how this guitar could be interesting to you, no matter your level of experience.
First of all, check out this video that documents my initial impression of the GD11M-NS. It also features a couple of playing examples, in different styles, to give you an idea of how it sounds.
Great Craftsmanship and Playability
Although Takamine is a Japanese-based company, the GD11M-NS is made in China. On the label inside the guitar, it is stated that it was produced in “accordance with strict design specifications by Takamine Japan”. I tend to believe them because out of the box, the instrument feels well made, robust, resonant, and is very easy to play.
The GD11M-NS is mostly made out of mahogany. The top, sides, back, and neck are made out of this popular tone wood that is used in guitar manufacturing for its warm tonal properties. Mahogany has a lovely grain to it, making this model very easy on the eye. There is a beautiful black and cream colour binding over the edges of the body, around the sound hole, and a nice decorative line on the back. It gives the instrument an expensive appearance, although it’s actually affordable.
The fretboard is made out of laurel wood, which is sometimes used as an alternative to the ever-present rosewood. It has a similar sound, although it features a paler colour. The light brown pairs very well with the reddish tint of the rest of the body. The fretboard has a black binding, further giving the guitar some personality.
The whole instrument is very lightly, if at all, finished. This gives a very natural, woody feel to the guitar. It has a nice sensation to it and it won’t stick like some glossy finishes do when you get a sweat going. It also won’t slip as easily depending on the clothes you wear. It’s fitted with two strap pins, so you won’t have to install them yourself for playing while standing up. Interestingly, the neck side pin is made out of metal, while the body pin is a black, plastic-like material. You actually won’t see the metal pin from the front, but Takamine did actually match the body pin to the overall look of the guitar.
Versatile Body Shape
The GD11M-NS features a dreadnought body shape. This type of build is very popular because it’s a good mix of projection and tonal refinement. It’s loud enough to fill rooms for intimate rehearsals, small-scale gatherings and recordings. Yet the sound is sweet thanks to singing mid frequencies and also warm because of the present bass. It’s really no surprise that this is the most widespread body shape in the acoustic guitar industry.
The neck feels pretty standard as far as acoustic guitars go. It has a medium thickness to it, making it an ideal instrument for both chord work and flat-picking. The 42.5 mm nut width is also standard, facilitating chording for most sizes of hands.
Excellent Balance Between Tone and Volume
Out of the box, the GD11N-NS was very easy to play. The action was set low, for a forgiving experience in which chords rang out without rattling. Single-note playing and fingerpicking were also very easy and enjoyable. The string spacing isn’t the widest available, but still comfortable for plucking with the fingers.
The sound is quite satisfying. Being a dreadnought, it has a nice projection that reacts well to changes in the dynamics of the right hand, either strumming or picking. The tone is rich, warm, and defined. I could see this guitar being used in many different recording situations, thanks to its versatile design.
Another great feature is how solid the tuners are. Once set, the strings stayed in tune very well, no matter how hard I strummed. This is a very important characteristic that beginners and experienced players look for. There’s nothing more off-putting than a constantly out of tune instrument. It’s also not welcome at all in professional situations.
Ideal for Many Different Players
It’s hard not to recommend the GD11M-NS. It would suit many different players, no matter their experience level. Although it’s a bit more expensive than entry-level guitars, the extra you pay translates into a well-built instrument that will serve you well as long as you keep it.
Beginners will have an excellent starting point to develop their technique. The instrument is easy to play, stays in tune, and provides a very satisfying tone. This amounts to a very inspiring playing experience that will keep you practicing and coming back to the guitar. This is obviously a nice bonus, especially when starting out. The beginning stages are somewhat painful and annoying, so every little bit helps.
For experienced musicians, this is a great choice for various reasons. First of all, if you are looking for a good, inexpensive backup instrument, look no further. You’ll be able to customize it with your preferred pickup system and have a reliable, good-sounding, and versatile guitar that won’t be very sensitive to environmental changes. Also, it makes for a great travel option. You won’t worry too much about banging it up when you take it to the cottage, campfire or on a business trip via airplane. For someone that has a few acoustics already, it’s nice to have a little variety. In this case, the mostly-mahogany construction will add a lot of warmth to any collection.
If you are interested in the GD11M-NS but wish it had an integrated pickup system and a cutaway to ease high register playing, make sure to take a look at the GD11MCE-NS. It’s the same guitar, but with the aforementioned options.
Check out the GD11M-NS Takamine guitar on Best Buy’s website.