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Can a Takamine be converted to L/H?

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Can a Takamine be converted to L/H?

Postby shufflebeat » Wed Dec 04, 2019 12:00 am

I have tried to replace my r/h Tak ef360s with something similar but l/h (it's a long story). Turns out that unbeknownst to me it's the best sounding electro in the world and no matter how far I go up and down the price range I can't find anything better suited to my needs.

In the past few months I played one other guitar which absolutely blew me away despite sounding very different to the ef360s but it was another Tak which is not available in a l/h version. I've been toying with the ef341lh but, despite ticking all the boxes does not light any fires for me.

It finally struck me that I already have the guitar I want but fear the pickup system (Tak palathetic) might be too awkward to move around like a normal r/l conversion.

Anyone care to comment or even speculate?
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Re: Can a Takamine be converted to L/H?

Postby Wonks » Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:35 am

For other people's information, the Tak has a split 4+2 saddle arrangement.

The palathetic system Is certainly a more complex arrangement than a standard piezo saddle, but I'm struggling to find details of how it's actually installed. I can see details of the system itself, but not what happens on the guitar body. There must be a slot cut in the top for the pickup elements to poke through, but I don't know if its straight (which means it's definitely possible), or angled (which would mean cutting another slot with fixing holes across the existing slot, so may be impossible or a lot harder).

You'd need a complete new bridge built, but that's the easy part.

It would certainly be a job for an experienced luthier, someone who has built many guitars, not just a few. And it won't be cheap.

Are you sold on the Takamine palathetic pickups? Or could you live with another system? As you'll need a new bridge, you could go for a standard saddle arrangement, opening up a wider range of pickup options and maybe a blend system.

The split 4+2 system is useful for sound, but a PITA if you want to add a piezo under-saddle system as whilst 4+2 split piezo strip elements used to be available (Fishman made them), a recent web search seems to indicate they are no longer made (at least by Fishman). Which is a shame as a friend wants me to fit a pickup to his (ex-Wonks) Avalon Legacy D25 with a 4+2 saddle (Zen sorted a non-performing bottom E string on it some years back).
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Re: Can a Takamine be converted to L/H?

Postby shufflebeat » Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:55 am

Cheers for that.

This Tak isn't a 4/2 model it's a straight 6 which gives me hope. The 4/2 would indeed be a mission to convert :)

I've had the pickup out at various times for routine maintenance and sometimes just to admire it and although it's very different from the usual piezo strip in the slot I don't see that it should be beyond the wit of someone much cleverer than me to sort.

I didn't realise how sold I was on this guitar/system until I tried to replace it and was astonished by the corner chopping design, lazy construction and weak performance of many of the modern shiny boxes on the market, a real eye opener.
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Re: Can a Takamine be converted to L/H?

Postby shufflebeat » Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:02 am

Cheers for that.

This Tak isn't a 4/2 model it's a straight 6 which gives me hope. The 4/2 would indeed be a mission to convert :)

I've had the pickup out at various times for routine maintenance and sometimes just to admire it and although it's very different from the usual piezo strip in the slot I don't see that it should be beyond the wit of someone much cleverer than me to sort.

I didn't realise how sold I was on this guitar/system until I tried to replace it and was astonished by the corner chopping design, lazy construction and weak performance of many of the modern shiny boxes on the market, a real eye opener.

The flip side of that is that my own Tak has a resale or trade-in value well below what it is worth as a musical resource to me because it is a scratched up old shoebox with no flashing lights, not quite Willie Nelson but you get the idea.
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Re: Can a Takamine be converted to L/H?

Postby Wonks » Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:14 am

Trying to find definitive pics of anything on the web is becoming harder. All the first photos I found supposedly showing that model showed a 4+2 split saddle!

I've got a 1999 Tak DSF48C and that has a 4+2 saddle on a rear-stringing bridge. It's OK acoustically, but not outstanding. The body construction is on the solid side, presumably to counter feedback, which is think is whyit's on the 'polite' side of things acoustically. Great action on it though. But it does shine most when amplified. The original digital preamp was replaced after a few years as it went through a set of batteries in a couple of hours. So I put in an original Cool Tube preamp, which had more output and a much nicer sound.
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Re: Can a Takamine be converted to L/H?

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:38 am

Are you thinking of converting the new guitar or the current one?
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Re: Can a Takamine be converted to L/H?

Postby Wonks » Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:43 am

The current one.
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Re: Can a Takamine be converted to L/H?

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:55 am

It should be possible to fill the slot and re-rout it for LH. Or replace the bridge. There are a few decent luthiers around Manchester but I'd use my mate Brian Eastwood in Bacup for something like this. Replacing a bridge on an acoustic is fairly straightforward and shouldn't be stupidly expensive.
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Re: Can a Takamine be converted to L/H?

Postby shufflebeat » Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:33 am

Wonks wrote:The body construction is on the solid side...

That is true for both the guitar and me

Great action on it though.

Same.

I had to change the preamp from the original Star Trek one and the replacement did seem to lose something but difficult to define. I toyed with the idea of the CT but never got round to it. Would settle for what I have now though.

@Sam, I think it would be a full bridge replacement (what do I know?) rather than a rerouting because the Palathetic setup goes right through the guitar, that's kind of my issue.

I've not heard of Bacup Brian before, I'll drop you a line later and chase that up, cheers.
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Re: Can a Takamine be converted to L/H?

Postby zenguitar » Wed Dec 04, 2019 12:51 pm

My advice would be to continue the search for a left handed electro acoustic that works for you. And to try every make and model.

Your Takamine may well be the best sounding guitar for you as a right hander; but no matter how well the conversation is done, there is no guarantee that it will sound the same as a lefty. It is normal to have different bracing on the bass and treble sides, and even if it looks symmetrical it is likely that the braces have been shaped and sized to tune the bass/treble response.

It is impossible to predict how successful a conversion would be. And there’s a likelihood that converting back to right handed wouldn’t restore the current sound fully.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Can a Takamine be converted to L/H?

Postby Wonks » Wed Dec 04, 2019 1:15 pm

Have you currently got it strung as a lefty but with the saddle angled the wrong way?
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Re: Can a Takamine be converted to L/H?

Postby shufflebeat » Wed Dec 04, 2019 2:17 pm

zenguitar wrote:It is impossible to predict how successful a conversion would be. And there’s a likelihood that converting back to right handed wouldn’t restore the current sound.

Yes, the pickup has been my main focus but I'm also well aware of this danger. Thanks

Wonks wrote:Have you currently got it strung as a lefty but with the saddle angled the wrong way?

No, I was quite happy playing upside down (a la Elizabeth Cotton) and then foolishly bought a cheap left hander to see what all the fuss was about, then the wind changed.
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Re: Can a Takamine be converted to L/H?

Postby Stratman57 » Thu Dec 05, 2019 12:46 am

I have a left handed Takamine GN51CE, which has the 4 + 2 bridge with a TP-4TD preamp. You might want to check one out.

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Re: Can a Takamine be converted to L/H?

Postby shufflebeat » Thu Dec 05, 2019 3:30 am

I've heard some of the G series are quite impressive but consistency isn't great. I have tried a few and have found them ok, not really better than what I'm already playing though.

Thanks.
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Re: Can a Takamine be converted to L/H?

Postby adrian_k » Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:17 am

, I think it would be a full bridge replacement (what do I know?) rather than a rerouting because the Palathetic setup goes right through the guitar, that's kind of my issue.

Is it the one with the six kind of pressure pads that go through the top? If so, are they slanted in line with the saddle or are they perpendicular to the centre line?

If perpendicular as Sam says the saddle slot can be filled and rerouted the other way.

If not, making a new bridge would be the only option but I asked my brother (full time luthier) and he thinks from memory it would be somewhat non-trivial as the bridge and the internal gubbins are effectively a single unit that screw together. You’d need to fill the holes in the top, reverse the internal bits, make a new bridge and then somehow figure out where to drill new holes, position the bridge, recouple the two parts now one is reversed etc. He also echoed Zen’s comment - no guarantee the guitar would sound the same afterwards.
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Re: Can a Takamine be converted to L/H?

Postby adrian_k » Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:35 am

Actually even if the pressure pad things are perpendicular to the centre line there’s the small matter of where the wire to the under saddle bit will go once the saddle is reversed, sounds like if it is this unit getting a luthier to look at it is the way to go.
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Re: Can a Takamine be converted to L/H?

Postby Wonks » Thu Dec 05, 2019 9:35 am

It's certainly a job where taking the top off to do the work would be the best way to ensure it's done correctly. It would also allow the bracing to be swapped to a lefty configuration. But that's a fair bit of work.

If you cant find a similar Tak, I would suggest trying a Maton, as they have a very similar (probably licenced) under-saddle arrange as the Takamine, but I can't see anyone who stocks left-handed models in the UK. I recently bought a Maton EBG808TE and that sounds lovely, both acoustically and amplified.

It's never going to be easy trying to find a guitar that sounds exactly like one you already own, especially when yours has decades of maturing and playing-in. Maybe you need to relax your expectations a bit and go for 'great but different'.
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Re: Can a Takamine be converted to L/H?

Postby shufflebeat » Thu Dec 05, 2019 10:46 am

Really helpful discussion, informed and considered. Careful analysis would suggest this is a really dumb idea.
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