Taylor 414ce Review Mixdown Magazine
Mixdown Magazine Issue 202 Feb 2011
Taylor Guitars under the watchful eye of Bob Taylor have established themselves as very much a big time player in the guitar world. Sitting towards the mid to upper price points Taylor are probably best known for their classy acoustic guitars and offer a range of sizes and styles in both steel and nylon string. Used by players such as Bryan Adams, Jerry Cantrell, Jason Mraz and Bonnie Raitt they are a combination of some traditional shapes with modern touches such as wood choices, ornamenting and pickups.
GRAND THEFT AUDO
From the 400 series and coming in a Grand Auditorium shape the 414CE has a Sitka Spruce top, Ovangkol back and sides with a Tropical American Mahogany neck and Ebony fretboard. This blend of exotic and more standard woods have been chosen with both design and sonic interests in mind and feature Taylor's consistent attention to detail. For added flexibility in the amplified realm Taylor have then included their own Expression preamp and pickup system with the guitar coming housed in a Taylor hard shell case. Special mention for the extra thickness and plush lining in the case making it very secure and reassuring for those wanting to really protect their baby.
I really like the look of the Grand Auditorium shape with its pronounced bout and rounded touches. The cutaway of the 414CE then gives that modern meets traditional type feel and makes for increased access to the higher register if and when needed. The Sitka spruce gloss top looks a treat with the lighter coloured timber contrasting nicely against the Ovangkol back and sides. If you're not familiar with Ovangkol it's an exotic wood from West Africa featuring some beautiful grain and shading. Known for its clear tone it also has an added liveliness for some extra harmonic content. As well as the colour contrast, it is interesting to see that the gloss top blends finely with the satin back and side pieces, perhaps taking away from the sometimes overdone almost candy looking full gloss. Workmanship all over is top notch with the white binding, fibre rosette and Indian rosewood headstock overlay providing clean edges with that little extra classic style.
“THEY SAID TAYLOR WAS A GOOD GIRL...”
As a player the 414CE is clear and defined with a balanced tone. Perhaps slightly more mid focussed, it has a tight (but not huge) bottom end, nice top end sparkle and good projection both with fingers and a pick. I personally seem to change my mind every week about gloss finish on an acoustic guitar, both in terms of sound and looks. With this particular model however, I do like the look of it and how it added that extra sparkle and zing on the top end that helps when cutting through a mix.
Like many makers Taylor have worked hard to design their own pickup and preamp system that compliments the guitar's fundamental tone. The Volume, Treble and Bass controls on the top side of the guitar are both
inconspicuous and easy to operate. This makes for less wood on the guitar being sacrificed and a low profile set of controls that won't get in the way of your playing. Although there is no mid control it hasn't been omitted. Instead these frequencies are just covered by the Treble and Bass control with tweaking either side of the flat setting, overlapping into Midrange territory. Taylor are also very proud of the fact that the combination of their body sensor pickups and string sensor pickups results
in reduced feedback and are confident that there's no need for a sound hole plug, even at high volume levels.
On the whole, I found the expression system to be a solid performer with the ability to tweak and then blend the pickups on the inside if needed, giving quite the scope for EQ shifting.
GIMMIE THE 414!
Acoustics are such a personal thing - shape, finish, woods, neck, pickup and the list goes on. From a production point of view the 414CE was immaculate with beautiful smooth edges, great action and intonation, a flawless finish and the kind of quality you'd expect from a high end maker. Sound wise it was clear and balanced and again justified its price tag. Whilst not a cheap guitar, this isn't exorbitant by any means and would satisfy even the pickiest of player.
By Nick Brown
Released Date: 09/02/11