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Old 09-25-2020, 01:56 PM
LakewoodM32Fan LakewoodM32Fan is online now
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Default NGD: Taylor K14c BE v-class (or, I Was Never Going to Buy Another Taylor)



My history with Taylor
2015: I bought my first Taylor, a 714ce, which sounded good in Guitar Centerís cedar room, but looked even better because it was on 40% clearance. Took out my only other acoustic at the time and to my surprise after restringing it, I preferred the M32. And the return period was over. I decided to live with it, keep playing and maybe Iíd bond. Never happened.

2018: Friend started working at local GC, now I had a discount. Ttried out these new Taylor v-class. This 914ce outclassed my 714ce and after the discount plus a nice trade-in offer for the 714ce, took it home. Played it alongside my M32. It was significantly different in tone that I could play both side by side, but was surprised at how well my M32 acquitted itself alongside the 914 (turns out, itís a pretty good guitar).

2020: Pandemic hits, vacation plans canceled, GAS hits. I simultaneously discover AGF and also decide I want to know what this ďboutique builderĒ business is all about. I take my M32 and 914ce down with me on an audition trip where I try out a bunch of small builder guitars. The M32 and SCGC OM go home with me (you can read about it in my sig link). A H&D follows, and two Martin custom shops. I realize Iíve migrated from the Taylor tone, and that small builders, and well-built Martins are now my preferred tastes. I become certain Iíll never buy another Taylor, and numerous trips to my local guitar shops to get strings, accessories, or just shoot the breeze, confirms my theory. I canít help but pick up guitars when I go to shops, and every Taylor I have picked up in the last five months confirms my decision: Iím not a Taylor guy anymore.

Why I went on a shopping trip
My 000 sinker mahogany was my first hog guitar, and goodness sakes, I realize I have been blind to that sweet mahogany tone because it tends to be on less expensive guitars. So I decide that as much as I love my H&D TD-R, I want something thatís tonally different, with more mids, for when I need to fill bigger sized living rooms (un-ampíd) with that complementary tone. I figured, well a mahogany dread will do that, and resolve to buy a D-18 MD. Mostly because I donít want to spend over $5K right now on a really nice Collings, Bourgeois, etc. We know from our forum sponsors we can get a D-18 MD for right around (or even under) 3K.

While all of my guitars have wonderfully responsive tops that project loudly for their size, you canít substitute the ďeasy volume/projectionĒ of a larger body (i.e. you donít have to dig in as much as you do with smaller bodies).

The Audition
Fortunately I live near many shops, including some known to give good discounts. I find one with a D-18 MD that also has some Taylor Koas. Ever since playing a Goodall Koa (b/s, Sitka top) at another shop Iíve been a fan of the sound, but not a $7K+ fan of it (the shop wouldnít budge despite it being in their shop for four years and clearly not moving). I figure what they hey, I took the afternoon off to sample the D-18, letís ask to try out the K14ce, K14c (both 2019 v-class BEs) and a 2017 x-braced K24ce 12-fret. Did I mention I canít help but play guitars when Iím in a shop? I donít hold out much hope for the Taylors. I know James Goodall has the magic touch with Koa, and I remember when I bought my 914ce, I had played a K14ce not long after and didnít find it to be any more compelling. I bring along my OM as a reference tone. No need to bring my H&D, I know perfectly well what that cannon sounds like and know the D-18 will sound very different. I wanted to put my OM up against the Taylors, knowing it beat the pants off of my 914.

I get to the shop and heís got the four lined up for me in a semicircle around a stool (I may have heard a choir of angels singing in the background when I walked into the room and saw that setup). He brings out a fifth stand when he sees Iíve brought my OM. He tells me to take my time, and to grab him from the back room if I need anything.

I play my OM to get my reference tone for the room.

I pick up the K14ce and, yep, itís a Taylor v-c. Precise, articulate, balanced sound. And as un-exciting to me as the 914 I traded in. Again, nothing wrong with the guitar, and some will love its clinical preciseness, especially as you go up the fretboard. Intonation is perfect. In another thread someone mentioned the higher up the fretboard you go, the more the v-class distinguishes itself in a good way. But lower on the fretboard (aka ďwhere the money is madeĒ) its clinical accuracy translates, at least to me, as less exciting.

I look at the K14c. I didnít even know they made them without ES2. Itís not on Taylorís site, and when I tried to look for reviews online, couldnít find any without the ES2. But itís the same guitar, I thought, and nearly passed it over for the beautiful glossiness of the K24ce (Koa does love a gloss finish). And then I remembered my earlier mantra, ďIím here, why not?Ē

I pick up the K14c and strum an open chord. Nearly every guitar hanging on the walls responds. I strum a few more open chords. What am I hearing? I switch back to the K14ce. I try to strum exactly the same chords in exactly the same way. If you closed your eyes, youíd think they were two completely different makes and models, at least at the open chord positions. Further up the neck, they both prove their ďv-classnessĒ. I pick up my OM. Oh boy this K14c is standing toe-to-toe with it, and wins on that ďeasy projectionĒ Iím looking for due to its larger and deeper body.

I pick up the D-18. Yes itís exactly what I thought it would sound like, and itís a fantastic instrument. The K14c does not have that mahogany sweetness. But for some reason, I canít get the K14c out of my mind. And also, not only is it not significantly louder than the K14ce, it might be louder than the D-18! Itís at least a draw in terms of projection, but tonalities are totally different. The Koa doesnít have the Ďhogís sweetness in the mids, but is less scooped in the bass and highs than EIR. Kind of falls in between.

I go to the K24ce. Wow. What a unique personality due to more complex overtones than the v-braced brethren, and also a darker sound owing to the koa top (K14s had torrefied Sitka). If that K14c hadnít been so stellar, I would have likely bought the K24ce because of its very different, darker sound signature which is unlike any guitar I currently own. But thatís not what Iím in the shop for today. I realize Iíve been there almost an hour going back and forth and itís clear the K14c is distinguishing itself for me.

I go and get the owner and ask him to just listen. I pick up the K14ce and strum. We both nod. Classic Taylor tone, a fine v-class instrument. I pick up the K14c and strum the exact same thing. From the first open chord I see his eyes widen and (I assume, as I could see his facial motion but we were both wearing masks) his jaw drop. ďPlay that againĒ he says, pointing to the ce. I do. ďNow the otherĒ. I do. ďOh my goodness,Ē he says, ďI re-strung them up for you this morning and got them to pitch, but never played them side by side.Ē

We go on a philosophical discussion as to how the difference could be so stark? Surely it wasnít just the lack of ES2. All were newly strung with Elixirs Nano lights for the Taylors and Martin Lifespan for the D-18 and action was extremely close to each other so tonality and volume differences shouldnít have been due to old strings or wildly varying string action.

We agree that no two woods are the same, so perhaps the person who selected the tonewoods for the K14c just happened to be more discerning. Or got extremely lucky. Another thing he points out is that the K14c has a 2-piece back vs the 3-piece on the K14ce. Not sure that would explain the discrepancy as most of the sound comes from the top.

Then he offers a theory (for which we have no proof). Perhaps a BTO Taylor goes through a similar process as Martin Custom Shop. Still made in the same factory, but since thereís something ďnot usualĒ about this build, maybe it goes through a different (and perhaps more skilled) set of hands? He said he special orders a few non-e guitars because he has some customers who just donít like electronics. A fellow AGFíer in a different thread mentioned that heíd owned a few Taylors and the best one heíd ever had was a BTO. I know this is a sample size of 2.

I continue to play and after 2 hours itís clear that the K14c is coming home with me. To be honest, I wanted to take home the K24ce and the D-18 as well. There is still something to the sweetness of a Ďhog D that I want, and that all-Koa was just so unique in its own right. But given what I play, and the style I play, and my stated desire for wanting a ďcannon with more mids and highsĒ to complement my H&D TD-R, the K14c just ticked off a couple of more boxes (ergonomics, cutaway).

Iím still very much considering adding a D-18 MD at some point. I chose the K14c because it is by far and away the best Taylor Iíve ever played, out of dozens, and who knows if this was just an aberration. Iíve played a couple of D-18 MDs and both were uniformly great, so I have more confidence if I wait a few months to a year, a D-18 MD in 2021 will be just as great as the two Iíve played.

Hereís an imgur album of the audition: https://imgur.com/a/x4W2KfJ

Highlights:

K14ce, K14c


2017 K24ce x-braced, D-18 MD


The 2-piece back of my K14c
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  #2  
Old 09-25-2020, 07:09 PM
FOG01 FOG01 is offline
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It's a beauty! Congrats and enjoy. Why it sounds better? I think with a production guitar is anybody's guess. Taylor controls the build process likely better than any other large manufacturer, which as much as you can ask for that price point. What matters is you found a guitar that speaks to you and no doubt sounds glorious.
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Old 09-26-2020, 02:30 AM
Cool555 Cool555 is offline
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Thumbs up Beautiful Guitar!

Congrats! That K14C is indeed a beautiful guitar....love its silking on the top! Enjoy playing your guitar! I too thought that all K14 came with electronics...

I've finished reading your story of your encounter at the CG. Good that you had so many guitars to choose from and also bringing your own guitar to A/B. Thanks!
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Old 09-26-2020, 02:50 AM
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Thatís a gorgeous guitar. Itís good that if you donít need or want a pickup system, you can get this guitar (and other Taylors) without it. If I did this as a BTO, Iíd love to have the option for a Florentine cutaway also. Nice catch for sure! Congrats.
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Old 09-26-2020, 06:20 AM
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Congratulations on your new guitar!
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Old 09-26-2020, 09:33 AM
LakewoodM32Fan LakewoodM32Fan is online now
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Thanks everyone! And SprintBob, yes I also like the silking. I know most builders say silking has no impact on quality of the tonewood, but I do notice mine has more pronounced silking than the ce version did, and also has that dark streak in the middle whereas the ce has a lighter streak. Perhaps mine was roasted a little longer and that could be playing a part in the better projection and tone (along with the lack of ES2, 2-piece vs 3-piece back, going through the BTO vs standard process, etc.). Who knows?

Additional observations after living with the K14c a few days:
  • Silent satin finish: Iím torn. It feels great to play on (bare skin with moisture doesnít stick like it can to gloss). It definitely is close to silent, so if youíre micíd you will have much less body noise against the guitar. But Koa does love a gloss finish. And the back has some great looking Koa which would have looked even better in gloss.
  • Vine inlay. When I traded in the 914 for my OM, I also realized I was over the whole ďabalone blingĒ and appreciated more classic understated appointments. But I have to say I like the vine inlay.
  • Gotoh 510 21:1 tuners. Yes my boutique builders have Waverly open backed tuners, which are great. But I didnít realize how much I missed the Gotoh 510s until the K14c. Smooth, precise operation. I know some may think 21:1 is too much of a good thing, Iíll respectfully disagree.
  • Bevels and chamfered edges. No more lines on the underside of my arms from extended playing. Not only are there bevels at both the armrest and the cutaway, but all of the guitarís edges are chamfered. A small, but nice, ergonomic touch. You stop noticing it after a while, and then you go back to your other guitars and you notice itís absence.
  • Sharp edges on bridge. This is the one downside. Everything other edge is soft, rounded and feels great, which makes the bridgeís sharp edges all the more pronounced when your hand, palm or wrist brushes against it. Apparently starting with the 2020 Builders Editions they have gone to softened edges on the bridge as well, so someone informed them about that. Sure wish mine had it, but not enough to risk messing with the sound by asking for a bridge replacement.
  • Second strap button on the back. I get why they didnít put it in the classic position because, with the added cutaway bevel allowing you 20-fret easy access, Taylor didnít want the button in the way when youíre shredding on those sweet metal solos. But it just feels kind of weird on the back, and I only use my more flexible, thinner leather straps because it needs to bend easily in a certain way to hook up to the button and not feel uncomfortable against the body.
  • Ditched the Elixirs. One thing I knew while auditioning was it was a bit too bright/zingy, but I knew that was likely due to the Nanowebs (based on using Elixirs from 2003-19). Sure enough, as soon as I got home I put some DR Sunbeams on it. Sonic happiness. Bright/zingy edge: gone. Mids are more pronounced; not sure if they were accented more, or if removing the zing just revealed them more, but I like the end result! In fact I would say the guitar overall sounds even better with the Sunbeams and canít wait to try other strings on it as well.
  • Action (3/32Ē at 12th confirmed at home, no fret buzz) and intonation near perfect from the factory. Just need to acknowledge that Taylor did a great job with this. I have zero need to get it set up, and thatís usually the first thing I do for a new guitar.
  • Capo friendly. Of all my guitars, this is the only one that, at least when Iíve tested my G7th ART capo on frets 1-6, it does not pull the low E out of relative tune with the other strings (in fact it doesnít pull any of them out of relative tune). And, when I confirm absolute tuning with my TC Electronics Polytune clip on tuner, the worst result is that one red line slightly flickers sharp, and sometimes it barely flickers at all. I know if you used a strobe tuner it wouldnít be in ďperfectĒ tune with the capo applied, but it gets the closest to it for all my guitars, and Iím not a good enough singer for that to make a difference. If I were playing a gig where I could only bring one guitar and I knew I had to use capo a lot in various positions, Iíd likely take this one due to not having to retune when moving the capo around.
Oh, and hereís a closer pic of the silking on the top:
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, K24ce 12-fret (all-Koa) & K14c (Baked Sitka/Koa)
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Old 09-26-2020, 09:51 AM
Iain1231 Iain1231 is offline
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We are waiting for a sound clip!
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Old 09-26-2020, 10:00 AM
LakewoodM32Fan LakewoodM32Fan is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain1231 View Post
We are waiting for a sound clip!
Going to have to wait a while. Right now I just have a crappy iPad to record. I have about $300 Guitar Center rewards coming in October which I’ll convert to a Zoom recorder, thinking H6 or H8. Then I’ll be putting sound clips up of all my guitars!

Another option may be a pair of Rode NT5s and an audio interface from focusrite. Still have to do more research.
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Taylor Custom GA (Cedar/Cocobolo/Koa)
, K24ce 12-fret (all-Koa) & K14c (Baked Sitka/Koa)

Last edited by LakewoodM32Fan; 09-26-2020 at 10:06 AM.
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Old 09-26-2020, 10:32 AM
marty bradbury marty bradbury is online now
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Wow! Beautiful guitar, Enjoy!
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Old 09-27-2020, 01:16 PM
LakewoodM32Fan LakewoodM32Fan is online now
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Brief update on Day 5 of ownership, Day 3 1/2 of DR Sunbeams...

The Sunbeams have mellowed out in a very good way. It was shocking to me to play my K12c and OM (on Day 2 of Straight Up Strings) back to back and find that the K12c is not as bright tonally as the OM. The reason it's surprising is when I traded in the 914ce for the OM, that Taylor was brighter than the OM.

I think Taylor may be on to something with their Koa sound, for those that don't like typical Taylor brightness. As I said in the original post, had this not been so pleasing to my ears, I would likely have taken the 2017 K24ce home, as that one also had a not-classic-Taylor sound, being darker than the K14c, even with new Elixirs on it. Oh my, now I wonder what that would sound like with mellower strings on it.

I know, I know, if you don't like Taylor brightness, there's a hundred other manufacturers you can go with. But I will say I like a lot of things that Taylor does well, especially their ergonomics with the cutaway and armrest bevels, chamfered edges, etc. and their neck and playability have always been to my liking.

So I'm discovering that with this K14c, I'm getting all the Taylor attributes I like, with a great tone that's not typical Taylor!

Last night I cycled through all of my guitars as I was restringing my H&D TD-R. Basically that every-so-often reality check of "Have I Gone Insane By Purchasing These Many Guitars?"

The great thing is how very little overlap they all have with each other, not just in tone and volume, but also in play-feel. And I don't just mean playability, because I have all my guitars professionally set up by a great local luthier to my liking. I mean play-feel like...I don't know how to totally describe it...but you know how sometimes you love that feel of a big dread, even though it may be a tad uncomfortable ergonomically...and sometimes you like that small delicate feel of the 00 body? And how each body type can influence how you play it? The D makes me want to dig in, and the 00 makes me want to be delicate and fingerstyle-y?

I don't know. I'm rambling. But as many have said, it's a great time to be alive with so many great guitar makers putting out awesome instruments!
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, K24ce 12-fret (all-Koa) & K14c (Baked Sitka/Koa)
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Old 09-27-2020, 02:27 PM
SpruceTop SpruceTop is offline
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Congratulations! Taylor Does Koa Very Well!
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Old 09-28-2020, 02:37 AM
Iain1231 Iain1231 is offline
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I think you can cut down on a Martin. I think cocobolo and Sinker Mahagony would feel quite similar, with the exception of the body size
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Old 09-28-2020, 06:35 AM
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Love the story! I've also owned and sold a few Taylor models before I found the K14ce BE. After two years, I still smile every time I pick it up.

I've always been attracted to Taylor for their ergonomics and innovations. I like the brightness and clarity they are known for and it's a great contrast to my usual small body, hog Gibsons. But similar to a Telecaster, while that brightness is a signature, getting it just right is a challenge. Maintaining that top-end brilliance while avoiding any "ice pick" frequencies took me on my Taylor journey. A 714, 816, 514 Fall Limited all came and went.

I was just killing time while my wife was shopping when I played the K14ce BE. Now she keeps me close when we're shopping.
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Old 09-28-2020, 08:21 AM
LakewoodM32Fan LakewoodM32Fan is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain1231 View Post
I think you can cut down on a Martin. I think cocobolo and Sinker Mahagony would feel quite similar, with the exception of the body size
My two are extremely different. The cocobolo has this low end presence, articulation and growl (for its size) that the sinker hog does not. The hog has sweet and focused mids by comparison. The 00 has stronger overtones as well. Sonically they’re quite dissimilar and I play them back to back often because I tend to show them together to friends as they’re my most interestingly figured back woods.
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Old 10-01-2020, 04:40 PM
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Congrats I'm interested in the model , Looks like a WINNER,
Enjoy
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