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Old 05-29-2012, 04:23 PM
Maccadude33 Maccadude33 is offline
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Default Opinions on Taylor 314 vs 414

Hey all,

Sorry if this has been asked before, but I didn't find much searching on the web. I have been looking to buy a new acoustic and could use some others' opinions. I love the sound of a Taylor guitar and have become a fan of their products for a little while now, so I figured I should get one to replace the Ovation I learned on. I happened to visit the two Guitar Centers close to me over the weekend in order to get a better feel of the 314 and 414 models. The first store didn't have a 414 hanging around, but I tried out a 410 that sounded very dull and flat. However, there was a 314 on the wall that felt and played wonderfully. The neck was nice and comfortable, and it sounded great. That said, I wasn't ready to buy anything seeing as I needed (and still need) to try more of them out. My friend called me up to go to the other GC since he, coincidentally, is also in the market for a new acoustic. That store had both x14 models that I was interested in, so I played one of each and was less than impressed. Neither sounded as bright or lively as the first 314 I mentioned, and honestly, I couldn't distinguish any notable tonal differences between them. The 414's strings blended nicely together when strummed with a pick, but it didn't sound better per se. Obviously I know I have to play a bunch in order to find the right one, but I just found it odd that these two both sounded the same, and that there can be so much variance between these particular guitars.

So I guess my main question is: what kind of a difference does the use of ovangkol wood on the 414 make in comparison to the sapele wood on the 314, and can you justify spending the additional money on a 414 because of it? Maybe the floor models I played had old strings on them, but I really couldn't notice a huge difference between the ones I played, nor did the 414 sound as bright as I might expect. I think that 414s look significantly better with the white binding and oval inlays, but tone comes first for me. What do you guys think and what recommendations do you have? I appreciate it.
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Old 05-29-2012, 04:38 PM
Black Beauty Black Beauty is offline
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Truth be told it's not worth the price difference in my opinion and I'd go for the 314ce if you liked it. You might also want to try a 316ce or 416ce, the Grand Symphony shape gives more bass (but doesn't have the strong mids of the dreadnought - see my badly drawn made-up graph on how I feel shape influences a Taylor). I think if you purchased either one, you're not going to 'miss' the other one. Judging from your post, it appears a well set-up one is what has been working for you, so it's best to find one that feels good and sounds right and go for it. Some Sapele will sound brighter than Ovangkol, and some Ovangkol will sound smoother than Sapele (too many variations within each individual guitar). I think knowing which shape you want is the first step before deciding which tonewood you want:

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Old 05-29-2012, 05:17 PM
Maccadude33 Maccadude33 is offline
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Default You raise some good points

Hey, thanks for that chart! I'll definitely have to keep that in mind. I think I have settled on the GA body style, but I am open to considering the x16s. I the GA models look small in photos, but in my hands and on my knee, they feel fantastic. I know the GS shape is slightly larger, and I do like having better bass response, so that is a definite possibility. I believe I spotted a 316 on the wall but I didn't bother to pick it up, seeing as I went just before closing time. ^_^;; Anyhow, would you say moving up to a GS shape reduces individual note definition? That is something I'm interested in having.

I've been trying to rationalize buying a 4xx model with the idea that given all the 15% off deals GC has these days, I could easily haggle with them a bit to discount one for me. That and the GCs in my area did have a discount on a few Taylors during this past weekend's sale. I'm a sucker for good looks it seems, so I've been hoping I'll come across a 414 that has "the" sound. Either way, I'll be happy with either model regardless; my Ovation Celebrity is really good for what it is, but Taylors are something else.
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Old 05-29-2012, 05:25 PM
mutantrock mutantrock is offline
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My partner has the 414ce and it iis a beautiful instrument that plays and sounds great..highly recommended! For comparison I suggest you also consider the Martin GPCPA3 which is an equally awesome instrument. Be sure to try them plugged into a PA and/ or a very nice acoustic amp.
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Old 05-29-2012, 06:00 PM
Maccadude33 Maccadude33 is offline
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I'll be sure to do that once I find a few that sound great unplugged! Having a good acoustic guitar is my first priority; I need a great alternative to my Les Paul + Vox AC15 rig. I'd buy one of the new LP Standards, but I'm giving the Ovation I have back to a family friend (who gave it to me about five years ago when he didn't have time to play) so he can finally learn on it. I don't want to be without an acoustic, so I think it's time to pony up and get a good one. I don't have any acoustic amps, so the only thing I'd consider plugging into is a mixer that I run to my laptop. If I get to jam or play gigs with people when I move down to Austin later this year, I'd bet most places we'd go would be able to mic us as well. I've heard mixed things about Taylor electronics, but at the end of the day, it's not the most important feature to me.

As for Martins, well, I'm not a huge fan. I know a guy who has a Martin made of koa and I've played it a couple times. I have never been blown away by it. That said, I noticed that some of their Performing Artist series have some rosewood models, which I imagine I'd like, but they have those richlite boards. Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but I would much rather have a real plank of wood for a fretboard. I know I'm comparing apples to oranges here, but I played a Gibson Midtown with a richlite board and it didn't do anything for me. In contrast, the ebony boards on all of the Taylors I've handled have felt incredibly smooth. If I come across them when I head back to the store next week, I'll give them a chance, but again, I would really like to own a Taylor! Thanks for the input.
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Old 05-29-2012, 06:23 PM
pottski pottski is offline
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I'm usually disappointed when I play guitars at Guitar Center's stores. The strings are usually completely dead and I've come across several guitars that showed signs of being dry. If they know you are a serious buyer, they may put new strings on a couple for you, but I wouldn't be surprised if they refused.

In terms of the difference between the 400 series (ovangkol) and the 300 series (sapele), I have always preferred ovangkol, but have never had anything against sapele. you'll probably find that sapele is a little stronger in the midrange and that ovangkol has a little more bass response with more focused high end as well (if you can compare some with new strings). I prefer the feel of the GA (x14) bodies like you, but some of the best sounding 400 series guitars I have played have been drednaughts (410).

In the end, I think you'd be happy with either one. I have a BTO grand auditorium on the way with ovangkol back and sides, but my next guitar after that will probably be a 356ce or GA3e-12. I never worry too much about whether or not I will bond with a guitar because I like to try new things every once in a while. If you buy one that you just don't bond with, you can always trade it in a year or two. At least, that's what I end up doing.
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Old 05-29-2012, 08:44 PM
Maccadude33 Maccadude33 is offline
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Yeah, Guitar Center is not the greatest. Unfortunately, it's the only store around that has instruments that I would be interested in. I try to buy online from Musician's Friend (same company, I know, but I've had good experiences with them so far) and Amazon when I can. I wish I could order the exact guitar I want through the web!

There was an older fellow working the acoustic section at the second GC I visited. He seemed like a nice guy that knew his stuff, as opposed to most of the young people like myself that I've seen working there, but he didn't give me a real recommendation on either Taylor. As I mentioned before, the store was closing for the night, and he was busy helping other customers purchasing stuff, so that's not really a big deal.

Your description of ovangkol sounds a lot like what I'm after. Bass + focused high end would be very nice. Hopefully I'll find one that sounds like that to me. I wish I could get myself to like dreadnought acoustics but those have never been appealing to me for some reason. Not sure why. Also, I'm the kind of person who likes to stick with something; I don't really enjoy trading or selling gear away. Usually, when I get something, I hold onto it, be it because I'm materialistic or I just like having something to call my own. I don't want to spend the time trading something around because I didn't like what I bought to begin with, especially if I'm spending over $1000 on an instrument. I sometimes wish I had that flexibility, but I'm not wired that way! I want it to be just right from the get go. Thanks for the input.
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Old 05-29-2012, 09:49 PM
epaul epaul is offline
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? You can order the exact guitar you want online. GC and MF sell online. You can even order it from one of the dealer sponsors on this forum. Ted at LA Guitars or Guitar Rodeo will sell you a Taylor for a couple hundred less than GC or MF (not sure how haggling or coupons will affect this, but normally, they will beat GC/MF handily).

As for comparing the 314 to a 414, I've had both and played bunches of both. Both are just fine. I currently have an Ovankol GA4, but I almost think the Sapele models tend to have a little more zip and liveliness. At least the ones that have made the biggest impression on me have happened to be Sapele.

So, keep playing them for awhile, but if that one at the GC consistently floats your boat, grab it. (you can ask to have the guitars you are interested in restrung, or ask when they are due to be re-strung, or even buy a pack of strings and ask them if they could schedule a restringing, at their convenience, for you. If you can visit the store sometime when they aren't swamped, you will have better luck, in all regards).

Or, you can order one from Ted at LA Guitars and do the initial opening up of a brand new guitar yourself.
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Old 05-29-2012, 11:16 PM
Maccadude33 Maccadude33 is offline
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I meant that I won't know if some guitar I order online will be "the one". I know I can get anything I want online, I just want to be able to play a guitar before I buy it first. I've read that some people don't mind ordering and returning an instrument until they find one they like; me, I don't want to put up with that hassle.

For awhile, I really wanted to order a fall limited 414 from Wildwood Guitars, but I decided that it would be best if I kept my budget under $2000. That, and I have no idea what those limited models sound like, though I imagine they are great. If I have to, I'll look into LA Guitars as well. I'm open to all suggestions.

I'll ask them about the strings and see if I can have them set up a few for me on my next visit. The ones I played didn't feel all that old to me, but then again, I didn't inspect them very closely. Thanks for the input.
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Old 05-29-2012, 11:32 PM
Dominus Dominus is offline
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I've played a lot of samples of the 314 and the 414. The 314 has an aggressive tone to it. It gets in there and gets mean. The 414 is smoother and more suave. It's like the untamed punk vs. the cool kid. Which do you want to be?

I usually find more 314s I like than 414s. When I do find a 414 I like, it tends to be really nice. For that price point of $1600 they are good guitars. I'm puzzled why the 414 costs more actually. Ovangkol must be more expensive to harvest...
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Old 05-30-2012, 12:04 AM
egkor egkor is offline
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I have owned both.

I love the 3XX tone (Sapele/Spruce), however in the 314ce (GA shape) IMHO it lacks bass.

I also love the 4XX tone (Ovangkol/Spruce). Yes a more balanced sound, and more bass (in a GA shape) than the 314ce.

What I would *really* be looking at is the 316ce vs. the 416ce (GS shapes), now *that* would be an even tougher choice.

You've got to play them for yourself, listen with your ears (not the specs), and see which tone signature inspires you to pick up the guitar and play it. You might find a really good example of either one that "speaks to you". I thought I would not ever get a 414ce but I found one that was exceptional and took it home.

Either way (314ce/414ce) you can't go wrong.

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Old 05-30-2012, 01:04 AM
Maccadude33 Maccadude33 is offline
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Seriously, thanks for all this advice guys, I really do appreciate it. On a side note, I thought I made an additional reply earlier but it seems to have to disappeared... anyhow, moving on.

@Dominus: See, I'm hoping that I find a 414 that has been waiting to be unboxed, sounds smooth, yet packs a mean punch when you need it.

@egkor: I agree. I want something that I can't put down. I'll be sure to test out what GS models I can and see if I adapt to their size. If it's comfortable and projects accordingly, then a x16 is a definite possibility for me. I'm planning to set aside a good hour or two, maybe more, on either Sunday or some day next week to go back and try a whole bunch if they have more available stock. The weekend can't come fast enough!
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Old 05-30-2012, 09:08 AM
David Q. David Q. is offline
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I've owned both and to be honest, I really don't notice an appreciable difference in tone between the two. The real difference, for me, is the appearance (ovangkol and white binding versus sapele and black binding). And the 414 has a bound neck and the 2012 models have the oval inlays.

Although not always the case (imo), the ovangkol on many 4xx guitars is prettier than the sapele on the 3xx guitars, if that's a consideration. However, I like the look of sapele, the unbound fretboard, and prefer the black binding on the 314.

It really boils down to your personal preference. Good luck.
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Old 05-30-2012, 10:58 AM
DavidinGA DavidinGA is offline
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Between the two I would get the 300 series Taylor as I am not a fan of ovangkol at all...
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Old 06-03-2012, 05:04 PM
Maccadude33 Maccadude33 is offline
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Had a chance to go back again today and play the acoustics again. I would have asked to see a handful of 414s, but it looked like the one on the wall today had new strings on it, so I took it down and played on it for a bit. I wouldn't be surprised if it was the same one I played before, but either way, it sounded significantly better. I heard a rich and full tone coming out of it, bright but not excessively bright. After I fiddled around with it, I picked up a 416. Aside from the fact that it was tuned down a half step, I found it lacking on the treble side of things. The lower strings sounded nice but it didn't do anything for me. The 314 I picked up next definitely looked as thought it hadn't been set up in some time; the strings were worn and overall, it didn't really have a low end as some have mentioned before. It was rather dull sounding. Not sure how it could have gotten so much worse over the course of a week but it seemed that way.

I also picked up a Martin OMCPA3 for comparison's sake. It was too grimy from use to play comfortably, but it projected well. I thought it might be naturally louder than the 414, but after swapping between them, I realized my ears were deceiving me. ^_^;; The Taylor definitely had a sparkle in it, so I'm really leaning towards buying one. I'll let y'all know how it goes, thanks for all of the input so far.
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