Taylor’s annual Fall Limited editions are short runs of popular models built with woods and/or features that differ from the company’s standard guitars. For players looking for a special Taylor that doesn’t require a custom order, these instruments are a great option to consider. We recently demoed a 814ce LTD built with sassafras back and sides, and in this video, I demonstrate another guitar from the 2019 Fall Limiteds, a grand concert-size 512ce 12-Fret LTD built with koa back and sides and a cedar top.
Taylor’s grand concert guitars and Hawaiian koa wood are hardly strangers to each other, and Taylor aficionados will recall that the first grand concert the company built, at the request of fingerstyle master Chris Proctor in 1984, used this wood. Over the years, Taylor has offered koa guitars in many configurations, including some with cedar tops, but currently, the only koa grand concert in the catalog (the K22ce) uses koa for the entire body, including the top, which results in a different tonal character. For this Fall Limiteds model, Taylor took its standard 512ce 12-Fret, and substituted koa for the mahogany that’s usually used for 500-series models. Retaining the standard cedar top yields a combination that has long been a favorite of fingerstyle players. By making the back out of four pieces of wood (a triangular center strip made from two book-matched pieces and two larger outside sections), Taylor is able to use koa that would otherwise be too narrow for a guitar’s back, while simultaneously achieving a sophisticated look. The 512ce 12-Fret LTD sticks with the relatively simple standard 500-series appointments, but a shaded top gives it a somewhat vintage-oriented appearance. Like all Taylor 12-frets, the guitar has a slotted peghead and a short scale, and like all current grand concerts, it features Taylor’s V-Class bracing.
Just like Chris Proctor’s very first grand concert, the 512ce 12-Fret LTD is a great fingerstyle machine. It has a lighting-fast response, great tonal balance, and a clarity that makes it easy to achieve great note definition. Like other 12-fret Taylor grand concerts I’ve played, the guitar offers effortless playability, and because the shorter neck results in the bridge moving further into the center of the lower bout, the guitar has a more pronounced bass than Taylor’s original 14-fret grand concert design. Of course the guitar can also be played with a pick, and while its dynamic ceiling is lower than on some larger or heavier-built guitars, its voice is still very suitable for accompaniment roles. Playing the guitar amplified using its onboard Taylor ES2 electronics extended its fundamental qualities into the performance realm.
Overall, the 512ce 12-Fret LTD is a very cool guitar that fills a niche that otherwise isn’t currently available in Taylor’s offerings. Well-stocked Taylor dealers should have the 2019 Fall Limiteds ready for a test drive, but once they’re gone, they’re gone, so quick action is recommended!
SPECS: Grand concert body with cutaway and 12-fret neck. Solid western red cedar top. V-Class bracing. Solid koa back and sides. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 24⅞-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Open-gear tuning machines. Expression System 2 electronics. Made in USA. $3,349 street. Taylorguitars.com