A limited edition of Taylor’s unusual low-tuned eight-string.
by Teja Gerken
November 05, 2018
Taylor’s Baritone-8 is among the most unusual acoustic guitars available. Originally introduced as part of a series of 35th-anniversary guitars in 2009, the instrument combines a long baritone scale and low B-to-B tuning with added octave strings (as on a 12-string guitar) on the third and fourth strings. The result gives a touch of 12-string jangle to the fat bottom-end of a baritone guitar, creating a tonal character that really is unlike anything else. Although Baritone-8 models were available within Taylor’s standard line for a while, they’re currently only available via special order or as an occasional limited edition, and this fall, Taylor is offering the 316e Baritone-8 LTD. I had a chance to check the guitar out in the Peghead Nation video studio.
The 316e Baritone-8 LTD has the non-cutaway version of Taylor’s grand symphony body, built with a lutz spruce top and Tasmanian blackwood back and sides. A hybrid of Sitka and white spruce, lutz spruce is sometimes compared to Adirondack spruce, and with its excellent stiffness-to-weight ratio, it’s a natural choice for the increased string tension of a baritone. Tasmanian blackwood is often thought of as having some of the same tonal qualities as koa, and while there are highly figured examples of lutz spruce, the back and sides on our 316e Baritone-8 LTD had a relatively dark stain that, with its ultra-straight grain, could easily be mistaken for Indian rosewood. The guitar has “twisted oval” fingerboard inlays made from Italian acrylic, tortoise-style binding, and golden tuning machines.
The unique sonic experience of Taylor’s eight-string concept is immediate. First-position chords have an incredibly full, orchestral sound, and the octave strings on the third and fourth strings add a high-end jangle that expands the baritone’s low voice. As with all baritone guitars, which are tuned a fourth below standard guitar tuning, quick transposing is necessary when playing with other instruments, but once you get used to it, the lower voice can lead you to new and easily discovered arrangements. Fingerstyle arrangements may require some adjustments because the doubled strings don’t always occur where they’re most effective, but with a bit of experimenting, they can produce a very cool sound.
The guitar includes Taylor’s ES2 electronics that, when played through a Fishman Loudbox Mini amp, did a great job of amplifying the instrument’s complex tonality.
As part of Taylor’s 300 series, the 316e Baritone-8 LTD is one of the most affordable eight-strings Taylor has produced, making it a great choice for anyone who has been considering adding one of these unique instruments to their collection. Whether to expand a solo guitar sound, match a low singing voice, or add a different flavor to a band, Taylor’s eight-string guitars are definitely worth checking out.
SPECS: Eight-string baritone guitar with grand symphony body. Solid lutz spruce top. Solid Tasmanian blackwood back and sides. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 27-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Enclosed gold tuning machines. Expression System 2 electronics. Made in USA. $2,199 list. Taylorguitars.com
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