Review: Taylor Deluxe 800 Series 810e DLX and 814ce DLX Grand Auditorium - GuitarPlayer.com

Review: Taylor Deluxe 800 Series 810e DLX and 814ce DLX Grand Auditorium

“At the very upper echelon of guitar building, you’re pushing the margins of what the materials will allow you to do,” says lead Taylor designer Andy Powers.
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“At the very upper echelon of guitar building, you’re pushing the margins of what the materials will allow you to do,” says lead Taylor designer Andy Powers. “For a finely tuned-in player that appreciates musical nuances and complexities, the magic lives in the top fraction of a percent, and that’s why we started building the 800 Deluxe Series.”

Taylor guitars get fancier as the range number advances from 100 to 900, so the Deluxe 800 Series is the second-most fancy (outside the lavish Presentation Series designed in the tradition of royal gift giving). Key upgrades include a rounded armrest, Adirondack spruce bracing, and ultra-high ratio Gotoh tuners, in addition to some relatively recent 800 Series revamps, which include revoiced shapes, protein glues, thinner finishes, Expression System 2 electronics, and refined aesthetics.

The 810e DLX Dreadnought and 814ce DLX Grand Auditorium shipped to GP were gorgeous. The Indian rosewood of their backs and sides radiated a rich brown with figured wood grains glistening through thin glossy finishes. Straight-grained Sitka spruce tops popped brightly through thin finishes too, as did pale maple bindings. Abalone rosettes outlined in rosewood offered a classical element almost like stained glass windows on an ancient cathedral. The varied tan and brown colors of the ebony fretboards aren’t blemishes, but rather natural shadings in the wood that make them look smoky. The most striking design element on each guitar was the armrest—a feature previously found only on 900 Series guitars. According to Powers, the 900’s beveled armrests have to be practically handmade on each instrument, so he developed a “semi-mechanized” version for the 800 Deluxe Series, with a sleek, slightly-rounded radius profile, bound beautifully in maple with rosewood inserts.

I found the armrests to be as functional as they were attractive. Without a hard corner digging into my bicep, my right arm felt altogether more agile. My wrist felt flexible to strum, digits free to articulate intricate fingerstyle passages, and, with a plectrum, I was more easily able to crosspick linear runs.

Gotoh 510 tuners with rounded cases are also much more than nice hardware appointments. They’re some of the most finely crafted, silky-smooth tuners I’ve ever come across. The Gotoh’s 21:1 ratio means that it takes 21 revolutions to turn the post, or “capstan,” a single time. That sounds discouraging for string changes, but it means that you can hone in on a pitch with miraculous accuracy, and experience almost no “backlash” once you’re set. The Gotoh 510s made tuning a cinch, and once the guitar was in tune, it stayed there.

The 810e Deluxe Dreadnought and the 814ce Grand Auditorium both felt quite light in hand and nimble to play. By using relatively thin body and top woods, and supporting them with dense-yet-flexible Adirondack spruce bracing custom-designed for each body style, Taylor has created incredibly vivacious, dynamically responsive instruments with lots of headroom. Does that energy efficiency come at a cost of durability? “Heavy doesn’t necessarily equal strong,” says Powers. “You want a guitar to be strong in the right places, and lightweight at the same time.”

The 810e DLX Dreadnought felt and sounded super solid, but with a welcome springiness that made notes pop with plenty of projection and sustain. With no cutaway, I naturally gravitated to the middle and lower positions on the neck, and the 810 sure played well and sounded superb. It’s got the bass that a good dread should, but it’s not overly boomy. When I plugged the 810e DLX into a variety of acoustic amps (including a Rivera Sedona Lite, a Boss Acoustic Singer Pro, and an AER Compact 60/3 Tommy Emmanuel Signature), there was some low-end feedback that required me to roll off the bass using the onboard electronics, but otherwise the amplified sound was excellent.

The 814ce DLX had an even springier feel and its sexy Venetian cutaway offered easy access to the high frets. It has a more effervescent, open-sounding tonal center than the 810e, and talk about touch sensitive—this guitar felt practically alive in my hands. High definition sonics revealed a rich spectrum of overtones dancing above notes or chords, and, like a perfect dance partner, it moved right with me wherever I wanted to go, whether it was chord accompaniment, fleet fingerpicking patterns, or melodic forays. Clearly the 814ce is down for any style you throw at it, and proved an equally good performer through the same amps.

Bottom line: These 800 Deluxe Series Taylors are high fidelity, high-performance instruments made of premium tonewoods and built with the attention to detail that warrants their lofty price. For anyone seeking an heirloom-grade instrument that tracks every turn and delivers immaculate tone, these new Taylors are in a class all their own.

CONTACT taylorguitars.com

810e DLX Dreadnought

PRICE $3,799 street
NUT WIDTH 1.75", Tusq
NECK Tropical mahogany, satin finish
FRETBOARD Ebony, 25.5" scale
FRETS 20
TUNERS Gotoh 510, 21:1 gear ratio
BODY Indian rosewood back and sides, Sitka spruce top
BRIDGE Ebony w/compensated micarta saddle
PICKUPS Taylor Expression System 2
CONTROLS Volume, Bass, Treble
FACTORY STRINGS Elixir Phosphor Bronze Medium
WEIGHT 4.5 lbs
BUILT USA
KUDOS Remarkably comfortable and playable. Powerful projection. Balanced, focused tone with resonant lows and articulate highs.
CONCERNS Bass needed to be rolled off to prevent feedback when amplified.

814ce DLX Grand Auditorium

PRICE $3,999 street
NUT WIDTH 1.75", Tusq
NECK Tropical mahogany, satin finish
FRETBOARD Ebony, 25.5" scale
FRETS 20
TUNERS Gotoh 510, 21:1 gear ratio
BODY Indian rosewood back and sides, Sitka spruce top
BRIDGE Ebony w/compensated micarta saddle
PICKUPS Taylor Expression System 2
CONTROLS Volume, Bass, Treble
FACTORY STRINGS Elixir Phosphor Bronze Light
WEIGHT 4.5 lbs
BUILT USA
KUDOS Lively, open, high-def sound with complex overtones. Impeccable setup. Tunes easily and stays there. Extremely versatile, expressive, and touch-sensitive.
CONCERNS Bass needed to be rolled off to prevent feedback when amplified.

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