A limited edition of Taylor’s innovative eight-string.
by Teja Gerken
July 04, 2016
When Taylor introduced its baritone eight-string concept as part of a selection of 35th-anniversary guitars in 2009, it was perhaps the most unusual instrument the company had ever made. Not only did the guitar have a long 27-inch scale, which allowed B-to-B baritone tuning (a fourth below a standard guitar), it also had octave courses (like a 12-string guitar) for the third and fourth strings. The resulting guitar offered unique tonal colors that produced a rich strumming voice and an intriguing jangle for fingerstyle players. The original Baritone-8 was discontinued in 2013, but Taylor has occasionally offered similar instruments as limited-edition runs. The latest of these is the 326e Baritone-8 LTD, a special model for 2016.
Like many of Taylor’s current 300-series instruments, the 326e Baritone-8 is built with a mahogany top and Tasmanian blackwood back and sides. Using a hardwood on the top is a great choice for a baritone, where the sustain associated with mahogany tops can be beneficial. The woods on the guitar we checked out were quite beautiful, with attractive grain patterns accented by a sunburst finish on the top. Standard 300-series appointments include black-and-white purfling, a three-ring rosette, and small diamond position markers in the fingerboard. The guitar also includes Taylor’s Expression System 2 (ES2) electronics.
Even if you’re used to playing baritone-scale guitars, the 326e Baritone-8’s setup makes for an unique playing experience. There’s really no other instrument on the market that does what Taylor Baritone-8s do. The instrument’s 27-inch scale is on the shorter end of the baritone spectrum (some go up to 28 or even 29 inches), which means that the playability is not much different from that of a standard guitar. But the guitar rumbles like a baritone should, and whether you want to provide a complement to a singer’s voice, create engaging ensemble arrangements, or enhance your solo guitar sound, the instrument delivers in spades. The doubled third and fourth strings make strumming fatter and more dimensional, and while fingerstyle playing takes a bit of careful arranging, some experimentation can lead to complex voicings and unique sounds. Plugging the guitar into a Fishman Loudbox Mini amplifier made the sound even bigger and left no doubt about the 326e Baritone-8s stage-worthiness.
Making Taylor’s Baritone-8 concept available in the more affordable 300 series (rather than the higher-end lines where it resided before) is a great move that makes a lot of sense for a niche instrument. But with the great sonic qualities of the 326e Baritone-8’s wood combination, this instrument is not just a lower-cost alternative; it will provide a new palette of sounds for anyone who’s interested.
SPECS: 8-string guitar with grand symphony body. Solid mahoganytop. Solid Tasmanian blackwood back and sides. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 27-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Enclosed nickel tuning machines. Expression System 2 electronics. Made in USA. $2,438 list. Taylorguitars.com
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