Bob Taylor was a curious and inventive lad by nature and by the time he was a freshman in high school, he had constructed his first guitar: a twelve-string. Two more guitars were subsequently designed and assembled by the time he had graduated from high school but this was only the beginning of his love affair with the inception and construction of high quality guitars.
1973 brought Taylor to the "American Dream," a small guitar shop in Lemon Grove California which not only compelled him further in his search for insight into the world of guitar construction but also introduced him to an individual by the name of Kurt Listug. Listug also worked for the American Dream and when the owner opted to sell out, he and Taylor jumped on the opportunity to start their own business. Taylor and Listug brought another man aboard by the name of Steve Schemmer and the three of them purchased the American Dream and renamed it "Westland Music Company." In 1976, the three decided that Westland was a little too long to fit on the headstock so the company was renamed Taylor, in lieu of its brevity as well as its American sounding connotation (as compared to Listug!).
The organization overcame a number of obstacles characteristic of any new business but Bob Taylor's illustrious and innovative nature shown through and helped the company to survive and eventually thrive. Using the Guild D-37 as a template for ideas that he would later apply to his own guitars, Bob designed a bolt-on neck design (known as the New Technology bolt-on neck system) that would later become renown and coveted in Taylor guitars. Taylor has continued to lead the pack in design as well as progressive manufacturing techniques that have helped them to become one the world's foremost producers of fine guitars.
The cutaway top of this incredible guitar is comprised of solid Sitka Spruce, a wood coveted for its long-standing tensile strength as well as its beautiful resonation qualities. An abalone rosette surrounds the soundhole which adds detail and company to the tortoiseshell pick guard. The back and sides of the Taylor 814 are made of Indian Rosewood while the neck is made of tropical Mahogany which is quickly becoming more scarce and subsequently more expensive each and every year. Hard-as-nails and extremely dense Ebony wood is used for the fingerboard, bridge and bridge pins and sets the backdrop of the guitar with dramatic and profound tones of black and gray. The fingerboard is also graced with shimmering pearl inlay which breaks up the darkness of the ebony and adds beauty and drama. The back sides and top are all finished in a glorious-gloss finish which gives the guitar a brilliant sheen and draws the eye seductively to the guitar.
The scale length of the Taylor 814 CE is 25 and 1/2" in length, 16" wide, 4 and 5/8" deep and the width at the nut is 1 and 3/4". Included in the package price is the Taylor Expression System (ES) which is a musical engineering feat in and of itself.
The ES incorporates a series of magnetic sensors that are designed to accurately reflect sound resonating from the body and neck of the guitar. Body sensors located directly beneath the soundboard capture vibration while another strategically located sensor picks up string and neck vibrations. A preamp boosts the signal cleanly and dynamically and works to produce a clean, rich sound that is less prone to feedback.
The Taylor 814 CE is currently available for anywhere between $3000 and $4100 and can be purchased either directly through Taylor or through local venders. The price is steep but the guitar is such a dazzling piece of workmanship both as a visual spectacle as well as from a performance perspective, that the price is warranted. From the impeccable materials employed, to the inlays and gorgeous appointments, to the unbelievable playability this guitar is an instrumental masterpiece.
Here are some words that came to my mind as I picked up the Taylor 814 and began to strum: unreal, spectacular, lightning-fast, where's my checkbook? This guitar is absolutely phenomenal in terms of comfort, ease-of-play, smoothness of action and warmth of sound. There is a perfect balance of treble, mid and bass tones and unbelievable resonation. The guitar simply hums with resonation and beautiful bright-enormous sound. In addition, I've never played a fretboard that was so easy to manipulate from simple strum patterns to finger picking to arpeggio. The fretboard feels lightning fast and in essence plays itself. Yes, the sticker price is a bit shocking at first glance but between the unbelievable visual presentation of the Taylor 814 CE as well as its incredible play I think it's worth every penny.