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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-27-2004, 01:41 PM Thread Starter
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Taylor Guitars

I need a new acoustic for recording projects. So I went to the store today and tried out a bunch of guitars. No cutaway is a rule, since I find it usually affects the sound.

Well, the nicest sounding one I found was a Taylor 110, which also came in a piezo version without a cutaway. It was nice and clear sounding, with really good punch. So now I'm back home and perusing the website -- and I find that the 100 is considered the "beginner's/affordable" model. Can anybody give me any feedback on the other series, seeing how they go from the 100's up to 900 series?

Also, anybody know if they make North American models with a piezo but no cutaway?
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-27-2004, 04:17 PM
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I had a 412ce. I liked it a lot, but I sold it because I found out I prefer a 1 11/16" nut over the 1 3/4" on the small body Taylors (x12 & x14 series).

I don't think a cutaway always hurts the sound. Listen to the individual instrument. But I HATE the sound of piezos. The 300 & 400 series have the much improved pickup - the magnetic expression system. But they start around $1500, IIRC.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-27-2004, 04:59 PM
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I've got a Taylor 714CE...yes it has a cutaway. You can get any series in any configuration, they make them but whether it's available at your dealer is another question so you might have to special order it. You can also get a wider neck if you're a fingerstyle player, it's got a width of 1 and 7/8". A classical is typically 2" just to give you an idea...it is pretty darn wide. They probably don't offer many choices in the 1XX and 2XX series though.

The line up of taylor typically differs in wood choices, so the 3XX, 4xx, 5xx and so on indicate the woods available. Higher numbers, more desirable woods. With that you get extra appointments as well. Inlays, binding, better tuners, you get the idea. Within each series the second two numbers indicate the body style. X14 is Grand Auditorium, X10 is dreadnaught, X55 is jumbo twelve string. Then they use letters to determine cutaway and electonics, so if it's got a cutaway with electronics it is suffixed XXX CE, so my 714CE is a 7 series (Western red cedar and East Indian Rosewood) 14 (Grand Auditorium) Cutaway with electronics. The neck has rosewood binding all around, and the sound hole is inlayed with Koa. The bridge pins have an abolone inlay as well, and the whole guitar is gloss finished and the hardware is gold plated. The lesser series are matte on the backs and sides. They also will vary the wood choices within a series based on the body of the guitar. A 712 is a grand concert which is smaller and the top on that is spruce, not cedar. It's sort of confusing, I know.

Before buying this particular one, I played damn near every guitar in town. I was looking for something that was equally adept at fingerpicking and flatpicking/strumming with a very balanced, rich and even tone across the entire frequency range. For me, this 714 was it. The only thing that was its equal was a Breedlove that was made from the same woods, western red cedar top with indian rosewood back and sides. They sounded almost identically brilliant, they felt nearly identical, had the same electronics, and the Taylor was about $1000 less so it was a no brainer from that point. I got this prior to the expression system being offered on this model, but I get the option to upgrade and that is supposedly a vast improvement over the fishman prefix blender system.

Another consideration was the Taylor neck system they have, it is true genius and it is infinitely adjustable just like a true bolt on electric neck. The purests will argue that it kills sustain and tone, blah blah blah. I played $6000 guitars that didn't have the goods on this particular Taylor, dovetail joints or not.

Tonewoods became the defining selection criteria regarding tone. I played sitka spruce, adirondak, englemann, western red cedar, mahogany, graphite, plywood...everything under the sun on backs and sides of ovankol, maple, brazilian rosewood, indian rosewood, mahogany, sycamore, striped ebony...the list goes on. Nothing matched the combination of red cedar on rosewood for me. Big huge sound, but very even, deep clear bass, round open highs. This thing just sings, it is truly a glorious instrument. My buddy has a 314 which is spruce on african mahogany and it sounds flat and dead compared to mine. The tones just jump off this guitar. My cousin has a 914 with tons of MOP and abalone inlay, the whole body is bound in abolone and the neck has some special treatment as well. It's a great guitar no doubt, but the woods on it made it a little too bright for my tastes. And I'm not a fan of all that flashy binding and what not on an acoustic.

In the grand scheme of acoustics, close to $3000 for this guitar isn't something I do every week, but it sounds better than anything I played at any price...so in that regard, it's a bargain, and I only need one...but I'd sure like a 12 string Best 12 on the planet, in my opinion, is the Breedlove Classic XII, simply stunning. Granted, I'm sure James Olson could make me one, but I don't have $20,000 laying around either.

I think with high end acoustics, you get what you pay for, within reason. The 100 series you found has laminate backs and sides and the top won't be anything even close to a master grade top. It sort of comes down to bang for the buck according to what budget you're on. If you're comparing against other like priced instruments due to budget constraints, it narrows your selection criteria and you can make a good choice based on tone and feel. Bigger budget opens the field so it pays to be picky and play a lot of instruments.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-27-2004, 08:01 PM
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As a side note - the guitar I got to replace my Taylor was a Breedlove. But it's the Korean import, since I didn't have the $$ to pony up for the real deal. Still, it's all solid woods (spruce top, Rosewood back & sides) and uses the bridge truss system found in most Breedloves.

I was thinking of special ordering a Taylor 314, but decided this would suit me better; it sounded great, I could try out THIS EXACT NSTRUMENT, and it felt good. The $700 tag helped, though I spent another couple hundred to replace that crappy piezo!
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-27-2004, 11:47 PM Thread Starter
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Both of you -- thank you very much for your great help. I am still trying to figure out the differences between the various series. Does a higher number generally translate as better? As in features, quality, etc?

I'm afraid I don't know much about this expression pickup system, but have found comments on the net saying people generally like it. Can you elaborate on this?
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-28-2004, 08:53 AM
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Yes the higher the number, typically, the better the instrument...but I think once you get past the 6 and 7 series you're paying for inlays and decorative crap that's got nothing to do with the sound of the instrument. That's not to say that you won't find a 914 that'll kick the snot out of my 714...but that's more to the point that every piece of wood has it's own character...which is why you need to play as many guitars as you can prior to making a decision. You may be very happy with the tone of a 314 or something less expensive, and that's great as long as it's what you want.

The expression system is explained in detail at taylorguitars.com, it is really a great system. I'm having my 714 retrofitted with that system.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-28-2004, 10:30 AM
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Actually, if I had the $$ I'd look at the 814 - classic spruce & rosewood, and not really all that much "puffery". I don't think Taylor offers that combo in a lower line. But the 914 - yeah - lotsa fancies.

Right on about individual guitars. I liked mine best out of several on the rack, and some were higher models. In fact, this is what convinced me not to special order.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-28-2004, 12:53 PM
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Agreed, I really wouldn't recommend ordering something. Even in the same model and woods they're gonna sound different.

Regarding tonewoods, probably the easiest thing for me to isolate down were the back/sides composition. Rosewood was just so far and away the sound that I wanted. The tops just added a subtle difference to the overall tone. But the difference between rosewood and mahogany was just amazing to me, completely different sound altogether....at least on the guitars I played. Red Cedar just added a warmth and roundness to the highend that I just fell in love with. Same top on a mahogany side/back just wasn't anywhere close....Rosewood is king baby!!
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-31-2004, 08:48 AM
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I just sold a Taylor NS72CE 700 series nylon. It was about $3200. and quite nice with a solid Brazilian Rosewood body and cedar top. I had a 600 maple steel string but NOTHING approaches the tone of my 1999 Gibson J150 jumbo in the studio. Please go play one before you spend lots on a Taylor. The Gibson -because of it's sheer physical size (and maple construction)- is a cannon with truly explosive dynamics.

I've been offered some truly impressive dollars for the Gibson from many folks who have recorded in my studio and used this guitar. Conversely, no one who has used any of my Taylors have offered to buy them.

And personally, the Neve ES system in the Taylor line is not as sonically pleasing (to me) as the Baggs system still incorporated in the nylon series Taylors...
Acoustics are very personal purchases- you'll find the right guitar for you!
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-04-2004, 11:19 PM Thread Starter
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Ok! After having combed through the specs on the website, as well as Harmony Central... I went back to the store today and tried out every one of the Taylors they had. With my wife as a second pair of ears, I tried the 310, 410, etc.

But I always found the 110 to sound the warmest and fullest. I looked for a difference and only found one: the guitar has no hard, glossy coat/lacquer, only a satin finish. And when I thought of this, I picked up one of the higher-end models which had the front, back and sides lacquered. And, although it was one of the higest models they had in the store, it sounded like a hunk of junk after the 110!

So my question, since I don't know much about acoustics and how laquer affects them -- do you guys think or know if the lacquer could be the cause of this?
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-05-2004, 12:03 AM
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One thing I've read about acoustics is that they're tone changes slightly (apparently noticeably) with age.

Check out this seagull acoustic guitar's link

Scroll down to solid tops and aging.

Apparently when the top ages it vibrates more and more freely which improves tone. I'm thinking with the thickly lacquered top it will eventually sound as good, if not better than the guitar you ended up selecting with a thin satin top. possibly...maybe... (it makes sense to me)

I'm not an expert.. don't shoot me!

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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-05-2004, 10:18 AM
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...maybe... But I'd never buy an expensive axe based on what it MIGHT sound like some day.

Everyone has different tastes, and you should buy what you like and be glad that you're lucky to like a relatively inexpensive axe! I have a plywood topped 20 yr old Takamine 341 that still sounds as good as or better than any I've replaced it with - a Guild F4, a Taylor 412, a Breedlove Atlas. But it's also almost unplayable, and not worth a refret & neck reset. Maybe my ear is tuned to rock sounds and "non-complex" new plywood instead of the "dom perignon solid wood prewar Martin" kinda thing. That's good - I can happily buy cheap guitars. And nobody but guitar nerds will know any better...

But I'd still like a Taylor 814...
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-06-2004, 12:09 AM Thread Starter
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Nice point, Jester!

I think I may have expressed myself incorrectly due to the terminology. Having read the great Seagull link that wilch passed along, I saw that there is indeed a difference between finishes, notably lacquer and polyurethane. So I'll rephrase what I meant:

The cheap 110 I tried had a "satin" finish and no glossy surface. Any guitar I played with one of these glossy surfaces seemed to sound constrained and not as nice as the 110. Is there a name for the glossy finish? And how about for the thin "satin" finish?

I would simply buy the 110, since it sounds better, but I would like to get the expression system, which is why I am wondering if the ful tone can be attributed to the "satin" finish of the guitar. If that were the case then I would order a higher-end Taylor with that "satin" finish, so that I could get the sound I want, plus other featured and perhaps some decorations.
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-06-2004, 12:26 AM
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I don't THINK it's the satin. IIRC, Taylor's satin is still a hard finish; the advantage is that it needn't be buffed out so perfectly, which is labor intensive and therefore costly. My 412 was satin on the back & sides and I found I prefer gloss because it makes less rubbing noises with clothes while recording. Those of you who record naked don't have this problem, of course...

I'd bet that it's just THAT piece of wood that works for you, and I'd ask if the store has any 310s or 410s "in the back" that you could listen to - they may blow away the ones on the floor in your opinion. You may also find that other 110s don't sound so good, either. In this case, get THAT damn 110 before someone else does, and stick a Baggs or PUTW in it!

When I played the Breedloves, there was a model above mine - same construction, but a little more abalone. Action, string condition, etc. seemed the same, but the lower model sounded MUCH better to my ear (and my wife's, though she's not as picky). I figured "great! I saved $50!" Wood is individual, and you may have just found a primo piece of spruce.
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-06-2004, 09:34 AM Thread Starter
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Great info there, thanks.

The funny thing is, the store has 3 110's and another with a pickup in it. And all the 110's have that great sound. I don't recall if they have a 210, 310, or 410, but I did try out a higher model (than the 110!) whcih had a glossy top. And I found all the ones with glossy finishes sounded stifled, hence my question... I will go look again on Monday!
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