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If you don’t want to read this entire review, know this: the Taylor Builder’s Edition K14ce with V-Class bracing is quite simply the best acoustic guitar we’ve ever played. Still interested? Keep reading…
Taylor made their name by blending craftsmanship with modern production techniques. They’re pushing the envelope again, with their Builder’s Edition K14ce, featuring their new V-Bracing system, creating a beautiful instrument made with amazing woods, and modern construction methods. We had a chance to have a one-on-one session at NAMM with the V-Class mastermind, Andy Powers, and the results of Taylor’s R&D are nothing short of revolutionary. Every note rings true with clarity due to the new bracing system, volume is consistent up and down the fretboard, even at the highest register, and intonation is pitch-perfect across the entire fingerboard – making chords that were simply unplayable on other instruments now a thing of beauty. The new bracing system’s importance cannot be overstated in the world of acoustic instruments; we think it’s the biggest game changer of the decade.
Now, on to the guitar. Overall fit and finish is superb, what you expect with any Taylor guitar. The wow factor on this oozes from every angle and facet. With a Sitka spruce top, and Hawaiian Koa on the back and sides, it goes beyond the usual boxy acoustic edges, with a beveled edge on the upper bout for comfort, and a similar beveled treatment on the cutaway area. Even classier is the entire edging on the top as well as the back has gorgeous shell inlay work. The fingerboard also has the same shell treatment on their spring vine inlay. The rosette is accented with excellent detailing with paua and koa accenting things nicely.
The comfortably-profiled neck features a 25.5” scale, with a tropical mahogany neck and an amazingly smoother-than-silk satin finish. The headstock is finished with a beautiful wood overlay, koa purfling, and again the shell finished spring vine inlay. The body’s finish is also super smooth satin, and brings out the subtle textures of the wood’s grain patterns.
X-bracing has been the traditional way of making a soundboard structurally stable, and still resonant. At this year’s NAMM show, Taylor unveiled their V-Class bracing design for the first time in a public setting. It’s a tighter bracing spacing, that runs parallel with the guitar’s strings, which enhances sustain and volume. It’s a big jump in overall sound quality; hard to believe a Taylor could sound even better. Every note is richer, deeper and way more pronounced, across the entire fingerboard. Chords and open strings resonate so nicely and are evenly balanced, where it feels like it’s fitted with some sort of aural EQ.
The electronics are Taylor’s Expression System 2, with the piezo pickup sitting behind the bridge saddles. It’s a 9v powered system with simple volume, treble and bass controls. All told, it’s a flexible system and if the volume control is increased, while turning both the treble and bass down, it acts as a nice midrange boost. Overall, it’s quite full, with no odd quackiness that comes some piezo systems we’ve tested in the past. It’s perfect for both stage and studio use. In fact, it might be the only acoustic you’ll ever need again.