12/11/2013

1977 Tama TG-80 Dreadnought Guitar




Update 2017: This guitar's come back in for sale and so I've updated the pictures, description, and added a soundclip.

I worked on this guitar first back in 2013, doing a light fret level/dress and setup job, and when it came in today (Novemeber 2017), all I needed to do was tune it up. It still had the same spot-on action (3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret, strung with 12s) and playability as when it left 4 years ago. I did adjust the string ramps behind the saddle a hair and compensated the original saddle just a little bit more, though, for good measure. It's super-clean, a one-owner guitar, and crack-free save a hairline crack in the veneer at the endstrip and a few weather finish-check (not in-the-wood) hairline cracks on the top, upper-bout. There are a few minor dings and scuffs but they're no more than you'd see for a year's worth of average guitar "shopwear."

These Tama dreadnoughts are well-known in the right circles and they make tremendous "players' guitars" as they're a heckuva lot of quality at their price point. This model, the TG-80, is essentially a Martin D-18 clone and feels and sounds like a '60s D-18. There are refinements over a D-18, however, in that the back of the headstock has a diamond "volute," the binding on the body is a little fancier, the lower bout is a full 16" (like on a Gibson jumbo), and the looks of the pickguard and bridge are borrowed a bit from 1930s aspirations.


The top is solid German spruce (per the catalog info) and x-braced and the back, sides, and neck are solid mahogany. The fretboard is rosewood and the bridge is ebony. The lower bout is 16" across and the maximum depth of the body is 4 3/8" at the endpin.

Its neck is totally "1960s Martin" in feel with a mild-medium soft C/V hybrid shape, shallow radius to the fretboard (roughly 14"), and 1 11/16" nut width. It's got a 25 1/4" scale which is comparable to a Martin dreadnought.


Tamas came with their in-house "locking tuners." This guitar appears to be 100% original, too, by the way, with no alterations. The rosewood headstock veneer is "stacked" with a couple of layers under it, making the trim a little more deluxe at the headstock.

The "T" logo inlay is abalone.



The dots are pearl and note that the binding has multiple laminations both on the top/back and at the sides.


The rosette is understated and the retro-'30s pickguard is pretty hip. Tama guitars of this quality (the upper-end TG-prefix models) were absorbed into the Ibanez Artwood line in or after 1980 and progressed from there, but they initially borrowed this look.







I love the "volute" at the back of the headstock.

Did I mention that the neck has a non-adjustable truss rod -- just like a '50s-'70s Martin? The neck is dead straight and would take mediums just fine. It's strung with 54w-12 lights right now and sounds great.









The ebony endstrip has a hairline crack in it that's no worry at all.




It comes with its original, plush, hard case, in serviceable (but duct-taped) shape.

8 comments:

Mark Miller said...

Those were great guitars, TG-80, 120, 120s. I owned a guitar shop in Portland, Oregon for 24 years and it was a disappointment when that particular series was discontinued, I think it was in the early 80s. Thanks for sharing.

guitz said...

I had a TG 180 sold it and later wished i hadn't. At the time I was building Maton guitars and the Tama was as good as the top line Maton's. Very nice guitar

Anonymous said...

I had a beloved TG 80 that I paid for at the age of 16 after hay baling during a long, very hot summer. I loved that guitar. I remember walking into the music store, and along with a bunch of (to me) too-flashy Washburns, was a spectacular TG, along with a 12 string TAMA that was more ornate. It was new, marked down from $750 AUS to $570 Aus.A lot of money then. I sold it unwisely to an ex-girlfriend who swore that she'd contact me if she ever thought of selling it (she pawned it for $40 instead alas!Soemone wandered into that shop and got themselves a beautiful bargain...). A few years ago I picked up a TK 50 for $200 that looks very similar & does have a great tone, but I'll always miss my first love :)

steven Boulton said...

Hi I never knew the TG-180 existed. Ive purchased a TG-160. Hasn't arrived yet, but going on my Tama TW-09 its got to be worth waiting for. All solid jacaranda!

steven Boulton said...

Tama acoustic guitars are absolutely superb, the build quality and rich piano like sound is to die for! If anybody see's one for sale snap it up, you won't be disappointed!!!!!!

steven Boulton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thesoundword said...

How big is the bridge plate on this fella? Typical 70s Martin size?

Jake Wildwood said...

Yep, wider and rosewood like on a '70s Martin.