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Finish Thickness

Our thinner finish proves that, in the end, less is more.

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The thicker a guitar’s finish is, the more it tends to dampen the tonal response. Over the years Taylor has developed innovative techniques to make our polyester gloss finish as thin as possible for maximum tonal benefits. Currently our gloss finish is sprayed using high-tech methods that incorporate a robotic unit, high-efficiency electrostatic attraction technology, and an ultraviolet

curing oven. For some time now, Taylor’s standard gloss finish has had a maximum thickness of 6 mils (1 mil = .001 inch), which is the industry standard for a high-quality gloss-finish guitar. But because of the tonal benefits of thinner finishes, Andy Powers wanted to reduce the finish on the 800 Series guitars by half if possible. Guided by the manufacturing expertise of Bob Taylor and

Taylor’s finish experts, the finish thickness was reduced more than 40 percent to an average of 3.5 mils, while still preserving a beautiful glossy luster. “We did it by calling upon all the resources that we’ve ever had in all our years of guitar building,” says Bob Taylor.


We switched to phosphor bronze strings and worked with ELIXIR® Strings to create a custom-gauge HD Light string set for the Grand Concert and Grand Auditorium.

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One sign of a great guitar is its ability to sound like the same instrument from the lowest note to the highest note. A guitar’s strings can play an important role in expressing this. Andy Powers began by switching from Elixir Acoustic 80/20 Bronze with NANOWEB® coating to Elixir’s Phosphor Bronze NANOWEB® set. “The phosphor bronze strings have a nice, rich shimmer on the high end, with a richer, broader warmth

overall,” he says. More specifically, Andy explored alternative string gauge options for the smaller-bodied Grand Concert and Grand Auditorium. Andy felt the overall articulation could be enhanced by creating the right tension profile at the bridge. Some creative collaboration with our friends at Elixir Strings led to the development of a unique set, named HD Light, which blends Elixir light- and medium-gauge strings with a custom

.025 gauge third string (a standard light-gauge G string is a .024; the medium is a .026). The specific gauging is: .013, .017, .025, .032, .042, .053. The custom gauging complements the construction of the Grand Concert and Grand Auditorium and yields bolder highs and fuller lows.


The new Expression System® 2 captures more of a guitar's dynamic properties using a breakthrough behind-the-saddle design.

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Another tone-enhancing design stroke is a new version of the Expression System pickup, the Expression System 2 (ES2). Taylor pickup designer David Hosler had been studying under-saddle piezo transducers and how they capture a guitar’s energy as it is transferred from the strings through the saddle and soundboard.The industry’s prevailing understanding had been that the top and string vibration cause the saddle to “bounce” up and down.This has long been the basis for the placement of a piezo-

electric transducer under the saddle.But Hosler found that the vertical movement is heavily restricted because the string tension’s downward pressure essentially locks the saddle down. That’s why a traditional under-saddle pickup with piezo-electric crystals often responds with a sound often characterized as thin, brittle or synthetic.In reality, the saddle’s natural range of movement is back and forth like a pendulum. That revelation led Hosler to relocate the piezo crystals from under the

saddle to behind it, just barely making contact with it. The new positioning enables the crystals to respond more naturally to the guitar’s energy as it was transferred through the saddle. The patent-pending ES2 design incorporates three pickup sensors that are installed behind the saddle, through the bridge, with three tiny Allen screws that calibrate the pressure of the sensors against the saddle.

Design Aesthetic

An elegant new appointment package builds on the classic aesthetic traditions of the 800s.

Binding and Purfling

One classic aesthetic detail for the 800 Series has been light-colored binding, which had evolved over the years from white plastic on Bob Taylor’s early models to figured maple. The light-bound aesthetic was refined this time around to incorporate pale maple without any curl to look sharp and clean.

Andy Powers also put a lot of effort into the purfling layers that complement the binding on the top of the guitar, incorporating a thin ribbon of rosewood between the maple and the spruce top. “It really draws your eye to the body shape, acting like a bold picture frame for it,” Andy says. “Whether the guitar is on a wall or a player is performing with it, you really notice the outline of this guitar in a strong way. I knew I wanted a certain amount of weight to it and thought rosewood would be just perfect.”


Because the 800 Series has traditionally featured a shell material for the rosette, Andy chose green abalone and framed both edges with rosewood to complement the top trim. A new fretboard inlay motif, featuring mother-of-pearl and named “Element,” was inspired by the diamond-like shape of the different 800 Series inlays over the years. “I knew I wanted to do something that projected a diamond-like silhouette, that didn’t have straight lines, and that had points somewhere,” Andy explains. “And to me it needed to have a certain marriage of organic and elegant qualities. I wanted graceful curves that matched each other well and said a lot to a lot of different people. Depending on who’s looking at it, the perception of what that inlay is varies widely.”


The appearance of the ebony fretboards was also carefully considered. Given Taylor’s position as a co-owner of an ebony mill in Cameroon and Bob Taylor’s advocacy for the use of colored ebony to support a more sustainable model of consumption, Bob and Andy agreed that the 800s were an appropriate place to use fretboards with light brown coloration. “If you could stand in an ebony sawmill like ours and look at all the non-black ebony that was being tossed aside like trash it would break your heart,” Bob says. “Not only is it a waste of material, but it’s a waste of some of the most beautiful pieces of wood I’ve ever seen. I’m proud to be able to share this wood with our Taylor family.” As a result, each 800 Series fretboard will project its own unique character. “I love the look,” Andy says. “To me, seeing smoky ebony always looks like a cloudy sky at night.”


One of the most dramatic visual distinctions of the new appointment package for the 800s is a switch from our traditional faux tortoise shell pickguard to one made of Indian rosewood. The decision also provides another opportunity to showcase the rosewood-rich heritage of the 800s front and center. The rosewood selected for each pickguard will be matched with the back and sides of the guitar, and the specifications for the grain orientation are arranged at an angle to minimize pick wear.