A great mid-size 12-string.
by Teja Gerken
June 19, 2017
When Bob Taylor couldn’t afford the 12-string guitar of his dreams as a high school student, he decided to build one himself, inadvertently setting out on the path that would lead him to become one of the most significant luthiers of our time. Bob’s company, Taylor Guitars, has always given special attention to 12-strings, and today the company offers 12-strings in almost every one of its lines. We recently had a chance to check out Taylor’s 456ce.
The 456ce uses Taylor’s mid-size grand symphony body, which measures 16¼ inches across the lower bout. It’s built with a Sitka spruce top and African ovangkol back and sides. Lighter in color than most rosewoods, ovangkol’s tonal qualities are similar to Indian rosewood, and because it can be sustainably grown and harvested, it’s been the used on Taylor’s popular 400 series for more than a decade. Like other 400-series models, the 456ce includes white plastic binding on both the body and the fingerboard, simple acrylic dot position markers, and a white-and-black multi-ring rosette. The 456ce is outfitted with Taylor’s own Expression System 2 (ES2) electronics.
Taylor’s 12-strings are famous for their easy playability, and the 456ce is no exception. Set up with low action and featuring comfortable string spacing, the guitar requires only marginally more effort to play than most six-strings. The guitar’s grand symphony body provides enough air volume to deliver a powerful sound that works equally well for strumming the guitar with a pick or for fingerpicking. Players who like to venture into the upper regions of the fingerboard (the guitar has a cutaway, after all) will appreciate the 456ce’s excellent intonation, which is not to be taken for granted on a 12-string. Plugging the guitar into a Fishman Loudbox Mini amp reaffirmed our previous experiences with the ES2 electronics: it did a great job of delivering the guitar’s acoustic character when amplified. The ES2’s onboard bass and treble controls are useful to either tame or enhance the instrument’s inherent 12-string “jangle,” but it also sounds great without touching any EQ at all.
SPECS: 12-string with cutaway grand symphony body. Solid Sitka spruce top. Solid ovangkol back and sides. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.5-inch scale. 1⁷/₈-inch nut width. Enclosed chrome tuning machines. Expression System 2 electronics. Made in USA. $3,058 list. Taylorguitars.com
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