Inside every Taylor guitar is an important source of its unique sound: bracing. Bracing exists to strengthen the top and back of the guitar, while also allowing enough flexibility and vibration to generate tone. Bracing patterns help “voice” a guitar.
Taylor guitars are known for their balanced tonal response, and our bracing plays a role in that. The way that each brace is shaped and positioned on the soundboard contributes detailed nuances that are so critical that even slight alterations of its design, profile or thickness can result in discernable differences in tone.
You’re likely to hear about “scalloped” bracing, which has become fairly standard on steel-string acoustics. Scalloping is a shaping technique that helps lighten the bracing to prevent it from being excessively bulky, which can restrict top movement.
All of Taylor’s bracing for steel-string models is a form of X-bracing. The “X” provides a continuous flow of strength from the upper bout to the lower bout, which provides rigidity in spite of the soundhole’s location in the middle of the soundboard. We currently offer several versions of X bracing:
Standard X (used on laminate models)
This is Taylor’s original X pattern, featuring scalloped braces. Standard X bracing is used on the Baby, Big Baby, GS Mini, 100 and 200 Series.
Standard II (used on the 300-700 Series)
This version shifts the X forward (closer to the soundhole) and incorporates Taylor’s patented relief rout (see description below). These refinements enable more of the top to vibrate, enhancing the tone.
Advanced Performance (used on the 800 Series)
As part of Taylor’s 2014 voicing refinements for the 800 Series, the bracing profiles and placement were customized for each body shape to optimize their inherent strengths. The bracing scheme also incorporates side braces, which add rigidity and help maximize top and back movement. The overall effect on all the shapes is greater warmth, midrange and sustain.
CV (used on the 900 Series and up)
This version incorporates the relief rout and additional refinements, including subtle contouring differences in the scalloping. In general, guitars with CV bracing sound fuller and fatter without giving up articulation. They are also slightly louder.
The Taylor Relief Rout
Our patented relief rout is a tone-enhancing voicing technique in which a groove is carved along the inside edges of the top. This groove is similar in function to the re-curve on a violin — it “loosens up” the edges of the top, generating extra flexibility without sacrificing structural integrity. We first began using this groove in 2002. The result is increased bass and volume with a balanced tone.
Nylon-String Fan Bracing
Fan bracing is a completely different bracing style that is used on our nylon-string models. It was inspired by patterns used by classical guitar builders. Because nylon strings generate less tension, a nylon-string guitar typically has a thinner top and much lighter bracing. Our unique ladder-style pattern produces a signature Taylor nylon-string voice: an “open” sound that’s clear and bright, strong on the treble side, and long on sustain.
Twelve-strings generally employ heavier braces than 6-strings in order to handle the increased tension of twice the number of strings, and to prevent the top from being overdriven. Taylor 12-strings have thicker tops, thicker pin plates, and heavier, non-scalloped bracing, to support the top and adequately amplify the tone of the guitar. The one exception to this rule is our Leo Kottke Signature Model 12-string (LKSM), which has scalloped bracing designed to work with fat, heavy-gauge, low-tuned strings, to give the guitar its characteristic, “throaty-piano” tone.