Takamine has been building exceptional guitars for decades. The company is a household name in professional circles. Thanks to excellent craftsmanship, stability, playability, and tone, you’ll see them on stages all around the world. The manufacturer employs the same rigour to its more affordable instruments, making it an ideal beginner and intermediate option for guitarists that want a great product, while not aiming to perform on stage. The GD11MCE-NS dreadnought is one of these models. It’s loaded with electronics so it’s a very capable option, straight out of the box. Read on to find out if it’s the right instrument for you.
First of all, check out this short video that demonstrates the GD11MCE-NS’s tone plugged and unplugged. I also discuss my initial impressions of the guitar.
Great build quality
Takamine produces its main lines of instruments in Japan. The GD11MCE-NS is built in China, but with accordance to strict design specifications by the head office. When I picked up the guitar for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised by the build quality, resonance and feel of this model.
The GD11MCE-NS is mainly built out of mahogany. This is a traditional tone wood that produces a warm, mid-focused timbre. The top, back, sides and neck all feature this material and it gives the instrument a very nice look, thanks to beautiful grain. The only part that is made out of something else is the fretboard. Instead of using the usual rosewood, Takamine elected to go with laurel. It is sometimes used as an alternative and offers a lighter brown tint. I find that it matches very well with the rest of the guitar.
The guitar features a bit of binding around the body and the sound hole. It’s a black and cream line that gives an expensive look to the model. Additionally, there’s a beautiful decorative line going across the back. Also, the fretboard is bound by a black accent. All these additions are purely cosmetic, but give the instrument a lot of personality.
The guitar is naturally finished. This is something I enjoy a lot, because you get a very nice woody sensation while gripping the neck and strumming or fingerpicking. Glossy finishes might get sticky with a bit of sweat or humidity and can also feel slippery depending on the clothes you wear.
The GD11MCE-NS has a dreadnought body shape. This is a widespread format that offers a good balance between volume and tone. It’s a versatile construction that will give you awesome results no matter your playing style; strumming or plucking. It features a nice bass response to supply a good drive to energetic chord work, but it also has great definition and singing qualities for melodies or arpeggiated accompaniments.
The neck has a medium width, offering a forgiving, comfortable experience, no matter your playing style. You’ll have enough material to snugly lay down chords and it’s easy enough to run single notes all over its length.
Takamine included its TP-4T Preamp system with the GD11MCE-NS. This is a powerful tool that will give you a nice electrified platform for live performance or recording. It’s loaded with a three-band EQ with adjustments for the low, mid, and treble frequencies. It also features a built-in tuner that is extremely useful for quick checks and adjustments.
Awesome sound; plugged or not
My first minutes with the GD11MCE-NS were a pleasant surprise. Out of the box, I was met with a well-made, resonant instrument that surpasses its price tag. I was surprised with how easy it was to play and how nice everything responded to various dynamics as well as styles. It projected loudly and filled the room with its defined tone in a very satisfying manner. It was easy to record and performed well when using either a pick or fingers.
The electronics produce a classic plugged in acoustic tone. There’s a lot of variety you can achieve thanks to the three-band EQ. With minimal adjusting, I was able to get a very useable sound for all types of playing. With a bit of additional tweaking with compression, EQing, and possibly reverb, you can definitely get a refined timbre from the instrument.
Who is the Takamine GD11MCE-NS guitar for?
There is a lot to like about the GD11MCE-NS, no matter your experience level. It has an excellent build quality, it’s very playable and the tone is quite satisfying. I think it will be welcome in the hands of many different players.
For beginners, there’s something to be said about starting out on an instrument like this. It is very well built and has big advantages on many entry-level choices. The great factory setup will help you get up and running quickly and is a welcome perk to anyone starting. The guitar is hard enough at first that you don’t need any extra added challenges, such as high action. The sound is very nice and inspiring; you’ll come back to the instrument time and time again. Lastly, you’ll have a future-proof guitar that you’ll be able to use in any kind of live setting, thanks to the integrated electronics.
For those that already own one or several acoustics, this is a good choice as a backup, travel instrument, or even main live guitar. I think you’ll be surprised by the value that Takamine managed to squeeze into this model. It’s conveniently loaded with electronics, so you can take it on stage as soon as you get it. Another added benefit is that mostly mahogany acoustics aren’t all that common and are generally a welcome addition to any kind of collection. You’ll have an extra brush to paint with, this time with an extra-warm timbre.
If you rather a guitar that’s not loaded with a pickup system so that you can use your favourite preamp, Takamine offers the GD11M-NS guitar, which I also reviewed. It’s the same guitar, minus the TP-4T. It also features a full bout design, so it’s ideal for people that prefer a non-cutaway instrument.
Check out the Takamine GD11MCE-NS guitar on Best Buy’s website.