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November 21, 2005 | Reviewer: Shannon Bourne
Distributor: PRO MUSIC (07) 3375 6400

Takamine_TAN-77_OM_WesterngitarreHey there gear hounds! Shannon Bourne here once again. This month I will be reviewing the Takamine TAN-77 Acoustic guitar, which features the Cool Tube  preamp. This is pretty exciting.

Upon opening the case I was immediately struck by the quality of this instrument. To look at, it is very reminiscent of a 00 Martin style. This instrument features a solid cedar top, which I’m told, equals instant guitar! You don’t have to wait for it to age like spruce…pretty much what you hear is what you get. The back and sides are made of walnut. I must mention that the back of the guitar featured a particularly figured piece of walnut. Beautiful swirls and flames abound! The back of the neck is a matt finish, so it feels instantly played in. The Takamine machine heads are amazing! So smooth. On the gig I found it so easy to navigate my way around a number of tunings without any string slippage. High marks for this.

OK! And now to the tone. Acoustically I found this guitar to be quite pleasant sounding. I found the instrument to be voiced from low-mids to highs. This guitar reacts most favourably to open tunings. This seems to be a really great working mans guitar. You could rely on it to hold it’s tuning from gig to gig. Many producers that I know swear by the consistency that Takamine guitars possess. I ain’t gonna argue there. I do of course have some criticisms.

Although the tone was “pleasant” I did find that the guitar lacked bottom end and sustain. I think that maybe this has something to do with the fact that, the strings are top load (like an Ovation). The strings may be anchored to the top of the guitar; they loose the tone transferral that occurs on traditional instruments. But overall this guitar has a very useable tone.

This guitar is powered by the CTP-1, which stands for Cool Tube  Preamp. It features a 3 band EQ consisting of bass, mid and treble. Further midrange shaping is available via a rotary knob and the available range goes from 200 Hz to 8.5 kHz. Another exciting feature is the inclusion of a chromatic tuner. This is most excellent and I certainly didn’t miss having to rely on my beer soaked Korg tuner. There is also a volume for an auxiliary pickup. So if you wanted to run a magnetic pickup, simply plug it into the preamp, match the pickups output via a mini toggle on the back of the preamp. Then you can wind in as much/little of the magnetic pickup sound as desired. But you don’t have to necessarily run a magnetic pickup; you could also run an internal condenser mic for a more natural tone. SO MANY OPTIONS.

The reason this preamp is called “cooltube” is because of the inclusion of a 12AU7 valve. This is a low-gain preamp valve that runs at low voltage so as to keep the temperature inside the guitar down. Great thinking! We all know that acoustic guitars are much like lungs, and they affected by there surroundings. So imagine the kind of damage a hot glowing valve could do to the wood. So Takamine run a valve that doesn’t even glow!

So with the Cool Tube plugged in at a gig, I found myself winding out quite a sizeable amount of top end from the guitar in order to get the sweetest sound possible before resorting to the Cool Tube volume knob.

Without the Cool Tube, the tone was uninspiring. I had to work quite a bit to get the sound I was after. But then I decided to give the cooltube a go. As I incrementally wound it in, the sound grew fat and silky, much like a well fed python. The top end was instantly rounded off and the guitar took on a very beautiful analogue tone.
The single strings seemed to punctuate the air and chords sounded warm and expansive. The only thing that still niggled me was the lack of sustain. I mean it hangs on, but not like I need. Also for $3000, you’d want a case!

All in all this a versatile instrument that leaves you lots of room to experiment with different dual pickup setups and, like I said this is a real working musician’s instrument. That means  you could depend on it to do the business. Well Done Takamine.

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