With Winter NAMM 2019 now behind us, many are curious to see what’s new with Taylor Guitars. Their brand new Grand Pacific body style is a step away from tradition and towards innovation as they’ve become notorious for these past few years. Let’s explore the all new Taylor Grand Pacific Series in detail.
When Andy Powers himself is put behind the mic to introduce his new Grand Pacific models, it’s a good sign something big has happened. This time last year, the big news (that’s still making waves) for Taylor was their game changing V-Class Bracing, now offered in nearly all models that Taylor is producing. Powers’ vision for his new bracing was that of a true artist. Like any guitar maker, Andy and Bob Taylor both seek to create a product that can perform perfectly on any end of the spectrum that the player needs. V-Class is said to give the tone-woods of Taylor’s guitars more rigidity on one side of the guitar while giving it more flexibility on the opposite side. Where a player before had to choose between a stiff and sustain-filled guitar or a flexible and louder guitar, the new bracing is said to be the best of both worlds. Bob Taylor has said the introduction of V-Class might very well be Taylor’s biggest contemporary accomplishment while Powers seems to have held some of his excitement for this recent introduction.
“Essentially, this is a guitar that was designed around the V-Class architecture,” Powers explains. “It was one of the first guitars, even preceding the Grand Auditoriums we launched last year at the winter NAMM show … I was trying to build a sound that I was familiar with from the kind of records and music that I grew up listening to. A lot of that was bluegrass music, country music, folk music – those kinds of sounds. They’re really an indelible part of our guitar playing lineage. I listened to these things and thought, “You know, I’ve worked on a lot of these old guitars, I’ve worked on a lot of new guitars, I’ve built a lot of guitars, [but] I don’t actually have one or know of one that really makes these sounds.” Often times, what we’re hearing is, really, it’s a composite sound. You’re listening to [the guitar] through a microphone, EQ’d, compressed … that’s the sound that’s familiar with us.”
The Grand Pacific may not have been built from the ground up, but there was a clear goal in mind during its inception. The dream described by Andy Powers to have a guitar that fully compliments the V-Class bracing has been 5 years in the making. The aspects of the guitar that Taylor addresses in this series help to answer a question that may be on many people’s minds: “What makes this guitar better?”
“If you think of the quintessential Taylor sound, it’s a very modern flavor. It’s vibrant, it’s bright … It’s precise, it’s articulate," Andy explains. "With this guitar, I built a lot of that familiarity [to the music we listen to] into the design, so everything from the way that the neck feels, the way the notes project off the body, the kinds of sounds it’ll make, the way the thing sits on your lap with this beveled edge treatment and the softened bridge edges and all these details.”
This new shape of guitar, birthed from Taylor’s dreadnought body, is designed to reproduce the sound guitar players hear post production and the initial feedback is showing they’ve accomplished exactly what they were after. I listened to Andy talk about the changes he’s made to the body to create this new guitar from Taylor and each ‘tweak’ seems to have an ambitious purpose. First, the slight “boxiness” of the dreadnought’s upper bout has been expanded and rounded off. The lower bout has been expanded as well, giving the guitar it's visually larger profile. When I step back and look at just those two changes, I no longer see the dreadnought. This body shape almost has a ‘jumbo’ feel to it while still comfortably fitting under the arms of the player. The waist of the guitar has been pulled in ever-so-slightly as well, contributing to the model’s uniqueness. My favorite new attribute, however, is the new custom carve neck which you’ll find on the new 517 and 717 models. This original neck design changes its contour as the player’s hands moves from top to bottom, morphing from a slight ‘V’ shape near the nut into a more rounded neck at the bottom which Taylor is calling a Compound Carve.
The Grand Pacific is being introduced into three models; The 317, 517 and 717. All models of the new GP are built around the underlying V-Class Bracing. The least expensive of the three, the 317, comes standard with a torrefied Spruce top and natural finish, Sapele back and sides, Taylor’s traditional neck design and the new GP dimensions with a buyer’s choice of electronics. The jump to the 517 is a big one. Moving up, we have the same new body style, but to compliment the torrefied Spruce top, the 517 comes with beautiful Tropical Mahogany back and sides. In addition to the natural finish, the 517 also comes with a choice of a Wild Honey Burst top to contrast the Blackwood Stain back, sides and neck. This 500 series also comes with the new Compound Carve neck, and a full catalogue of Builder’s Edition features. The entire guitar features Taylor’s Silent Satin finish, chamfered body edges, contoured fretboard, ridge-less heel and a modified smoothed-edge bridge. The remaining 717 boasts all the same features as the 517, but covering the back and sides is an exquisite Indian Rosewood. The 25 ½ inch scale length, 20 frets, black graphite nut, micarta saddle and Taylor’s Nickel tuners are all protected imposingly inside a Deluxe Western Floral hardshell case.
Our friends and proud Taylor Guitars dealer Heartbreaker Guitars in the heart of Las Vegas, Nevada have several Grand Pacific models on order as we speak and expect to see them starting in March of 2019. All models are available for pre-order as well, so visit their website HERE or stop by their shop and see their incredible collection of high end guitars before reserving one.
Heartbreaker Guitars Contributor