Other Guitars

Seagull vs. Takamine

1

I know a gal who has a Seagull S6 with sorta terminal problems... badly lifting bridge, fried preamp, etc. She also has a 1980 Takaminie F-349 that's in better shape although it needs a setup bad.

I don't know much about Seagull... I guess it's kind of a 90s thing.

Anyway, she was interested to know if the Takamine was thought to be a better guitar than the Seagull.

I know with Takamine they were really going for a Martin vibe back then

2

I was surprised when watching the Bruce Springsteen Broadway show on Netflix that both he and his wife Patti were using Takamine acoustics exclusively.

3

If you go by their sites, Takamine has a lot of artists playing them while Seagull does not. A friend has a Takamine and loves it.

4

I've never played a Seagull to my knowledge, but I have had five Takamines over the years. Still have two, and all have been pretty much bulletproof, decent and capable.

And if their site is any judge, a lot of other folks use 'em as well.

On the other hand, Seagulls seem to be related to Godin and I have heard many good things about Godin, so who knows?

5

I was surprised when watching the Bruce Springsteen Broadway show on Netflix that both he and his wife Patti were using Takamine acoustics exclusively.

– BuddyHollywood

I think he's been a Takamine guy for some time now...

6

I don't know much about Takamine, although a couple of old girlfriends played them.

Seagulls are some of the better budget guitars out there. I love them, especially the cedar tops. Godin Canadian guitars are very nice.

...------

7

I have only owned one Takamine, an FS360SSMT nice guitar, with my arthritis the neck has to transition smoothly at the nut, this one does so superbly! I have tried a few Seagulls, they seemed to be pretty nice guitars.

9

I've never heard a Tak with a sound I liked acoustically. They've all sounded tight, thin, and bright. Like Taylors, only not as silky. My assumption has been that they're optimized for amplified use with their built-in pickups, because that's where they've always sounded best - and the domain in which they first made a reputation for superior piezo pickups and preamp.

I have loooong history with Godin & Co; our store was the first Seagull dealer in central Ohio, back in the 80s; I have one of the first Acousticasters, and have had five Godin electrics (only one now).

Seagull's thing was sounding great right out of the box from new - probably cedar tops, which are softer and "looser"-grained than spruce (or the laminates I expect was on the Tak guitars I've played), so resonate big right from the git-go. I agree that Seagulls are a great value for the money. While the cedar tops are easy to beat up - and I don't think the wild cherry backs and sides are particularly handsome - I'm surprised to hear about a Seagull self-destructing. In my experience, quality hasn't been an issue with any Godin product.

That said, guitars in the entry-level Godin line, Art & Luthierie, are probably best left on the shelf at the store. I had one for awhile, and somehow never made friends with it. I couldn't seem to get the action where I wanted it (either too high and stiff, or too low and rattly), which may have been my fault. But it seemed more sensitive to weather changes than is practical for the midwest. And I Willie-Nelsoned the top in a couple of years. Looked like I played 20 hours a day; I didn't.

So I don't know what you should tell her. I think a dispassionate and objective reviewer would put Seagulls and Takamine in the same range for market presence and quality; which a given player would prefer would depend on the particular player and the exact guitars she was evaluating. Takamines are definitely dressier; Seagull has always gone for a more muted, natural, plain look. I like their shape, and actually prefer their look.

Takamine was founded in 1962 in Japan (natch); I don't know how many employees they have now. Robert Godin began his guitar businesses (he has a handful of brand names) in 1972, builds all guitars in Quebec or New Hampshire of all North American timber, and employs 1,000 people. That's a lot for a guitar builder. I have to think they're moving lots of trees.

10

I am a big fan of the S6 - it's what I generally recommend to people looking for a first good acoustic. Having said that, it is what it is, a very well made $400 guitar.

11

Re-attaching a lifting bridge should only cost about $75. Hardly terminal, if your friend otherwise likes that guitar.

12

Which Taks? I'd have thought the Japanese instruments (which ain't cheap) would come out on top, with the cheaper Taks about on a par with Seagull.

13

Some years ago, a friend of mine asked me to accompany her to a guitar store to help her select a guitar for her husband. I had never heard of a Seagull before that outing, but there was a cedar top model there that I had a chance to play. I was gobsmacked at the quality of the guitar for the price point that it was at. As Proteus mentioned above, it was an understated presentation on that model, yet it was a fine looking guitar. I suppose that one has to be a bit more careful with a cedar top.

I have played a Seagull on another occasion -- not sure just where, but perhaps at a NAMM Show -- and was equally impressed. From these experiences, I have always had a good notion in my mind that I associate with that brand. And, being a part of the Godin family, it is naturally going to be well-built.

I first learned about Takamine guitars perhaps back in the 1970s while in college. In those days, they definitely were into trying to be a lower-priced version of Martin guitars. They even patterned their models (including the model numbers) after Martin acoustics. Back in those days, Martin didn't have fifty different models to choose from. It was the basic dreadnought varietals.

Takamine somehow got their foot in the door with some fairly big-named artists. In those days, I was a big Eagles fan and I definitely noted that Glenn Frey used their guitars. Those guitars were always amplified, however, through some type of piezo pickup. They always sounded good. I can't remember if I have ever played a Takamine acoustically.

I agree again with Proteus that the build quality between these two brands is comparable. So, it all comes down to what you hear and which tone you prefer.

I would probably opt for the Seagull.

14

This was the Top of the Line Takamine. The Martin Lawsuit guitar...

Looks like a D-41. Abalone only on the front. Hex inlays. Laminated construction.

17

This one was for sale in SF.

Hand delivered by Takamine himself (during the Lawsuit threat) to his No. 1 Dealer who didn't buckle when the sabres rattled.

40+ yo, Dead Mint.

The reason Takamine became popular was the "piezo inside a wood body", sounded a lot better than a Barcus Berry, reasonably priced, pretty Braz Rosewood veneers, easy to get a new one if stolen or busted up while on tour.

18

I own a Takamine classical (nylon strings) and a Seagull steel string. Both are great guitars with solid cedar tops. The Tak was a pawnshop score, that's a fairly high-end model, and I chose the Seagull after an extensive sojourn into acoustic steel-string land. I chose it over similarly priced Takamines, Yamahas, Epiphones, Fenders, Gretsches, Deans, Alvarez-Yairi and others, mainly because I wanted a rich full tone with good projection. Most of the others sounded overly bright to me.

19

I play a Seagull (spruce top), and I enjoy it very much. It has a very loud and deep sound, that is hard to beat, especially in its price range. Mine doesn't have a pick guard, but being a spruce top, it's holding up very well.

I picked it out, over many other brands, including Takamine, it was simply a better sounding guitar to my ears. It has a deep body and sounds very good both unplugged and plugged in, which is not the case for some of the thinner bodied acoustic/electric guitars.

20

I worked in a music store for nearly twenty years, and from a humidity point of view (my part of Norway can be painfully cold and dry during the winter - especially if you're a solid top guitar, LOL) I've only had good experiences with the Godin-family guitars. The Norwegian climate is fairly similar to where those guitars are built, as opposed to Asian built guitars like Takamine. Numerous customers came back in Jan/Feb/March with guitars cracked tops, neck humps etc, but never a Seagull, Art & Lutherie, Simon & Patrick, or Godin. When we closed business back in 2013 I initially planned to buy myself a Seagull as a goodbye-to-the-business present, but the distributor was between deliveries, and the model I'd been eyeing was sold out.

We sold many, many Takas as well, and of course not all cracked. But IMO the cedar top Canadians sounded warmer and fuller, and they tolerated our climate like real vikings.

Anders

21

Yep. Two very different companies. My first guitar was narrowed down to a Norman or a Simon and Patrick, both part of the Godin family. The idea behind both brands is handmade guitars with solid tops in the $300-1000 range. Larrivee would be a comparable luxury version (although not part of the Godin empire). Older Normans are notable for the bolt on neck. I chose the Simon and Patrick but have played many Normans over the years. Great guitars for the money.

Takamine are well made Japanese guitars known for comfortable playing and good electronics. Garth Brooks in the 90s was a major ambassador. Almost a budget Taylor. Some Takamines can budge into high end territory as well.

Both depreciate on the used market and don’t have any particular vintage cache. I’d only buy if either seemed like good playability for the money.

22

There are ears that really like the Tak-Taylor chimey delicate guitar-as-dulcimer sheen, and ears that don't mind zing on top but are more attracted to fat bloomin' bottom.

No harm no foul either way. Stereotypes can be reductive and obscure the particular truth of an individual (person, place, or thing) - but they also usually contain a general truth. While there might be big-chunkin' locomotive Taks, I've never come across one myself. And there may be chimey delicate Godins - but, again, that hasn't been my experience.

And these considerations are all completely beside the issue of quality of material and build. I think the two brands are probably comparable in those arenas.

If my primary use for an acoustic was going to be amplified gigging, where all the tone would come from pre-amp and expertly tweaked PA, I might consider a Tak. Every one I've held has played marvelously lightly and easily for an acoustic - almost like a 335 with a (slightly) more resonant body.

But if I were more often playing for my own enjoyment, it would be a Seagull hands down. It just seems more of an acoustic acoustic guitar. For me, there's just more there there. (Also, the early gap between Takamine and the rest of the market in pickup/preamp technology has long been closed, and Seagulls can also be had with excellent electronics.)

I can imagine a Tak being a better gig tool - arguably flashier and more impressive onstage, easy on the soundman. AND - importantly - I can imagine a Tak's usual slim neck and easy playability trumping all other considerations for someone with smaller hands, or who isn't devoted to developing technique.

And, again - I'd compare any two actual examples with open ears - but I would expect to come away preferring the Seagull for pure sonic (and therefore playing) pleasure.


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