It’s no exaggeration to say that when Taylor first introduced the 400 series in 1991, it revolutionized the affordable flattop guitar. At the time, it was the only American-made acoustic built from all-solid woods to sell for less than $1,000, which caused just about every other manufacturer to figure out how to offer something similar. In the decades since, the series has gone through numerous variations and models, and with other lines taking the place of Taylor’s entry-level models, the 400s have moved to a position in the middle of the company’s hierarchy. Most recently, the 400 series shrank to just two models, the 412ce-R and 414ce-R. The “R” originally differentiated certain rosewood models from the ovangkol that was the series’s standard back-and-sides wood for many years, but Taylor has tweaked the line so that rosewood is now the standard. The guitars now feature a sunburst finish, and for the first time, Taylor is building a Grand Pacific–size model. I had a chance to check out the Grand Concert–size 412ce, Grand Auditorium 414ce, and Grand Pacific 417e that comprise the updated series. In this video, I introduce the line and do a short playing demo on each guitar, followed by a fingerstyle duet performance with Peghead Nation instructor Doug Young using the 412ce and 414ce models. We’ll follow up with an in-depth demo of the new 417e very soon.
Without a doubt, the new 400s are the most uptown examples of the series yet. With their high-gloss finishes, great-looking Indian rosewood backs and sides, and excellent-quality Sitka spruce tops, the new guitars could easily be mistaken for models from Taylor’s more-expensive 800 series, which has the same wood combination. The 400 series has long had white binding, and the current models are no different. However, along with their attractive sunburst finishes, the new guitars also feature an agoya-shell rosette and a “Finial” fingerboard inlay design made of Italian acrylic. The guitars include Taylor’s V-Class top bracing, slanted back braces, and ES2 electronics.
All three guitars have the characteristic feel and sound that Taylors are known for. Taylor began making rosewood Grand Concerts in 1984, and the 412ce continues the tradition of superb playability and excellent tonal balance. The guitar is a great choice for fingerstyle players but is surprisingly versatile for other playing styles. Grand Auditoriums are Taylor’s most popular models, and the 414ce demonstrates why. The guitars are capable of adapting to any playing style, have great volume and punch, and have a rich bottom end and warm voice. The new 417e is the first time Indian rosewood has been used on a Grand Pacific other than on the Builder’s Edition 717e, and players looking for dreadnought-like performance with Taylor’s clear tonal character and easy playability will want to check it out.
More than 30 years after its introduction, the 400 series has evolved from a stripped-down instrument that combines Taylor’s quality, tone, and playability with a bargain price to a group of instruments that are comparable to models much higher up in the company’s line. Sure, the prices have gone up as well, but the overall vibe of excellent value remains, and if a rosewood Taylor has been on your wishlist, choosing a 400 over a more expensive 800 or 900 model isn’t a compromise in quality.
412ce: Grand Concert body. Solid spruce top with V-Class-bracing. Solid Indian rosewood back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 24⅞-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Nickel Taylor tuning machines. Taylor ES2 electronics. Made in USA. $2,999 street.
414ce: Grand Concert body. Solid spruce top with V-Class-bracing. Solid Indian rosewood back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.5-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Nickel Taylor tuning machines. Taylor ES2 electronics. Made in USA. $2,999 street.
417e: Grand Pacific body. Solid spruce top with V-Class-bracing. Solid Indian rosewood back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.5-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Nickel Taylor tuning machines. Taylor ES2 electronics. Made in USA. $2,999 street.
A reverse-strung hollowbody 12-string electric.Read More
Taylor’s most affordable grand concert model is an incredible value.Read More
A new pair of Grand Concerts expands Taylor’s 200 series.Read More
A new variation of Taylor’s popular entry-level dreadnought is the most affordable 100 series model.Read More
A great-looking variation of Taylor’s most popular model.Read More
A new slope-shoulder dreadnought Grand Pacific with urban ironbark back and sides.Read More
The most advanced version of Taylor’s popular grand auditorium has an Adirondack spruce top.Read More
Taylor adds a new version of its slope-shoulder dreadnought Grand Pacific model to the 400 series.Read More
A trio of guitars in Grand Theater, Grand Concert, and Grand Pacific sizes.Read More