There are high-end acoustic guitars that are mass-produced by big companies and custom made by terrific luthiers all over the world from Martin, Taylor, Gibson to Paul Reed Smith and Phil Petillo and many, many more. I’ll speak from experience having owned a Martin DC Aura and a terrific old Fender acoustic and having babysat a friend’s Gibson J-45 that the best sounding acoustic guitar I know is the one I currently own, the Taylor 114ce 100 series. This guitar is simple and elegant and looks and sounds absolutely terrific.
Many acoustic guitars excel in one area, or for one style, for example big chord strumming, flat picking high notes or finger picking chord melody style in the mid range of the instrument. The Taylor 114ce excels in ALL musical situations and in all styles. I’ve owned mine for less than a year and I’ve recorded solo modern classical pieces, used it to “comp” and solo in a live jazz big band setting, I’ve recorded it in singer-songwriter settings with only voice and guitar, done finger picking and done country blues with it. In every situation it shines and comes through like a guitar that costs much, much more.
Regarding its look and feel, with it’s Grand Auditorium shape and cutaway for easy access to the high range this instrument could not feel or look better in your hands. The combination of spruce and sapele woods makes for the perfect resonance and natural sound. One way you can easily judge the sound of an acoustic guitar is to simply finger and strum a big chord with open and fretted notes and let it ring out and resonate and sustain.
The 114ce simply fills whatever room you’re in with sound, big, beautiful warm sound. In addition, the layered wood used here makes for an acoustic instrument that is less sensitive to changes in temperature, making it much easier to care for. When I owned the Martin, I felt like I needed a degree in biochemical engineering to keep it at the proper temperature and humidity levels at all times, in fact almost ruining the guitar within a few months of owning it.
Since this guitar has built-in electronics, I’ll speak to both its acoustic and electric sounds and properties. For practice, composing, meditating musically or just flat out playing, acoustically this instrument sings. In all registers, from high to low and in the bottom, middle and end every note is crystal clear, pristine and distinct. The intonation throughout the fret board is even and consistent whether you’re soloing among the high frets or playing “cowboy” chords home on the range at the first three frets or playing anywhere in between.
In a moment of simply being at the right place at the right time, serendipity or just plain dumb luck I was given a Rosemary Glass guitar pick this summer. Rosemary makes her picks from glass that washes ashore near her home in Hawaii, and these thick glass picks produce a feel and sound on my Taylor 114 that I hadn’t heard in my almost forty years of playing. I mention that, of course, because the size, style and type of pick you use, if you use one will have a great effect on the sound your guitar makes. I was happy with the sound of this beautiful guitar with the Fender extra heavy picks I used to favor, but the Rosemary Glass picks have taken my sound on it to a new level.
The electronics on the guitar add an amazing dimension to the sounds you can produce with this instrument. Taylor’s ES2, short for Expression System 2, is their own patented pickup design that features three pickup sensors. Their unique location of the sensors allows a huge array of tonal possibilities from an acoustic guitar. In combination with the custom Taylor pre-amp this guitar sings at all levels of volume, clean or with effects whether recording or performing live.
An easy to use 9 volt battery pack at the base of the guitar and a highly functional volume, bass and treble control panel make adjusting tone and volume a piece of cake. Just remember – take the patch chord out when you’re not using the guitar or the battery will die rather quickly. I learned that lesson the hard way.
In summary, the Taylor 114ce 100 series acoustic guitar with cutaway and built-in electronics is simply the best sounding acoustic guitar I’ve heard and played and I can’t recommend this beautiful and affordable gem highly enough. As my sports hero Joe Namath once said, “I guarantee it.” Another nice note for you pickers and strummers who care about such things, the Taylor Guitar Company believes in sustainability and promoting eco-friendly use of wood and resource management throughout the industry.