Taylor 514CE – Review of Grand Auditorium Acoustic Electric

If you're a guitarist looking for something different, the Taylor 514CE might be right for you. This Grand Auditorium acoustic-electric has a western red cedar top with tropical mahogany back and sides, offering warm midrange overtones. It's also made with V class bracing, which increases both resonance and sustain. It's a high-end guitar, and it's a departure from what you often see.

Things to Consider Before Buying an Acoustic-Electric Guitar

If you're considering purchasing an acoustic-electric guitar (and especially if you're thinking of purchasing a high-end one), it's a good idea to ask yourself a few things:

  • What tonewoods do you want? Whether you'd prefer cedar (a top wood among finger stylists) or want the brightness of spruce, it's important to take your own preferences into account before buying.
  • What bracing is best? While X bracing remains the most popular type of acoustic bracing around, Taylor guitars are sometimes made with C-class and V class bracing. These bracing types often enhance the sound of a guitar, but some players prefer the sound of X bracing.
  • What about electronics? Obviously, if you're going to be performing, you want your guitar's tone to be amplified faithfully. Cheap electronics can ruin performance.
  • What about body shape? The shape of a guitar has a major impact on the sound. For instance, a Grand Auditorium acoustic-electric has a sound that's somewhere between that of a concert and a dreadnaught acoustic.

Our Picks for Review

Guitar

Guitar

Model

Price

Full Review

Main

Taylor

514CE

Cell

Alternative

Washburn

Comfort G66SCE

Cell

Alternative

Taylor

GTe Urban Ash

Cell

Alternative

Taylor

614CE

Taylor 514CE

PRO's & CON's of Taylor 514CE

But before we dive into our review, let's look at some pros and cons.

Pros

  • Revolutionary V class bracing design results in both impressive sustain and greater resonance
  • Western red cedar top with tropical mahogany back and sides offer midrange overtones and quick response
  • It includes Taylor's Expression System 2 electronics for natural-sounding amplified acoustic tone whenever you need it
  • A West African ebony fingerboard with a striking Century fretboard inlay scheme and other quality appointments give it a high-end look

Cons

  • It's fairly expensive, which may put it out of reach for some players
  • While its construction offers a powerful all-around response, some players might prefer a brighter tonewood configuration

Features and Benefits

Now we'll dig into some of the most important features of the 514CE.

Body Shape and Bracing

This guitar is a Grand Auditorium acoustic-electric, which is Taylor's most popular body shape. (Here's a video showing off this body shape.) 

The Grand Auditorium has a pinched waist and compact size, so it offers a big sound while still avoiding the boomy, sometimes-overpowering bass response that can happen with dreadnoughts. 

It's also important to note that the 514CE features a Venetian cutaway for upper fretboard access. If you play all the way down the neck, this feature makes it a lot easier to do so.

And lastly, one of the most important features of the 514CE is its V class bracing. This is an innovation designed by Taylor as an improvement over traditional X bracing. V class bracing increases soundboard stiffness under the strings, which boosts sustain. However, it allows for more soundboard movement on the sides of the strings, which increases resonance. While V class bracing might not be ideal for everyone, many guitarists love its sound.

Tonewoods and Sound Quality

While body shape and bracing have a significant impact on a guitar's tone, the woods used to construct it are highly important, too.

The 514CE is a little nontraditional in its tonewood selection. The top is solid western red cedar. Cedar offers warm midrange overtones, and it's especially good for players with a lighter touch. Cedar is known for lending a warm clear quality to your playing, and it's a little mellower than the more commonly-seen spruce top. If you want to learn more about cedar as a tonewood, check out this interesting video

Cedar tends to pair well with the naturally dry focused voice of mahogany, and the 514CE's tropical mahogany body is a good match. Mahogany is a versatile wood -- it delivers a clear punch that strummers will like, and blues players will especially appreciate its midrange-heavy tone. The tropical mahogany body has plenty of midrange lending a warm quality to your playing. The 514 CE is made of all solid woods, which creates a full, natural sound. To match the mahogany back and sides, the 514CE also has a mahogany neck, which rounds out the guitar's warm tone.

Electronics

As with any acoustic-electric guitar, the electronics of the 514CE are an important consideration. Luckily, the 514CE comes with Taylor's renowned Expression System 2. This system is a behind-the-saddle pickup with a low-profile onboard preamp -- it's made of three simple knobs (volume control and two-tone controls). This system is known for creating incredibly natural amplified tones.

If you want to learn more about Expression System 2 and how it works, check out this video from Taylor.

Finish and Appointments

The cedar cutaway Grand Auditorium guitar sounds great, but it's also a visual treat. Appointments include faux tortoise ivoroid rosette with matching faux tortoiseshell binding. The Taylor nickel tuners have an excellent 17:1 ratio, and the stunning and highly playable West African ebony fingerboard has an inlay scheme in grained ivoroid wings. There's a matching West African ebony bridge to match, and it contrasts beautifully with both cedar and tropical mahogany.

The black graphite nut and micarta saddle offer both great sustain and excellent tuning flexibility. And lastly, the cedar top is colored with a beautiful brown sugar stain finish. If you want to take a closer look at the 514CE and hear it for yourself, check out this video demo.

Social Proof of the Guitar

If you're thinking of purchasing a high-quality guitar like the 514CE, it's a good idea to first check out what other players are saying about it. We've found a few helpful reviews that might help you decide whether it's right for you:

Taylor 514CE Review 01

This helpful review highlights one of the things that makes the 514CE a standout -- its responsiveness. This is an acoustic-electric guitar whose tone varies with the way you play, which is ideal for expressive musicians.

Taylor 514CE Review 02

This detailed review offers a useful reminder -- when you first start playing this guitar, it will usually take a while for its full tone to come out.

Taylor 514CE Review 03

This last review offers some insight into the strengths of the 514CE. It's ideal for fingerpicking, but as this person has found, it's also a great all-around instrument.

Alternatives to Taylor 514CE

Before deciding whether the 514CE is right for you, you'll probably want to compare it to some alternatives. Here are three other guitars you may want to consider:

Washburn Comfort G66SCE

How it Compares to Taylor 514CE

  • Solid cedar top delivers sound similar to the 514CE
  • Like the 514CE, it's a Grand Auditorium acoustic-electric
  • Fishman Presys+ electronics aren't quite as natural-sounding as the Expression System 2
  • Laminated back and sides aren't as tonally rich as the solid mahogany back and sides of the 514CE
  • In terms of price, this one is about $1900 less expensive than the 514CE

Review

If you love the sound of a cedar-top guitar like the 514CE but need something more affordable, this is a great option. This guitar has a solid cedar top for a warm, smooth sound. And while the back and sides are laminated, they're made of stunning spalted maple. And while this guitar was designed for great tone, it's also made for playing comfort. A beveled armrest eliminates arm discomfort when playing, and the body is contoured to keep you comfortable even when playing long sets

If you need an affordable, comfortable, and great-sounding guitar, make sure you give this one a look!

Taylor GTe Urban Ash

How It Compares To Taylor 514CE

  • All-solid spruce/ash build makes it a tonal standout, and it's brighter than the mahogany back and sides of the 514CE
  • It's also equipped with onboard Taylor ES2 electronics
  • Smaller Grand Theater body style is easy to hold and travel with
  • C-class bracing gives it a bigger sound than most smaller guitars
  • Price-wise, it's about $1200 less than the 514CE

Review

This interesting little guitar was just added to the Taylor lineup in 2020. It gets its name because the ash back and sides are made from trees growing in California cities. The GTe Urban Ash is made in Taylor's Grand Theater body style -- it's a smaller guitar with a surprisingly big sound. This sound comes from Taylor's revolutionary C-class bracing, which enhances bass response and helps smaller guitars create a groundbreakingly full sound.

If you're looking for a Taylor that's a little different, make sure you check out this one!

Taylor 614CE

How It Compares To Taylor 514CE

  • Combination of torrefied Sitka spruce and maple back and sides produces a brighter tone than that of the 514CE
  • It also has Taylor's ES2 electronics
  • The 614CE is also made with V class bracing
  • West African ebony binding and other high-end touches make it visually stunning
  • Price-wise, it's about $700 more than the 514CE

Review

If you have a little more to spend, the 614CE is a beautiful, upgraded version of the 514CE. This guitar has a Sitka spruce top that's been torrefied. This means that it's been effectively aged, so it sounds like a well-played guitar right out of the box. The back and sides are maple, which imparts a beautiful clarity to its tone. Plus, this is also a Grand Auditorium acoustic-electric with V class bracing.

If you're looking for a high-end Taylor with a brighter sound, make sure you take a look at this one!

In Conclusion

In closing, we think that Taylor 514CE is an excellent guitar. The combination of cedar and mahogany gives you a warm yet responsive tone, and the top-notch electronics make it an optimal performance guitar. Plus, its Grand Auditorium body shape is very comfortable to play. Click here to check it out!

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