Taylor Guitars continues its pursuit of advancing acoustic guitar design with the launch of an expanded range of new 12-string guitars at the Winter NAMM Show.
Although 12-strings have traditionally been associated with big-bodied guitars, Master Guitar Designer Andy Powers has broadened the appeal of the 12-string experience with inspiring new model designs that now incorporate all five Taylor body shapes.
Among the new shapes are 12-fret Grand Concerts (552ce 12-Fret, 562ce 12-Fret), Grand Orchestra guitar models (458e, 858e), along with a new 12-string Dreadnought (360e). Powers' design philosophy is focused on giving players a broader spectrum of 12-string voices to enable them to find the right fit.
"In part it's about building on Taylor's strong heritage of making great 12-strings," Powers says. "It's also about recognizing that 12-strings aren't just some funky sub-species of guitar, and that each 12-string instrument can play a uniquely different role for each player. With guitar design, it will always come back to basic core values: good music comes from a musician being paired with a good instrument, and that will change based on the context of the scenario. We think this collection gives players a lot of different and inviting 12-string options."
The Grand Concert 12-Fret is the first of its kind for the company: a 12-string/12-fret guitar that offers players a smaller body and a slinkier handfeel. The new guitars feature a mahogany back and sides, with either a cedar top (552ce 12-Fret) or a mahogany top (562ce 12-Fret). "We made these guitars physically smaller, more intimate, and easy to hold," Powers says. "Changing the physical balance allows the player to get on top of the instrument a bit more. With the 12-fret neck, the guitar sits in your lap nicely, and it's complemented by the soft handfeel. Less tension in the strings makes it easy on the fretting hand and a little looser yield to the articulating hand."
Powers originally designed Taylor's Grand Orchestra (first released in 2013) exclusively as a 6-string model that would be responsive to a light touch. The new 12-string versions feature an entirely different internal architecture to make the shape work specifically as a 12-string.
"They preserve the dynamic range and balance the Grand Orchestra is known for, but they have more structural integrity to accommodate the amount of tension the 12 strings impart on the top," he says, describing the sound as authoritative and lush. "It's a classic, massively powerful 12-string guitar for that player who's strumming from the elbow, accompanying their voice with this huge wall of sound," he adds.
On the Dreadnought 12-string 360e, the introduction of Tasmanian blackwood paired with a mahogany top gives players a different voicing marked by a husky low-end tonality. "Sonically, blackwood is sort of between rosewood and mahogany, with a little extra shimmer and chime that shows its family resemblance to koa," Powers says. "Pairing blackwood with the mahogany top gives you that roll-in effect associated with a mahogany top - that smooth attack and balance, but with extra complexity as the note decays. You get this low-end power that reinforces the part of the 12-string voice that can sometimes be lacking as a result of the extra small strings. You're still getting the 12-string crispness and shimmer, but the whole middle register is a little thicker, a little fatter now."
The new models help form a diverse collection of 12-string offerings that span from Taylor's 100 Series through the Presentation Series, and include the popular Grand Auditorium (254ce-DLX) and select Grand Symphony models.
The company's 12-string models will be on display during the Winter NAMM Show in the Taylor Guitars Showcase, located in Room 213 ABC.
For more information, visit the Taylor Guitars website.