A cache of dazzling AA-grade koa and an arresting batch of Mexican cocobolo proved to be the central design catalysts for our 2011 Fall Limiteds. Bonded by their bold visual complexions, both woods inspired the notion of a wood-rich appointment package, anchored by a new rosette and a pair of related fretboard inlays that together create a cohesive, organic aesthetic for each series. The koa and cocobolo LTDs offer something truly special to guitar enthusiasts who appreciate the beauty of sophisticated wood details.
Another rewarding aspect of designing the Fall LTDs is taking an existing series and putting a value-added spin on it, rewarding players with an extra splash of premium quality at a more accessible price point. This year Indian rosewood makes a guest appearance on the 400 Series, and a cedar top warms up the rosewood laminate Nylon Series.
The flamey AA-grade koa earmarked for this series was so seductive we couldn't resist going all-koa (although a premium Engelmann spruce top is optional). Larry Breedlove's rosette design incorporates a serpentine swath of koa set against creamy boxwood. The koa/boxwood pairing carries over to the Engraved Twist fretboard inlay, in which the design's swirling complexity is tempered with the subtle, organic quality of thin wood lines. A shaded edgeburst around the entire guitar — including the neck — adds a touch of vintage Hawaiian charm that's complemented by rosewood binding, thin white purfling, and Gotoh tuners.
Tonally, a koa top should make koa's natural midrange sweetness even more pronounced, especially after the guitar has been played in. Koa guitars also tend to be well-suited for the stage because the initial attack is balanced and focused without being boomy.
The koa LTDs are offered in four model options: a cutaway Grand Auditorium and Grand Symphony, along with a pair of non-cutaway 12-fret models, a Grand Auditorium and Grand Concert. Players can expect a warmer, richer overall tone with the 12-frets due to the bridge’s more central placement on the lower bout.
One of the heaviest, densest rosewoods around, Mexican cocobolo yields a bright, articulate voice. For this cocobolo/Sitka spruce offering, cocobolo was also incorporated visually into the inlays on the front of the guitars. A band of cocobolo trim traces the top, while the rosette motif features cocobolo as an S-curve that contrasts with buttery boxwood, a slow-growing wood with a density comparable to ebony. Boxwood was also used for a new Split Diamond fretboard inlay, which visually references the rosette's S-curve. Other wood-rich appointments include a cocobolo backstrap and figured maple binding. Tonally, cocobolo's density translates into a beautifully clear, bell-like tone, with a piano-like quality to the low notes.
The 400 Series LTDs deliver the classic pairing of solid Indian rosewood and Sitka spruce in an attractive, reasonably priced package. Beyond the substitution of rosewood (which is normally offered on the 700, 800 and 900 Series), other value-added cosmetic upgrades include a small diamond fretboard inlay and gold tuners. Offered in four different body shapes to appeal to a full range of playing styles, these guitars make a great option for a gigging musician — or any level of player — who wants a pro-level, reliable workhorse that isn't too highly appointed and "precious" to live out in the world.
Taylor's rosewood laminate NS24 LTDs feature a cedar top, which is normally only available at the NS72/74 level. The Nylon Series has always been about making nylon’s distinctive tonal palette more accessible to steel-string players through slimmer, familiar-feeling Taylor necks, and these are affordably priced enough to justify as a non-primary guitar that can diversify a player's six-string tool box. For guitarists who've always wanted to learn a little Brazilian music, explore some Latin jazz, or master a classical piece, these nylons offer a fun and musically inspiring option. Models are available either with or without a cutaway, and both come Taylor’s ES-N® electronics.