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Digital Subscriptions > Guitar Magazine > Mar-18 > TAYLOR KOA SERIES BUILDER’S EDITION K14CE


Taylor’s V-Class bracing is a seismic shift in acoustic construction that promises more volume, great tone and improved intonation. HUW PRICE takes a deep dive…


Whether you’re a Taylor Guitars aficionado or not, what follows ought to be of interest to every acoustic player. Rather than a guitar review in the conventional sense, this is in large part a technical appraisal of a potentially revolutionary new concept in acoustic guitar building.

Although the acoustic world has seen far more innovation and experimentation over the last couple of decades than the electric world has managed since the mid-50s, much of it has been confined to small-scale builders. To put this into perspective, Taylor is the world’s largest manufacturer of acoustic guitars. So for it to introduce an entirely new bracing system – with the avowed intention of gradually phasing it in across a big slice of the company’s product range – represents an audacious gamble, as well as a huge financial commitment.

Although much modified and finessed, CF Martin’s X-brace design has been the industry standard for flat-tops since the late 19th century. What Taylor is proposing is tantamount to a reimagining of the American steel-string acoustic guitar. If it proves as successful and popular as Taylor hopes, the guitar featured here may be seen as historically significant in years to come.

Now, if you’re thinking ‘if it ain’t broke…’, you’d have a fair point. There is nothing intrinsically ‘wrong’ with X-braced acoustics, and most acoustic builders will acknowledge that it’s a superbly effective compromise. A guitar top has to be strong and stiff enough to withstand the considerable pull of a set of strings, yet light and flexible enough to vibrate freely and produce a loud and musically pleasing tone.

If it’s too light and flexible the strings will pull the top apart, but if it’s too rigid, volume and tone will be adversely effected. This means there is an optimal region where the flexibility versus stiffness balance is about right. Yet within that region there are other comprises to consider – specifically the trade-o between volume and sustain.

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About Guitar Magazine

The March 2018 issue of The Guitar Magazine is on sale now, featuring Fender’s brand new 2018 flagships and a with free Taylor Guitars supplement for every reader! This month inside the UK’s best-loved and most affordable guitar magazine, we get to grips with Fender’s brand new for 2018 American Originals guitars in a UK exclusive first review. Find out if Fender’s reimagined golden era electrics will need to be on your must try list inside, and chose from our two special collector’s edition covers - will you pick Strat or Tele, or get the set? As if that wasn’t enough of a big deal, the March issue also comes with a free 24-page magazine dedicated to Taylor Guitar’s brand new V-Class bracing system – a hugely innovative way of making acoustic guitars that made serious waves when it was launched at last month’s NAMM show. Inside, we sat down with Taylor design guru Andy Powers to find out just what makes the new bracing system so remarkable, and got our hands on one of the first V-Class guitars Powers has built for an in-depth review. But we’re not all about shiny new gear here at The Guitar Magazine, and we’ve got plenty in store for vintage fanatics inside, too. For starters, we had the rare privilege of getting up close with a £230,000 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard in Vintage Bench Test, while we also spent some time with a gorgeous 1963 ES-335 made famous in the hands of Sweet guitarist Andy Scott. If vintage guitar speculation is more your game, however, then take a trip with Huw Price to Paris as he wanders through the incredible vintage guitar shops of the City of Love’s ‘Music Village’ area - you might want to book a trip yourself. For all that and much more - including new gear from the likes of Vigier, Rivolta, Swart, Danelectro, Joe Satriani’s essential gear and the latest in our DIY Martin acoustic build project – pick up your print or digital copy of the March 2018 edition of The Guitar Magazine today.