View Full Version : Taylor GA4 Review

08-22-2007, 05:41 PM
This being my first new Taylor guitar in 5 years, I felt inclined to write an ‘uninvited’ review of my new purchase. The last Taylor I bought new was my 2002 Taylorstock 814c with Redwood top. I still love and play that instrument.

In move to downsize, I recently sold my last Goodall, and purchased the GA4 (formerly known as a 414). As I advance into my 50s, the consequences of playing too many years next to loud drummers and such have rewarded me with some hearing loss. Why pay for the nuances of an expensive guitar if you can’t hear them? So with that, I ordered sight unseen a new Taylor GA4 from Wildwood Guitars near Denver, CO…a wonderful store.

My fears of ordering a guitar were numerous…committing to an unknown instrument. Questions regarding tone, playability, and wood grading were all in my mind. Though I might have preferred the GA3, I’ve heard two or three disappointing examples in that series recently. My son’s 314 from 2001 is a wonderful instrument, but my daughter’s more recent 314ce doesn’t have the same fullness and tone.

Upon arrival, I was relieved to see a wonderful sitka top, more uniform in grain then I’ve seen on many guitars in the lower series recently. It has excellent medullary rays, with a slight bit of bearclaw here and there. I like bearclaw, so no problem. The Ovangkol back and sides were great too…nothing fancy, just nice straight and tight grain.

Perhaps the biggest, and maybe only disappointment was the neck wood. Blame it on scarcity of mahogany or just a place to save money, the neck woods I’ve seen on recent lower series Taylors leaves something to be desired. Will it matter in the long run? Maybe not. It’s just the one weakness that seems most noticeable on the guitar. Bob shouldn’t have taught us so well on wood grading at Taylorstock.

Tone…the Biggest and Best Surprise

If this model went downhill in neck wood grade, it went uphill in tone. I am truly amazed by the fullness and depth of this instrument. Perhaps the tweaking of forward shifting of the braces is the reason, but I was pleasantly surprised by the loudness and largeness of openly strummed chords. It is clearly louder than my 814, and perhaps a little more bass. I can see why some on the forum have compared it favorably to Walnut, as it has the fullness of a good hardwood sound, without some of the overtone activity present in Rosewood.

It still maintains that characteristic Taylor brightness overall, but has enough ‘oomph’ in the low and mid range to balance it out. It also has that pleasant Taylor sustain. I’ve always wanted Taylor to find a way to fatten up the tone in the B and high E strings, but hey, it’s not a Martin.

I really like the new color on the binding…sort of a cream color that has similarities in hue to maple binding. It’s a lot better to my eyes than the old white binding used in both 400 and 800 level series.

Based upon the tone alone at this price point, the GA4 is worthy of a hard look. As has been stated before, the Ovangkol instruments seem to be underrated. Put better wood in the neck and gloss up the back and it would compare well with guitars at twice the price. Very well indeed.

08-22-2007, 08:10 PM
Nice. Another GA4 owner! :) Yep, ovangkol is such a nice tonewood. But I'm glad I chose the GA4 over the 214 or GA3, that's for sure.

08-23-2007, 01:24 PM
Thanks for your review. I've been really impressed with the GA series guitars I've played, and having just parted with a 455, I can vouch for ovangkol's understated quality. I've been looking at a GA4, 414, and the occasional GA7.....but not all together. Can anyone make a comparison of the three?

08-23-2007, 01:31 PM
Funny you mention the neckwood... I noticed the same thing on a number of GSs I played this past weekend. I don't know if it was the grain pattern or just the stain color, but the necks didn't appear to be up to the cosmetic standard of the rest of the guitar.

08-23-2007, 02:58 PM
Scotty -- congrats on the new GA4! I used to have 414, and it gave alot of rosewood guitars a good run for their money -- for way less money!

You gotta get some pictures posted -- esp. the ovangkol grain, and the mahogany neck. My GS (2006) has a bunch of dark grain in the neck, but it would be interesting to see what's on yours.

03-23-2009, 09:32 PM
Just returned from my local store,
looking for a partner to my 314
and had a list that included the GA4, GSRC
and a Martin D15 as a distant third.

How has the GA4 done for you since your last post?
I'm terribly interested to hear more personal experiences.
I felt the GS had more bass response (especially with the cedar top)
but the the GA was a little more clear and bell-like.
This, for me, would be beneficial as I run my guitar
through several delay pedals and into a looper.

I'd appreciate any help or comments you could offer.

03-23-2009, 09:45 PM
Great review, and congrats on the new guitar. I agree..Ovangkol is an underrated tonewood. Glad that the Taylor universe has helped familiarize us with this great wood!