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Auditorium 04-26-2005 05:09 PM

Takamine Lawsuit Guitars
I just recently bought a real nice Takamine guitar that is a total knock off of a Martin D-18. It sounds great. The headstock is just like a Martin and Takamine is spelled in the same gold lettering. From 10 feet away, it looks like a Martin; no joke. The action is low, it stays in tune even after long playing, the fit and finish is better than most new Takamine that you'd see at Guitar Center.

Does anyone know about these? Are the back or sides solid wood? It has a truss rod and a serial number on the neck block. How can I tell how old it is? Takamine doesn't deal with these guitars on their current website. Ebay always has a few of these Martin copies listed, but the hardware, bridges and fit and finish always seems to vary greatly, as though they were made over a long period of time, but I was told they were only made for a short while.

woodyboyd 04-26-2005 05:56 PM

Its a pre kaman guitar. these are some of the better tak's. 70's or 80's.

SMan 04-26-2005 06:22 PM

Played my first back in the 70's. I have three and they are a great value. An F307, EF385 12 String, and a F360S (my main camp and travel guitar). All play easy, have good action and have good sound. The 12 sounds great plugged in.

Stixx 04-26-2005 06:30 PM

I played a buddy of mine's that he got off EBay for a buck and half so to speak and it was pretty nice but it played and sound just like all japanese
guitars of that era to me, I'd sooner have a recent alvarez for just a bit more if I was look at beaters.

jayhawk 04-26-2005 06:33 PM

My Takamine F395s is a lawsuit era copy of the the Guild F512. It is a match for Guild you would want to compare it to. Never played one of the Martin copies but my expectation is that it would be a good guitar.


Greg10is 04-26-2005 07:51 PM

I got mine during college in the early '80s. It hangs on the wall at my office and has played both in church and at open mics. I bought it because it had a pick up. The only other option at the time with a pick up was an Ovation.

Mine is a dark brown Martin copy. I saw a performer playing its authentic "sister" recently and could not tell them apart.

I love the sound and playability of that guitar. This was the guitar that I would play about once a year for about 20 years when I was not playing. Believe it or not, that guitar would not require much tuning between playing.

A friend called these guitars "SuMe" models.

Folkstrum 04-26-2005 08:12 PM

A friend of mine had a 12-string Tak, with the "Martin copy" headstock. It was nice enough to play, but sounded rather jangly or "thin". I guess the Martin people (as I heard the story) made noises about a lawsuit, but never went through with it. Takamine was not about to risk going up against CF and Nazareth, and changed the headstock on their own.

From 10 feet away, you couldn't tell it wasn't a Martin 12-except maybe for the sound--maybe not even then. They seem to be prized guitars, and fetch higher prices on Ebay because of the Martin look.

Fstpicker 04-26-2005 09:01 PM

At the most they had solid tops only, and that only if they had an "S" after the model no. If no "S" you can count on it being laminated. Back and sides are laminated usually also.

Go to the Takamine site to their archives and you will see all of the older models listed. Takamine archives

My 1990 Takamine FP-400S 12-string was one of the best sounding 12's I've ever played. Sold it last year during financial hard times unfortunately.


Sugarlander 04-26-2005 09:27 PM

The first time I played one of the lawsuit Taks was in 1975. I had a Yamaha FG200 (my first guitar) that I had been playing for 2 years. A friend of mine wanted me to help him learn guitar and he had one of these Taks. After playing it for a while I realized that it played and sounded much better than my Yamaha, which gave me GAS. I opted for a real Martin in 1977 instead of the knock-off Tak.

I saw a knock-off Tak recently in a store. It was laminated Brazilian Rosewood with a solid spruce top and looked like a Martin from a few feet away. It reminded me of my friend's and that first realization (awakening) that my first guitar was not as good as I had believed. (My ears were changing, like most of our ears do.)

jayhawk 04-26-2005 09:48 PM

The story is heard about the origin of the Martin copies is interesting:
Martin actually was working with Takamine to build these copies. They were going to be the Martin's Sigma line of guitars. Apparently, Martin even provided tooling for the guitars. Takamine was ready to produce these guitars for Martin when Kaman purchased Takamine. Martin decided they were not going to support Kaman by buying guitars from them so they canceled the contract and took Sigma to a different manufacturer. Takamine was ready to produce the guitars and simply changed the name on the headstock.

I can't say it is absolutely true, but I heard it from a very reliable friend.


soundnpix 04-27-2005 01:47 AM


Originally Posted by jayhawk
I can't say it is absolutely true, but I heard it from a very reliable friend.

Jack, it's true enough to be printed in the Blue Book. Slightly different wording, but essentially the same story.

I have also heard elsewhere that the founder's son once worked at Nazareth.

I have an F-385, which is the "lawsuit" design. Not bad for what it is.

rboyer2 03-26-2006 08:29 PM

My uncle has one of the lawsuit Takamine's with the Gibson style headstocks. It's one of the best sounding guitars I've ever played. To me, it's sounds almost as good as his 60's era Martin D-18.

He, for some odd reason, would string it with medium guage electric guitar strings. It sounded good then. I borrowed it for a gig and restrung it for him using Martin SPs (medium guage) and he nearly pooped himself when he got it back. He called me back telling me that he has to know what I did to make it sound even better. Guess he thought since it was an acoustic electric that he had to put electric strings on it. Go figure. My family just plays the guitars, I'm the only one with any real "knowledge" to tell the difference

Kevin A 03-27-2006 12:13 AM

My first guitar!
Definitely had the 'Martin Look' to it
A 1978 Takamine F385L (lefty) 12-string
Laminate spruce top with mahogany b/s.

Not a bad guitar for $179 (back then!).

Here'a a pic (although this particular one is 'backwards') ;)

Oridiun 10-05-2009 09:15 AM

Res :D
I just bought a 1977 12 string F-385 model Tak for $240 at a local music store...

It was his best deal, and i've been wanting a 12 string for quite some time...

It sounds pretty good to me, and he told me he knew the owner (recently passed) and it's had the same strings for 20 years.

They look 20 years old, and i'm pretty sure they're electric strings, but it almost looks like they could be acoustic strings that are so corroded you can't tell...

I was going to pick up some of these http://accessories.musiciansfriend.c...ngs?sku=100025

The most amazing thing about this guitar is the body looks BRAND NEW, i swear it looks almost untouched which was part of my reasoning behind paying 240$ for a 30+ year old guitar that i knew could be (and probably was) an all laminate made in china type of guitar.

But still... the thought keeps creeping up that i could have had a beautiful Art and Luthrie Solid top and back 12 string... But i'm trying to be content with this one :P

korby 10-05-2009 09:26 AM

My first good guitar I bought new ,1977 Brazilian Takamine .

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