c.2005 Korean-made Takamine EG523SC Jumbo Guitar

This guitar was in the shop for a bit of work including a fret level/dress, setup, and pickup swap-out. Per the usual arrangement on Takamines, this had two individual undersaddle pickups to suit the double saddle slots in the bridge. Something in the electronics had crudded-out and I'm guessing it's just that the elements themselves had been worn enough that they weren't responding as they should (there were multiple shims installed under the saddles and pickup units which says to me they might've been mishandled at some point and just wore out where they'd been bumped a bit).

Anyhow, I removed the undersaddle elements and their various tone-dampening shims and sleeves, cut brand new bone saddles, popped the preamp out of its upper-bout holder, and installed a new K&K Big Twin pickup... and voila... back in business. I can't say enough about K&Ks. I've had so many customers swap out $300, $400, $600+ pickup/preamp units in guitars for $60-100 K&Ks and they've never gone back after getting hooked on them. The proof's in the pudding, though proper installation always helps get them sounding best.

So... this guitar's a Korean-made "G Series" Takamine and this particular model is discontinued. It's a big old jumbo after the Guild fashion with solid spruce top, flamey-maple back and sides, and a rosewood board and bridge. Unsurprisingly, it has a tremendously "Guild-like" sound to it. It's not quite as punchy, though, due to the braced (as opposed to press-arched) back.

The fella who owns this really put some divots in his frets! ...but, thankfully, that big modern wire can handle a stiff leveling/dressing and spring right back to life.

Ahhh, my eyes!

There's enough pearl trim on the board to stun a moose.

Note: yes, they bolted the bridge on these guys. As usual, they didn't use washers of any good size on the rear of the soundboard so some hairline cracks popped up when the bolts loosened up. At least at the moment there's not much to do to reinforce them as they run right over bracing, but I did pop the bolt covers off, remove the bolts, and then reinstall them with  some better-size washers for support. I took this pic before I remembered to replace the bolt covers: now there are some abalone dots hiding them.

The old preamp hatch now serves as a "sound port." 

...and instead of a half-mile of spaghetti inside the body, now there's two transducers cabled up to the endpin jack.

Begin rant:

I'm always in a bit of a shock when I see the crazy amount of electronic gadgetry so many folks are forced to comply with these days in off-the-shelf "acoustic electric" guitars. It's mindboggling to me that the stuff comes up on market: for most musicians it's completely impractical, requires vast assortments of batteries, fails when you least want it to, and... it's fragile... and makes everything sound a bit like a very cheap classical guitar with dead strings.

Did I mention that undersaddle elements tend to sponge-up acoustic tone, too? Think about putting a bit of plastic wrapped in a layer of cotton t-shirt material under your saddle... that's the sort of effect most undersaddle pickups have on acoustic guitars.

End rant.

1 comment:

Davide said...

I recently got this guitar, exactly the same model, but mine was made in 2011. It's interesting to notice that the braces in this specimen from 2005 are straight, whereas mine has scalloped braces. I'm 100% sure they weren't scalloped through the soundhole, they are original from factory because of the regular, squared shape of the scallops.
I guess they realized the guitar didn't have a very lively sound and somewhere between 2005 and 2011 started scalloping the braces on this model. The top is very thick on mine, though. Almost 3,5mm measured at the soundhole.