Today’s guitar world is full of options that cater to every kind of musician, from the bedroom guitarist to the biggest rockstars on the planet. Back then, there weren’t as many options for those who fancy acoustic guitars, but that picture has changed dramatically over the years.
Taylor and Takamine are two of the most well-known brands in the acoustic guitar world right now. Both of these captured the attention of musicians around the globe due to their superior craftsmanship, wide array of options, pleasing aesthetics, and most importantly, a great sound that inspires players to bring out the best of themselves when writing and performing their songs.
In this Takamine vs Taylor Brand Comparison, I will walk you through the main differences between these two brands so that you can make an informed decision when you purchase your next acoustic guitar. I will focus mostly on price, materials, comfort, and sound.
Main Differences That Set Taylor and Takamine Acoustic Guitars Apart
Even though Takamine and Taylor both focus on manufacturing acoustic guitars, they have a few core differences that ultimately make them cater to different types of musicians. These are the aspects that these brands contrast in the most.
- Legacy and History: Taylor Guitars (1974) is a younger company than Takamine (1959).
- Factory Locations: Taylor builds all of its instruments between the USA and Mexico, while Takamine builds its instruments in Japan, China, and South Korea.
- Price Ranges: In general, Takamine is a more affordable brand than Taylor.
- Tonewood Choices: Taylor uses more unique and rare tonewood combinations than Takamine, which tends to use more traditional options.
- Body Shapes: Takamine focuses on classic shapes such as the Dreadnought and the Jumbo, while Taylor features several innovative designs such as the Grand Concert.
- Construction Methods: Taylor has a patented bracing pattern named “Taylor V-Class Bracing”, which aims to improve on more traditional patterns used by brands like Takamine.
- Neck Profiles: The neck profiles on Taylor instruments are generally slimmer and faster than the ones on Takamine guitars, which tend to be thicker.
- Pickups and Technology: The quality of the electronics and pickup systems on Taylor guitars tends to be superior to the ones on Takamines.
- Customization Possibilities: It is possible to have a unique guitar built to your specs through Taylor’s Built to Order program, while Takamine does not offer a similar option.
- Second-hand Prices: In terms of holding their resale value, Taylor guitars are more attractive than Takamine guitars.
Legacy & Instruments’ Origin
Takamine’s roots date back to 1959, while Taylor was founded in 1974. While this does not mean that one is better than the other, it is interesting to know that Takamine started as a Japanese small family-run business that experienced steady growth over the years.
Their best guitars are still manufactured in Japan, but they also outsource to China and South Korea. Taylor was founded in the USA by two partners and all of their instruments are built in the USA. However, their more affordable models such as the Baby Taylor are made in Mexico.
Overall Sound Quality, Playability & Experience
In terms of quality and playability, Taylors are a cut above Takamine, but they are significantly more expensive.
The latter has more affordable guitars that sound good for their price, although their most expensive models which are made in Japan exhibit much more attention to detail than the ones made in China and Korea.
As for their sound, Taylor guitars are known for being bright and articulate, meaning that you get a good note separation and chords aren’t muddy or unclear. Different body shapes emphasize different frequencies, but they are generally balanced with good sustain and projection.
Takamine guitars, on the other hand, are more associated with warmer and darker tones, which have to do with factors like tonewood choices and construction methods.
Their more traditional approach reflects itself in the sonic properties of their instruments, which is great for anyone who is looking for a vintage vibe to their sound.
As for the electronics that you may find on an acoustic-electric guitar, I have to say that Taylor is once again superior.
Although I much prefer using an external microphone to capture an acoustic guitar’s sound, if I have to use the instrument’s preamp system, I’d rather use Taylor’s Expression System than the electronics found on Takamine guitars. It sounds more natural to my ears, and I like how the EQ controls react better.
Finally, small parts of the guitar such as the nut tend to be made from high-quality materials such as TUSQ on Taylor guitars, which I prefer to more traditional materials such as bone, which Takamine uses frequently. I find that Taylor can achieve more tuning stability and resonance with their material choice.
Price Ranges (New & Second-Hand)
Just a couple of minutes of browsing through Taylor’s and Takamine’s catalogs will make it clear that Taylor’s prices are considerably steeper than Takamine’s.
This disparity likely has to do with the fact that Taylor manufactures most of their guitars in the United States of America (aside from a few that are made just a short drive away, in Mexico), with premium materials, meticulous quality control, innovative design elements, and superb craftsmanship.
While Takamine is not a low-quality brand by any means, its prices are more affordable than Taylor’s. They manage to strike an interesting balance between using quality materials and techniques while keeping the price tag at a decent number for most players.
In the second-hand market, you’ll find that Taylor guitars hold their value better than their Takamine counterparts, which is something you may want to consider before you decide which one you want to get.
Body Shape Diversity
Taylor is often associated with some of their innovations in the body shape department. The Grand Auditorium and the Grand Concert, designed by them, offer a superior playing experience that has both comfort and a big, lush sound.
Many players have ended up buying a Taylor because of the body shapes they offer, making this one of their main selling points.
Takamine, on the other hand, tends to offer more traditional body shapes such as the jumbo and the dreadnought, which have been around for many decades. Players who are more inclined to buy a guitar with a more historical aesthetic are likely to be drawn to their designs for this reason.
Although I tend to prefer vintage-oriented gear, I have to admit that I feel very comfortable playing Taylor body shapes such as the Grand Auditorium, Grand Concert, and the Grand Symphony.
On top of that, I love the way they resonate and project sound, so I’m comfortable with putting down a Dreadnought or a Jumbo to pick one up.
Neck Profiles: Shape and Feeling
Personally, the neck profile is one of the most important aspects of a guitar. If your left hand is not comfortable while playing (right hand for all of you lefties), how are you going to study, jam, and perform for hours?
The best neck profile, however, is entirely subjective and it depends on every player’s tastes.
Taylor is known for having thinner necks that feel smooth in your hand, and allow you to navigate the fretboard more easily. In contrast, Takamine tends to go with thicker neck profiles that are closer to the feel of a vintage guitar.
I am more inclined to thinner and smoother necks because they allow me to play chord voicings more freely and I am more comfortable going up and down the fretboard than when I’m playing a guitar with a very thick neck.
Tonewood Combinations & Construction Methods
Taylor and Takamine both make great instruments, but if you analyze them with more detail, you’ll notice that Taylor uses more exquisite tonewoods than Takamine, and this is also reflected in the final price.
They use woods such as African ebony, Hawaiian koa, and Tasmanian blackwood, which are rare and more expensive to source.
Takamine, on the other hand, uses more traditional woods found on most guitars, such as rosewood and mahogany. These are still great woods that yield good guitars, but by using them, they can sell their instruments at a more affordable price point.
Taylor’s finishes are worth mentioning, especially as you start to get into the more expensive models. Their guitars are extremely aesthetically pleasing due to their UV-cured gloss finishes, hand-rubbed oil finishes, among other techniques.
Takamine is more reminiscent of a vintage, classic look. Their finishes aren’t low quality, but they aren’t as eye-catching as Taylor’s. Although Takamine does not use as many fancy techniques as Taylor, their finishes are pleasing in their way.
Taylor employs a patented bracing pattern named V-bracing. Compared to the more traditional X-bracing pattern used by Takamine, this one manages to improve the output volume and sound projection of the instrument, placing Taylor’s in a very desirable position for any musician.
Takamine and Taylor: Brands Bursting With History
Taylor – A Guitar Story Between USA and Mexico
Taylor Guitars was founded by Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug, in 1974. This American brand is one of the most discussed and celebrated in today’s music industry, as they are famous for manufacturing some of the best acoustic guitars that money can buy. Personally, the brands I generally hear about the most when discussing high-end guitars are made either by Taylor or Martin.
Most of their guitars are built in the USA, in El Cajon, California. If you drive for about 45min in Mexico’s direction, you’ll reach their other factory complex, in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico. This is where they build some of their more affordable instruments such as the popular Taylor GS Mini, a fantastic travel guitar that anyone would like to have for certain occasions.
Taylor has an acoustic guitar for everyone’s tastes. They feature several body shapes, different wood combinations, models that can be plugged into an amplifier or a PA system, and many more features that will end up making your dream guitar a reality.
While they may not be the most affordable guitars, you can be assured that Taylor guitars leave the factory in good condition, and you are getting your money’s worth as you walk out of the shop with a brand new instrument that will deliver time after time.
Learn more about Taylor guitars with these guides: Taylor BT2 Baby Review, Baby Taylor vs Little Martin, Best Taylor Guitar Options You Need to Know of, The Ultimate Taylor T5Z Classic Acoustic Electric Guitar Review from an Expert.
Takamine – A Tale of Japanese Craftsmanship
Takamine has been writing its history for over 60 years. Founded in 1959 as a small family-run guitar shop, this project started to gain traction, to expand, and eventually, it reached the point where it is now, considered to be one of the best modern guitar makers on the planet.
This Japanese company took its name from Mount Takamine mountain, in central Japan. It started by building classical guitars and mandolins. Unfortunately, they do not make mandolins anymore, but they still have a line of classical guitars with nylon strings.
Their first acoustic-electric model, the PT-007S, came out in 1979, shortly after the development of their under-saddle Palathetic™ pickup, which brought new light into the amplifier acoustic guitar world.
Nowadays, Takamine has an excellent fame for selling quality instruments for an affordable price. Their instruments aren’t as expensive as a Taylor or a Martin tend to be, but they are still a great choice for most guitarists.
Learn more about Takamine guitars with these guides: Best Takamine Acoustic Guitars Guide, Ultimate Takamine GD20-NS Dreadnought Natural Acoustic Guitar Review.
Taylor Acoustic Guitars Top Picks
You can find a few of my favorite Taylor guitars below. There is a little bit of everything here, from a mini guitar that is perfect for traveling, to an exquisite instrument that is guaranteed to turn some heads when you take it out for a spin.
- Taylor Baby Mahogany BT2: A 3/4-sized guitar that is perfect for traveling without compromising on sound or feel.
- Taylor 114ce Grand Auditorium: An acoustic-electric guitar that features Taylor’s Expression 2 Pickup System. Excellent for both fingerpicking and strumming.
- Taylor American Dream AD12e Grand Concert: An innovative body shape that sets itself apart through its amazing sound projection and note clarity. Built exclusively with solid wood for the best possible tone.
- Taylor 326ce: An all-mahogany guitar with Taylor’s Grand Symphony body shape, its patented V-Class bracing pattern, and a hybrid Florentine cutaway. Priced higher than most guitars, but with a premium sound and feel.
- Taylor 222ce-K DLX Grand Concert: A beautiful electric-acoustic instrument made from koa wood that will age gracefully. It features a Grand Concert body shape with a shortened scale length and a Venetian cutaway.
Takamine Acoustic Guitars Top Picks
Now, let’s take a look at a few of my favorite guitars that Takamine has to offer. You’ll immediately notice a difference in their prices, style, and choice of materials, but they are excellent options nonetheless.
If you are a more budget-conscious player, you will surely appreciate the price/quality ratio of their instruments.
- Takamine G-Series GD11MCE Dreadnought: A very affordable dreadnought that is perfect for beginners or players with a low budget for an acoustic guitar.
- Takamine GD93CE: An acoustic-electric guitar with a solid spruce top, and a black walnut back with a quilt maple center.
- Takamine GY93E New Yorker Parlor: A comfortable and elegant body shape that does not compromise on power and volume. Comfortable to play for extended periods.
- Takamine Legacy EF508KC: A professional-level guitar with superior figured koa wood and superb attention to detail in every aspect. Pricier than most Takamine instruments.
- Takamine Thinline TSP138 CN: A guitar with a thinner body than usual, making it lighter and more comfortable to hold and play for a long time.
Other Guitar Brands to Take Into Account if You Like Takamine and Taylor Acoustic Instruments
Around 50 years ago or so, if you walked into a music store, you wouldn’t see as many options spanning various price ranges as you would today.
While this is great because it allows people with smaller budgets to get started with this beautiful instrument, it can also make it a bit overwhelming to navigate a seemingly never-ending sea of alternatives.
Below, you can find a few of my favorite acoustic guitar builders apart from Taylor and Takamine. Some of these also make electric guitars, basses, and other instruments, and the prices can vary a lot between them.
Some of the brands mentioned above make acoustic guitars that start well over $1000 or $2000, meaning that if you’re looking for something that fits a smaller budget, you should disconsider these. Examples include Gibson, Maton, Martin, and Collings.
Some of the brands that offer affordable guitars that have resonated with me include Ibanez, Epiphone, Yamaha, and Guild. Some of these might have a couple of issues related to quality control, which is why I’d advise you to try out any guitar before you consider buying it.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions About Takamine and Taylor Acoustic Guitars
Question: Are Taylor guitars worth their more expensive prices?
Answer: While this is a subjective concept, it is undeniable that Taylor guitars’ higher price tags are associated with their excellent build quality, high-quality woods, great quality control, superb playability, comfort, and other details that many professionals value. If you don’t mind paying extra for these, Taylor guitars are definitely worth their prices.
Question: Does Taylor offer electro-acoustic options for people who want to plug their guitars into an amplifier?
Answer: Yes. Taylor has developed the Expression System, a magnetic acoustic guitar pickup system that is intended to work just like a microphone. Most acoustic guitar players would rather have their guitars mic’ed, which is why this system attempts to mimic the sound you get that way.
Question: Are Takamine guitars a good choice in terms of their price/quality ratio?
Answer: Absolutely. Takamine guitars are known for having an affordable price tag without disappointing players in terms of sound, comfort, and playability. Even though there are excellent guitars that surpass them in these aspects, they are generally more expensive, and not everyone feels like it is worth investing that much.
Closing Thoughts About Taylor and Takamine Acoustic Guitars
In a world where guitarists are faced with nearly endless options when looking for a new acoustic guitar, it is easy to feel overwhelmed or confused by the sheer amount of variations, combinations, and features that modern makers offer.
Choosing between a Taylor and a Takamine acoustic guitar involves weighing several factors and figuring out the things you value the most in a new instrument. Your available budget will play an important role since Taylor instruments tend to be more expensive than most of the options in Takamine’s catalog.
Personally, I prefer Taylor guitars because I favor their diversity of body types, tonewood combinations, their overall sound, and looks.
The necks on their guitars feel better in my hand, which could have something to do with the fact that I also play a lot of electric guitar. In any case, I am more comfortable playing any kind of guitar parts on a Taylor than on the Takamine guitars I have tried so far.
My biggest argument for buying a Takamine would be their price/quality ratio within their medium-range instruments.
If I had to buy a new acoustic guitar but couldn’t afford to buy a Taylor, I would certainly consider a Takamine. Their higher-priced instruments are great, but for the same amount, I would rather purchase from a different brand.