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Hirade Classical Guitars

Hirade is Takamine's premium line of classical guitars, originally designed by master luthier Mass Hirade. These guitars are constructed of the finest tonewoods and handmade in Sakashita, Japan.

NOTICE: Our business has refocused on teaching and performing and no longer sells guitars. As former Takamine dealers (25 years!), we left this page up as a shrine to our beloved Hirade guitars. We still play the heck out of them! Check out our YouTube channel to see these guitars in action.

Hirade H5


Larger H5 Photo

The Hirade H5 is the most affordable member of Takamine's premium line of classical guitars. Although only a step above the Takamine C132S, the H5 displays a marked improvement in feel and tone over its lower sibling: dark robust bass, warm trebles, immaculate fretwork and slender easy-to-play neck are hallmarks of this model.

All H5 series guitars feature a solid cedar top, solid Indian rosewood back and sides, solid mahogany neck, inlaid marquetry rosette, bone nut and saddle, ebony fingerboard, adjustable truss rod and gold plated Gotoh tuning heads. These tuning heads have removable knobs, are smooth turning and hold pitch well once the strings are stretched out.

The H5 is braced lighter than the H8SS and TH90, resulting in less string resistance. In other words, the H5 is easier on the fingers than higher Hirade models. The downside to less string resistance is reduced dynamic range before buzzing.

Its adjustable truss rod is an oddity on a classical guitar but a welcome tweak for many players. Most H5 series ship set flat (no neck relief), the way I like it. If you have a heavy touch you’ll want a little extra neck relief (neck bend) to reduce buzzing. Lifetime warranty. 51mm nut and 65cm string length.

Hirade H5 Classic

list: $1999.99 • MAP $1399.99

Grace Frary performing Bach's Double in B Minor (Sarabande) on a Hirade TH5

Hirade TH5

Larger TH5 Photo

The TH5 is an H5 with a pickup system. So same design, materials and feel as the H5 but dressed up with Cool Tubes: chromatic tuner, 3-band EQ and Palathetic saddle pickup. You get a full voiced classical guitar for acoustic playing with ability to amp up for gigs. And, because it lacks a cutaway, there is no loss of acoustic volume or tone.

Perfect axe for working classical guitarists: practice, record, teach and gig on the same guitar! The TH5 is discontinued in the USA but old "new" stock and used are not hard to find. Hard Shell Case Included.

Hirade TH5 Classic

list: $2399.99 • MAP $1679.99

Grace Frary performing Ländler by Mertz on a Hirade TH5 Classical Guitar

Hirade TH5C


Official TH5C Photo

The TH5C is an acoustic-electric cutaway version of the H5. H5 sound, playing ease and tonewoods but amped when the spirit moves you. The Cool Tubes II preamp (CTP-2) sports chromatic tuner, 3-band EQ and is fed by the Palathetic under-saddle pickup. This guitar goes from teaching studio to gig monster at the press of a button. Lifetime warranty. 51mm nut and 65cm string length. Hard Shell Case Included

I was surprised at how heavy the TH5C is compared to my Spanish classicals, e.g., Jose Ramirez. The Cool Tubes pickup hardware probably has a lot to do with the weight gain. Nevertheless, the pickup sounds great through my Trace Acoustic and Genz Benz Shenandoah amps, although not as natural as a high end mic. Sustain increases a notch over acoustic playing so you need to be diligent about stopping ringing bass notes. But a mic is a pain for most gigs and this pickup is ideal for weddings, coffee houses and just about any casual gig.

Peter Frary plays Pezzo Tedesco on a TH5C (pickup)

Most classical guitarists buy this guitar for amping up on gigs: easy on the hands and great pickup. However, the straight acoustic tone is surprisingly good: warm and sweet tone, responds well to vibrato, excellent balance between bass and treble and even timbre up and down the neck. A cutaway and pickup compromise acoustic resonance somewhat, so volume and dynamics are a little smaller compared to a plain H5. With slightly less resonance you also get a wee bit more sustain. I love recording with the TH5C: delicate but pleasant tone coupled with perfectly even response and timbre. No notes pop out (wolf tones) or change color as you navigate between positions and registers.

Peter Frary plays Carcassi's Andantino in G on a TH5C (mic)

The TH5C top is amber-brownish (see picture). The official Hirade stock photo is bright yellow and not accurate.

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Hirade TH5C Classic & Case

list: $2399.99 • MAP $1699.99

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Hirade H8SS


Larger H8SS Photo (H8SS/TH8SS look the same save for the preamp)

The Hirade H8SS is an exquisite example of design and workmanship. The H8SS series is constructed of the finest solid tonewoods: spruce top, Indian rosewood back and slides, mahogany neck, fancy rosette, ebony fingerboard, bone nut and saddle and gold plated deluxe Gotoh tuning heads.

The sound and feel of the H8SS are designed to appeal to advanced players and professionals: soundboard is braced stiffer than lower models and thus provides enhanced dynamic range and increased string tension for concert guitar feel. Full, clear, consistent and transparent tone are hallmarks of this model. Lifetime warranty. 51mm nut and 65cm string length.

Please help support this site by buying this guitar from Amazon.

Hirade H8SS Classic

list: $2799.99 • MAP $1899.99

Hirade TH8SS | Click for Full Review


Larger TH8SS Photo (H8SS/TH8SS look the same save for the preamp)

The TH8SS has the same design and materials as the H8SS but with the CTP-2 pickup (Cool Tubes II): chromatic tuner, 3-band EQ and Palathetic saddle pickup. Most people will never know you're playing an acoustic-electric. And, because it lacks a cutaway and normal soundboard bracing is used, there is no loss of acoustic tone.

You get a full voiced guitar for acoustic playing with the ability to amp up. The downside to a pickup system is the TH8SS is noticeably heavier albeit still well balanced in normal playing positions.

The TH8SS is highly resonant and thus more prone to feedback than a cutaway classical like the TH90 or TH5C. No problem for typical coffee house or wedding gigs, but if you plan on amping up to nightclub level, consider a cutaway model, e.g., TH90, instead. This is my favorite everyday guitar and the one I do much of my teaching, recording and practicing on. Lifetime warranty. 51mm nut and 65cm string length.

Read my full review of the Hirade TH-8SS.

Hirade TH8SS & Case

list: $3199.99 • MAP $2239.99

Peter Frary plays Losy's "Allemande" on a TH8SS

Acoustic recording using Neumann KM-184 mics (no pickup used).

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Hirade TH90 | Click for Full Review

This stunning beauty combines unique design, impeccable workmanship, easy upper fret access and sweet singing tone into a great stage guitar. Read my review of the Hirade TH-90.

The oval rosette with inlaid marquetry is a design hallmark of the TH90. The marquetry motif is further developed in the body binding, making for a bold and consistent statement of color and design. The over hanging 20th fret allows a high C on the first string and helps aim off-the-board artificial harmonics.

Like the H8SS and TH8SS, the TH90 features Deluxe Gotoh tuning heads: gold plated engraved plate with lyre design, silky smooth gears and white pearloid buttons.

Immaculate workmanship and the finest all solid tone woods make the TH90 a joy to play: spruce top, Indian rosewood back and slides, mahogany neck, marquetry rosette, ebony fingerboard, bone nut and saddle, adjustable truss rod, and Gotoh tuning heads. A French style cutaway enhances upper fret access. Includes Cool Tubes II preamp with tuner, EQ, AUX, mix controls and Palathetic under saddle pickup.

The TH90 is designed to appeal to advanced classical players and finger-style professionals: soundboard is braced stiffer than lower models, providing enhanced dynamics and increased string tension for a concert guitar feel while plugged in.

Sweet tone, clarity, low string noise and long sustain are hallmarks of this model. Acoustically, the TH90 is not as loud as the H8SS, H5 or C132S. Its smooth silky tone is at its best amplified with a high quality acoustic guitar amp. Lifetime warranty. 51mm nut and 65cm string length. Handmade made in Sakashita, Japan.

Please help support this site by buying the TH-90 at Amazon.

Hirade TH90 & Case

list: $2899.99 • MAP $1999.99

Peter Frary plays "Starlight Gaze" (Frary) on a Hirade TH90

Frary's "Starlight Gaze" played on a Hirade TH90 Classical Guitar. Pickup jacked into a Trace Acoustic Cube and recorded on a Tascam audio recorder and Canon 80D.

CoolTube Preamp Variants

The older CTP-1 CoolTube preamp from 2004 is long discontinued, replaced by the CTP-2 preamp. The two preamp models are nearly identical but the CTP-2 has a textured face (rather than polished), a modified battery cage (contacts on bottom rather than side) and a warm-up indicator light.

In 2015 pro Takamine and Hirade began shipping with the CTP-3, a tweaked CTP-2 with notch filter and additional controls for an optional second pickup.

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