Taylor commits to maple with a redesigned maple 600 series.
by Teja Gerken
March 11, 2015
Taylor’s maple-body 600 series has been completely revamped for 2015, with redesigned bracing, optimized wood thicknesses, a thinner finish, and many other tweaks by Taylor designer Andy Powers. The series, which Taylor has made since the 1970s, is available in Taylor’s popular grand concert, grand auditorium, grand symphony, grand orchestra, and dreadnought body styles; we had a chance to check out the grand auditorium-size 614ce.
The 600-series redesign is a result of Taylor’s desire to use more non-tropical hardwoods that can be sustainably grown and harvested. Working with Steve McMinn of Pacific Rim Tonewoods, Taylor is drafting a long-term plan for sourcing high-grade maple. Pairing maple back and sides with a torrefied (an artificial aging process of “baking” the wood) top and working with the design and specs of each individual model within the series has resulted in a line of guitars that are positioned as flagship acoustic models in Taylor’s catalog. For more information on the background of the 600-series redesign, check out our video of Taylor’s Andy Powers discussing the instruments.
Guitarists familiar with Taylor grand auditoriums (the company’s most popular body size) will feel right at home on the 614ce. The guitar’s medium-size body is comfortable to hold, and its low-action setup provides the classic Taylor feel of effortless playability. Inspecting the guitar, I was again impressed by Taylor’s incredibly clean craftsmanship, resulting in perfect fit and finish all around. Peeking inside the soundhole allows a view of the slanted back braces, which Powers says helps create a more balanced tone. Finished in a beautiful, violin-style brown stain, the maple used for the 614ce’s back and sides features beautiful flamed figure and is perfectly bookmatched.
Played acoustically, the 614ce has a rich voice with a strong bass and an incredibly balanced overall character. The guitar has an excellent response to various types of attacks, and perhaps due to its torrefied top, its tone has far more complexity than most brand-new instruments.
The guitar includes Taylor’s new Expression System 2 electronics. Using a newly designed pickup that relies on a set of three piezo elements mounted behind the saddle (rather than under the saddle), the system replaces the magnetic sensors of the original Expression System. Taylor pairs the pickup with a custom-designed preamp that uses the familiar arrangement of controls for bass, treble, and volume in the upper bout of the guitar’s side. Played through an AER Compact 60 amp, the system was impressive, with a highly dynamic, natural sound that did justice to the guitar’s complex acoustic voice.
Overall, the 614ce is a very cool guitar. It is a direct result of Taylor’s commitment to the creation of sustainable tonewoods for high-end acoustics, and it sounds great, regardless of what playing style is thrown at it. In this video, Peghead Nation Co-Founder/Producer Teja Gerken plays the guitar fingerstyle in standard and D A D G A D tuning, and Co-Founder/Editor Scott Nygaard gives it a workout using a flatpick.
SPECS: Grand auditorium body with 14-fret neck. Solid torrefied Sitka spruce top. Solid maple back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25½-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Enclosed chrome tuning machines. Expression System 2 electronics. Made in USA. taylorguitars.com
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