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Takamine vs Martin Comparison – US-Made Legacy Against Japanese Precision 

Takamine vs Martin Comparison – US-Made Legacy Against Japanese Precision 

If you’re at the point now where you want to go beyond your average guitar and are looking for the one acoustic to bring to record in the studio and big gig, it’s normal for Martin and Takamine to pop up. While the names are big enough to conjure classic songs in your head and a desire to own both, picking between the two might be trickier than you first thought.

When I picked up the Martin D-28, the ultimate Dreadnought that everyone from David Gilmour to Jimmi Page played, I thought, that’s it; I’ll never need or want another acoustic guitar. Yet the truth was far from no matter how good that guitar was. I often needed a different body type, sound, or price – that’s where Takamine came in.

Having been lucky enough to own and use multiple guitars from both brands in all settings, I’ll help you find what works best for you.

Takamine Vs. Martin at a Glimpse

 Known ForPrice RangeBest Suited For
  • The excellent balance between quality and price
  • The wide range of guitars
  • The versatile acoustic-electric guitars
Mid-range with a selection of premium models
  • Advanced beginners
  • Intermediate players
  • Pro musicians who want a versatile guitar on stage
  • The acoustic resonance of the instruments  
  • Legacy of vintage guitars
  • Premium craftsmanship on all ranges 
Premium with a few modern mid-range models
  • Intermediate and advanced players 
  • Pro musicians that need an excellent guitar for recording
  • Singer-songwriters, guitarists who need a big acoustic sound,
  • Folk musicians 

Comparing Brands In Context

When it comes to massive builders producing thousands of guitars, it’s hard to keep everything concise and objectively say one is better. It’s all a matter of context and what works best for you,

So, to avoid misleading you into making a purchase only because one name is a few hundred years older than the other or because your guitar hero plays it, I’ll compare the brands in specific scenarios and for various player types and levels while suggesting a few models from both that fit the criteria.

This way, we ensure your investment goes on hand-crafted tonewoods or the new-gen preamp unless you need both.

What are Martin Guitars Known For? – The Masters Of Tone

Martin Guitars

Martin is the archetypal guitar brand that best described the term US-made. With almost two centuries of legacy being the backbone of innovative artists, its guitars have defined the sound of the classic records we all know and love and still are the first choice of many guitar legends.

Most players rightly associate Martin with a big body, textured sound, and seasoned and rare tonewoods, all of which come at a premium price—not the guitar a beginner or intermediate player would ever need or afford.

Pre-war Martins, or anything rare from them, will almost always be the most expensive guitar in the vintage store—yet, in recent years, they have expanded their range of instruments with more affordable instruments.

Interested in Martin Guitar? Check our guide on how to find the right one for you here!

What are Takamine Guitars Known For? – Quality for Everyone

Takamine Guitars

Takamine is a prime example of Japanese accessible hand-crafted quality, leaving no box un-ticked. In this comparison, they are the ‘new’ brand, yet their history started right on time for the birth of rock.

When Takamine is mentioned, it immediately brings to mind an easy-to-play, great-sounding plugged-in acoustic electric that can switch from full woody strums to sustained leads. While there are Takamine guitars that match vintage Martins, they’re mostly known for the mid-range guitars.

The brand is especially renowned for the performance of guitars in all price ranges, keeping its quality intact in the entry series while competing with any builder with its premium instruments.

Interested in buying the Best Takamine Acoustic Guitars? Check out our guide for all styles and budgets.

Scenario 1: Takamine Vs. Martin For Beginners

We all have experienced the first scenario —either you have never picked up a guitar or can now play your cowboy chords and want to upgrade to something better.

If that is you, Takamine offers much more at a reasonable price. Remember that they are not a cheap or budget brand, so the price is higher than your typical $150 Orangewood. With that comes the certainty that the instrument you pick will stay with you for years.

Best Martin Guitars for Beginners – Martin LXK2 Little Martin

Martin LXK2 Little Martin

Best Takamine Guitars for Beginners – Takamine GD20 Acoustic Guitar

Takamine GD20 Acoustic Guitar

Scenario 2: Takamine Vs. Martin For The Passionate Hobbyist 

You successfully upped your game and feel ready to jam with your friends, sing at an open mic, or find that you want to sound more like the people you watch on YouTube. What’s the best guitar brand for you?

  • Martin is the best choice if you are into folk music, especially if you like the big, classic acoustic tone or want the best guitar for fingerstyle playing.
  • If you often play on stage or jam with friends and need a versatile guitar that still sounds good when plugged in, or if you are into genres where the acoustic guitar is mainly a featured instrument (most pop, metal, etc.), Takamine is best for you.

Overall, though, Takamine has the edge as you’ll find more value choices with them.

Best Martin Guitars for Intermediate Players – Martin D-X2E Dreadnought Acoustic-electric Guitar

Martin D-X2E Dreadnought Acoustic-electric Guitar

Best Takamine Guitars for Intermediate Players – Takamine GD30CE Acoustic-Electric Guitar

akamine GD30CE Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Scenario 3: Takamine vs. Martin For Performing

Now you have a band or play with different people and need just one guitar that you can plug into the PA; it sounds great, it’s easy to play, and it is reliable for anything from acoustic ballads to country,

Performing is a broad term, and the guitar you need depends much on the type of performer you are. Thus, I will expand on some familiar scenarios.

  • Nothing beats a good Martin’s acoustic resonance if you have the luxury of playing with a mic on every stage. If, like most, you need to plug in your guitar, Takamine has a much wider variety of acoustic electrics for the open mic strummer to the world-touring artist.
  • If you can only carry one guitar on tour, the best for the money and most versatile acoustic electric you can find come from Takamine.

Overall, the premium Martin acoustic-electric will sound better than the Takamine. However, those extra overtones might only sometimes be what you need on stage, where the guitar’s comfort and reliability make the most difference.

I settle this with a draw, with the needle pointing to either side, assuming you are not paying a premium price. If you can go beyond the $1500 point, Martin is unbeatable. 

Best Martin Guitars for Performers – Martin D-10E Road Series Acoustic-electric Guitar or Martin SC-13E Special Acoustic-electric Guitar

Martin D-10E Road Series Acoustic-electric Guitar

Best Takamine Guitars for Performers – Takamine GD93CE Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Takamine GD93CE Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Scenario 4: Takamine vs. Martin For Recording

Now you are a session man or a recording artist who wants the best possible result in the home studio or the big ones.

The studio is an acoustic guitar’s ultimate trial of fire. The moment your instrument is under the studio’s microscope is when that extra 10% of a premium guitar is genuinely felt. 

As a studio musician, I have been in the studio with younger players who bring in their brand new thin and slick acoustic that got them through a tour, or two just to be faced with the reality that nothing beats a pure, classic, big-body Dreadnought is what they need – a formula which also makes for a high-end performing instruments.

Martin is the absolute winner here, defining what an acoustic should sound like on a record with their guitars. Multiple Takamine guitars check the boxes for a great studio guitar, yet you can’t go wrong with a Martin.

Best Martin Guitars for Recording – Martin D-28 Acoustic Guitar

Martin D-28 Acoustic Guitar

Best Takamine Guitars for Recording – Takamine EF360GF Glenn Frey Signature Acoustic-Electric

Takamine EF360GF Glenn Frey Signature Acoustic-Electric

Scenario 5: The Top of The Line Models

In this scenario, you have $3000+ to spend on the dream acoustic guitar. Your eyes and ears automatically go to Martin without needing me to tell you. In fact, top-of-the-line Martin guitars are so well known that they automatically count as ‘legendary guitars.’

I’m not saying that all premium Martins are better than premium Takamines. Yet, if you’re lucky enough to get a vintage model of the former, it might be worth an entire collection of the latter. There is no objective ‘best of’ here, as it’s only a matter of affording it.

Best Top of the Line Martin Guitars

Martin D-45 Acoustic Guitar

Martin D-45 Acoustic Guitar

The D-18, D-28 & D-45 are all guitars you hear on the radio but don’t know it. The list of records they have been on and the number of high-caliber players that use them as their main acoustic is never-ending.

Even though it is a ‘dream guitar,’ I strongly believe that at a certain point, this could be the guitar that the simple hobbyist, singer-songwriter, or working musician should aspire to have after getting rid of all the other acoustics and investing in one that rules them all.

You won’t get a better and richer strumming sound than with this Dreadnaught, just different perhaps.

Martin 000-28EC Eric Clapton Acoustic Guitar

Martin 000-28EC Eric Clapton Acoustic Guitar

Parlor guitars are the mother of blues, but not only. On one side stand the mighty Dreadnaughts, with their powerful and airy sound, and on the other hand stand the 000 Parlors, with their warm mid-range, small body, and versatility for players of all styles.

The OOO or any Om series from Martin is the finest of the finest, whether acoustic or acoustic-electric. Not in vain, Eric Clapton, John Mayer, and other legendary acts have signature guitars of this range.

Best Top Of the Line Takamine Guitars

Takamine Pro JP7DC Acoustic-electric Guitar

Takamine Pro JP7DC Acoustic-electric Guitar

If there is one Takamine guitar that takes the concept of a power horse to the extreme, it is the JP7DC from the PRO series. It might not be the legendary guitar you heard on that Eagles record, but it can offer the same quality, especially if playing big stages is your goal or daily life.

Other Alternatives

Taylor Guitars

Taylor is the first brand you should consider the perfect in-between of Martin and Takamine – the working musician’s workhorse acoustic.

The US builder is renowned for its premium range of Instruments, offering middle-of-the-line and pro-grade guitars at a lower price than Martin. If you want one instrument to take on a tour and proudly bring to the studio, any Takamine from the 300 series and above will do a great job.

Yamaha Guitars

In many ways, Yamaha is Takamine’s direct competitor in offering value acoustic guitars with a few premium models. They are the live performer’s safe solution, whatever the budget.

If you fall into the 1st or 2nd scenario, looking at the list of top 8 Yamaha guitars would be wise if neither Takamine nor Martin convinces you.

Cort Guitars

Cort is a guitar brand that often goes unseen and unheard but is always there. In addition to the many budget guitars and incredible value options, Cort manufactures multiple instruments for companies like Fender, which says enough about their craftsmanship.

Recap: What’s the Next Step?

Fortunately, Takamine and Martin are generally available in stores, so you can try them before purchasing. If nothing convinces you, don’t be afraid to trust your instincts and what feels good at first strum. 

There’s a reward in taking a leap of faith, especially when you’re certain neither the US Legacy nor Japanese Quality alternative will disappoint.


Question: Where are Affordable Martin Guitars Made?

Answer: The Martin affordable series guitars are all made in Mexico and undergo a strict quality check from the US company.

Question: Where are Takamine Guitars Made?

Answer: The premium Takamine models are all made in Japan; value models like the G series are made in China or Korea.

Question: Should you buy an acoustic or acoustic-electric guitar?

Answer: Acoustic electrics are mainly made for guitarists who perform live – if this is not you, then a quality acoustic will generally sound better for the same price.

Related reading:

Takamine vs Taylor Brand Comparison

The Ultimate Takamine GD20-NS Dreadnought Natural Acoustic Guitar Review

Best Martin Guitar Options: How to Pick the Right One

Gibson J-45 vs Martin D-28: Two Famous Dreadnoughts Compared