I had the privilege of attending the Taylor Road Show in Vancouver this year.
It was an awesome evening with great information about Taylor guitars history, processes and, of course, demonstrations of some awesome sounding guitars.
The event was held at Tom Lee music on Granville street, September 28th, 2016, in the Auditorium. I was just expecting to be standing around on the shop floor but having it set up in the auditorium was awesome and made for great sound and a great atmosphere.
It felt a lot like a show.
Being someone who runs a website about acoustic guitars, and Taylor being one of the largest producers of acoustic guitars in the world, I do know a thing or two about Taylor guitars. But I learnt plenty here that I didn’t already know.
Like they’re ebony mill in Cameroon. Before Taylor co-purchased this mill 90% of the Ebony that was being cut wasn’t being used. The reason all that ebony wasn’t being used was because of the marbled appearance – which is actually only a cosmetic thing!
The mill was only using the pure black ebony because that’s what customers wanted. When in truth, the marbled ebony is just as good – it just looks different. Now all of that ebony is used.
Hear Bob Taylor talk more about sustaining woods including ebony and their ebony mill.
I found this fascinating.
Something else I learned, Taylor aren’t only 1 of the largest producers of acoustic guitars in the world – they are the largest producer.
O.K. now let’s get to the most important part of the evening. The guitars that were showcased.
For each guitar I will show a short video. The sound isn’t great but will give you some idea.
To begin with Taylor’s 5 main shapes were demonstrated.
This was done by taking 5 guitars from the 800 series with the same tonewoods (Sitka Spruce top with Rosewood back and sides) so that we could hear how each shape sounded, compared with the same tonewoods, to give us an appreciation of the difference that the shape can make.
This was really great to hear and was very well presented.
This is the Grand Auditorium shape. For Taylor guitars the 3rd number represents the shape. In this case it’s a 4 which is the grand auditorium shape. This is the highest selling guitar, for guitars costing more than $1,000, in the world.
This was the perfect guitar to start with because it’s the great all-rounder. Good for everything including strumming, flat-picking and finger-style – and a nice mix between being loud and to responding to a softer touch.
This is the Grand Symphony shape. This is a larger shape than the Grand Auditorium. It requires giving it a bit more oomph to get the top to really vibrate how you’d like it to. Great for anyone who has a heavy touch. It also has a high ceiling for volume so you can really give it some and get some good volume.
This shape is great for strumming and for a big sound.
This is the Grand Concert shape. This is the smallest of the shapes. This is great for finger-style players and really responds to a lighter touch. You could really hear this response when it was played.
It has a lower volume ceiling – so when you really give it some you can distort the top. But to get decent volume out of it you really don’t have to give it too much. Great for anyone with a soft touch or who likes to play mostly fingerstyle.
Also has a small shape and a shorter scale length which makes it an easier shape for beginners.
The bass and highs are also less pronounced and there is a sound that is like a natural compression.
This shape is great for recording and great when playing with other instruments because of its more limited range.
This is the classic dreadnought shape. It has a big top so, like with the 816ce, you’ve got to give it more oomph to get the top to respond and it also has a high volume ceiling. This shape is great for flat-picking and strumming and for when you want good volume.
This is the Grand Orchestra shape. I really liked the sound of this guitar and how it played was really versatile.
You can play it softly and it responds like the Grand Concert (812ce) but you can get more aggressive with it and it can handle it – it also has a high volume ceiling.
The Low E on this thing sounds like you’re hitting the E on a piano!
Once we got an appreciation of the difference that the shape can make to the sound it was on to hearing the how the different tonewoods changed the tonal qualities of the guitars.
We heard 3 different varieties of tonewoods to hear how they differed from the Sitka/Rosewood combo. These were all played in the Grand Symphony shape.
This was the all mahogany (solid mahogany top, solid mahogany back and sides) demonstration.
I’ve always been a fan of that mahogany sound – particularly for certain styles of music like the Blues. And the 526ce certainly did nothing to stop my love of this sound.
You could really get an appreciation of the warm, mid-rangey tone that the mahogany produces, when played alongside the Sitka/Rosewood combo on the same shaped guitar.
The range of lows and highs are “squeezed in”, so to speak, so you get that really mid rangey sound and a lot less in terms of overtones.
The 600 series guitars feature sitka spruce tops with maple back and sides.
This produces a very bright top end focused sound. It cuts out some of the low end and increases the high end. It’s also characterized by a bright attack into notes and a quick decay.
The K26ce is part of the Koa series. It is all Koa (solid Koa top and solid Koa back and sides).
This wood really takes on all the characterstics of the other tonewoods mentioned. It has a the expanded lows of rosewood, the strong midrange and warmth of Mahogany and the bright treble of the maple.
It’s a sound that apparently becomes warmer over time as the wood matures.
Other tonewoods and guitars
Once we’d had the chance to listen to all the shapes in the same tonewoods – and then the main tonewoods in the same shape, then we got the chance to hear some other guitars in the range.
322 12 fret
This was a chance to hear a 12 fret guitar against a 14 fret. It was also a chance to hear the Tasmanian Blackwood back and sides which are featured on Taylors 300 series (the 300 series guitars that have mahogany tops).
I had demoed the non 12 fret version of this guitar previously so it was cool to hear the 12-fret version.
We also heard a 12 string (656ce) and a baritone guitar – that thing is pretty awesome and I’m definitely hoping to demo a baritone sometime soon. As one of the presenters said “playing a baritone is like being able to play an entirely new instrument that you already know how to play”.
There was also some great info on the construction of the guitars, but I think I’ll leave this post at that.
This was an awesome event and full of great information and, of course, hearing some great guitars being demoed by some great players. Big thanks to Taylor and Tom Lee for putting this event on.
If there’s a Taylor Road Show in your area I highly recommend going along.