Instruments & Gear: New Gear

Taylor 814ce LTD (2019)

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A Fall Limited edition of Taylor’s popular grand auditorium, built with sassafras back and sides.

by Teja Gerken
November 25, 2019

Taylor’s annual run of Fall Limited guitars, a tradition that goes back almost 20 years, is highly anticipated by serious fans of the company. Offering instruments based on standard models but with different woods or appointments, Fall Limiteds are great opportunities to get a Taylor that differs from the norm without having to make a custom order. This year, Taylor is offering Fall Limiteds in the 200, 500, and 800 series (we’ll be demoing models from each series in the coming weeks), and in this video, I introduce the 814ce LTD, a variation on one of Taylor’s most popular models. 

Taylor has built mid-size grand auditorium guitars with a lot of different woods, but this edition of the 814ce LTD is the first non-custom Taylor built with blackheart sassafras back and sides. Sourced in Tasmania, sassafras is a light-colored wood, and the “blackheart” variety includes dramatic streaks and figure. Taylor describes the wood’s tonal properties as “blending low-end warmth and dryness, top-end chime, and strong, focused projection.” The wood on our demo guitar was striking and distinctive, setting the guitar apart not only from other Taylors, but most guitars. The instrument’s appointments stick closely to the standard 800-series recipe, which includes Taylor’s “Element” fingerboard inlay, an abalone rosette, and a wood pickguard. However, instead of the standard maple binding, the 814ce LTD’s binding is black ebony, which contrasts nicely with the light sassafras. The guitar includes Taylor’s acclaimed V-Class top bracing, and has the slanted back bracing used on several Taylor models. 

I have played dozens of Taylor 814’s and their variations in the last 20 years, and while different eras have brought their own variation on the fundamental sonic signature of the model, this 814ce LTD is significantly different from all of them. An 814 wouldn’t be an 814 if it wasn’t a highly versatile guitar at home with every steel-string guitar style, and I’m happy to report that this LTD is no different. But this guitar performed its duties with a dynamic response, clarity, and tonal elasticity that stood out, and I found it hard to put down. While a standard rosewood 814 may have a slightly richer, deeper, bottom end, this guitar had a balance and lightning-fast response that gave it a highly refined character that is bound to please players looking for tonal sophistication. 

The 814ce LTD may surprise you even if you think you know Taylor 814’s. Whether it piques your curiosity due to its unusual looks or its hot-rodded sound, this is a Fall Limited to check out while it’s available!

SPECS: Grand auditorium body with cutaway. Solid Sitka spruce top. V-Class bracing. Solid sassafras back and sides. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.5-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Taylor smoked nickel tuning machines. Expression System 2 electronics. Made in USA. $3,999 street.


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