Taylor Guitars is introducing a completely new bracing system with its V-Class bracing.
by Teja Gerken
January 24, 2018
Taylor Guitars is widely considered to be one of the most innovative manufacturers of acoustic guitars of the last 50 years. In addition to redesigning the guitar’s neck joint, creating new finishes, and coming up with a proprietary electronic system, the company has radically changed the way acoustic guitars are manufactured. But with all of their innovations, every Taylor steel-string produced has included variations of the X-bracing developed for acoustic guitar tops in the late 19th century and used for the vast majority of steel-string flattop guitars today.Now, Taylor is introducing its own V-Class top bracing, a new design from Taylor’s head designer Andy Powers that the company is using first on four new grand concert models. Taylor introduced the special V-Class bracing at a special event in San Diego last October, after which we were able to get a Builder’s Edition K14ce to check out.
Designed by Taylor’s head designer Andy Powers, V-Class bracing replaces X-bracing with a structure that uses two long braces to form a “V” shape that starts on both sides of the soundhole and comes to a point near the guitar’s endblock.The V is augmented with two short lateral braces on each side of the lower bout, a cross bracebelow the soundhole, and a bridge plate. Taylor feels that V-Class bracing allows for greater control over the top’s stiffness and flexibility, resulting in better tonal balance, more volume, longer sustain, and a smoother, more even sound overall. Taylor also claims that the bracing pattern controls the guitar’s overtones and clarity, which improves intonation.
The Builder’s Edition K14ce uses Taylor’s familiar grand auditorium body, built with beautiful koa back and sides and a torrefied Sitka spruce top. The guitar’s paua shell fingerboard and peghead inlays are similar to that on earlier Taylor koa models, and paua is also used for the guitar’s purfling and rosette. The instrument, which Taylor calls a “Director’s Cut” of Powers’ design (but which is now a model), also has some new features in addition to the bracing. The familiar Taylor armrest bevel in the lower bout is matched with a bevel in the cutaway, the guitar has rounded edges on both the top and back, and a new “Silent Satin” finish minimizes unwanted handling sounds. Top-of-the-line Gotoh 510 tuners and Taylor’s Expression System 2 electronics round out the attractive package. The new V-Class models also include an interior label prominently featuring Andy Powers’ signature.
The Builder’s Edition K14ce is an incredibly precise feeling and sounding guitar. It has the flawless setup and easy playability that Taylors are famous for. The guitar’s stunning tonal balance resulted in amazingly similar timbre of open and fretted notes, as well as the same notes played in different locations on the fretboard. The guitar also produced a similar tonal character throughout its large dynamic range, meaning that its sound was consistent regardless of how the guitar was played.Taylor’s claim that V-Class bracing improves intonation was quickly proven. Not only was it noticeable when playing big chords up the neck, it was also apparent when playing in alternate tunings such as DADGAD, where precise intonation can sometimes be challenging, especially when trying to match open and fretted strings.
Overall, the Builder’s Edition K14ce is clearly the beginning of a new era for Taylor, and players in search of an ultraprecise musical tool will definitely want to check it out, along with the other new Taylor V-Class models.
Check out this exclusive video of Andy Powers discussing V-Bracing in his shop at the Taylor factory.
SPECS: Cutaway grand auditorium body. Solid torrefied Sitka spruce top. Koa back, and sides. V-Class bracing. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.5-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Gotoh 510 tuning machines with 21:1 ratio. Expression System 2 electronics. Made in USA. $4,999 (street). Taylorguitars.com
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