Larissa — Takamine F370SS

I sup­pose I should make a for­mal intro­duc­tion.

My dad knew I was look­ing for a gui­tar so I could start teach­ing myself, and his co-work­er’s daugh­ter hap­pened to be sell­ing hers. I decid­ed not to buy it cause I had no idea what it was, not to men­tion the fact that I’m noto­ri­ous­ly picky about these kinds of things. He bought me the gui­tar any­way (using my birth­day as an excuse), and I drove to Toronto to pick it up the first chance I had when I got back from Europe.

I asked Steve to do a demo of the gui­tar because his skills can real­ly show it off.

Takamine F370SS: guitar front

Takamine F370SS sol­id wood acoustic dread­nought.

It turns out the gui­tar is absolute­ly gor­geous, with sol­id spruce on top and sol­id koa on the back and sides. And being hand­made in Japan in 1999 — the only year this mod­el was in pro­duc­tion — makes it an instru­ment that will nev­er be replaced. An heir­loom I’ll pass down to my chil­dren if I ever have any.

Takamine F370SS: guitar front detail

The colour looks a lit­tle dark­er and warmer than usu­al spruce, which leads me to believe the wood has already matured a bit.

Rosette design made of rose­wood, wal­nut, maple, and moth­er of pearl.

I’m sure the koa con­tributes to the clar­i­ty of the tone, which is rich and bright. There’s lots of sus­tain through the entire range that seems to go on for­ev­er, like hear­ing del­i­cate water droplets ring­ing in a cave.

Takamine F370SS: top wood and binding

Purfling detail.

It plays like a dream. The action is set well for fin­ger­style play­ing, though maybe a lit­tle too low for heavy strum­ming. But I tend not to real­ly dig into the strings unless I’m drunk or high any­way. It’s has a nice heavy lac­quer, which I’m hop­ing will make up for the lack of a pick­guard.

Takamine F370SS: back wood

Solid koa back. The wood pat­tern does­n’t stand out as being dis­tinc­tive­ly koa to me, which usu­al­ly has a heav­ier cross grain.

The design is sim­ple and min­i­mal­is­tic — exact­ly my style.

Takamine F370SS: side wood

Yummy hon­ey colour­ing is yum­my.

I can tell it’s a qual­i­ty instru­ment every time I pick it up. It feels sol­id and sta­ble with­out being heavy. The fin­ish is flaw­less. The tun­ing pegs are nice and tight, but I nev­er have to tune it any­way unless I acci­den­tal­ly knock a peg on some­thing.

Takamine F370SS: fretboard

Rosewood fin­ger­board with a sin­gle mark­er on the 12th fret designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

I named it Larissa after Doctor Zhivago’s great love, Lara, whose life inter­twines with his at sev­er­al points and in many pro­found ways. She was already with some­one else when she met him, as was he, but some­how fate brought them togeth­er (and even­tu­al­ly left them apart).

In the same way, I won­der what this gui­tar has already been through before com­ing into my pos­ses­sion. What mem­o­ries of it’s own does it have? What shows has it gone to? Who has it ser­e­nad­ed? What melodies has it played? It’s in such good con­di­tion that I won­der if the pre­vi­ous own­er played it at all.

Takamine F370SS: fret markers

Single dot inlays on the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th, 15th, and 17th frets.

That’s not to say I’ll nev­er need anoth­er gui­tar. I had my heart set on one with nylon strings for a more mel­low sound, and being a dread­nought means Larissa is a lit­tle too big for me, both in the way she fits under my arm and in the scale length (mak­ing it a stretch on low strings near the nut). The neck is also 1 5/8 inch­es, which is a too tight for some clas­si­cal and fla­men­co styles, but this will be per­fect for when I’m look­ing for a bright, large sound with lots of pro­jec­tion.

Takamine F370SS: bridge and saddle

A split sad­dle bridge, char­ac­ter­is­tic of some Takamine’s. This is sup­posed to make it eas­i­er pro­vide the best into­na­tion to the strings, but the trade-off is that most under-sad­dle pick-up sys­tems can’t be used cause they tend to be designed for sin­gle sad­dles.

Takamine F370SS: headstock front

Mother of pearl logo inlay.

Takamine F370SS: headstock back

Gold tuners with pearloid but­tons.

Takamine F370SS: model number

 

18 comments

  1. WOW. This is a love­ly gui­tar. Will check your next post to hear it. Takemines were pret­ty high­ly regard­ed back when I was play­ing, but I don’t know about as late as yours. Probably great!.
    My Martin D18 does­n’t have the sheer scale of this one I think — it’s no won­der it sounds rich.… and the mar­quetry is love­ly.

    Way to go, dad!.

  2. Thanks for post­ing that demo of MY GUITAR!

    I love the unique sound of it. Really, in a jam with oth­er gui­tars, the sound if dif­fer­ent enough to add its own unique fla­vor to the jam, but still blend.

    My only gripe about he gui­tar is the nut is very nar­row and it can be a chal­lenge to clean­ly form open chords, but oth­er than that it’s a keep­er.

    I bought mine when Guitar cen­ter took over a local music shop. They had 5 out on the floor on stands sell­ing for <$325! At that time, GC did­n’t car­ry this mod­el so they just want­ed to get rid of them. I could­n’t believe my luck. I sat there for a cou­ple hours and played each one as took the pic of the lit­ter.

    You take the gui­tar out, and I always get com­ments on it’s beau­ty and the unique­ness of it’s sound. The gui­tar mic’s real­ly well, but I it does­n’t do will with after­mar­ket sound-hole pick­ups. I’m des­tined to mic it I guess :-)

    Thanks again for post­ing that video link.

    Angelo

  3. I also have one of these. I have seen Koa that did­n’t appeal to me that much, how­ev­er I love mine, sim­i­lar to yours except the grain­ing on the back is drop dead gor­geous. Since I ordered
    it thru the mail I was indeed for­tu­nate to get one I like. The price tag on it at that time was $ 1499.00. It had a three inch scratch that is fin­ger­nail deep but sur­pris­ing­ly depend­ing on how the gui­tar is turned you can’t see it. I paid $ 600 with a decent hard­sheel case. I often get well mean­ing com­ments on how my bridge is ” bro­ken “. I then explain that the fac­to­ry made it that way.
    Anyway, the tone is sim­ply amaz­ing, its a qual­i­ty instru­ment and there’s no way I would sell it
    for $ 600 even with the scratch. I wish I could hand it down but none of the grand­kids play any­thing except video games. I real­ly don’t know what to do with it when I’m not here. A plus with this is when I play it at Bluegrass jams and speca­tors com­ment on its sound. And I smile broad­ly when asked, ” no, its not a Martin “.

  4. I love my f370ss. I won it at an auc­tion in a ben­e­fit for WNCW, our west­ern north car­oli­na amer­i­cana npr sta­tion (best in the world!!) I also have Martin D‑28, HD-28, and D‑35. It is hard to tell the dif­fer­ence with Martin strings on all and I have been play­ing for 36 years. I play pret­ty hard how­ev­er, and w/o the pick­guard it’s gonna start lookin like willies axe b4 too long!!

  5. So, what strings have you found for the best “bal­anced” sound? The gui­tar is bright and smooth­ly jazzy by it’s nature, but I some­times find myself wish­ing for the low‑E and A strings to have a bit more pres­ence . I think the nat­ur­al har­mon­ics of the Koa backs and spruce top favors res­o­nance > A.

    My last set are phos­phor-bronze coat­ed and wow they real­ly brought out the bass strings.

    Thoughts?

    Angelo

    • Personally, I found phos­phor-bronze coat­ed strings to be much, much too bright for me on this gui­tar. But I gen­er­al­ly pre­fer a mel­low sound, so that’s prob­a­bly why. I cur­rent­ly have a set of D’addario elec­tric chrome flat­wounds on there, and I find it’s the best bal­ance to my ear.

      • I’ll give them a try. I found that using just “nor­mal” bronze wound strings all I heard there the top 4 strings in the chord.

        I haven’t tried the silk-n-steel strings he’s using in the demo .. they might be fun.

        Ang

  6. I found one of these gui­tars in a sec­ond hand shop for a lit­tle under $600. I am absolute­ly in love with it! It is by far my favorite gui­tar I have ever owned. I would nev­er sell it, but I won­der what this gui­tar may be worth. Is this a ques­tion you can help me answer?

  7. Nate,

    Guitars are worth what some­one is will­ing to pay for it (just like a stock). If you found one for $600, and it was being adver­tised so that oth­er poten­tial buy­ers would have found it, then that’s the cur­rent going rate.

    That said, I’ve seen posts of oth­ers sell­ing clos­er to $1k. Condition also mat­ters tremen­dous­ly as well as the indi­vid­ual per­for­mance of your par­tic­u­lar gui­tar.

    Though acoustic gui­tars are of the same “mod­el”, the par­tic­u­lars of each indi­vid­ual instru­ment comes into play. Like I men­tioned in my pre­vi­ous post, I had 5 of this mod­el to audi­tion and choose from. 2 real­ly stood out from the rest and then I picked my favorite.

    So, based on your data-point and the oth­ers I’ve seen, the best esti­mate is between $600-$1,000.

  8. I have the same gui­tar as yours; it´s an absolute gem!
    Take care of it and don´t ever sell it!

  9. But I doubt it has only been made in 1999 because I bought mine new in 2006; even if it´s a long way from Japan, there would be 7 years to account for…

  10. It was my under­stand­ing the f‑370ss was made for 2 years. I can’t recall the years but believe it to be con­sid­er­ably before 1999, Not that it mat­ters as far as val­ue I for one would be inter­est­ed in know­ing what the pro­duc­tion years were… :)

  11. Not only were they only build for one year (2 years on the out­side), but they were Tak’s first attempt at a solild-sol­id gui­tar (along with a cou­ple oth­er mod­els that year).

    I used to have a brochure for the line, but I’ve since lost it.

    Remember, at this point Tak’s were known to be great “stage gui­tars” … prewired stage acoustics with ply parts to help keep the feed­back down.

    Putting a sol­id-sol­id gui­tar out .. espe­cial­ly one with just artis­tic inlays and exot­ic woods (and sound) was a real gam­ble .. and frankly .. they did­n’t sell.

    When a local large music store in Rockville, MD got bought by Guitar Center, GC did­n’t have the F370ss SKU in their inven­to­ry .. so they took the 5 they had in stock and stands and on sale as soon as you walked into the door.

    I sat and played each one took the pic of the lit­ter for low $300’s. Unfortunately, my ser­i­al num­ber paper tag inside has long since fell out and dis­ap­peared, but I believe it showed a 98 date. They stopped pro­duc­ing them due to lack of sales after the first pro­duc­tion run.

    Ang

    • I was in at the Rockville GC in Maryland and tried out the takf370ss. It was 98 or 99. I remem­ber the price tag was $799.00.
      I love the sound right away but could not afford it. However, on my way to apart­ment I stopped by GC at Geithersburg and saw the same gui­tar with $300 less. I bought it with­out any hes­i­ta­tion. Still have the gui­tar with me.

  12. Lucky for me I played one in Allentown, Pa. on sale for $999 with it list­ing at $ 1499.00 but it was out of my price range. But at east I got to hear the sound. I called a music store in North Carolina I believe, actu­al­ly look­ing for a Sigma Martin DR-41. He did­n’t have one but we got to talk­ing and he told me he had this as a demo, some­one put a scratch on it and I could have it with a H.S.case for $ 600. Six was in my ball­park and we closed the deal. It was around the late 90’s or very ear­li­er around Y2K I recall cor­rect­ly. Never had some­one play it that was­n’t impressed. These are sweet sound­ing very light gui­tars but quite capa­ble of pro­duc­ing impres­sive bass as well. The way I fig­ured I was going to scratch it any­way and get mad at myself so some­one else just saved me the aggra­va­tion. Naturally that’s still the only blem­ish on it.

  13. Your very lucky to have such a nice sol­id wood gui­tar! It sounds great. I watched the video. Congratulations!! I have a Takamine F‑360 SD. 1978 mod­el with sol­id Rosewood back and sides and spruce top. Takamine make excel­lent gui­tars ( Made in Japan ) Thanks for shar­ing your love­ly gui­tar and the sto­ry of how you got it. What a Great DAD TOO!! Cheers, from Craig. Australia

  14. Your very lucky to have such a nice sol­id wood gui­tar! It sounds great. I watched the video. Congratulations!! I have a Takamine F‑360 SD. 1978 mod­el with sol­id Rosewood back and sides and spruce top. Takamine make excel­lent gui­tars ( Made in Japan ) Thanks for shar­ing your love­ly gui­tar and the sto­ry of how you got it. What a Great DAD TOO!! Cheers, from Craig. Australia

  15. I bought mine for my self on my 50th birth­day in 2003.
    I thought it was way too much gui­tar for a begin­ner like me. Put it in the case and for­got about it. I also paid 600 includ­ing pret­ty damn good case at gc.
    Knocked around on pawn shop gui­tars and best friends well worn mitchels etc. FINALLY picked one of my broth­ers old Yamaha acoustics. He said what did you ever do with that Takamine. I said I can’t play that qual­i­ty of instru­ment. He said 3 cords and a sto­ry Jake. I got it out of the case yes­ter­day tuned a lit­tle and this lit­tle girl talked to me. Man what ease and friend­li­ness and sound. My wife even thinks I’ve improved. Like my kins­man anobe, my back grain is much pret­ti­er than exam­ple pre­sent­ed

    Thanks Takamine

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