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Monday, November 3, 2014

Acoustic Guitar Review!
2014 Taylor 810E Acoustic Guitar:
“Rebraced Dreadnaught Series
Nets More Bass, Overall Volume"

Price: $4,000
Likes: Bigger bass volume
Dislikes: prices keep going up
Wow Factor! A more balanced dread’
More info: Taylor 810E

by John Gatski
  Over the years Taylor guitars have developed a reputation as an acoustic guitar that has a great cutting presence, with a tight, focused bass. They have become quite popular as “live performance as well as recording guitars. But vintage acoustic buffs often lament about Taylor’s perceived lack of low-end power, versus the venerable Martin D-28 or a Gibson Advanced Jumbo dreadnaughts that have plenty of bass oomph.
  Well, this lack of low end is no longer the case with the Taylor’s new 800 series dreadnaught (810, 812, 814, 816 and onboard pickup and cutaway versions) . A redesigned, Taylor bracing pattern now adds much more authority to the low end — without sacrificing the punch, present midrange and high-end sound Taylor is known for.
  As part of an update of several models with reworked bracing and ultra-thin finish, the Indian rosewood/sitka spruce top 810 dreadnaught series is the best version of the popular dreadnaught that I have ever auditioned. And I have played numerous Taylor dreadnaughts — from the early ones to various recent standard and customs.
  Trust me the 810 can be played with a Bluegrass band, Rock, Country, etc. and not get lost. And you will notice a significant bass boost. The sample I auditioned had enormous power that got louder, when I switched to uncoated strings.

  The 810 series includes the non pick-up, standard non-cutaway 810; the non-cutaway 810E, with Expression internal pickup/preamp system, tested here; and the 810CE (cutaway), which also is equipped with the Expression pickup.
  The 810 series features Taylor’s standard, bolt-on, tropical mahogany neck with a 25.5-inch scale length. The comfortable, satin-gloss neck’s width is 1-3/4 inches and features a varigated ebony fretboard. The 16-inch body is comprised of solid Indian rosewood and a two-piece, solid sitka spruce top with fantastic uniformity in the grain across the two pieces. The company’s ultra-thin, 3.5 mill UV cured polyurethane finish protects the body, but allows it to move to provide impressive volume.
"The new 810E is the best sounding Taylor dreadnaught guitar I have even played and worthy of our Everything Guitar Network Grade A Award!"
  Of course, the key to the new 810’s performance is the advanced performance bracing. This bracing optimizes top vibration in the lower and middle frequencies to greatly increase volume. The combination of the forward shifting of the X-bracing, that was done ten years ago, with the newly implemented “relief routing” in key braces, produces a much louder bottom end than the last 810 that I played in 2008.
  The new 810E test guitar produced a loud mid- and low-bass without being boomy, and the overall volume is significant. In my opinion, the bracing changes make it a better balanced dreadnaught. This guitar would have no trouble staying with a brash banjo players or an aggressive fiddle player in a Bluegrass band.

The 810CE: a cutaway version with electronics

  As found in the new 800 Series Taylor guitars, the 810 features rosewood pickguard, Tusq/micarta saddle and Ping nickel tuners. The setups on Taylor guitars are always excellent with perfect action and intonation up and down the neck. My tester was no exception. For $4,000, I expect these niceties from a made-in-USA acoustic guitar, and Taylor delivers.
  The Taylor 810 Series, as with most Taylor guitars, comes in a well-padded, heavy duty, case to protect your precious guitar. I have noticed in recent years that other guitar companies are starting to cheap out on the cases. Not Taylor. In fact, they still make their own cases.

The audition
  I first tried the Taylor 810E with its stock Elixir coated strings. Upon its first play, I could tell the bass authority was much enhanced over the older Taylors. I have played. Yet the midrange and treble were not lost. It seems that the increased bass, with a mild increase in midrange volume, makes the 810, a much more balanced dread — at least in my book. I have played some Martins that have had too much bass bloom — where the bass overpowers the top end, but other Martin models, such as the 1950s Brazilian rosewood/sitka top D28 produce a loud bass that is perfectly matched by the top end.
  The Taylor reminds me, in essence, of a late 1950s D28‘s projection and tonal balance with an authoritative bottom end. I won’t say that an 810 sounds exactly like a ‘59 D-28, but the new 810 does exhibit a desirable balance of tonal balance with significant volume on the bass without bass boom — a trait of the old D28.

The new  810s get increased power via enhanced bracing

  After several days of paying the 810E with the Elixir phosphor bronze strings, I changed to D'Addario phosphor bronze, medium strings and the sound was even better, That powerful bass and crisp highs now had a more pronounced midrange punch. Flat picked notes using a Fender triangle medium were loud and clear, as were aggressive strumming. Versus the old model, the 810 has a significant dynamic range bump, without compressing under hammer strums. Volume-wise, I measured 95 dB at full strum with the test mic at one meter. This guitar can be loud.
  But as powerful as it can be with aggressive strumming/picking, the 810E was a pussy cat for fingerstyle playing. Yes, the bass was a bit louder than the old models, but you still get clarity and definition with finger-picked notes, as Taylors have always excelled. For extensive finger picking, I would go down to light strings for easier playability, but even with mediums, I got a great tone, though a bit tougher on the finger tips.

The 810E's Expression pickup controls

  Plugged in, the 810E, offers Taylor’s Expression System acoustic electric tone, which I have always liked. It is not so etched or shrill on the treble strings and records smoothly. To my ears, the enhanced bracing does not make so much of a difference plugged in. Which is typical of onboard pickups; they kind of take away some of the wood’s natural acoustic character. A really good microphone, such as the Shure SM-81 or Audix SCX-25, really showcase the mic’s true tone.

The verdict
  Overall, I am quite impressed with the new package found in the Taylor 810. As a result, the Taylor 810 picks up volume in the low to mid bass without being boomy, and there is a bit more midrange punch as well. The result is a better balanced, Taylor dreadnaught guitar, louder playing volume, yet the top end is still pure Taylor. The bracing does not make it sound exactly like a Martin, Collings, Santa Cruz dreadnaught, but the enhanced design gives the Taylor tonality a desirable volume boost in the low end and midrange. The new 810 is the best sounding Taylor dreadnaught guitar I have even played and worthy of our Everything Guitar Network Grade A Award!

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  1. I just picked up an 810 after a tour of the Taylor factory yesterday..a sonic wonderland..a wonderful addition to my D-41 n D-18..

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