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Don Felder’s Takamine F400s 12-String Guitar

Takamine 12-string

The most iconic song intro that has touched billions of people’s lives, Don Felder recorded the renowned “Hotel California” intro on his Takamine F400S 12-string at Criteria Studio in 1976. The intro is built around a simple guitar riff, but it is the way that Felder plays it that makes this hotel California 12 string guitar special.

Takamine and Eagles have a long-standing relationship.  The Eagles’ single “Hotel California” was published 47 years ago, in 1977. Many well-known artists have used Takamine guitars and are brand ambassadors. Artists like Jon Bon Jovi, Blake Shelton, Steven Wilson, Glen Hansard, Bruce Springsteen, and Garth Books, have been using Takamine Guitars throughout their whole careers.

In this blog, I’ll talk about the history of Don Felder’s Takamine 12-string guitar and look at what made it special.

Check out the best guide to 12-string guitars here.

Takamine F400s
Image By: Takamine Guitars

Don Felder’s Takamine 12-String Guitar

Made In:Japan
Colour: Neutral high gloss, Brown
ModelF400S
Body TypeDreadnought
TopSolid Spruce
Body: Rosewood
Neck: Rosewood
Weight: 2.18 kg
Fretboard: Rosewood
Frets: 20 frets
Pickups: DeArmoned
Electronics:N/A
Bracing: X-Bracing
Inlays:Dots
Hardware: Endpin Jack
Case: N/A
AvailabilityDiscontinued

The Rise of Takamine Guitars 

Takamine guitars were created in 1959 at the tiny Ohzone Musical Instruments store at the Takamine base in central Japan. In 1975, Takamine made a technological revolution after creating the market standard Under-Saddle Palathetic Pickup, which gave acoustic guitars access to naturally amplified tones. This made Takamine guitars very popular.

While many are familiar with the Eagles’ longstanding history and affiliation with Takamine Guitars, with Glenn Frey even introducing Takamine’s Palathetic Pickup to the industry in the early 1980s, there is a lesser-known song of Eagles/Takamine trivia that predates those game-changing electronics.

Body Type of Takamine F400s

The body type of the Takamine F400s 12-string is a dreadnought. Back in the 70’s it was the most used guitar body because they are comfortable playing for long periods. This body type has a recognizable shape and a big, broad body. Its loud and full tone makes it great for both rhythm and fingerstyle playing.   

The top is made of solid spruce that gives it a good sound and the wood resonates well with the vibration of the strings. Most spruce trees are lighter and blonde. Spruce is a material that is both very flexible and very stiff. Spruce top guitars have a sensitive and nuanced range of tones as well. The Takamine F400s has a rosewood back and side.

Fingerboard of The F400S

What makes this Takamine f400s 12 string guitar a real show stopper is that the rosewood fingerboard is wrapped in ivory. Tonewood made from rosewood has a natural smoothness and warmth in it. 

In comparison to maple, rosewood makes a noticeable improvement in sound quality. When bending the strings, it’s usually much easier to do so on a rosewood fingerboard. 

You might find it easier with a rosewood fingerboard if you are more interested in changing how your guitar strings move with different playing techniques.

Bridge Of the F400s

Takamine F400s 12-string acoustic guitars are crafted by renowned Japanese luthiers. Takamine takes considerable pleasure in the craftsmanship of its long-lasting instruments. 

The bridge on this hotel California 12 string guitar was made of mahogany. A mahogany bridge has a strong tone, a bright treble response, and a powerful mid-range when compared to rosewood.

Takamine F400s

Headstock

The headstock of this F400s guitar is the most historical part of this guitar. Takamine guitars were being used on stages worldwide 70’s which is infamously known as the “lawsuit guitar” years.

Takamine F400s

Takamine was charged for using a similar design to Martin Guitar headstocks. This period of legal disputes resulted in some guitar companies making changes to their headstock designs to avoid further legal issues.

unique Pickup

Don Fleder used a DeArmond pickup to record the Hotel California intro with his Takamine F400s 12 string guitar. The vibrations of the string are captured by the acoustic guitar pickups. Don Felder’s especially loved this Takamine F400S 12-string DeArmond pickup. While sharing his experience of making “Hotel California,” he said,

In a 2017 interview with Guitar World, Felder explains:

“The acoustic guitar in the intro is a Takamine 12-string with a DeArmond pickup. We mic’d the acoustic and put that in the center of the mix. Then we took the pickup’s output and ran it though an Echoplex and a Leslie. We mic’d that in stereo so it has this left-to-right kind of swirling, ethereal characteristic. It’s blended in with the direct acoustic as well”.

To learn more about classical and acoustic guitar pickups, click here.

Ideal Genres

This F400s 12 string guitar is great for Folk, Country, Blues, and Rock genres. Acoustic 12-string guitars are stunning, rare instruments. Because of its steel strings, it produces mellower and softer sounds, and people mostly use this in folk, country, and blues. 

The guitar’s rich, full sound is perfect for playing ballads and other atmospheric music, but it can also be used to play more upbeat and energetic music. The guitar’s 12-string design gives it a unique sound that is both haunting and beautiful. 

Despite the fact that acoustic guitar is sometimes linked to mellow musical styles, there are many more ways to use it. Jazz and pop both frequently feature the use of an acoustic guitar.

Pros of the Takamine F400s:

  • Craftsmanship: Made in Japan, known for high-quality craftsmanship
  • Solid Spruce Top: Solid Spruce body and Rosewood soundboard contribute to rich and resonant tones
  • Acoustic Electric: Acoustic-electric design with a passive under-saddle piezo pickup for easy amplification

Cons of the Takamine F400s:

  • The Nut: The nut width of 1-13/16″ may not suit players who prefer wider string spacing

However, everything greatly depends on the player’s personal preferences. So, make you choice of 12 string with in-depth research. To check out more 12-string guitars that made their mark in history click here.

Pran Jawty Khanam

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