It’s not every day that you find a duo as well-blended as Bob Taylor and Andy Powers. Any Taylor Guitars dealer will tell you the product of their partnership continues to challenge the guitar market with their craftsmanship, innovation and quality instruments. Over 40 years ago, Bob Taylor introduced to the world what would become his flagship model and to this day it remains Taylor’s best selling series. Through trial and error, the integration of electronics, a design revamp and years and years of experience, the 800 series today stands proudly as one of Taylor Guitar’s most versatile and enduring guitar models. Here, we’re going to take a closer look at the Taylor 814ce Deluxe with V-Class Bracing.
“The 800 series has been around since the beginning – 40 years,” Bob Taylor says. “It’s the first real model that I designed. I made guitars that I wanted to hear the sounds of, that sort of fit my ability to play. Andy came along, he’s a great player – a way better player than all of us – definitely better than I am, and he needs more from a guitar. So, I was willing to just say, “You know what Andy, I’ll give you this whole entire series for you to do with what you want." [Sic] We’re gonna take that 800 series, which is our flagship model, and we wanted to bring really a new sound.”
In 2014 Taylor introduced their new and improved 800 series of guitars. Much of what their customers were familiar with before the changes still make up the majority of the guitar, but the modifications put in place by Bob and Andy took the model to a new level. Andy Powers explains, “The future of the 800 series and what this redesign really means, is that from here forward our guitars are going to get better. We’re committed to a process of continually refining and improvement of the instruments that we already love, that we’re already making. Really, as a player and a builder, I wanted a more musical guitar. I wanted more of the different attributes that are valuable for making music. I wanted more volume, longer sustain, more uniform character over the whole guitar. So looking forward, that’s really what this kind of kicks off. Let’s build better guitars.”
One of Andy’s goals was to make a significant step towards getting all you can back from the guitar; improving it’s responsiveness. To do that, he didn’t start searching for a new species of Spruce, spark a deal with a new string manufacturer or redesign the shape of the sound hole. The aspects of the 800 series that are tried and true remain untouched and a gallant effort was made to do so. What Andy did instead was identify sources of omission. He found areas of the guitar where theoretically there could be a loss of vibration or sound, thus hindering the guitars ability to give it’s full potential back to the player. The first area looked at may seem insignificant to some, but with a goal of perfection there’s no part of this guitar that’s been overlooked. Andy and Bob took a look at the glue they were using and through a bit of research and trial and error found that a switch from synthetic to a protein based glue allowed sounds to travel between the guitar components much more freely.
Powers also has explained that his ideal “sounding” guitar would have no finish on it what-so-ever. It’s known around the guitar world that a sacrifice is made to have that shiny, protective finish over your guitar you’ll have to give up a bit of your tone wood’s capability. Andy looked at the thickness Taylor was currently using and set a goal of halving it. To my knowledge, this both hadn’t been done before and was no easy task. The end result was an astonishing 3.5mm finish and Bob Taylor calls the achievement one of his most proud moments with the company. Over 40 years after first introducing the guitar, the company is able to use innovation to pull more out of a model that’s already known for it’s prominence and versatility.
Specifically with the deluxe model, you’ll find a few extra features on this guitar. Atop the neck you’ll see six, brushed satin chrome 510 Gotoh tuners, ultra smooth with a 21:1 tuning ratio. And pictured above is the modified armrest. The profile is different than what you’d find on a standard 800 series guitar with this one being more pronounced and slightly more narrow. Reviewers consistently compliment both the functionality and beauty of the new dimensions with it’s handmade rosewood insert laid inside a beautiful piece of curly maple. The final and arguably most significant inclusion with the deluxe model is the use of Adirondack Spruce as the bracing inside the body of the guitar. The combination of the Spruce sound board, Adirondack bracing and use of protein glue with the beautiful Indian Rosewood back and sides all contribute to the deluxe model's amazing resonance.
This 814ce DLX also features a little thing Taylor calls V-Class Bracing. Andy Powers took on the task of improving not only the 800 series, but the entire line of Taylor guitars and the result is one of Taylor’s biggest gifts to the guitar market. The new design of the framework gives the guitars more freedom to vibrate and due to either some remarkable engineering or a bit of luck through experimentation, the resonance, volume and intonation all have been improved.
Here’s a bit more info on the bones of the guitar. As we’ve mentioned, the 814ce Deluxe has a solid Sitka Spruce top with beautiful Indian Rosewood on the back and sides. Around the top you’ll see a Maple binding and matching Rosewood purfling. This model is featured in the Grand Auditorium body style, notably Taylor’s most versatile body style, resting in between the smaller grand concert and larger dreadnought. Mahogany makes up the sturdy neck covered in an ebony fretboard, beautiful element, abalone inlays, and a satin finish. On top of the soundboard you’ll find a polished Rosewood pickguard just beneath an exquisite abalone rosette around the sound hole. A rounded Venetian cutaway gives the player full access to the upper end of the 20 fret 25.5 inch scale length fretboard.
Inside this guitar you’ll find Taylor’s Expression II system which made it’s debut in 2013. The ES2 electronics include a dynamic body sensor mounted to the sound board, a dynamic string sensor embedded beneath the fretboard and a built in, battery-powered pre-amp.
With it’s innovative bracing, versatile body style, deluxe features and beautiful presence, the Taylor 814ce Deluxe with V-Class Bracing is a phenomenal guitar for any player. You can find this today at Heartbreaker Guitars, a proud Taylor Guitars dealer in the heart of Las Vegas, Nevada. Visit them in person or click here to visit them online and view their entire Taylor selection.
Heartbreaker Guitars Contributor