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Taylor 512ce
 
A new take on a Taylor classic, using urban red ironbark wood.
September 29, 2022
 

As is the case with most guitar companies, Taylor’s various model series are closely associated with certain wood combinations. The 500 series, for example, has been made with mahogany back and sides (and sometimes tops) since its introduction in 1978. But Taylor has always been a forward-thinking company, and having recently revamped its 700 series, replacing Indian rosewood with koa (check out our demos of the 722ce and 724ce), Taylor is now reintroducing its 500 series with a new sustainably sourced wood. In this video, I demonstrate the new grand concert–size 512ce, and we’ll demo the grand auditorium 514ce in the near future. 

Using sustainably grown alternatives to traditional woods has long been of great importance to Taylor. A couple of years ago, the company started the Urban Wood Initiative, working with Southern California arborists to see whether there were suitable trees growing in their own backyard. The first result of this was the Builder’s Edition 324ce (check out our demo), which introduced urban ash as a back-and-sides wood. This wood proved to have great sonic qualities, and Taylor also chose it for its standard GTe model. The next in Taylor’s discoveries of wood sourced near its home base in El Cajon, California, is red ironbark, now referred to by the company as urban red ironbark. As part of the eucalyptus family, the wood is ultra dense, placing it somewhere between rosewood and ebony. Not only does it have the rich tonal characteristics you expect from a dense wood, it is also easy to work with using standard tools and machinery, structurally stable once it’s properly cured, easily finished, and attractive. Taylor clearly feels strongly about the wood’s properties, and the new 500 series is the first time the Urban Wood Initiative has yielded a replacement for a wood used on an existing series. On the new 512ce and 514ce, the red ironbark is paired with torrefied Sitka spruce tops.

While long-time Taylor fans may be surprised to see a 500 without mahogany back and sides, they’ll instantly recognize the guitar’s appointments. Though the 512ce uses a new “Aerial” fingerboard inlay pattern, details such as tortoise binding and an abalone rosette are similar to earlier 500-series guitars. The guitar has an edge-burst top and the red ironbark is lightly stained to enhance the wood’s golden-brown color. 

With its small body and short scale, the 512ce is a compact guitar with fabulous playability. The guitar feels a little heavier than other Taylor grand concerts, which makes sense, given the red ironbark’s density and weight. However, the first thing I noticed was its incredible sustain. If an acoustic guitar can “go to 11” as far as letting notes ring, this one would be a contender, making it a great choice for playing melodic fingerstyle pieces. Tonally, I agree with Taylor’s assessment that the guitar is closer in character to its rosewood guitars (such as the 800 or 900 series) than one would expect from a mahogany 500 series. The guitar has a rich bottom end for a relatively small instrument, and while it may not win a volume contest, it has a satisfying amount of balanced power within its dynamic range. Taylor grand concerts have long been studio favorites, and strumming the 512ce produces a refined, slightly compressed, assertive quality that would sit well within a mix. Like most current Taylors, the guitar includes the company’s ES2 electronics, and plugging into a Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge amp produces the natural and dynamic amplified tone this system is known for. 

Making a radical and unfamiliar wood change to a classic model is not without risks, but the resulting guitar delivers a new look and tonal variety to the company’s line, and Taylor should be applauded for advancing the use of alternative resources. My recommendation is to check it out!

SPECS: Cutaway grand-concert body with 14-fret neck joint. Torrefied Sitka spruce with V-Class bracing. Urban red ironbark back and sides. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 24⅞-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Taylor nickel tuning machines. Expression System 2 electronics. Made in USA. $3,299 street. Taylorguitars.com

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    ● Courses
    ● Live Workshops
    ● Instructors
    ● Sample Lessons
    ● Notation Guide
    ● For Beginners
 
 
    ● Vintage Vault
    ● New Gear
    ● Fine Lutherie
 
 
    ● Workshops
    ● Advice
    ● Repertoire
 
 
    ● Recordings
    ● Events
    ● Breaking News
 
 
    ● In The Studio
    ● Live Onstage
    ● Backroom
 
 
    ● New Products
    ● Inside Look
    ● Performances
    ● Partner Pages
 
 
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