Posted by Doug Young
Taylor is best known for its popular line of steel-string acoustic guitars. The company introduced its first nylon-string model a decade ago and has continued to refine its nylon-strings so that it now has a complete line of nylon-string guitars that mirrors its x12 (grand concert) and x14 (grand auditorium) steel-string line.
Other than slot-head tuners and nylon strings, the most obvious departure from Taylor’s steel-string grand auditorium design is the wider neck, although Taylor fans should find the feel familiar and may barely notice the extra width. The guitar differs in some internal construction details, such as the lightweight fan bracing used in place of the steel-string version’s X-bracing. Otherwise, the instrument looks and feels much like other Taylors, even maintaining the 14-fret fingerboard style (complete with position markers), larger soundhole, and bridge placement far closer to the soundhole than that of traditional classical guitars. The Sitka spruce top exhibits fairly wide-spaced grain along with some nice silking, while the combination of black binding and satin-finished sapele back and sides gives the guitar an earthy look.
The 314ce-N comes with Taylor’s ES-N pickup system, which includes low-profile controls (bass, treble, and volume) in the upper bout of the guitar. Unlike the ES system used in most of Taylor’s steel-string line, the ES-N uses an undersaddle transducer, along with a preamp voiced for nylon strings. The plugged in sound has the familiar directness of a UST and lacks the complexity of systems that include a mic, but the simple controls can be used to dial in a wide range of useful tones.
Acoustically, the 314ce-N has a pleasant tone with a quick, direct attack, but a rather quiet voice. The guitar has an impressively deep low end, but without the midrange resonance common to many classical guitars.
I appreciated the familiar body size and playability of the Taylor neck, as well as the strong bass response, and I thought that the direct, clear sound of the 314ce-N would work well in settings where the heavy midrange of a traditional classical guitar would be too muddy. It sounded at home with folk fingerpicking and Latin-style rhythm guitar and it would make a good amplified stage guitar. Fiore thought the 314ce-N would appeal primarily to players already familiar with Taylor guitars and was drawn to more steel-string-like material, from tenth patterns (à la “Blackbird”) to slap harmonics. He appreciated the mellow tone but found that the bridge placement relative to the soundhole limited his ability to create the picking-hand tonal variations he needed for his classical repertoire.
SPECS: Solid Sitka spruce top. Solid sapele back and sides. Venetian cutaway. 14-fret mahogany neck with bolt-on Taylor NT joint. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. Tusq nut and saddle. 25.5-inch scale length. 17⁄8-inch nut width. 23⁄16-inch string spacing at the saddle. Taylor ES-N pickup. D’Addario Pro Arte strings. Made in USA. Left-handed version available.
PRICE: $2,238 list/$1,649 street.
MAKER: Taylor Guitars: (800) 943-6782; taylorguitars.com.