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The 800 Series has garnered a steady stream of raves from guitar reviewers.

Premier Guitar, March 2014
Premier Gear Award (814ce)
Reviewer Scott Nygaard called the 814ce “a stunning-sounding guitar” after his test-drive. “Its bass frequencies are loud and fat, but not overwhelming,” he writes. “The midrange is rich and smooth no matter where you are on the neck. The low-end response…is felt by the player’s body as much as it’s heard by the listener.” Nygaard was also impressed by the Expression System® 2 acoustic electronics. “I was astonished by how well the system duplicated the guitar’s acoustic characteristics, including the string-to-string and bottom-to-top balance,” he reflects. The bottom line: “Considering how well suited this Taylor is for so many musical settings, you’ll rarely wish you had another guitar instead.”

You can watch Nashville guitarist John Bohlinger’s video review demo for below.

Guitar World, March 2014
Platinum Award (814ce)
Guitar World writer Chris Gill described the new 800s as “nothing less than an entirely new generation of Taylor guitars.” Of the 814ce he reviewed, he says: “The tone of the new 814ce delivers much more character and personality than before, with richer, warmer midrange, sweet and bell-like treble that caresses instead of cuts, and bass response that’s a little looser but not boomy.” He also noted the “more natural sounding amplified tones” of the Expression System® 2 electronics, declaring that the ES2 “sets a new standard of excellence for piezo pickups.”

In a video review of the 814ce, Guitar World Tech Editor Paul Riario called the design “nothing short of extraordinary,” describing the guitar as “a perfect marriage of many different acoustic sounds. It has all the projection of a Jumbo but the warmth and clarity of a smaller-bodied acoustic all wrapped up in one acoustic that sounds phenomenal.”

Acoustic Guitar, March 2014Reviewer Teja Gerken took note of the 814ce’s envelope-pushing versatility. “The instrument is just as suitable to strumming chords as it is to playing jazz voicings in standard tuning or fingerpicking in alternate tunings,” he writes. “There’s a reason why the Taylor 814ce has been a popular choice for players who want one guitar to do everything, and this latest version just raises the bar.” Gerken also was drawn to the guitar’s low action and comfortable neck profile, calling it “virtually effortless to play,” and referring to it as “a very ‘alive’ guitar.” He referred to the Expression System® 2 as a “brilliant” pickup, and after playing the 814ce through an AER Compact 60 amp, remarked that it “offers the immediacy and presence of a typical saddle pickup, but it has a warmer attack than most, and a complex tone, overall.”

Guitar Aficionado, March 2014Writer Richard Bienstock admired the many sonic and aesthetic upgrades to the 800s, including the thinner finish: “The new 800s still boast a gorgeous high-gloss sheen without the tone-dampening effects of thicker finishes,” he observes. Bienstock called the package of refinements “impressive — and in some cases radical,” and appreciated the comprehensive approach of the redesign effort. “The new 800s don’t only play and sound great — the aesthetic touches are top notch and incredibly thoughtful,” he reflects.

Guitar Player, May 2014
Editors' Pick Award (814ce)
Senior Editor Art Thompson loved the setup of the 814ce he reviewed and noted that the intonation “helps to make everything sound focused and coherent.” The end result: “a fantastic acoustic sound with deep lows, nice midrange bloom, and a top end that exhibits an uncanny blend of clarity and warmth…. Picked lightly it sounds radiant and dimensional, yet it doesn’t compress when you strum or flatpick it aggressively.”

Thompson also lauded the Expression System 2’s breakthrough design, calling it “a significant advancement in amplified sound by essentially giving the pickup more room to breathe.” After playing it through several different acoustic amps, he praised the balance from top to bottom, observing that it exhibited “no honkiness, harsh transient spikes, or plastic-y piezo artifacts.” He was also able to get plenty of volume without feedback issues. “This guitar succeeds on so many levels,” he concludes, “and taken in total it would be hard to imagine a situation where it wouldn't excel.”

Acoustic magazine, May 2014 David Mead from the UK’s Acoustic magazine marveled at the comprehensive package of refinements brought to the 814ce he reviewed, noting that “this wasn’t a redesign that was undertaken casually — these guys are serious!” Tonally, he compared the new acoustic voicing to an 814ce he had reviewed last year, which he recalled had a slightly compressed effect in the trebles. Of the new version, he writes, “the trebles are clear and very strong indeed and the basses sound like they’ve perked up considerably, too. The most striking thing is the separation between the notes, though, as every chord you play is crystal clear with each component part clearly audible.” Mead also felt the guitar had a played-in sound right out of the box. And he was quite keen on the sound of the Expression System 2 pickup, calling it “more ‘breathy’” and natural. “There’s a transparency to the 814’s electric voice which I think will find friends amongst a variety of styles,” he adds. The end result, he concludes, is “a positive redefining of an already highly regarded instrument and Bob Taylor can be justifiably proud of the result.”

Guitarist, May 2014Veteran Guitarist scribes Dave Burrluck and Mick Taylor teamed up for their review of an 814ce. Among the tonal character changes they noted: “The midrange sounds bolder and less ‘scooped’… there’s also a little more thickness to the highs, and the guitar feels like it’s got more to give, volume-wise. But the new guitar also feels more intimate… The GA always has plenty of bass, helping it ape a classic dreadnought, but also meaning fingerpicked basslines sound strong.” Plugged in, they compared the ES2’s amplified tone to that of the magnetic ES and felt the ES2 had a “bolder, lower midrange: a thicker sound, less ‘polite’ than the lower-position sound of the ES 1.” They also compared the ES2 to a pickup system on another guitar brand and wrote that the 814ce/ES2 had “a more natural low end without that ‘quack’ — the Taylor definitely seems to deal with percussive pick attack better right across the guitar’s range, from high-to-low.”

Their final verdict: “The improvements to the acoustic sound of the guitar…broaden its versatility — especially for fingerstyle. It doesn’t compromise Taylor’s renowned clear voice, but does seem to bolster the midrange and thicken up the highs a little….We can only conclude that one of the finest modern electro acoustic guitars has just got better.”

In a companion video demo of the 814ce/ES2 below, Features Editor Jamie Dickson plays a passage that transitions from stereo microphones mixed with the ES2 to the ES2 alone.