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Taylor 814ce Blacktop
 
A great-looking variation of Taylor’s most popular model.
August 30, 2023
 

Taylor’s 814ce needs little introduction. The company’s most popular model has been a hit ever since the first rosewood grand auditorium appeared as a special edition to celebrate Taylor’s 20th anniversary back in 1994. Over the years, the model has gone through various changes in appointments, pickups, and construction details, and like all US-made Taylors, it now includes V-Class bracing, rather than the X-bracing it was built with for many years. But the 814ce’s fundamentals remain the same: it’s a mid-size flattop built with rosewood back and sides and a spruce top, designed to be comfortable to play and at home in many musical styles. Taylor has occasionally offered special editions with different woods or appointments, and the company is continuing this tradition with the new 814ce Blacktop Special Edition. I had a chance to check out the guitar in the Peghead Nation video studio.

Rather than coming up with a completely new model (Taylor already did this with the innovative 814ce Builder’s Edition earlier this year), the 814ce Blacktop is exactly what its name suggests: a standard 814ce, but with a top finished in a rich, black color. Taylor has recently offered Blacktop models of several of its American Dream and GT guitars (check out my demos of the the AD17e Blacktop and the GTe Blacktop), and now they’ve implemented the look in a guitar higher up the line. 

Taking the 814ce Blacktop from its case, it’s immediately apparent that matching the black top with the natural beauty of the high-grade 800-series woods is a brilliant move. The gorgeously striped, chocolate-brown Indian rosewood of the guitar’s back and sides creates a harmonious appearance, enhanced by the flamed maple binding. The guitar’s armrest bevel, abalone rosette, and wooden pickguard complete the stylish package. Taylor has been using beautifully figured ebony for many of its higher-end guitars, and on the 814ce Blacktop, this choice is sure to make each individual guitar unique. And the smoked-nickel tuning machines are an excellent match for the overall look of the guitar. 

Taylor’s track record for building consistently high-quality instruments is well established, and the 814ce Blacktop played and sounded just like I expected it to. The guitar’s excellent setup and comfortable neck shape are what we’ve come to expect, given Taylor’s high standard of playability. Tonally, the guitar delivers what 814’s have always promised. It’s a versatile instrument that’s just as happy when played fingerstyle, pushed with a flatpick, or used for playing single-note leads. Naturally, there are variations in sound from earlier, X-braced 814’s and the current V-Class instruments, and the 814ce Blacktop has the balanced, rich, yet controlled bass, as well as large dynamic range and musical trebles that have made these guitars such a success. Plugging the guitar into our Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge amp continued the positive impression, making the 814ce Blacktop a great choice for live performance.

Players who have been wanting a classic Taylor with a different appearance will want to take a look at the 814ce Blacktop. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it offers a fresh take on a familiar instrument. Sometimes a relatively small modification has a big impact, and Taylor has managed to do just that with this guitar!

SPECS
Grand Auditorium body. Sitka spruce top with V-Class-bracing and black color finish. Indian rosewood back and sides. Mahogany neck. West African Crelicam ebony fingerboard. Ebony bridge. 25.5-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Armrest bevel. Smoked-nickel Taylor tuning machines. Taylor ES2 electronics. Made in USA. $4,099 street. Taylorguitars.com

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© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com
 
 
    ● 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
 
 
© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com