The Right Top for Your Tone

The tone of an acoustic guitar is derived from variables such as body size, shape, and tone woods. Your tone is also greatly affected by you, and your style of playing. We ourselves, as players, have “tone”, and this is a great variable in choosing which is the right guitar for you.

If you look at your touch -- the specific and unique way you address strumming and/or fingerpicking the guitar -- and its influence on tone wood, then a good starting point is the wood that makes up the guitar’s top. The top produces most of the guitar’s overall volume, and translates the flavor of the wood used in the back and sides.

Red cedar is a top wood that Takamine chooses for many guitars in the product line, such as the P3NC. Cedar is a softer, lighter wood than Sitka spruce (used in many acoustic guitar tops) and requires less energy to get moving. This makes it ideal for players who strum lightly, or fingerstyle players looking for an instrument that is less dynamically challenging. It gets louder earlier, and because of that, the impression is that the wood is warmer than Sitka spruce for the player with light to medium touch. It can also make a small body guitar sound louder than its size would indicate.

The Pro Series P3NC has a red cedar top, making it a great choice for players with a light touch.

The downside is that while cedar tops are great for those players who tend to the light to medium touch, it can be frustrating for the player who strums/picks more heavily. To this type of player, cedar may come off as too compressed and dull. This player will most likely be more satisfied with the more dynamic spruce, such as the P5DC.

Also from our Pro Series, which is hand-built in Japan, the P5DC is a classic dreadnought with a spruce top and rosewood back/sides.

Sitka spruce is generally stiffer, and a bit denser wood than cedar, so it takes a bit more energy to get it moving. This is great if you're a strummer who likes to play boldly. It runs louder than cedar, and is also great for larger body guitars (dreadnoughts and jumbos) because it will produce a bigger, punchier note. Recently, Takamine has been creating guitars made with Sitka spruce that has been thermally treated, giving the fuller, broken-in sound of a vintage instrument. These can be found in our Thermal Top TT guitar series.

This Thermal Top "TT" Series CP7MO TT has a Sitka spruce top that's been heat-treated to produce wonderful vintage tones from a brand new guitar.

Do you feel the need for even more articulate sound with high levels of clarity? Adirondack spruce (also called red spruce) might be your ticket! Have a look at the CP5-OAD. These guitars are great for cutting through any band setting and are just great for bluegrass playing with the ultimate in defined tone. You will never run out of room on the gas pedal with this aggressive wood. It will go from a whisper to a scream deftly!

The beautiful limited-edition CP5D-OAD has an Adirondack spruce top for the ultimate in articulation for heavy players.

This little bit of information should give you an idea of where to start when considering your next Takamine... or next couple of Takamines! As always, you should visit your Takamine dealer and try these different top materials for yourself to see which ones fit your style the best.