In celebration of over 50 years of guitarcraft, Takamine recently introduced a limited-edition “NEX”-sized guitar called the LTD2015 Renge-So. Named for a flower that grows at the base of Mt. Takamine in Japan, this black beauty presents said flora on the fretboard and pickguard in beautifully executed inlays of green heart abalone, mother-of–pearl, and blue stone. Other cosmetic details include a multi-ring rosette with a circle of abalone, black-and-white binding on the top and back, and single white binding on the neck, headstock, and heel cap. The Takamine logo is also inlaid in abalone on the black-faced headstock. Top it off with a flawless gloss finish on every surface, and you’ve got a guitar that commands attention from the moment it’s lifted from the included hardshell case.
In the playability department the Renge- So is every bit a premium instrument. The generous C-shaped neck feels great, and the finely worked frets with their smooth tips afford an easy glide along the bound ebony fingerboard. The factory setup is spot-on with nice, easy action, and the intonation sounds sweet and in tune in all positions. It all makes for a very satisfying experience when you play this guitar acoustically, as there’s abundant volume and sustain, great dynamic response—finger—stylists will really appreciate this guitar’s touch sensitivity—and a voicing that enables you to do what you want to do without struggling to get a tone.
The Renge-So is well equipped for live performance courtesy of its CTP-3 CoolTube preamp. This is the latest version of a system that has been around for years, and one of its noteworthy features is its use of a 12AU7 dual-triode running at low voltage to enhance the warmth and body of the sound. A blend control lets you adjust the amount of tube-conditioned signal, and the circuit also proves quite effective for mellowing the zingy transients that piezo pickups can dish out. The CTP-3 preamp has a 3-band EQ, a midrange filter with Frequency and Notch controls, Standby switch with LED (for muting the sound while tuning or taking a break), and an easy-to-read chromatic tuner. There’s also an input jack and separate Volume control for adding an optional second pickup, such as Takamine’s internally mounted Soundboard Transducer. The CTP-3 slides easily out of the body by pressing in the two securing clips, and this is how you access its four AA batteries.
Plugged into the P.A. system at a recent outdoor festival, the Renge-So yielded excellent sound with minimal control adjustments, and it performed without feedback problems in the midst of a loud band with cranked-up floor monitors. The Renge-So might look like it’s more show than go, but when the rubber meets the road it’s a real performer.
Visually and sonically, the Renge-So is a stunning instrument, and one that is certainly flies the flag for the outstanding quality and attention to detail that has made Takamine such a popular brand for the last 50-plus years. The Renge-So is a sizeable investment for sure, but what a great guitar and an easy choice for an Editors’ Pick Award.
MODEL LTD 2015 Renge-So
PRICE $3,499 street
NUT WIDTH 1.68"
FRETBOARD Ebony, 25 ½" scale
FRETS 20 medium jumbo
TUNERS Black Gotoh diecast with pearloid buttons
BODY Solid spruce top, laminated rosewood sides, solid rosewood back
BRIDGE Ebony with 2-piece compensated saddle
ELECTRONICS CTP-3 CoolTube preamp with 12AU7 tube. Palathetic under-saddle pickup.
CONTROLS Volume, 3-band EQ (Low, Mid, Hi), CoolTube Blend, Mid Frequency, Notch, Aux Pickup Volume, Mid- and Hi-cut switch for auxiliary pickup. Tuner, Pitch, and Standby switches
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario EXP-16 Coated Phosphor Bronze Light, .012-.053
WEIGHT 5.52 lbs
KUDOS Top-notch playability and sound. Awesome look.