Taylor Guitars sits on the top shelf along side some of the best guitar builders in the world. Their reputation for providing a wide array of choices for musicians is well-deserved as they continue to both introduce new models and improve upon existing ones. One thing I’ve noticed about Andy Powers, a master builder and designer for Taylor, is that his demographic stretches far across his peripheral. His more recent ‘breakthrough’ with the implementation of V-Class Bracing has put Taylor back in the spotlight where they seem to be most comfortable anyway. But, while they make big waves, Andy and Taylor push to please the masses with smaller, more focused projects as well. Today I’m explaining a bit about their Builder’s Series guitars.
Andy is shown above holding a K14ce Builder's Edition. “At Taylor Guitars we have a long tradition of making guitars feel good,” Powers explains. “I wanted to take that idea of making something feel good and start applying it the rest of the guitar.”
The Builder’s Series is built for comfort, plain and simple. I’m going to focus on a newer guitar to show you exactly what’s inside a specific model. The model that has my eye is the 614ce Builder’s Edition with V-Class Bracing.
This 614 starts with a Grand Auditorium body, Taylor’s signature body style that aims to please multiple styles with one size, falling in between the larger Dreadnought and smaller Grand Concert. The top of this guitar features torrefied Sitka spruce, a detail not to be skipped over. For those unfamiliar, torrefying is the process of thermo-treating wood; Heating it up to high temperatures, and for Taylor this process is to remove oils and resins in the board that would typically take years to diminish naturally. This gives the guitar a “seasoned” or vintage sound that much of the Taylor audience is more than pleased to have in a new guitar. The back and sides of the 614ce are figured Big Leaf Maple. While this species, also known as Oregon Maple, is a fantastic shade tree, the tone produced is strong and unique. Inside the woods grains are natural curls that make it just as pleasing to the eye as the ear.
The binding and cutway are a couple of the builder’s series’ first individualities. Andy Powers explains, “So now, we’ve taken off all the sharp edges, all the corners. So all the edges have this different type of edge treatment where they’re all tampered off. Perhaps more significantly, we’ve taken this idea of relieving a body, and applied it to the cutaway, but it’s an unbelievably comfortable thing for the player. [Because] usually, a cutaway makes the high end of the fingerboard more accessible. In this case, the whole block and back side of the guitar was taken out, almost stolen from the electric guitar world where the whole thing is relieved to match and flow into the contour of the neck.”
Catty-corner to the built in armrest of the Builder’s edition is another nod to comfort and play-ability. Partnering with the over-sized and smooth, double-carved cutaway is a bevel in the guitar’s top giving the player an improved amount of access to the high end. The finish on this guitar Taylor call’s the “Silent Satin Finish” with it’s ability to lessen the unintentional noises produced when playing or simply handling an instrument. “So we started building these guitars that are quieter when you touch ‘em. When you run your hand over it, it just doesn’t squeak or grab or feel any. There’s no hang-ups this way. So we get to make this guitar that feels a lot more comfortable. It feels approachable. it’s easy to touch. It’s easy to hold. It translates to easy to play.”
While not specific to this model, the 614ce Builder’s edition features V-Class Bracing, a fairly new component Taylor is quickly moving across the vast majority of their entire line of guitars. This new bracing system is said to improve on the balance between volume and sustain offering an amplification of both while Taylor claims it’s producing some of their best guitars intonation-wise as well. While this guitar specifically is built for comfort, the hidden features inside are built for sound and the 614ce Builder’s Edition delivers on both fronts.
Adding to the versatility of this guitar is the Expression System 2. Taylor’s description on their website explains well it’s composition: “The Taylor Expression System® 2 (ES2) is a revolutionary pickup design that delivers the latest in Taylor’s ongoing innovation in acoustic guitar amplification. The heart of the Expression System 2 is Taylor’s patented behind-the-saddle pickup, which features three uniquely positioned and individually calibrated pickup sensors. The location of the sensors enables a more dynamic range of acoustic sound to be captured than ever before. Together with Taylor’s custom-designed “professional audio”-grade preamp, this system produces exceptional amplified tone and responsiveness. On stage through a PA, plugged into your favorite acoustic amplifier, or direct into recording software, the Expression System 2 faithfully conveys the voice of your Taylor guitar. “
All versions of the 614ce Builders Edition come with closed, gold Gotoh 510 tuners with a 21:1 gear ration, adding a luxurious feel and, as Taylor puts it, “completes the suite of tactile delights.” The back side and neck all come standard with a Wild Honey Burst finish with the customers choice of having it on the top as well. Inlaid into the neck are mother-of-pearl Sceptors, a matching rosette and a maple/black body purfling inset. Throw in the included hardshell case and your Taylor is ready to go.
The builder’s series has already seen the wall of Heartbreaker Guitars, a proud Taylor dealer in Las Vegas, Nevada, and will undoubtedly see the new 614ce sooner than later. For a closer look at the subtle differences the Builder’s Editions from Taylor have to offer, take a look at this K14ce at Heartbreaker. Subscribe to Heartbreaker Guitars' newsletter to know exactly when new Taylor models are released. In the mean time, here's a video of Andy Powers of Taylor Guitars explaining some of the features of their Builder's Edition guitars.
Heartbreaker Guitars Contributor