Taylor’s Designers Rethink the Big Guitar
It’s always tough for acoustic guitars to cut through at the NAMM show - visually or sonically – but this year, a trio of new Taylors should get their share of attention.
Taylor is unveiling their new Grand Orchestra body shape, a fresh take on the traditional jumbo model. The ultra-limited first edition is available in three versions, all featuring Taylor’s Expression System® onboard electronics and designed to fine-tune the jumbo’s typically big, thumping voice. According to Taylor reps, “Aggressive strummers will love the robust output, while fingerstyle players will enjoy the dynamic range and sensitive response.”
Based on the success of Taylor’s previous experiments with new body shapes like the Grand Symphony (GS) and Grand Auditorium (GA) series, the Grand Orchestra models should work well for players looking to blend the power of dreadnaught and jumbo-size guitars with more balanced highs and midrange found in less-massive instruments.
All three first-edition models come with a solid Sitka spruce top and re-voiced bracing system. The absence of a cedar top (for now) will scare off some finger stylists, but the slightly wider 1¾” nut width is clearly intended to accommodate finger pickers interested in adding more muscle. As for rhythm players looking for power and low end, the 16¾” width, 5” depth and spruce soundboard promise ample punch and authority—especially for a new guitar that hasn’t benefitted from years of “playing in.”
While a variety of standard options are listed in Taylor’s online catalog, these inaugural models will come in premium wood grades and non-cutaway versions only, to accentuate the new body shape. Because these guitars haven’t shipped to stores yet, prices here are manufacturer’s list (expect discounts at stores). Here are some of the standard features.
The 918e Grand Orchestra Model features Indian rosewood back and sides, Sitka spruce top with Adirondack bracing, satin-finish mahogany neck and ebony fingerboard with Taylor’s popular “Cindy” inlay pattern (an ornate floral pattern used on all 900 series models). The top and rosette are edged in abalone, and the ebony bridge and pins feature abalone inlays, as well. List price is $5,658.
The 618e features Big Leaf maple back and sides, Sitka top with Adirondack bracing, abalone rosette, a Hard Rock maple neck and ebony fingerboard with “twisted oval” inlays. Future runs should offer the standard range of 600 series colors and finishes, plus quilt/flame options. List for the all-blonde, first-run version (which includes a three-piece back) is $3,798.
The 518e model comes standard with tropical mahogany back and sides, Sitka spruce top and bracing, and abalone rosette. The satin-finish mahogany neck features an ebony fingerboard with “deco diamond” inlays. Look for options to include either Englemann spruce, Western red cedar or mahogany tops. List for the first-run edition is $3,518.
Company CEO Bob Taylor summed up the company’s approach to redesigning the traditional jumbo guitar. “Taylor’s pretty well-known for having original [ideas]. Our shapes are ours, our inlays, our pick guard, our peghead … we don’t make other people’s guitars.”