Takamine Signature Guitars: Glenn Frey vs. Garth Brooks

Updated on November 18, 2017
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Wesman Todd Shaw started playing the guitar when he was 12 years old. He loves nothing more than to pick one up and pluck some strings.

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The Late and Great Glenn Frey

A lot of folks will look back on the year 2016 and realize that was the year when the baby boomer icons, who lots of us loved for decades, really started dying off. Well, it's continuing in 2017, and isn't going to stop any time soon. If you were to ask me who it was who passed away in 2016 that upset me the most, I'd not blink or have to think at all, it was Glenn Frey.

Glenn's death was entirely unexpected. At least it was unexpected to those of us who weren't intimate with Glenn's medical situation. He was certainly too young for folks to be expecting him to go, and he wasn't known as a guy who kept burning the candle at both ends, like a Keith Richards.

Along with Don Henley, Glenn Frey penned the most of the hit songs by The Eagles. I'm talking about some of the most memorable songs of the twentieth century. The man had a golden voice, and his songwriting and singing made you think of him as an every-man. Someone almost any man in the US could imagine himself as, through the lyrics and storytelling.

In a band like The Eagles, pretty much everyone played the guitar. This is because a guitar is maybe the best instrument to write lyrics with, if you are also a singer. And of course almost everyone in The Eagles also sang some of the songs. Glenn Frey also played some keyboards.

The Eagles were mostly an entity of the 1970s, but as they disbanded for a while, and the 1980s were upon us, Glenn Frey continued being quite the successful entertainer. He'd do singing and songwriting as a solo act, and record some very successful material. That wasn't all he'd do, however; he became an actor. Not just any actor, but one in what was one of the most successful television shows of the decade.

Going forward, I'll personally remember Glenn Frey until I pass away or my mind crumbles to nothing. His singing and lyrics are embedded into a very deep part of my brain. I've been to Winslow, Arizona exactly once, and was only passing through. You best believe I parked just to walk around and stand on some corners.

Garth Brooks on stage with his unique Takamine signature guitar.
Garth Brooks on stage with his unique Takamine signature guitar. | Source

Garth Brooks, One of the Most Successful Recording Artists in World History

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, Garth Brooks is the single most successful American merchant of albums in the history of the United States of America. He's sold more albums than Elvis Presley. The Beatles are the only entity to have surpassed him here.

That's all a good day's work, of course. But Garth Brooks is also one of the best selling music artists of all time, globally. He's literally one of the world's most successful musicians. In all human history, Garth Brooks is one of the biggest musical success stories.

I'd honestly never heard of something called 'diamond status' in regards to musical records. This diamond status is something above and beyond platinum, which I had thought was as fancy as things got. Well, Garth Brooks has released seven albums which reached diamond status. He's the only person to have done so. The Beatles reached that level six times.

A quick Google search tells me Garth is worth nearly three hundred million dollars. With all this talk of diamond status, I was expecting more, but Garth is an extremely charitable man, and is very often involved in charities and civil rights activities.

Brooks has been inducted into The Country Music Hall of Fame, and The Songwriter's Hall of Fame. So much success, but Garth is a man who loves his family, and is now, despite being quite young and in good health, mostly retired.

What does the future hold for Mr. Brooks? I would expect he'll record more music, and eventually do another tour. We'll just wait and see.

The Takamine Glenn Frey guitar.
The Takamine Glenn Frey guitar.

The Takamine Glenn Frey EF360GF Acoustic Electric Guitar

First and foremost, the Takamine Glenn Frey guitar is a very very traditional sort of dreadnought. This guitar is very much in the style of a Martin D-28. It is, however, a much more affordable guitar than the D-28, and has some things which Martin would be very unlikely to want to put on their flagship flat top.

If you want to strum and sing, and emulate the sound of those great songs by The Eagles, or by just about anyone else, then this guitar will certainly play its part. The dreadnought body style with fourteen frets clear of the body, a solid rosewood back and sides, with a solid spruce top; that's one of the single greatest guitar construction recipes in music history.

The bracing is, of course, the classic X configuration pioneered by C.F. Martin & Company. The neck is also a very traditional mahogany, and with a rosewood fingerboard and bridge. Our material for the saddle and nut is bone, and absolutely nothing allows for strings to ring so loud and true as will bone nuts and saddles.

The solid rosewood back and sides provides a dark metallic sort of tone with lots of harmonic overtones. The spruce top provides great volume and clarity, and especially if you play it hard and loud, aggressively with your picking and strumming hand. This would make for a fine guitar to flatpick bluegrass, and jazz with, while also being the singer-songwriter's number one foil for creating new songs.

Any time you have a Takamine acoustic-electric guitar, one of the star features will be the electronics. Takamine is in direct competition with Taylor guitars for best professional acoustic-electric electronics. Takamine may be winning for being vastly more affordable than Taylor. The EF360GF Glenn Frey Signature comes equipped with an on-board CT4B pre-amp. This premium pre-amp includes a 3-band graphic EQ with an extremely stable and accurate chromatic tuner. It even works great for non-standard and open tunings.

Takamine Glenn Frey Signature Guitar features:

  • Color: Natural
  • Top: Solid spruce
  • Rosette: Concentric rings
  • Back: Solid rosewood
  • Sides: Rosewood
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Inlays: MOP dots
  • Bone nut and saddle
  • Body and fingerboard binding: White
  • Electronics: CT4B
  • Tuners: Chrome and pearl
  • Comes with hard shell case

Takamine Garth Brooks Signature guitar.
Takamine Garth Brooks Signature guitar.

The Takamine Garth Brooks GB7C Acoustic Electric Guitar

Straight up, you will never see another guitar like this one. You just won't. You may see another steel string dreadnought with a strange sound hole, but you won't see another one like this. The silhouette sound-hole here is very cool. It's totally unique, but it's really only a small part of the story here.

The totally different sound-hole scheme is super noticeable, but it isn't the thing which you need to know about this guitar's sound-board, or top. This is a cedar top dreadnought, and that's not the most common thing. A cedar top is different from a spruce top in the way it responds to the player.

Most steel string acoustic guitars will have a spruce top. This is because spruce makes for an outstanding soundboard, but cedar is also great. What's the difference? The story with cedar is it can sound better, providing more nuanced tones, when you play it softly. So if you like to strum softly, or if you are a finger-picker, then you may find the cedar top preferable to a spruce top.

I do feel it is my duty here to tell you that people will say that a cedar top, conversely, doesn't sound so great when you play one loudly, using a lot of force with your picking hand. My personal experience with cedar sound-boards, however, tells me this sort of problem, declining tonal clarity when played aggressively, isn't something one should worry about with a well made cedar top guitar. This is a professional grade guitar. There's no worries to be had here.

Besides the more sensitive cedar top, you have more sensitive electronics to match with it. The under-saddle pickup is Takamine's proprietary Palathetic design, which adds more mass to the elements and senses each string individually for a more natural tone. And the on-board CT-4BII pre-amp offers a 3-band equalizer and an on-board tuner with the ability to calibrate its frequency.

Takamine GB7C Garth Brooks Signature Acoustic-electric Guitar Features:

  • Acoustic-electric guitar engineered for the biggest stages and finest studios
  • Solid cedar top adds harmonic complexity for strumming or fingerpicking
  • Solid rosewood back and laminated sides delivers the guitar's powerful voice
  • Takamine Palathetic undersaddle pickup senses each string individually
  • CT-4BII preamp helps fine-tune your guitar's voice
  • Iconic guitar silhouette sound-hole
  • Bone nut, and compensated saddle
  • Venetian cutaway for access to upper frets
  • Case included

Choosing Between Two Terrific Takamine Signature Guitars

So what we have here are two outstanding, solid top construction, rosewood body Takamine signature series dreadnoughts named after two of the finest singer-songwriters in US history. They're also both acoustic-electric guitars, so you can plug them in, and perform for crowds of any size. These are also studio grade guitars which will sound crystal clear should you happen to be in position to make some recordings.

After that, these are very different guitars. The primary difference is the different tonewoods used for the sound-boards, or tops. Yes, you can hardly tell the difference visually. A simple way to think about this is that the cedar top guitar is preferable for someone who finger-picks, and the spruce top guitar preferable for someone who flatpicks.

With Takamine's state of the art electronics, all these notions about cedar sound-boards becoming over driven when played aggressively fly out the window. You could simply plug in and use less picking hand force, and the problem which may not exists to begin with, is solved. I personally have a lot of experience with cedar sound-boards, and I know that when a manufacturer as good as Takamine puts one on an all solid wood dreadnought, I can dig into the strings as hard as I want, and there is no problem.

The Glenn Frey guitar with the spruce sound-board would likely be a louder guitar when played unplugged. This is just the nature of sound-boards, and physics, the spruce tonewood is a denser material than cedar. The Brooks guitar with the cedar board will always be more responsive when played lightly, and quietly. For this reason it has a much more sensitive and advanced saddle, and electronics.

Now concerning the prices, the Glenn Frey guitar costs a bit more money. I kept looking at the specifications, and I couldn't figure out why it cost as much more as it does. Turns out I was missing one important detail, and that is the sides of the Garth Brooks guitar are laminated rosewood. The back is solid, the top is solid cedar, but those laminated sides make the Garth Brooks guitar much more affordable.

It's a three hundred dollar difference in price. Play either one plugged in, and the laminated sides become meaningless. If you play them unplugged, the Glenn Frey guitar is going to be significantly louder, and not just for the spruce top, but for being entirely solid wood construction.

In the end the deciding characteristics are how important it is for you to have a guitar which looks like none other. If that's what matters, get the Garth Brooks guitar. The other major thing is style of play, if you finger-pick, the Brooks guitar will please you the most, but if you flat-pick, the Glenn Frey should be your cat's meow. Thanks for reading.

© 2017 Wesman Todd Shaw

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