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VOLUME 3 • ISSUE 1   |   Release date: September 15th, 2007

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Takamine Set To Release Worship Leader Guitar

Promises to make playing simple praise songs even simpler

SAKASHITA, JAPAN – Later this year, acoustic guitar maker Takamine will announce a new guitar technology aimed specifically at worship leaders, The Holy Observer has learned. The Takamine WL316-ECS, a groundbreaking new guitar made specifically to allow contemporary worship leaders to avoid playing in difficult keys, features an innovative technology called the electronic capo system (ECS).

ECS technology modulates the pitch of the instrument, allowing a guitarist to play in complicated keys easily. Instead of learning to form challenging chord shapes, players can play simpler chords, adjusting the key using a knob on the guitar’s electronic panel. The new instrument will retail for $899 and will be formally introduced at a praise and worship conference in Fort Collins, CO in December.

Takamine developed the guitar in order to gain loyalty among worship-leading guitarists, whom they hope would then become long time customers. “Our products have always been popular with the worship community, and this new model is designed to strengthen an already strong relationship,” said Dustin Orbell, Takamine’s Vice President of product development. “The fact is, many worship leaders are inexperienced guitarists, and if this guitar can make it easier for them to sound great, we think they’ll be happy customers for years to come.”

Thomas Harkin, a new worship leader at River of the Redeemer Church in Nashville, TN, is excited about the new guitar. "I only know me a few chords," he reportedly excitedly. "I don't do too well with my sharps and flats, so I really need something like this if I'm gonna lead some P&W."

Theoretically, the ECS technology could also be used by more advanced players who want to play difficult chord voicings from one key and apply them to other keys. But that seems unlikely, according to Orbell: “All our marketing will be geared toward players who have only been playing for a few years, and those guys are pretty much going to be sticking to G, D, and E.”

Orbell hopes Takamine will be able to reap significant additional profit from the StompMod, a pedal effect that allows the guitarist to modulate a song, or raise its pitch, with a simple footstep: “For guitarists who want to kick it up a notch for the final chorus of ‘Better Is One Day’ but don’t know how to play in F-major, this pedal will help them get those congregational hands raised.” The StompMod pedal will retail for an additional $79.

The WL316-ECS has already picked up an impressive stable of endorsements, including worship giants Michael W. Smith and Mac Powell of Third Day. But there has been significant criticism of the new model as well, particularly from advanced guitarists. These players primarily lament the fact that the guitar is incapable of playing in minor keys. Still, Orbell is optimistic. “We really believe minor-key worship is passé,” he said. “Honestly, who plays ‘Humble Thyself’ anymore? I think we’re going to do just fine.”

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