In 1994, the grand auditorium guitar was released to commemorate Taylor’s 20th anniversary. Surprisingly enough, this guitar style was widely accepted and has been the company’s most popular style.
After 20 years, Taylor finally released the Taylor 814ce that has the grand auditorium style and spruce/rosewood construction like its predecessors.
However, it has an upgraded bracing pattern and the new Expression System 2 electronics with the three-knob control for the bass, treble, and volume.
There’s still so much to discover in the 2014 model. I’ll share with you my detailed review on the guitar’s vital aspects — construction, sound, and performance.
- Small and very easy to play
- Produces clean and crisp sound with lots of resonance
- New pickup system is excellent
- Not loud enough, though the sound is amazing
- Very expensive, but with great features
- Rough pickguard, which tends to cause unwanted noise
Design & Construction
Taylor 814ce is named such because it has a reason. So, I’ll just quickly explain to you what each number and letter represents. This guitar belongs to the 800 series, thus the number 8. The number 1 means that it has 6 strings with softwood top, in this case, a Sitka spruce.
The last number 4 stands for the body style, which is the Grand Auditorium body style. The two letters c and e stand for the cutaway and the electronics onboard, respectively. Hence, Taylor 814ce is a six-string acoustic-electric guitar with a Venetian cutaway and Sitka spruce softwood on top.
Its Sitka spruce top has Relief Rout. This means that the edges of the top are loosened to provide more flexibility, but still keep it as structurally reliable. With this design, Taylor provides a more balanced tone and increased bass on guitars with this tone-enhancing design.
For those who want joyful color options, unfortunately, this guitar only comes with Natural color option. But, it’s not the paint finish or the color that makes this guitar wonderful — it’s the inside that matters. As an acoustic-electric guitar, of course, you have the option to connect it to an amp.
The back and sides are made of Rosewood with abalone rosette outlined and has a high-gloss thin finish. It has an advanced performance bracing for more stability and vibration at the top and back, giving the guitar its “voice.” Once you played the guitar you’ll notice that the back of the guitar vibrates, too.
It has a bolt-on mahogany neck with ebony fretboard and bridge. The fretboard has 25.5-inch scale length and 20 frets with new shapes of mother-of-pearl inlay. There’s a rosewood pickguard, which surface isn’t that smooth. I find it rather annoying as it causes noise which can be captured by the pickups.
The 814ce has the standard headstock with maple binding and gloss finish. It comes with Mother of Pearl “Taylor” logo, ebony overlay and nickel Taylor tuners. Strings are fixed on the ebony bridge with abalone dots.
Since it has the Grand Auditorium style, it has the standard 16-inch body width with Tusq Nut/Micarta Saddle. It has a 1 3/4-inch nut width and 2 3/16-inch string spacing at the saddle. From the factory, strung my favorite Elixir HD Light phosphor bronze strings (gauged from .013, .017, .025, .032, .042, .052).
There’s not much to discuss on the hardware onboard. What’s exciting is the new Expression system (ES) 2 with three piezo sensors at the saddle. I’ll try to explain a bit about its electronics since they are new.
This is different from the old Expression pickup system. Instead of the magnetic pickup and soundboard transducer, the ES 2 employs piezo crystals at the bridge. And, instead of placing the pickup under the saddle, they are embedded behind the saddle, touching the three pairs of strings.
The ES 2 still has the bass, treble and volume controls located at the upper bout like the old models. According to Taylor engineer David Hosler, this is more dynamic and has a better response to what happened to the guitar.
Playability & Performance
You’ll feel very sensational when playing this guitar. It’s capable and able to lull and play well if you know where to tickle its sweet spot. From the neck to the fretboard, Taylor 814ce is designed to play well.
The bolt-on neck allows stability and consistency while playing, giving you more support and overall balance. One of the many things I appreciated about this well-crafted guitar is how they shape the point where the neck and the fingerboard meets. It can now accommodate the traditional “American style” thumb-fretting.
The neck is still sleeker to accommodate fast play while giving an acoustic feel to the players. This is perfect for acoustic players and for those who are playing electric who want to play acoustic, as well.
The action and intonation are perfect out from the manufacturer. So, when you play, the neck, the fretboard, and the low string action will give the comfort to play longer for several hours. To put it quantitatively, it has 21.8mm depth at the first fret. How about that?
The tuners are very reliable in giving the guitar a perfect tune. They are smooth, comfortable and without varying conditions. So, whether you’re playing at home, in the studio or in front of a large crowd, this guitar will keep you playing like have all the time in the world.
One of the reasons why the Grand Auditorium is a very popular body style, which also appeals to me, is that it’s an all-rounder. Everything works well and plays perfectly to be able to get that signature Taylor tone of clarity and brightness.
The Sitka Spruce sound hole is of high-quality and the Relief Rout on the top wood does its job well. The grand auditorium shape has low-end depth and looseness that make it sound like a larger guitar. Its high-gloss finish gives the clarity and brightness of the Taylor tone out of this guitar.
Perhaps older player finds the sound of a modern cutaway acoustic-electric guitar a bit different from what the original tone should be. But, it has become more versatile, especially for fingerstyle. There’s no way its compromising Taylor’s renowned tone, but instead, it’s just bolstering the midrange and thickening up the highs a bit.
So to summarize, Taylor 814ce is a great-sounding guitar with loud and fat lows, rich smooth mids and thick highs. I can sense that jazz guitarists will appreciate not just the very comfortable neck, but by its flexibility at high registers, as well.
Value for Money
From strumming chords or fingerpicking, the Taylor 814ce is quite versatile. I can say that it’s what a premium guitar should be without spending too much. And, while too much varies depending on your budget, this one is packed with really awesome features.
The construction and finish of the guitar are superb and also contributes to how the guitar sounds. The nut, the saddle, the tuners, and the Elixir strings are just perfect to give you a guitar that stays in tune quite long.
The resonated tone is just perfect you can really feel that every bit of the guitar works harmoniously to achieve that wonderful and unparalleled sound quality, whether with or without an amp. For me, it’s a valuable guitar. What about you?
With super-low action, perfect neck, and flexible body construction, Taylor 814ce can surprise you in so many ways. The cutaway design and the fretboard are just perfect to effortlessly play up and down, fast and slow. Once you hit the strings, the next time you’ll notice is that you’re already captivated by this great-sounding guitar.
I can say this over and over again, the neck feels so smooth and natural. While no guitar has ever achieved ultimate perfection, this too has a few minor drawbacks which aren’t much of a deal-breaker. Yet, it’s a guitar great for hitting the road.