10 May 2012
Yesterday evening I installed the Planet Waves O-Port into my Takamine GS430S acoustic guitar. As you may know, the O-Port is touted as making "any guitar from beginner to custom sound richer, fuller, and louder, with more clarity and better projection." Due to the body size of the GS430S, I find the mid-clarity and overall projection to be a bit lacking. For under US$20, I thought I would give the O-Port a try. (I should clarify; for a guitar with a street price of around US$300, the Takamine GS430S sounds and plays great.)
I chose to remove and replace the strings instead of trying to simply loosen them (as Planet Waves suggests) and try to get my big paws around the strings and in the sound-hole. It's likely because of my big paws that the O-Port wasn't quite as quick to install as Planet Waves or YouTube would have you believe. But, it was simple enough. I can't complain and it's not their fault my mitts are so big. The photo above shows the unstrung guitar and the uninstalled O-Port in the foreground. The upper left inlet photograph shows the installed O-Port. It looks nice and unobtrusive.
I am happy to report that I did notice a distinct change in the overall tone and clarity of the guitar and I have to admit it is an improvement. It didn't make this US$300 guitar sound like a handmade Martin or a (more than 10X-the-price) Gibson Hummingbird, but it did elevate the sound to something comparable approaching the US$500-$600 range. (It's just an estimate, but trust me, I've played A LOT of acoustic guitars!;)
The bottom line is I wouldn't dream of sticking this US$20 piece of plastic in my Epiphone Masterbilt DR500ME acoustic-electric, my TAKAMINE EG523CDX Honeyburst Jumbo acoustic-electric or my Cordoba GK Studio "Gipsy Kings" Signature Model. But it did serve nicely to improve the acoustic quality of a mid-market Takamine. I suspect the improvement is a result of the smaller body style of the GS430S and I'm thinking the device would have less of an impact on dreadnought and jumbo body styles. I absolutely love the sound of the Cordoba GK studio, so I wouldn't dream of toying with that.
Planet Waves makes some claims regarding the improved quality of recorded guitar tracks. To be fair, I can't make any judgement on that. As I mentioned, it is highly unlikely I will be sticking an O-Port in any of my other instruments and it's unlikely I will use the GS430S to record, so I will leave it to others to argue those particular points. What I can tell you is that the device clearly had a positive (and inexpensive) impact on the sound quality of my GS430S.
I hope this helps!