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Taylor Builder’s Edition 814ce
 
The most advanced version of Taylor’s popular grand auditorium has an Adirondack spruce top.
May 24, 2023
 

Introduced in the mid-1990s, Taylor’s 814ce has been one of the company’s most popular models. With a grand auditorium body, rosewood back and sides, and a spruce top, the guitar is prized for its versatility, playing comfort, and great sound whether played acoustically or amplified. While the fundamental recipe has stayed the same, the 814ce has had numerous modifications over the years, most of which are in line with changes that occurred to all Taylors as the company’s guitars have evolved. However, an 814ce built in 1996 (which has Taylor’s original bolt-on neck, rather than the current NT-neck, X-bracing, and Fishman electronics) is a significantly different guitar than one built in the last few years, especially since the switch to V-Class bracing in 2018. Now, Taylor has released the pinnacle of the guitar’s development with the Builder’s Edition 814ce. I had a chance to discuss the guitar with Taylor designer, CEO, and President Andy Powers during a visit to the factory last fall (check out my interview with Andy!), and more recently, I put the guitar through its paces in the Peghead Nation video studio.

Taylor has typically used its Builder’s Edition series guitars to introduce something of significance. And while the new Builder’s Edition 814ce may not deviate much from a recently-made standard 814ce at first glance, it is the first Taylor to be built with a four-piece Adirondack spruce top. As Andy Powers explains in our interview, constructing the top out of four pieces allows for the engineering of a soundboard with even qualities throughout its width, while addressing the difficulty of finding high-quality, quartersawn Adirondack of the width required for a traditional two-piece top. On our demo guitar, the top had narrower grain than I’m used to seeing on Adirondack tops, and while the seams were visible under certain lighting conditions, the top generally didn’t look much different from a regular two-piece top. As a Builder’s Edition instrument, the guitar’s other woods are also top-notch. The Indian rosewood back and sides are rich in color (augmented by a subtle Kona-bust finish) and have attractive grain patterns; the ebony used for the fingerboard has the natural black and dark-brown coloring that Taylor has been reserving for its high-end models; and the mahogany neck is dark and very evenly grained. 

Like other Builder’s Editions, the guitar has the modified, slightly more rounded bridge shape typical of the series. It also includes an armrest bevel, a compound-bevel cutaway, and rounded body edges. While standard 800-series Taylors have maple binding (earlier versions used white plastic), the Builder’s Edition 814ce features dark wood binding, offset with maple-and-black purfling. Standard 800-series “Element” fingerboard inlays, a paua-shell rosette, and a wood pickguard resemble those found on other 814’s. 

True to the goal of building the most advanced 814ce yet, the guitar delivers the expected performance with a bit of extra juice in every aspect. Not surprisingly considering the Adirondack top, the guitar has a large dynamic range that worked especially well for strumming and any time I dug in a little heavier. The guitar has Taylor’s typical clarity, and retains a richness and satisfying bottom-end throughout. A large portion of the 814’s success can be attributed to the design’s tonal flexibility, and this latest version is no exception. Players looking for one guitar to do everything really can’t do any better, as the guitar also delivers when playing fingerstyle or single-note lead lines, regardless of whether it’s played acoustically or plugged into an amp using the onboard ES2 electronics. 

The Taylor Builder’s Edition 814ce refines one of the most successful flattop guitar designs of all-time. Introducing the four-piece top is intriguing on multiple levels, including the potential for engineering a superior soundboard and a more efficient use of limited resources. Ultimately, the guitar offers a beautiful symbiosis of a classic design and new innovations, and regardless of whether you’re already a fan of the 814 or not, it’s a guitar to check out!

SPECS 

Grand Auditorium body with beveled cutaway. Four-piece Adirondack spruce top with V-Class-bracing. Solid Indian rosewood back and sides. Mahogany neck. West African Crelicam ebony fingerboard. Ebony bridge. 25.5-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Armrest bevel. Gotoh 510 tuning machines. Taylor ES2 electronics. Made in USA. $4,499 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