Review: Taylor’s Flagship 814ce Builder’s Edition Sees Fresh Boutique-Authorized Variations

Most regularly known as Taylor’s flagship acoustic-electric, the abalone-embellished, consuming and rosewood 814ce has change into a recent traditional, the supreme instance of a spacious auditorium cutaway for many guitarists. Apparently, it handiest these days bought the Builder’s Edition medicine that grasp luthier Andy Powers has utilized to objects treasure the 324ce and 816ce in most contemporary years. 

Nonetheless that’s no longer the genuine shock about the contemporary 814ce Builder’s Edition. Moderately, what could well maybe comprise some Taylor fans off guard is that the guitar’s top is made no longer of the aged two pieces, but four—the first time that the corporate has done this with consuming—a commendable pass given dwindling tonewood provides. 

Taylor 814ce Builder’s Edition full body view

I auditioned the Builder’s Edition and realized the blueprint quality and provides to be top-notch, the playability beautiful from the first be troubled to the 20th, and the sound compact in the low conclude, rich in the mids, and soft and velvety—in decision to Taylor’s unique sparkling and coppery—in the treble affirm. 

The Rating and Design

Powers’ capacity for the soundboard constructing is a extra or much less doubled ebook-match—four pieces, in decision to the single rupture up pair, sliced from the same chunk of Adirondack consuming and joined with traditional mirroring to withhold the wood’s distinctive I-beam grain. It’s price noting that Adirondack consuming (aka crimson consuming), archaic in plenty of vintage steel-string guitars, is prized for its stiffness and headroom, but Taylor and completely different tremendous makers a ways extra assuredly blueprint with the Sitka diversity that is distinguished more uncomplicated to source as of late. 

The 814ce Builder’s Edition has completely different significant contemporary capabilities, alongside with a beveled Venetian cutaway (echoing the armrest’s contour), vintage gold Gotoh 510 tuning machines, and a tastefully subtle Kona edgeburst conclude on the support and sides—all of which originate for a placing variation on the traditional model. These are the form of upgrades that, while alongside with roughly $500 to the unique 814ce’s $4,000 sticky label be aware, are in most cases viewed on boutique instruments in the 5-resolve fluctuate. Now no longer surprisingly coming from Taylor, the contemporary originate is meticulously realized. With its completely dressed frets; field-on neck reduction; beautiful motion with zero apparent buzzing; and cushty, soft joints and edges in everything of the instrument, the blueprint quality on the overview model is solely unimpeachable. 

Taylor 814ce Builder’s Edition back view

The truth is feel and Sonics

The neck cut on the 814ce Builder’s Edition is stunningly playable, with a wonderfully gentle satin conclude for soft fretting-hand crusing. The 1-3/4–walk Tusq nut supports a string spacing astronomical adequate for bigger fingers, and a in actuality happy 15-walk fretboard radius makes bluegrass and acoustic rock single-dispute runs a accelerate and helps you withhold those open strings ringing as you lift open shapes up the neck. 

Certainly, it’s effectively up the neck, past the 14th-be troubled neck joint, where the model’s soft cutaway and heel in actuality repay. Now no longer handiest are single notes and double-stops easy to be troubled, but triads and tetrachords are by shock a ways extra within rating than you’ll gain on a ancient cutaway. 

Whereas I didn’t accept as true with the unique 814ce, with its two-half Sitka consuming top, at hand for comparison, the Builder’s Edition could well maybe lack a dinky of the maintain and warmth one pals with Sitka. I’d accept as true with loved to listen to a dinky extra enhance factual out of the sphere, but to be comely, Adirondack is continually thought to rating a dinky longer to open up and reach its full sonic doable. 

Per chance by virtue of its smallish physique, I realized the take a look at model’s sound a dinky bottom-gentle and compact for full-throated strumming in the nation, bluegrass, and americans idioms. That said, the guitar appears to be like to tip its hat to the mellower Powerful Pacific introduced several years in the past, as effectively as completely different more contemporary V-Class-braced guitars that accept as true with intentionally moved away from that characteristic ’90s Taylor zing and those aesthetic upper partials. This makes the contemporary 814ce an very supreme fingerpicker’s guitar, with a soft top conclude and sculpted midrange that begs for a thumbpick capacity. With its focused tonal fluctuate, the instrument is ideal for steel-string takes on bossa nova accompaniment, British fingerstyle, and jazz comping, and I loved its mountainous, round midrange for ripping single-dispute traces and double-stops.

Geared up with Taylor’s effectively-voiced Expression Machine 2 electronics, the guitar is clearly designed to be gig-ready, and its tonal traits change slightly can accept as true with to you plug into an very supreme acoustic amp treasure a VHT Ethical Acoustic 60. The low conclude pops distinguished extra, and its compactness map you’re much less more likely to have to strive in opposition to woofy feedback and notes “riding” can accept as true with to you abet them. The guitar furthermore has a sultry excessive-midrange that boasts a nice smoothness, making it much less likely that you’ll have to invoke your preamp/DI’s notch filter. 

Taylor 814ce Builder’s Edition soundhole closeup

The Verdict

The 814ce Builder’s Edition plays remarkably, even stunningly effectively. It’s constructed with top payment woods and top-flight hardware and appointments, and has a effectively-sculpted midrange that can accept as true with to restful take a seat very effectively in any live nation, Americana, or rock combine. Nonetheless perhaps basic, Taylor Guitars has lengthy prized innovation and sustainability, and the 814ce Builder’s Edition carries those priorities proudly, even perhaps pointing the capacity to the capacity forward for the steel-string acoustic guitar and its constructing.


BODY Powerful auditorium size; four-half Adirondack consuming top with V-Class bracing; Indian rosewood relief and sides; beveled cutaway; West African ebony bridge with Micarta saddle; ebony bridge pins with abalone dots; rosewood pickguard; abalone rosette; gloss conclude

NECK Neo-tropical mahogany with scarf joint; 25-1/2″ scale size; 1-3/4″ Tusq nut; West African Crelicam ebony fretboard; mother-of-pearl inlays; 20 frets; vintage gold Gotoh 510 tuners (21:1 ratio); satin conclude

OTHER Taylor ES2 electronics; D’Addario XS coated phosphor bronze strings (.012–.053); deluxe hardshell case; on hand left-handed

MADE IN United States

PRICE $4,499 street


Acoustic Guitar magazine cover for issue 344

This article on the muse appeared in the March/April 2024 situation of Acoustic Guitar journal.

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