Taylor vs Takamine Acoustic Guitars: Which are Best for You?


Taylor and Takamine are great brands to look at if you’re after a new acoustic guitar, but which is the best? In this article, I’ll compare the tone, comfort and playability, as well as take an in-depth look at both brand’s ranges, so you can decide which is the best option for you.

The Quick Answer

Taylor acoustic guitars often sound a bit brighter than Takamine guitars which sound warmer and fuller. The Taylor range focuses on mid-high end guitars, whilst Takamine offer more affordable models and mid-high end guitars. Takamine make their high-end guitars in Japan, and Taylor make them in the USA.

Brand Overview

Before we jump into the comparisons, I wanted to briefly outline the shapes available from both brands so you can get an idea of the options available.

Taylor

Taylor specialise in high-end acoustic and acoustic-electric guitars, but they also make some more affordable mini and travel size versions. There are several shapes in the range:

  • Dreadnought: great for strumming
  • Baby: 3/4 size dreadnought
  • Big Baby: 15/16 size dreadnought
  • Grand Concert: small body, suited to fingerstyle
  • Grand Auditorium: mid-sized guitar, suitable for all styles
  • Grand Pacific: round shoulder dreadnought
  • Grand Orchestra: super jumbo style
  • Grand Theatre: scaled-down version of the Grand Orchestra
  • Grand Symphony: larger than a Grand Auditorium with a soundport cutaway
  • Jumbo: only available for custom orders currently

Here are some images (all link to Amazon) to show the different shapes.

Grand Concert

Grand Auditorium

Grand Symphony

Grand Pacific

Dreadnought

Grand Orchestra

Taylor use 3 digit naming system to identify each model:

  • 1st Digit: identifies the series. Models in the same series have the same back and side wood.
  • 2nd Digit: identifies string number and top wood hardness. 1 = 6 string with soft top wood e.g. spruce, 2 = 6 string with hard top wood, 5 = 12 string with soft top wood, 6 = 12 string with hard top wood.
  • 3rd Digit: identifies body shape. 0 = dreadnought, 2 = grand concert, 4 = grand auditorium, 6 = grand symphony, 7 = grand pacific, 8 = grand orchestra.

Some models also have 1 or 2 letters after them. An “E” indicates that it’s an acoustic-electric model and a “C” indicates that it has a cutaway.

Example: Taylor 412ce. It is in the 400 series, has 6 strings with a soft top wood (e.g. spruce), it’s a grand concert shape with a cutaway and is an acoustic-electric guitar.

Takamine

Takamine guitars range from a few hundred dollars up to several thousand. The most affordable series is the G series, whilst the Pro series is the most premium.

They make several main acoustic/ acoustic-electric guitar body shapes:

  • Dreadnought
  • Jumbo
  • Thinline: thinner mid-sized acoustic
  • NEX: scaled-down jumbo
  • FXC: small body, well suited to finger-style
  • OM: small body with short scale length
  • New Yorker: smallest shape, parlour style

Here are some images (all link to Amazon) to show the different shapes.

NEX (with cutaway)

FXC (with cutaway)

Dreadnought

Jumbo

OM

New Yorker

Comparable Shapes

Now we know a bit about both ranges, I wanted to quickly outline which shapes are considered comparable, so you can start to narrow down your selection.

  • Small body: Taylor Grand Concert and Takamine New Yorker
  • Mid-Sized: Taylor Grand Auditorium/ Symphony and Takamine NEX/ FXC/ OM
  • Dreadnought: Taylor Dreadnought/ Big Baby/ Grand Pacific, and Takamine Dreadnought
  • Jumbo: Taylor Grand Orchestra and Takamine Jumbo

Tone Comparison

This is the big one, which sounds the best? Of course, tone is subjective, so one isn’t necessarily better than the other, and there are some noticeable differences. It’s hard to compare the tones of two brands overall, since they body shapes, sizes and woods used make the biggest difference, so I’ll make some general statements then provide some specific examples.

Taylor acoustic guitars tend to sound a bit brighter than Takamine guitars. There is usually more focus on the high-end frequencies with Taylor acoustics, giving them a shimmery and crisp tone. Takamine guitars have a more balanced EQ in comparison, and usually sound a bit fuller and warmer.

Here are some YouTube videos to show the tone differences between different Takamine and Taylor guitars.

Example 1: Mid-Size (Taylor 214ce vs Takamine EG260c)

Comparison starts at 0:27

Example 2 : Dreadnought (Taylor 114ce vs Takamine GD-30)

Comparison starts at 1:51

Example 3: Mini Versions (Taylor GS-Mini vs Takamine Taka-Mini)

Comparison starts at 15:23

Comfort and Playability

Picking a guitar that sounds great is super important, but you’ll only get the best out of it if you feel comfortable playing it. Several factors can affect this including the body shape, size, neck profile and how it is set up (e.g. the action).

Some of these factors you have control over e.g. the set up, but the body shape, size and neck profile are specific to a certain model. Again, it’s hard to make comparisons between brands here because every model in the range will feel slightly different, so I’ll make some generalisations.

  • Taylor acoustic guitars usually have slimmer necks than Takamine guitars. For smaller handed players, the Taylor is often more comfortable, but for players with larger or stronger hands, the Takamine may be more suited.
  • Taylor guitars are more suited to a lower action due to the neck design than Takamine. A lower action makes it easier to hold down the strings, however, if it is too low, it can risk fret buzz.

The best thing to do, is to identify which models are within your budget from both brands (use the tables in “The Ranges” section below to help with this), and try them in the store. This way, you’ll know for sure which is the most comfortable.

Where are they Made?

Taylor guitars are made in the USA and Mexico, and Takamine guitars are made in China and Japan.

  • Taylor make most models under $1500 in Mexico, and their premium models are made in America.
  • Takamine make their G-series models (up to $700) in China and their Pro series in Japan (starting at around $1300).

It’s up to you whether you consider a guitar made in a certain country better than another. A lot of players see American guitars as the most superior, followed by Japan, then Mexico and then China. However, am less concerned about where a guitar was made, and more about how it sounds, feels and looks, but sometimes the origin can affect the quality.

It’s all personal preference though, you need to choose a guitar which makes you the happiest, and if it needs to be made in America to do it, then Taylor is your best bet here!

The Ranges

So now that we’ve been through some key comparisons, I wanted to take a look at the models currently on offer from both brands. I’ve made the following tables to highlight the key features and price of pretty much every current model of full-size steel 6-string acoustic available from Guitar Center and Sweetwater (excluding signature versions and limited editions).

There’s a table for each shape and they are all ordered from the lowest to the highest price within the table. The Taylor prices are from Guitar Center and the Takamine prices from Sweetwater, they are correct to the nearest dollar at the time of writing, but are subject to change.

It’s not necessary to look at every guitar in the table, so try not to feel overwhelmed! Hopefully it’ll just help you identify which models are available within your budget so you can narrow down the choices. Keep in mind that Taylor has a larger range overall, whilst there are more options in the Takamine range for lower priced guitars.

The categories are:

  • Dreadnought
  • Large body and Jumbo
  • Mid-Sized
  • Small Body

Dreadnought

GuitarAcoustic-ElectricOriginTop WoodBack and SidesPrice
Takamine GD20NoChinaCedarMahogany$330
Takamine GD20CE-NSYesChinaCedarMahogany$490
Taylor Big BabyNoMexicoSpruceLayered Walnut$499
Takamine GD30CEYesChinaSpruceMahogany$500
Taylor Academy 10NoMexicoSpruceLayered Sapele$549
Taylor Big BabyYesMexicoSpruceLayered Walnut$599
Takamine GD93CEYesChinaSpruceWalnut and Maple$700
Taylor 210ceYesMexicoSpruceLayered Rosewood$999
Taylor 210ce PlusYesMexicoSpruceLayered Rosewood$1199
Taylor AD27 Grand PacificNoUSAMahoganySapele$1399
Taylor AD17 Grand PacificNoUSASpruceOvangkol$1399
Takamine P2DCYesJapanSpruceSapele$1400
Takamine P3D/ DCYesJapanCedarSapele$1450
Takamine Legacy EF341SCYesJapanCedarMaple$1500
Taylor AD27e Grand PacificYesUSAMahoganySapele$1599
Takamine P4DCYesJapanSpruceMahogany$1650
Taylor AD17e Grand PacificYesUSASpruceOvangkol$1699
Taylor 317 Grand PacificNoUSASpruceSapele$1799
Takamine EF340S-55YesJapanSpruceMahogany$1800
Takamine P5DCYesJapanSpruceRosewood$1850
Takamine EF341DXYesJapanCedarMaple$1900
Takamine EF360GFYesJapanSpruceRosewood$1900
Taylor 327e Grand PacificYesUSAMahoganyBlackwood$2199
Taylor Builder’s Edition 517NoUSASpruceMahogany$2699
Taylor Builder’s Edition 717NoUSASpruceRosewood$2899
Taylor vs Takamine Dreadnought Acoustic Guitars

Large Body/ Jumbo

GuitarAcoustic-ElectricOriginTop WoodBack and SidesPrice
Takamine GJ72CEYesChinaSpruceMaple$630
Takamine GN77KCEYesChinaKoaKoa$700
Takamine P1JCYesJapanCedarSapele$1350
Takamine P3MCYesJapanCedarSapele$1450
Takamine RF740FS-TTYesJapanSpruceSapele$2250
Takamine P6JCYesJapanSpruceMaple$2550
Taylor 818eYesUSASpruceRosewood$3499
Taylor 618eYesUSASpruceMaple$3499
Taylor 618eYesUSASpruceMaple$3499
Taylor vs Takamine Jumbo Acoustic Guitars

Mid-Sized

GuitarAcoustic-ElectricOriginTop WoodBack and SidesPrice
Takamine GN20NoChinaCedarMahogany$330
Takamine GN30NoChinaSpruceMahogany$360
Takamine GN20CEYesChinaCedarMahogany$490
Takamine GN30CEYesChinaSpruceMahogany$500
Takamine GN51CE NEXYesChinaSpruceWalnut$550
Takamine GN71CE NEXYesChinaSpruceWalnut$600
Takamine GN93CE NEXYesChinaSpruceWalnut and Maple$700
Taylor 114e Grand AuditoriumYesMexicoSpruceLayered Walnut$799
Taylor 214ce Grand AuditoriumYesMexicoSpruceLayered Rosewood$999
Taylor 214ce-K Grand AuditoriumYesMexicoSpruceLayered Koa$1099
Taylor 214ce Plus Grand AuditoriumYesMexicoSpruceLayered Rosewood$1199
Takamine P1NCYesJapanCedarSapele$1350
Taylor 214ce DLX Grand AuditoriumYesMexicoSpruceLayered Rosewood$1399
Takamine Thinline TS9138YesJapanSpruceSapele$1450
Taylor 214ce DLX Grand AuditoriumYesMexicoSpruceLayered Maple$1499
Taylor 214ce   Deluxe Grand AuditoriumYesMexicoSpruceLayered Ovangkol$1499
Takamine Legacy EF508KCYesJapanKoaKoa$1550
Taylor 214ce-K DLX Grand AuditoriumYesMexicoSpruceLayered Koa$1599
Taylor 224ce-K DLX Grand AuditoriumYesMexicoKoaLayered Koa$1699
Takamine P5NCYesJapanSpruceRosewood$1850
Takamine TSP-158CYesJapanSpruceMaple$2150
Takamine TSP178AC ThinlineYesJapanMapleMaple$2400
Takamine TSP178ACKNYesJapanKoaKoa$2400
Taylor 326ce Urban Ash Grand SymphonyYesUSAMahoganyAsh$2499
Takamine P6NC NEXYesJapanSpruceMaple$2500
Taylor Builder’s Edition 324ce Grand AuditoriumYesUSAMahoganyAsh$2999
Takamine P7NCYesJapanSpruceRosewood$3200
Taylor 814ce V-Class Grand AuditoriumYesUSASpruceRosewood$3699
Taylor Builder’s Edition 614ce Grand AuditoriumYesUSASpruceMaple$3999
Taylor Builder’s Edition 816ce Grand SymphonyYesUSASpruceRosewood$3999
Taylor Custom Sassafras Grand AuditoriumYesUSASpruceSassafras$4999
Taylor Custom Euro Maple Grand AuditoriumYesUSASpruceMaple$4999
Taylor Custom Macassar Ebony Grand AuditoriumYesUSARedwoodEbony$4999
Taylor K26ce Grand SymphonyYesUSAKoaKoa$5199
Taylor Builder’s Edition K14ce V-Class Grand AuditoriumYesUSASpruceKoa$5199
Taylor 914ce V-Class Grand AuditoriumYesUSASpruceRosewood$5199
Taylor Builder’s Edition K24ce V-Class Grand AuditoriumYesUSAKoaKoa$5499
Taylor Custom No.12 Grand AuditoriumYesUSABlackwoodBlackwood$5799
Taylor Custom No.20 Grand AuditoriumYesUSAKoaKoa$9999
Taylor vs Takamine Mid-Size Acoustic Guitars

Smaller Body

GuitarAcoustic-ElectricOriginTop WoodBack and SidesPrice 
Taylor Academy 12NoMexicoSpruceLayered Sapele$499 
Takamine GF30CE FXCYesChinaSpruceMahogany$500 
Takamine GY93 New YorkerNoChinaSpruceWalnut and Maple$520 
Takamine GY93E New YorkerYesChinaSpruceWalnut and Mahogany$700 
Taylor GT Urban AshNoUSASpruceAsh$1399 
Takamine P3NY New YorkerYesJapanCedarSapele$1450 
Taylor AD22eYesUSAMahoganySapele$1599 
Taylor GTe Urban AshYesUSASpruceAsh$1599
Taylor 312 V-ClassNoUSASpruceSapele$1799 
Taylor 322 V-ClassNoUSAMahoganyBlackwood$1899 
Taylor AD12eYesUSASpruceEbony$1999 
Taylor 412ce V-ClassYesUSASpruceOvangkol$2399 
Taylor 412e-R V-ClassicYesUSASpruceRosewood$2499 
Taylor 412ce-R V-ClassYesUSASpruceRosewood$2599 
Taylor 712ce V-ClassYesUSASpruceRosewood$2999 
Taylor 712ce V-ClassYesUSASpruceRosewood$2999 
Taylor 612ce V-ClassYesUSASpruceMaple$3499 
Taylor 612e V-ClassYesUSASpruceMaple$3549 
Taylor 812ce V-ClassYesUSASpruceRosewood$3699 
Taylor 812c V-ClassYesUSASpruceRosewood$3699 
Taylor 812ce V-ClassYesUSASpruceRosewood$3699 
Taylor 812e DeluxeYesUSASpruceRosewood$4049 
Taylor GT K21eYesUSAKoaKoa$4699 
Taylor K22ce V-ClassYesUSAKoaKoa$5199 
Taylor 912ce V-ClassYesUSASpruceRosewood$5199 
Taylor K22ce V-ClassYesUSAKoaKoa$5199 
Taylor 912ce V-ClassYesUSASpruceRosewood$5199 
Taylor Builder’s Edition 912ce V-ClassYesUSASpruceRosewood$5499 
Taylor vs Takamine Small Body Acoustic Guitars

Which Acoustic Guitar Should You Choose?

This brings us to the ultimate question. Of course it’s impossible to answer because it’s so subjective. Visit any guitar forum and you’ll mostly just see back and forth recommendations for each brand, making it even harder to make a decision.

As I said earlier, the best thing to do, is to find the models in your price range and give them a try. Even better, if you can take a friend and ask them to play each guitar back-to-back first whilst you look away, you can then make a more objective decision about the tone, without any preconceived notions getting in the way. Then try them yourself and see which is the most comfortable. This way, you’ll walk away with the perfect guitar.

To make the end of this article a little more definitive, I’ll leave you with a few key points:

  • Generally, Taylor guitars sound a bit brighter and Takamine guitars sound a bit warmer.
  • Taylor has a larger range of guitars, giving you a wider selection of models to choose from compared to Takamine.
  • Takamine usually have fuller and more rounded necks compared to Taylor guitars.
  • Takamine guitars start at a lower price than Taylor guitars.
  • Taylor’s most expensive guitars are more premium than Takamine’s.

Here are some more articles you might find useful:

Heather

Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

Recent Posts