Cedar’s warm midrange overtones and quick response make it a coveted top wood among fingerstylists and other players with a lighter touch. On this mahogany/cedar cutaway Grand Auditorium, V-Class bracing lifts those sonic virtues to new heights, serving up an even more powerful all-around response with billowing sustain. Add to that the bundle of sonic refinements that V-Class brings, including more powerful notes all the way up the fretboard and greater in-tuneness between the notes (thanks to a more orderly response from the top), and you’ve got a guitar that can cover a lot of ground. Mahogany’s naturally dry, focused voice emphasizes the midrange, lending a warm, clear punch that strummers, blues players will especially appreciate. Appointments include faux tortoise shell binding and pickguard, a faux tortoise/ivoroid rosette, and our striking Century fretboard inlay scheme in grained ivoroid with a new peghead inlay to complement the motif. With onboard Taylor ES2 electronics, you can count on natural-sounding amplified acoustic tone whenever you need it. The guitar also features a Venetian cutaway for upper-fretboard access, and ships in a deluxe hardshell case.
Taylor’s mahogany and cedar grand auditorium now features V-Class bracing.
by Teja Gerken
June 18, 2018
As Taylor’s only standard guitar model that has always had a cedar top, the Taylor 514ce occupies a special place in the company’s line of guitars. Taylor aficionados know that the guitar is a direct descendant of one of Taylor’s 20th anniversary models, which combined a grand auditorium body with mahogany back and sides and a cedar top and became a favorite with fingerstyle players who appreciated its quick response, warm tonality, and balanced tone. The 514ce has received various tweaks over the years, but this year’s switch to Taylor’s new V-Class bracing, which features two long braces forming a “V” shape from each side of the soundhole to a point at the end block, is the first significant upgrade to the model since the introduction of the NT neck around 2000. I had a chance to check out a new 514ce in the Peghead Nation video studio.
Our demo guitar’s mahogany back and sides featured beautiful grain and rich color. The top was on the lighter end of the color spectrum for western red cedar and could have easily been mistaken for darkened spruce. Taylor’s 500 series has always had modest appointments, and the 514ce will appeal to players who prefer a simple design. The guitar has tortoise-style binding on the body, a black-and-white rosette with a tortoise center strip, and Taylor’s “century” position markers in the ebony fretboard. An extension of the century design in the peghead overlay is the only slightly extravagant touch. Like all the new Taylors with V-Class bracing, the guitar has a black nut and a label signed by Taylor designer Andy Powers.
Playing the 514ce, it immediately became clear that this latest version of the guitar has retained the qualities that made the model a classic. It had an ultra-quick response and developed a warm sound without much effort. The overall character was bright, but the guitar also had a solid bass, which helped give the guitar a full sound for solo performances. When I plugged it into a Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge, the instrument’s ES2 pickup delivered remarkably similar qualities in an amplified setting.
There’s a good reason the 514ce has a solid place in Taylor’s catalog, and the current version is a welcome refinement of a winning concept. Anyone looking for a great fingerstyle guitar with a balanced, powerful sound should give the 514ce a try.
SPECS: Grand auditorium body with cutaway. Solid western red cedar top. V-Class bracing. Solid tropical mahogany back and sides. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.5-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Chrome tuning machines. Expression System 2 electronics. Made in USA. $2,699 street. Taylorguitars.com