A limited-edition grand auditorium with a walnut body.
by Teja Gerken
January 01, 2018
Like most guitar makers, Bob Taylor is crazy about wood. And one of the benefits of running an operation the size of Taylor Guitars is that it makes it possible to have a large stockpile of all kinds of tonewoods, allowing for the occasional run of instruments that differ from standard models. Taylor has always offered custom options, and for more than a decade, the company has also offered a series of Spring- and Fall-Limited instruments, variations of popular models with different woods and appointments. We recently had a chance to check out a 524ce-LTD that is part of a run of limited-edition guitars made specifically for the upcoming 2018 Winter NAMM show.
The grand auditorium 524ce-LTD is based on Taylor’s popular 514ce, which is usually built with mahogany back and sides and a cedar top. But for this run (which is limited to about 100 guitars), Taylor chose walnut for the guitar’s top, back, and sides. Taylor has used walnut as a tonewood since its earliest days, and there used to be an entire W series of instruments built with the wood, but currently, walnut is only available on custom and limited-edition guitars. Often described as having a combination of the tonal qualities of mahogany and rosewood, walnut is a great non-tropical wood that often sounds great, doesn’t require CITES certification for export or travel, and can be harvested responsibly.
The walnut used on the 524ce-LTD falls in about the middle of the wood’s typical color spectrum, which can vary from quite light to very dark, and the top and back have beautiful flame figure. The guitar uses standard 500-series appointments, which include faux-tortoiseshell binding, an ivoroid/tortoise rosette, and Taylor’s “Century” fingerboard inlay. Overall, the instrument’s materials and craftsmanship were of a high caliber.
Our Taylor 524ce-LTD was a lot of fun to play. It had a great tonal balance, and while it responded well to a soft touch, it also had the natural compression when digging in with a bit of force that guitars with hardwood tops are known for. This made for a tonal quality with a controlled dynamic range and great sustain, qualities that can be useful in a dense mix onstage or in the studio.
Plugged into a Fishman Loudbox Mini, the 524ce-LTD’s Expression System 2 (ES2) electronics satisfyingly delivered the guitar’s inherent character in an amplified setting, and while our studio environment didn’t allow for a high-volume test, the hardwood top will likely give the guitar a high feedback threshold onstage.
It’s great to see Taylor bringing walnut back on some guitars. In the case of the 524ce-LTD, the result is a beautiful guitar with a tonal signature that distinguishes itself from Taylors with spruce or cedar tops. It’s definitely worth checking out this limited edition while it’s available.
SPECS: Cutaway grand auditorium body. Solid walnut top, back, and sides. Performance bracing with relief-rout. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.5-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Chrome tuning machines. Expression System 2 electronics. Made in USA. $TBA. Taylorguitars.com
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