Last year Bob Taylor and Andy
Powers directed their attention to designing
a new 800 Series of guitars with the goal of
creating more musical-sounding instruments.
To get there, they modified the internal structure
to improve tonal response by calibrating
the top and back bracing for each body shape
to influence how the top and back move both
independently and in relation to each other.
The wood thicknesses for the top and back
were also optimized for the new bracing, and
two types of protein glue were utilized for their
tone-enhancing properties due to their ability
to transfer sound. Other types of modern synthetic
glues are used elsewhere.
Finish thickness is important to sound as well,
and Taylor managed to reduce the thickness of
its gloss finish by more than 40 percent—from
6 mils to 3.5 mils—a difference that makes
for better tone without losing any of the gloss
sheen that Taylors are known for. The Elixir HD
Light strings were developed specially for the
Grand Auditorium and Grand Concert models in
a custom gauge set that uses medium gauges
for the top strings and lighter low E and A strings
to optimize string tension for improved playing
feel while making the highs sound richer.
The 814ce Grand Auditorium Cutaway on
review here is striking in the looks department
with its boldly figured rosewood sides, abalone
rosette (outlined in rosewood), and multi-layer
wood bindings (composed of pale maple and
rosewood) surrounding the straight-grained
Sitka top. Pale maple binding also edges the
back, neck, and the headstock, which is faced
with marbled ebony. The stylish pickguard is
cut from rosewood that matches the back and
sides, and the marbled ebony fretboard wears
tasteful pearl “Element” inlays.
Playability wise, this guitar rules thanks to
a comfy satin-finished neck and a great setup
with low action and smooth frets. The excellent
intonation also helps to make everything
sound focused and coherent, and the result is
a fantastic acoustic sound with deep lows, nice
midrange bloom, and a top end that that exhibits
an uncanny blend of clarity and warmth. The
guitar is very dynamically responsive. Picked
lightly it sounds radiant and dimensional, yet
it doesn’t compress when you strum or flatpick
Equipped with the new Expression 2 system,
which was developed by Taylor engineer David
Hosler, the 814e offers a significant advancement
in amplified sound by essentially giving
the pickup more room to “breathe.” To be more
precise, the 814ce’s piezo sensors (there are
three) are mounted in different positions behind
the bridge instead of underneath it, and this
allows the piezo crystals to respond to the guitar’s
vibrational energy in a more linear manner
than is possible when the strings are pressing
down on the crystals, as with traditional undersaddle
It all translates to a more natural amplified
sound, which was easy to hear when we
plugged in the 814ce. Through various acoustic
amps (UltraSound CP100, Fishman Loudbox
and SA220, ZT Lunchbox Acoustic) it was
easy to get sounds that closely resembled the
guitar’s acoustic voice. With the 814’s Bass and
Treble knobs at their middle settings, the sounds
were well balanced top-to-bottom and exhibited
no honkiness, harsh transient spikes, or plastic-
y piezo artifacts. The 814ce didn’t have any
feedback issues either, which made it possible
to get plenty of volume from all of our test rigs.
No doubt the 814ce is an impressive guitar to
begin with, but the Expression System 2 electronics
make it even more so. This guitar succeeds
on so many levels, and taken in total it would
be hard to imagine a situation where it wouldn’t
excel. The 814ce has everything it takes to please
fingerstylists, singer-songwriters, and lead pickers
alike, and it earns an Editors’ Pick Award.
814CE GRAND AUDITORIUM CUTAWAY ES2CONTACT taylorguitars.comPRICE $3,349 street
NUT WIDTH 1.75" TusqSCALE 25.5"NECK Tropical mahoganyFRETBOARD EbonyFRETS 20TUNERS Taylor nickel-platedBODY Indian rosewood back and
sides, Sitka spruce topBRIDGE Ebony w/micarta saddleELECTRONICS Expression System 2CONTROLS Volume, Bass, TrebleFACTORY STRINGS Elixir HD Light, .013, .017,
.025, .032, .042, .052WEIGHT 4.38 lbsBUILT U.S.A.KUDOS Exceptional tone and playability.
Expression 2 system provides
enhanced amplified response.CONCERNS None.
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