image of the ctf-2n pre-amp with buttons and leveler toggle switches

"Brownie" is the affectionate nickname guitarists worldwide gave long ago to the very first series of FET (field effect transistor) preamps designed by Takamine engineers to complement their revolutionary Palathetic bridge-mounted pickup. It was the warm and natural saturation effect of the FET preamp, resembling that of a vacuum tube that first attracted the support of American artists such as Ry Cooder, David Lindley, the Eagles, James Taylor, Jackson Brown, Bruce Springsteen and many others.

It was this initial acceptance by so many high profile artists that effectively put Takamine on the map as a world-class acoustic guitar brand to be reckoned with. And so it remains to this day.

For THE 60TH anniversary, we designed the CTF-2N FET pre-amp which retains the taste of the original “brownie” but updated with new features such as a notch filter and chromatic tuner. This natural sounding CTF-2N preamp has been installed it both THE 60TH and LTD-2022.

image of the ctf-2n pre-amp with secondary image of the field effect transistor

As Takamine preamps evolved over the years to incorporate updated technologies and address evolving consumer demands with products such as the AD-1 digital preamp, the CTP preamp series with battery–powered vacuum tube and the more recent and very popular CT4DX with an 18 volt high-voltage driven dual PU capability, there have remained many ongoing requests for the reproduction of the original, simple “Brownie” preamp. Thus the new CTF-2N.

We hesitated to tackle reproduction of the “Brownie” in spite of the many demands because of certain features that could not be accepted in contemporary live performance, recording and playback environments.

panoramic image of the inter electonics of the ctf-2n

We began by removing the parts of the original "Brownie" one-by-one with a soldering iron and disassembling them to read the circuit pattern and develop a test board. We then examined the sound characteristics of several currently available FET devices.

We discovered that the high EQ control of the original "Brownie" is a passive circuit similar to the tone control of an electric guitar and the treble was cut by half at the center zero position. Also, when dropping the treble down fully, it felt as if the total volume decreased.

Next, when focusing on the low EQ, it felt that the range of change was reduced compared to that of the high EQ so the adjustment to widen the cut-boost level and bring it to the same feeling as the high EQ.

Also, some inconsistent peak frequencies at certain fret positions (such as G string 3rd fret) were adjusted accordingly to achieve a noticeably smoother sound and feel by moving up the peak frequency 5Hz

image of the inter electonics of the ctf-2n and control board

For professional musicians on stage who rely on “front of house” P.A. mix for EQ correction, a 2-band (bass and treble) EQ is sufficient, but for the players who need to suppress annoying feedback with on-board controls, we added a very effective notch filter function to cut such troublesome frequencies.

The notch filter installed in the CT4-DX and later Takamine onboard pre-amps could cut a chosen target frequency between 0Hz to 5KHz. It can also be used as a mid-cut EQ, and control the deepness of the cut by switching the selection of -6dB/-12dB.

The new CTF-2N also features an easy to read chromatic tuner. And since we are celebrating our history of innovation, may we mention that the world’s first onboard chromatic tuner appeared on the Takamine AD-1 digital pre-amp back in 1998. A function that has since become a standard feature on many acoustic-electric preamps.

image of the inter electonics of the ctf-2n fully assembled

Another adjustment made to accommodate contemporary equipment involved a decrease of 6db in the master volume to avoid possible unwanted distortion.

As good as the original “Brownie” these small changes made noticeable improvements without changing the fundamental tonal essence of the legendary preamp.

In 2022, the year of Takamine’s 60th anniversary, we invite you to experience the warm, natural sound of the CTF-2N which brings the "origin" of the acoustic- electric guitar to the “present”.


Takamine Guitars