THE LOW-TUNED SOUND OF A BARITONE
is one of the most compelling guitar sounds
around, and Taylor has added an entirely
new wrinkle to the experience with its Baritone
8-String. Part of Taylor’s Specialty
Series, the Baritone 8-String is based on the
standard 6-sring Baritone but has octave
pairs on the D and G strings. This seemingly
minor change yields big sonic results,
however, which we’ll get into later.
The Baritone 8-String features Taylor’s
Grand Symphony body style, which is
designed to deliver not only a greater
amount of volume, but also deeper bass
and richer sounding mids and highs. The
gloss-finished Indian rosewood back and
sides help to provide a tight, punchy
response, and their rich graining looks stunning
on this guitar.
Also very tasteful are the flawless dark
wood bindings—5-ply on the top and 3-ply
on the back—that incorporate thin lines of
a light colored material that is also used
to create the inlaid back stripe. Other cosmetic
touches include a lovely abalone
rosette, diamond-shaped pearl fretboard
inlays, and abalone topped bridge pins. In
all aspects this is a beautifully made guitar,
and the attention to detail extends to
the interior construction, where we find
carefully shaped and sanded “Special Baritone”
bracing and tight joints where the
wood pieces meet.
The Expression System’s controls are
located on the forward part of the upper bout,
and the relative simplicity of the three-knob
layout belies the fact that the Expression
System incorporates one Dynamic Body Sensor
attached under the soundboard to pick
up the top’s vibrations and one Dynamic
String Sensor mounted under the fretboard
to translate vibrations from the strings and
neck to the onboard electronics. If desired,
you can turn off the top sensor via a small
switch accesible from inside the soundhole.
Powering the system—which now
features a discreet preamp—is a single
9-volt battery that resides in a quick release
holder under the endpin jack.
The mahogany neck is constructed from
three pieces and features a rosewood heel
cap. It has a slim, inviting profile with just
the slightest hint of a V shape, and the 15"-
radius fretboard affixed to it wears 19
polished frets that are nicely shaped and consistent in height. There was no buzzing
to be heard despite the fairly low action, and
the intonation is also very tuneful sounding
as you finger chords up and down the neck.
Played acoustically, the Baritone 8-String
is immediately captivating. The low-end
delivery is massive—you can feel it in your
body when strumming a chord—and it’s
deeper and more powerful than anything
delivered by a standard dreadnought- or
jumbo-sized guitar. Unlike a 12-string, the
8-string’s complement of paired D and G
strings makes the octaves jump out in interesting
ways. You can hear the mids glisten
when you strike a full chord, and this sound
is complemented by a warm, clear treble
that sings out with an uncanny sweetness.
The Baritone is easy to play, but it can take
a little practice to get good at fingering the
doubled strings consistently as you play
across the fretboard. Once you get comfy
with the feel of hitting the paired strings
it’s off to the races as to where the inspiration
Plugged into a Genz-Benz Shenandoah
acoustic amp, the Baritone 8-String sounded
amazingly natural. The Expression System
is super adept at capturing the sound of
wood and strings, and it does so without
adding any noticeable coloration of its own.
The rich tones emanating from the Shenandoah’s
speaker array sounded huge, and the
Baritone 8-String also proved to be quite
immune to feedback at higher volumes.
The Baritone 8-String goes down in my
book as one of the most enticing acoustic guitars
I’ve played. Baritones offer a whole different
experience from that of a standard acoustic,
and what Taylor has done here takes that experience
to an entirely new level. It’s practically
impossible to not be impressed by everything
the Baritone 8-String does, and that’s why it
receives an Editors’ Pick Award.
CONTACT Taylor Guitars, (800) 943-6782; taylorguitars.com
PRICE $3,998 retail/$3,199 street
NECK Tropical American mahogany
FRETBOARD Ebony, 27" scale
TUNERS Mini gold-plated Taylor
BODY Indian rosewood back and sides
TOP Solid Sitka spruce
BRIDGE Ebony with compensated saddle
ELECTRONICS Taylor Expression System
CONTROLS Volume, Bass, Treble, Mini switch for activating the top sensor
FACTORY STRINGS Elixir Baritone
WEIGHT 5.3 lbs
KUDOS Awesome sounding. Natural amplified response. Flawless construction.
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