Em­brac­ing The Fu­ture

As Tay­lor ad­vances with its V-Class brac­ing, we talk to de­signer Andy Pow­ers about what he sees as a work in progress

Guitarist - - Review - Words Dave Bur­rluck

When Tay­lor launched its V-Class brac­ing at the start of this year, I shared some of de­signer Andy Pow­ers’ ‘what if peo­ple don’t like it’ re­serve. But fo­cus­ing on the K14ce Builder’s Edi­tion our re­view didn’t mince words con­clud­ing with “V-Class, Builder’s Edi­tion? Get used to those terms. Tay­lor has just upped the ante. Con­sid­er­ably.” So, if V-Class had fallen flat on its face it would have been rather em­bar­rass­ing for the both of us. Thank­fully, the re­ac­tion from play­ers of all styles has been over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive.

“I’ve been sur­prised as to how many peo­ple, play­ing many dif­fer­ent styles of mu­sic, have adopted this thing. It’s re­ally fas­ci­nat­ing,” says Andy, sip­ping his morn­ing cof­fee in his home work­shop in Carls­bad, Cal­i­for­nia. “For ex­am­ple, a lot of the SoundCloud com­mu­nity have re­ally taken a shine to these gui­tars be­cause they’re do­ing so much of their mu­sic in a com­puter for­mat. There’s a guy, Will Yip, based in Philadel­phia who pro­duces a lot of SoundCloud artists and he said, ‘I can use ev­ery sin­gle note on this thing be­cause all of them work.’ They all play in tune, they’re all mu­si­cal and if ev­ery note is mu­si­cal it means ev­ery note will get used. I’ve been see­ing a lot of pro­duc­ers and en­gi­neers buy­ing these gui­tars just to have around their stu­dios be­cause they work so well in that en­vi­ron­ment.”

An al­most by-prod­uct of the sim­pli­fied V-Class brac­ing was, in sim­ple terms, the im­proved in­to­na­tion. “It starts to blend over some of the mis­takes we know of equal tem­per­a­ment tun­ing. You’ve heard it said that a gui­tar can’t ever be per­fectly in tune and that’s true. But I’m not will­ing to give up equal tem­per­a­ment tun­ing, it’s just too con­ve­nient. But there are flaws there that are tough to get around – our ma­jor thirds are usu­ally a lit­tle too sharp, for ex­am­ple. But even though those notes haven’t changed, the way the [V-Class] body of the gui­tar wants to shift them, well, that’s dif­fer­ent so we hear it come out sweeter.”

Does the V-Class brac­ing al­ter with the dif­fer­ent back and sides woods used by Tay­lor? “It would be nice if we could just take the same part and plonk it on ev­ery­thing. To some de­gree we can do that, but the re­al­ity is that ev­ery wood has its own set of char­ac­ter­is­tics. So even though the gui­tar’s shape is iden­ti­cal, its phys­i­cal di­men­sions are the same, the way the wood ac­tu­ally be­haves is not. So for all these dif­fer­ent se­ries, with their dif­fer­ent woods, we do have to make es­sen­tially dif­fer­ent-sized parts with dif­fer­ent di­men­sions. Quite of­ten it’s the back of the gui­tar that has my main fo­cus

when I’m tun­ing it like that be­cause that’s the more sig­nif­i­cant thing I’m chang­ing.

“One of the most fas­ci­nat­ing as­pects I’ve found with the V-Class de­sign is that rather than ho­mogenise the dif­fer­ences in the var­i­ous woods we use, it ex­ag­ger­ates them. Rose­wood and ma­hogany have never sounded alike, but now they sound even less alike. They’re both good but they are even more dis­tinctly dif­fer­ent from each other.

“You see, the 714ce has a cer­tain char­ac­ter and per­son­al­ity. It’s got a thing. I want to take that thing and ex­pand it and make it bet­ter – give it bet­ter dy­namic range, give it this clear in­to­na­tion, give it an­other level of sweet­ness, mu­si­cal­ity. With its Lutz spruce top, it has this broad re­sponse and it has so much of what feels like ev­ery­thing. It’s got this flavour and char­ac­ter­is­tic that’s just su­per-ap­proach­able for a lot of dif­fer­ent play­ing styles.”

Our tests of V-Class seem to widen the ver­sa­til­ity of the in­stru­ments. “Lately, I’ve been lis­ten­ing to gui­tarist Mimi Fox play,” says Pow­ers, “she’s a mon­ster jazz player. We put the K14ce in her hands and it was fun – she was like a kid in a candy store dis­cov­er­ing all the things she could try.”

We’ve also no­ticed that it seems eas­ier to dial in the elec­tro sound from the ES2 pickup sys­tem. “You’ve picked up on it. Us­ing the ES-2 with V-Class, it sounds like the range of us­able sounds is big­ger. I might ac­tu­ally use the EQ in dif­fer­ent po­si­tions to where I’d nor­mally go and think, yes, that’s a us­able sound. I think it cre­ates a big­ger range for the mu­si­cian to work with. If there is such a thing as a bet­ter mouse­trap then, well, that’s what I’ve found – it just works bet­ter. Or per­haps an­other way to say it is that it works more eas­ily.”

And while we can look for­ward to a brand-new Tay­lor de­sign, us­ing V-Class, that’s be­ing launched later this year, will Tay­lor be im­ple­ment­ing V-Class on other ex­ist­ing Tay­lor styles? Andy is a lit­tle enig­matic: “Yes, you’ll see it mi­grate into other things, but it will not be the same flavour. See, it al­lows so much flex­i­bil­ity in terms of sonic de­sign that these gui­tars are go­ing to be­come more unique to them­selves and less ho­mogenised. In other words, if you like one flavour great; if you don’t like that one flavour, don’t judge them all, be­cause the one sit­ting next to it will be noth­ing like it.”

“Its Lutz spruce top has a broad re­sponse and so much of what feels like ev­ery­thing”

Pic­tured here along­side the nat­u­ral V-Class 714ce is a stan­dard X-braced 714ce in Western Sun­burst

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