Brand/Model: Takamine GD20-NS
Number of Strings: 6
Hand Orientation: Right
Body Material: Mahogany/Cedar top
Neck Material: Mahogany
Fretboard Material: Ovangkol
Price Range: Under $300
Our Rating: 9.6/10
Takamine GD20 Acoustic Guitar Review
If it isn’t obvious, this is a legit Takamine guitar for under 300 clams! Tak has a solid and well-earned reputation in high-end, mid-level, and even entry-level guitars that is peerless. The GD20 is a new addition and improvement in innovation for the brand. Let’s see if it has hidden value or if it’s listed in just the right price range!
From first glance, it looks just like any other gorgeous dreadnought acoustic guitar in the market. However, the solid tonewoods used on this guitar for this price should be enough to pique the curiosity of buyers who demand quality.
There is a thick slab of cedar for the top that is romantically paired with mahogany for the back, sides, and neck. The cedar is a refreshing change from spruce, and the bright, yet warm, intonation of the cedar pairs wonderfully with the strong, heavy mid-range of the mahogany. Dressing the fretboard is ovangkol.
The neck also shows some evidence of Tak innovation – it’s a slim design on a full-size guitar with a satin finish. Thanks to these two design choices, playability is increased and easy access to the entire fretboard allows for improved skill and talent.
Hardware includes the usuals such as a synthetic bone nut and saddle, pearloid dot inlays, and chrome die-cast tuners. But, the ovangkol pinless bridge with the split-saddle is something of note. Either feature of this combined design is typically seen on guitars that demand a lot of cash to buy it in the first place. Seeing both these elements on such an affordable guitar will be sure to blow your mind.
The sound is going to be acoustically true with darn-near perfect intonation. The thicker slab of cedar combined with the improvements in hardware will certainly be noticed whether you’re practicing at home or on stage. That’s right, we said it – this guitar is good enough to perform on stage!
- Solid tonewoods
- Thicker top slab
- Pinless bridge
- Split saddle
- May require setup
The Takamine guitar is a winner in every respect of the word. Literally, there are no complaints on the guitar itself. Even quality control issues are nowhere to be seen with the GD20.
This is typically one of the first types of complaints with low-price guitars, and yet, the Tak lives up to their reputation once again with their affordable G series latest addition.
However, we do anticipate the guitar may need a setup to truly customize it for your personal touch and preferences. You might want to upgrade from your stock strings or lower the action if it happens to be too high.
Although we haven’t caught wind of any of these issues needing addressing, it’s almost inevitable with a guitar that has little to no human “touches” in the manufacturing process.
Alternatives to Consider
We couldn’t even begin to fathom why you’d want to shop around after finding this gem, but if you’re dead set on being thorough, here’s a couple suggestions. The Ibanez Artwood guitar is an absolute stunner with its all-mahogany body that includes a solid mahogany top.
The neck is also user-friendly and slim, and most of all, if the pinless and split saddle design is beyond you, then you’ll appreciate the Ibanez Advantage pins on the Artwood. Check it out to see what it’s all about!
However, the bridge and saddle aren’t the only components that contribute to overall quality sound. Bracing allows for full resonance and sound projection. The Alvarez Artist Series AD60 has a forward-shifted scalloped X bracing to support the soundboard and perform exactly as expected.
There’s a few other neat surprises about the Artist guitar, but you can only find them out by strumming by it here!
Takamine GD20 Q&A
We’re assuming the NS in the model name indicates the Natural Satin finish on the guitar.
The G series and this model guitar are made in China according to strict specifications set by Takamine.
A pinless bridge lacks “holes” and bridge pins to allow for pinning down the ball end of strings for security. A pinless bridge eliminates both the holes and bridge pins and opts instead for stringing strings through the end and over the saddle to be held in place. It’s said to be a lot easier for users to replace their strings.
A split saddle is literally two pieces of a saddle used to compensate intonation correctly for the High E and B strings versus the remaining strings.
The nut width on the GD20 is 1.6875″/42.8 mm.
We are so accustomed to seeing Rosewood for the fretboard and even the bridge. So, it’s fair to say that seeing something other than Rosewood is a pleasant surprise. Ovangkol is an African relative to rosewood, and it does have similar tonal properties.
However, ovangkol has a much stronger mid-range presence, and is relatively bright in the trebles but not so much as maple. It’s an excellent, all-round tonewood for those who have a generalized style of playing and genres.
This is a tough question to answer since we are not privy to their finishing formulas and their application methods including machines and filling, leveling, and polishing steps. However, knowing that the guitar has a “Natural Satin Finish” implies that the guitar soundboard has retained its natural color (hasn’t been stained) and the body (including the sound top) has been lacquered with a satin finish.
Hardware/Electronics You’ll Need:
The Takamine guitar maintains the tradition of arriving to your doorstep alone without any accessories included in the buy. While this can be disappointing, it’s expected when buying high-end guitars and/or buying from a quality brand.
But, it still doesn’t take away from the fact that you will need to purchase accessories to protect your guitar and expand your playing style and talent.
Our “Must-Have Accessories Guide” will meet all your needs if you need an accessories list served up on a silver platter. Otherwise, check out this quick list to get you started!
- Extra steel strings
- Capo (optional)
- Metronome (optional)
- Stringwinder (optional)
- Thicker cedar soundboard
- Pinless bridge with split saddle
- Takamine guitar under $300
Our Verdict on the GD20-NS
To strum it up, the Takamine GD20 guitar is an anomaly sitting in this price range. It flashes features that beginner guitarists wouldn’t really know about nor appreciate.
But, for the price, a newb can avoid learning bad habits that are inevitable to acquire when starting off with a cheap guitar.
It’s a wonder that a Tak can be offered so low to help you start playing on the right foot for a steal of a price!