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Taylor Circa 74
 
A 150-watt acoustic amp that looks as good as it sounds.
February 14, 2024
 

Taylor Guitars is famous for many things, but until now, amps weren’t one of them. That’s about to change, however (just in time for the company’s 50th anniversary), with Taylor’s new Circa 74 amp. Folks who have followed Taylor closely for the last 10–15 years may not be caught completely off guard, however. Around 2012, Taylor offered a highly limited edition of its Expression System Amps that were sold only with special Builder’s Reserve guitars. When I toured the factory in El Cajon, California at that time, I got to see some of those amps in production. There were rumors that they were going to become a standard product, but then the project seemed to go dormant. I’d pretty much forgotten about the idea of Taylor building amps until CEO/President/Chief Guitar Designer Andy Powers showed me a new prototype at the 2023 NAMM show. A year later, the amp, called Circa 74 in reference to the company’s early days when it was experimenting with completely new designs, is finally in production. I had a chance to check out one of the Circa 74 amps in the Peghead Nation video studio with a Taylor 50th Anniversary Builder’s Edition 814ce guitar, as well as a 1994 Taylor 712c with a Fishman PowerTap Earth pickup, and a Martin OM with an L. R. Baggs Anthem SL pickup.

First off, the Circa 74 is a great-looking amp! With its gorgeous solid mahogany cabinet, smooth finish, high-end furniture-style joinery, and vintage-style grill cloth, this is an amp that may be allowed to take up long-term residency in the living room. A matching wooden stand allows you to raise the Circa 74 off the floor, and the package is not only a great match for acoustic guitars made out of beautiful woods, it is just a classy piece of gear. Of course, good looks alone won’t get an amp very far, but fortunately, the Circa 74 also delivers sonically. At the heart of the amp is a Class-D solid-state power amp that produces 150 watts of power. The amp uses a full-range 10-inch speaker and has two independent channels. Because the amp is designed to handle a vocal mic as well as guitar pickups, the first channel has a combination XLR/¼-inch input, while the second channel only has a standard ¼-inch input. Controls are identical for both channels, and they include dials for Level and Reverb next to each jack, with a row of Bass, Mid, and Treble EQ dials below. A master volume is located at the panel’s far right, and there are mini-jacks for headphone output and auxiliary input. The amp also offers Bluetooth connectivity for playing music from a phone or similar sources. The amp’s rear panel includes XLR and ¼-inch outputs, as well as a power switch, fuse holder, and power cord socket. 

Before I plugged a guitar into the Circa 74, I started by playing a bit of recorded music through the amp via the Bluetooth connection. This produced an impressively full-range sound, and while the sound is mono, of course, it’s much closer to the sound of a good home stereo system than to the often boxy quality that guitar amps usually have when playing back recordings. Full-range, transparent sound is of course what separates amps made to reproduce acoustic instruments from their electric-guitar cousins, and the Circa 74 delivers well on this promise. Naturally, it was a great match for the ES electronics in the Taylor 814ce, but it also sounded great with the Fishman and L. R. Baggs systems in the other guitars (the manual includes suggested settings for several non-Taylor systems, though not for the ones in my guitars). The layout with identical channel controls makes it easy to dial in a sound, and while the EQ range isn’t radical, it has a very useful and musical quality. The midrange is especially helpful for fine-tuning each guitar’s tone. And the amp is loud: I wouldn’t hesitate to use it in lieu of a PA in a café, house concert, or other small venue, and it has enough power to compete with electric guitars and drums in most roots-music settings. 

Without question, the Circa 74 is a great amp that is bound to find a lot of fans. It does a great job of providing natural-sounding amplification for acoustic instruments, but its classy appearance puts it into a category all its own. 

SPECS 

Acoustic amplifier. 150 watts. 10-inch full-range speaker. Two channels. Combination XLR/¼-inch input on channel one, ¼-inch input on channel two. Low, Mid, and High EQ  and reverb control on each channel. Master volume. XLR DI and ¼-inch outputs. Mini-jack Aux input. Mini-jack headphone output. Bluetooth connection. 24 pounds. 16.5 x 9 x 14 inches. Solid mahogany cabinet. Includes matching mahogany stand. Made in the USA. $1,199 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
 
 
© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com