NAMM 2023: Taylor raises the bar for its high-end acoustic guitar making with Builder’s Edition model of its flagship 814ce

Taylor Builder's Edition 814ce
(Image credit: Taylor)

NAMM 2023: Taylor has gone all-in with the high-end acoustic guitar refinement as it upgrades its flagship 814ce model with the Builder’s Edition treatment. As craft goes, it doesn't get much better; this is Taylor showing off, and it makes for a serious instrument for a serious player.

The shape and profile of the 814ce is instantly recognisable. We have the cutaway Grand Auditorium body. This being “the quintessential Taylor guitar” it has the same spruce/rosewood formula as a regular 814ce but with some radical improvements to that top. 

A four-piece top of Adirondack spruce, this upgraded soundboard is a triumph of woodworking, luthiery as art, piecing together a top that responds better tonally and has a consistent grain pattern. 

The process allows Taylor to construct guitars out of smaller pieces of wood. In a world where high-grade timber comes at a premium to guitar builder and environment alike, this makes sense.

Underpinning this Adirondack spruce top is Taylor’s V-Class bracing, which was developed by Andy Powers, now the company’s CEO, president and chief guitar designer, and introduced to the world in 2018. Five years on it remains revolutionary, promising greater tuning stability, volume and sustain than its the traditional X-pattern bracing more commonly found in the acoustic world. 

The Builder’s Edition 814ce’s neck is made of neo-tropical mahogany, with the US company looking once more to its West African ebony farm in Crelicam, Cameroon, for the fingerboard and bridge. The nut measures 1.75” wide, the scale length 25.5”, and Taylor’s ever-impressive Expression System 2 acoustic guitar pickup and preamp system will take care of your amplified acoustic tone needs.

As ever, there’s a sense of minimalism in the design. Or perhaps restraint and discipline would be more appropriate. Taylor doesn’t overwork the aesthetic. There is a single-ring rosette of green abalone, the Taylor logo in MOP on a peghead that’s been bound in Crelicam ebony. The Gotoh 510 Antique Gold tuners offer an understated hint of bling. 

The craft speaks for itself. Here the grain and colour of the Builder’s Edition 814ce’s tonewood really pops under a full-body high-gloss finish, and there is a kona edgeburst on the back and sides. The neck is satin smooth so it won’t gum up on you.

The ergonomics and your playing experience has been given some serious consideration, too, with Taylor giving this a sleek forearm bevel, with more contouring in the cutaway to tempt the adventurist acoustic player north of the 12th fret.

The Builder’s Edition 814ce is available now, priced £5,399 / $4,499, and it ships in a deluxe hardshell guitar case. See Taylor for more details.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.