Tip-Top from Taylor? Taylor’s 414CE now has V-Class bracing. Ben Morgan-Brown checks it out.
Taylor launched its new V-Class bracing at the US NAMM Show in 2018 with a flurry of claims about what it would do to enhance performance. Some of them were quite easy to understand – improved sustain, greater volume and the like, while others such as improved intonation, were a bit more puzzling until you looked a little more deeply into what bracing is and what it does. Most reviewers were very positive about V-Class and certainly Taylor counts it a success – so much so that the company is now rolling it out the new design across its large range. It had begun life gracing just the top models.
Taylor’s Grand Auditorium 414CE cutaway has long been a popular model for the company, epitomising the great sounding, easy-playing characteristics that first won Taylor so much popularity. It’s always been a very giggable guitar – easy to play, very responsive, enjoyable to listen to and equipped with Taylor’s excellent Expression System 2 pickup and pre-amp, all of which have made it an ideal go anywhere, play anything kind of guitar. Now it has the V-Class bracing it should be even better – that’s the theory at any rate.
The 414Ce V-Class certainly maintains the clear, no-nonsense looks of its predecessor. The Sitka spruce top is clear and nicely grained and the ovangkol body wood is a very acceptable alternative to the rosewood that might previously be found on a guitar like this, before the introduction of CITES rosewood restrictions. Nice material choices and touches include a graphite nut and Micarta saddle on an ebony bridge and an ebony fretboard, Oh, and it comes with a high quality Taylor case, too.
The sound, as Ben’s video shows, is just about what you would expect from this guitar – very even, very clean, with no dominating (and irritating) overtones or frequencies that could jump jarringly out of the mix. In fact Ben thought it came sounding almost perfectly EQ’d. It also benefits from being one of those guitars that rewards the player who digs in a bit – again, the sound is clean and fresh and superbly versatile. That said, it would perhaps best suit the strummer – not that it won’t handle fingerstyle (it will) but it is really good when played with a pick, making it a great band guitar – a feature made all the stronger by the amplified sound which as our video demonstrates is also very good.
As always with Taylors, the action and general playability were superb, which makes it an ideal guitar for the player who also plays an electric guitar and likes to swap between the two.
Does the V-Class do everything Taylor claims? Well, yes in terms of sound, though listen to Ben demonstrate the intonation with chords played up the neck and see what you think. It isn’t perfect but, as he points out, it could be as good as you can get.
The price may seem a little high but it isn’t really once you compare it with other US-produced guitars of a similar class. In fact we’d say it is about right for what’s on offer. For the buyer who needs all its many attractive qualities, the new 414CE is a great instrument and certainly one of today’s most impressive all-rounders.
Reviews are recorded in a top quality studio with the finest equipment. To get the best from our reviews and really hear the instruments perform make sure you listen on good quality speakers or headphones!
Taylor 414CE V Class £2,639
Scale Length: 25-1/2″
Nut & Saddle: Black Graphite, Micarta saddle
Top: Sitka spruce
Body and sides: Ovangkol
Truss Rod Cover: Black Plastic
Number of Frets: 20
Tuners: Taylor Nickel
Case: Taylor Deluxe Hardshell Brown
Brand of Strings: Elixir Phosphor Bronze Light
Neck Width: 1-3/4″
Body Length: 20″
Body Width: 16″
Body Depth: 4 5/8″