For Bob Taylor, the blending of tradition and modern appointments and innovations on his guitars is second nature. Take the 410ce-R, for example. Nothing is more traditional than a dreadnought-sized guitar, but add a slim-neck profile, an elegant Venetian cutaway, and an innovative pickup system that accurately represents the true acoustic nature of the guitar in an amplified setting, and you have a modern acoustic guitar that speaks to a wide spectrum of players.
Taylor’s 410 model holds iconic status in the company’s history, as detailed in former AG gear editor Teja Gerken’s authoritative 2015 study The Taylor Guitar Book: 40 Years of Great American Flattops (Hal Leonard). Introduced in 1991, the 410 became the first US-built production dreadnought sold for under $1,000. The original model had mahogany back and sides. In 1998, the company replaced the mahogany with ovangkol, a dense African relative of rosewood. Recently, Taylor began offering an Indian rosewood option, hence the “R” in 410ce-R (the “c” stands for cutaway and the “e” electronics).
According to Taylor, ovangkol shares many of the same properties as rosewood, but with a fuller mid-range and some tonal similarities to koa. The color of ovangkol is more like koa, sort of a bronze-gold. There is no mistaking rosewood, however. Some rosewoods are reddish, but the 410ce-R model AG tested has a dark coffee-bean color, reminiscent of Brazilian rosewood guitars. Combined with a light-grain, solid Sitka spruce top, white plastic binding, gloss finish on the top, back , and sides, and a faux tortoise-shell pick guard, this unadorned, yet elegant, dreadnought is simple yet visually striking.
A Diverse Player
Just as the color can vary, so can the sound. Indian rosewood guitars often have a dark bass sound with more of a low-end growl. However, the 410ce-R has a brassy sound—this rosewood has a much sharper, brighter snap to it, with a bass response that is more heard than felt. Strummers and bluegrass players will appreciate this dreadnought-sized guitar, but I find the 410ce-R to be a wonderful fingerpicker as well. The not-so-boomy bass gives excellent definition to alternating and monotonic bass lines. I love the depth of sound when I played slide in open-E tuning (E B E G G B E), especially when I barred the strings with my slide, then slowly opened up the bass strings with alternate bass playing. For fingerpickers who have been playing small-bodied guitars in order to get a more defined sound, but who miss the dynamic range of a bigger guitar, this could be an attractive option.
For fingerpickers who have been playing
smaller-bodied guitars to get a more defined sound,
but who miss the dynamic range of a bigger guitar,
this could be an attractive option.
When strummed, the 410ce-R cuts through the sound in an ensemble setting. The high-end sparkle matches well with other acoustic instruments, especially in an electrified situation. And the neck’s slim profile makes it easy to navigate from the nut to the 19th fret— accessible because of the aforementioned Venetian cutaway. If you like to play fast runs up and down the neck, you’ll enjoy picking your way through the 410ce-R.
The narrow 1 11/16-inch nut sets up the tropical mahogany neck to be slimmer and easier to navigate than many comparable dreads. The neck’s 25.5-inch scale might seem a little daunting to those used to a shorter scale, but Taylor has done an excellent job of making the neck easy to play with low action.
Traditional Design & Modern Appointments
Taylor is known for its dedication to workmanship and the 410ce-R is no exception. The setup and craftsmanship are impeccable. Frets are dressed and smooth and a peek inside the guitar shows no glue stains, no overspray, or other imperfections.
I plug the 410ce-R into a Fishman Loubox Mini and am greeted with a remarkable transparency in the sound. The Expression System 2’s onboard volume, treble, and bass controls are mounted unobtrusively on the upper side bout close to the neck, which makes on-the-fly adjustments quick and easy. I can hardly remember plugging in an acoustic guitar and getting such an accurate amplified representation of the acoustic sound, a testament to Taylor’s innovative pickup design. The Expression System 2 places the sensors behind the saddle rather than underneath, like most piezo designs. The three sensors mounted behind the saddle capture one of the most accurate representations of the natural acoustic sounds I’ve heard in an electrified acoustic instrument. All the elements of the character of the wood are present in the electrified format. The bass sounds brassy and rich, and the trebles sparkle without becoming harsh or “quacky,” as is the case with many piezo pickups.
In the 410ce-R, Taylor has married traditional guitar design with modern appointments that speak to the need of today’s acoustic players. No longer can guitar makers ignore the need to create onboard electronics that accurately represent the guitar’s acoustic sound. The 410ce-R has a big, powerful voice and a neck that’s easy to navigate, creating the right details for long hours of playing enjoyment. Whether you’re a professional gigging musician or a hobbyist, the 410ce-R is an instrument you’ll be proud to bring to the next gig, jam, or stay-at-home practice session.
At-a-Glance: Taylor 410ce-R
SIZE Dreadnought with Venetian cutaway
TOP Solid Sitka spruce
BACK & SIDES Indian rosewood
BINDING White ABS
BRIDGE PINS Ebony
TOP FINISH Gloss
NUT & SADDLE
Tusq nut/Micarta saddle
NUT WIDTH 1 11/16 inches
SCALE LENGTH 25 1/2 inches
NUMBER OF FRETS 20
FRETBOARD WOOD Ebony
TUNERS Taylor Nickel
CASE Taylor deluxe hardshell case
STRINGS Elixir Phosphor Bronze HD Medium (.013-.056)
$2,918 (MSRP), $2,199
Made in the USA
This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.