Takamine NUTWIDTHS reference table.

Development of the Takamine Natural Series.  An Interview with Mr. Gerard Garnier ...
The Takamine Natural Series, easily recognizable by their solid cedar tops, satin finish and lack of pickguard, has been a mainstay in the Takamine product lineup since 1984.  The origin of the Naturals was a collaboration between Takamine and Mr. Gerard Garnier, head of ALGAM - La Boite Noire, one of the largest musical instrument distributors in Europe.  His vision of this new Takamine design was brought to reality and has grown into one of the most popular off all Takamine styles.   Needless to say, Mr. Garnier has been a long time supporter of Takamine guitars and was kind enough to participate in the following interview and has authorized it's publication here on the Takamine Forum.  My thanks to him for his kindness and contribution.  French-English translation by Tom Roca
Dave:  Mr. Garnier, What
was your purpose for designing the Natural Series ?

Mr. Garnier:  "The design of the natural series - initially specifically designed for France - was the result of three goals I was looking for, one psychological, the other esthetical and the third was the sound.  Their success, still today, tends to prove the correctness of this global reflection."
Dave:  Was there a particular brand or model that you wanted to reproduce ?

Mr. Garnier:  "
I wanted to do the exactly the opposite:  I wanted to help Takamine find its own personality.  Since 1980 I was the happy distributor for France of the Ovation guitars – the guitar of the stars – as was said in the commercials for several years.  For me, Ovation embodied the high-tech guitar that was played on stage under the spotlights.  In one word, it was an instrument for extroverted guitarists."

"In opposition to Ovation, I was distributing since 1978, a small Japanese brand called Takamine. A brilliant slogan/motto perfectly summarized the emerging philosophy of this future big brand: Takamine  “amplifies the natural wood sound”. The palathetic pickup system equipping Takamine made it indeed possible to amplify a traditional guitar. It was extraordinary, only the Ovation brand could do it until this time.  Takamine thus represented the alternative, and bound to become, in my opinion,  the instrument for introverted guitarists, the one you would play in front of your chimney fire.  By creating the Naturals, I was simply wishing to increase the difference between Ovation and Takamine, to allow intimate guitarists to find the perfect guitar for them."
What were the key differences from existing Takamine designs at that time ? 
Mr. Garnier:  "Takamine was at the time a Japanese copy of Martin guitars. The Takamine logo and the Est.1967 was a copy of this well-known brand who celebrates its 175 years.  So it was first necessary to find an original headstock. It was rather simple as a special model for Bruce Springsteen had this little treasure. I also designed a bridge, different than the Martin bridge, with pinholes. The satin finish representing the "natural" finish was also a major change in the search for originality.  This was a very different finish at the time - I remember the English making fun of this “non-finished” guitar - now it is a classic."
In which year was the Natural Series designed ?
Mr. Garnier: 
"It was in 84/85. I wished to find with the Naturals the spirit of the folk instruments I had built since 1971 (my brother Joel will continue this manufacture by making it evolve to superb CAMAC concert harps)."
To what extent were you technically involved, Mr. Garnier, in the design ?
Mr. Garnier:  "
I was not technologically involved on the level of the manufacturing processes. This is why I refused the proposal of Mr. Hirade to name this new series of guitars: “Garnier Series”.  It was very nice of him, but, if it is true that I had a role of originator and designer, I did not consider myself as a luthier."
Can you share some of the design details with us ?   Choice of woods ?
Mr. Garnier:  "
I was aware of the advantage of the use of Red Cedar for the soundboard. Less expensive at the time, we bought balls of Red Cedar at the harbor port of Nantes for CAMAC instruments, and that gave an incredible price/quality ratio."
I thus asked Mr. Hirade, president of Takamine, to use only this wood for the tops instead of Spruce traditionally used. The round and warm sound of Red Cedar took a large part in the success of the naturals."
Was the Takamine factory receptive to your ideas ?   Did they make other suggestions ?
Mr Garnier:  "
Absolutely. I have to say that all these requests were done with the help of a sympathetic interpreter, because Mr. Hirade did not speak a word of English. The project could indeed never have been possible without the friendship of Ichiro Katayama, today president of Takamine, and at the time a young assistant of Mr. Hirade. His enthusiasm and his understanding of the concept combined with an extraordinary know-how made it possible to harmonize a project which could appear very eccentric at the beginning."
"The initial launch being crowned with success not only in
France but everywhere in Europe , it was very easy to convince Ichiro Katayama to start nylon string models with narrow nutwidth and 14 frets to body, but also steel strings models with a wideneck for fingerpicking."

"I wanted to go further with the development of models like Selmer Macaferri, of course, being French, I wanted to give to the honor the guitar of Django Reinhardt!  Unfortunately, when Takamine passed under the control of Kaman, we only heard: " No more prototypes"!  Too bad, we could have been pioneers!"
Was the first prototype very different from the final production version ?
Mr. Garnier:  "
The production of the base model , the N10 with maple binding was difficult. As I wished an economic model, we replaced the maple bindings by a synthetic material. Nevertheless the usual white color was replaced by a pretty ivory color which perfectly matched with mahogany. It was, I think, the only major modification."
How would you judge the final outcome of the Natural Series compared to your original ideas ?  Are you satisfied ? 
Mr. Garnier:  "
How can you not be satisfied when you hear that a third of the Takamine production is the Natural Series ?"
If you could begin again would you change anything about the Natural Series ?
Mr. Garnier:  "
I believe that all creation has to renew again.  Thus I had shown to my friend Ichiro Katayama, an evolution project from the Natural Series to the “4 Seasons” concept.  He was seduced, but it is finally with another friend, the wellknown French luthier Michel Lâg, that this project became reality."
Long life to the Naturals and the 4 Seasons!"
My sincere thanks to Mr. Gerard Garnier for partaking in the interview.  
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