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Taylor’s classic mahogany and cedar grand concert now features V-Class bracing.

by Teja Gerken
July 15, 2019

Taylor’s 512 model goes back to the very beginnings of the company’s grand concert body style, which was first introduced in 1984. Like many Taylors, the model has received numerous updates and changes over the years, but at its core, the guitar has always been a mahogany small-body. We recently had a chance to check out the latest version of the 512ce in the Peghead Nation video studio. 

Taylor 512 models have come with various types of top woods over the years, and the current incarnation is built with a cedar top. Known for its quick response and warm tone when played with a soft touch, cedar is a great match for mahogany back and sides, and Taylor has long used this combination on its popular grand auditorium–size 514ce model. All the woods on our 512ce were of beautiful quality. The cedar is on the darker side of the spectrum and has very even, if somewhat wide grain, while the mahogany back and sides had gorgeous coloring and striping. The 512ce has the grand concert’s original configuration of a 14-fret neck and solid peghead, but, while early models had a long scale, the current version has Taylor’s shorter 24⅞-inch scale. While the specifics have varied over the years, 500-series Taylor have always had mid-level appointments, and the 512ce currently includes “century” pattern position markers in the fingerboard and a rosette and body binding that alternate faux tortoiseshell and white ivoroid. Most significantly, the guitar now includes Taylor’s new V-Class bracing instead of X-bracing. 

The new 512ce is a wonderful fingerstyle guitar, offering great tonal complexity and a dynamic response as well as impressive balance throughout its range. But it also continues the legacy of Taylor’s grand concerts in offering great precision and clarity when played with a pick, and the guitar would do well in accompaniment roles. I didn’t have an earlier X-braced 512ce on hand to compare the new model with, but compared with my own 1994 Taylor 712c (an X-braced grand concert built with Indian rosewood and spruce), the new 512ce was louder and felt more powerful all around, qualities that can be attributed to the V-Class bracing. The sound of the onboard ES2 electronics played through a Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge amp was equally impressive, and I’d have no qualms taking the guitar straight to any gig.

While this latest Taylor 512ce doesn’t look much different from earlier editions, the new version is clearly the most refined 512 yet, and even if you think you know everything there is to know about Taylor grand concerts, it’s worth giving this one a try. 

SPECS: Grand concert body with cutaway. Solid western red cedar top. V-Class bracing. Solid tropical mahogany back and sides. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 24⅞-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Nickel tuning machines. Expression System 2 electronics. Made in USA. $2,799 street. Taylorguitars.com

Category: Instruments & Gear

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