Taylor Guitars Redesign The 800 Series

To celebrate their 40th anniversary, Taylor Guitars redesign their flagship line rosewood/spruce 800 Series.

Taylor 800 Series

Founder Bob Taylor and luthier Andy Powers went back to the drawing board to optimize important aspects of the 800 series design, including the wood and finish thickness, bracing, protein glues, pickup, string gauge and the overall look of the series.

Andy Powers is the man behind the unique Grand Orchestra shape released a year ago. This shape went on to replace Taylor’s Jumbo shape and has received favorable reviews. Building on his success, Andy is put on the spotlight yet again as he and Bob Taylor introduce their latest collaborative effort, the newly redesigned 800 series.

Taylor cofounder and namesake Bob Taylor said: “Our intent with the redesign of the 800 Series is to bring the highest quality sound to the forefront and make everything in the guitar’s design work to serve that goal. Andy’s got an incredible knack for knowing exactly what to change to bring out a certain tonal nuance. He’s like the guitar-making equivalent of a brilliant mathematician.”

The new 800 Series line is comprised of the Grand Concert (812ce and 812ce-12-Fret), Grand Auditorium (814ce), Grand Symphony (816ce), Dreadnought (810e) and Grand Orchestra (818e) models. Powers himself listed down the actual tonal improvements to each of the models:

  • Grand Concert: Extra midrange warmth, extra boldness on the top notes, and more overall volume

  • Grand Concert 12-Fret: Similar to the standard Grand Concert, plus darker and punchier

  • Grand Auditorium: More warmth, and a looser, more luxurious low end

  • Grand Symphony: Richer, sweeter sound with more low-end rumble

  • Dreadnought: More powerful top-end response

  • Grand Orchestra: More power and dynamic range

To achieve the above mentioned improvements, Taylor and Powers made important changes to the series, and they have listed down some of the important modifications below:

  • Bracing: Drawing extensively from the same ideas that informed Powers’ bracing scheme for Taylor’s Grand Orchestra body shape, each of the new 800 Series models features a unique new bracing design to bring out greater warmth, midrange, balance and sustain.
  • Protein Glues: A subtle refinement that was coupled with the new bracing schemes is the use of protein glues, long associated with centuries of musical instruments before the development of man-made woodworking glues in the 20th century. With the new braces providing an energy transmission network for the top and back of the guitars, these instrument-friendly protein adhesives facilitate their movement in a different way, enhancing clarity and volume.
  • Wood Thickness: Another subtle recalibration is in the top and back thickness specification for each model. Optimized dimensions help bring out the best of each body shape.
  • Finish Thickness: Because of the tonal benefits associated with thinner finishes, Taylor used its cutting-edge manufacturing expertise to reduce the thickness of its polyester gloss, ultraviolet light-cured finish to an average of 3.5 mils or less-nearly half the thickness of its standard gloss finish-while still preserving a beautiful luster. This difficult-to-achieve reduction has helped make the guitars louder and more responsive.
  • String Gauge: Powers worked in tandem with engineers at Elixir Strings to create a new string set package known as HD Light, featuring customized string gauges. This set brings a bolder, stronger high end and fuller, warmer low end specifically to the Grand Concert 812(ce) and Grand Auditorium 814(ce) instruments. Furthermore, Taylor has now switched the rest of the 800 Series line, as well as all of its other steel-string models, from 80/20 Bronze to Elixir Acoustic Phosphor Bronze Strings with Nanoweb Coating for more high-end sparkle and overall warmth.
  • Pickup: Beyond the acoustic voicing enhancements already mentioned, the new 800 Series acoustic-electric models feature Taylor’s new Expression System 2 (ES2), which incorporates three uniquely positioned and individually calibrated pickup sensors. These are installed behind the saddle, through the bridge, and effectively capture more of each guitar’s dynamic properties and acoustic energy.
  • Aesthetic Package: Last but not least, the new 800 Series models boast a handsomely updated look via a refreshed appointment package featuring new binding and purfling, fretboard inlays, rosette and backstrip, along with a rosewood pickguard and marbled ebony fretboards.

Andy Powers explains that implementing big design improvements has put Taylor’s manufacturing prowess to the test. He elaborates: “These are refinements that a luthier normally would only be able to bring to the highest quality concert guitar – a guitar built by one person with skilled hands from start to finish, because that one person would need utmost control over every aspect of the instrument. But the consistency of our manufacturing allows us to do this on a much broader scale.”

Taylor’s newly redesigned flagship series took center stage at the recently concluded 2014 NAMM Show. You can find out more about each model by going to Taylor Guitars.

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