Price paid: £ 840
Purchased from: PMT, Birmingham
Features — 9
This guitar is a Grand Auditorium style electro-acoustic with a "Venetian" cutaway. It's got a solid Sitka Spruce top, rosewood laminate back and sides, Sapele neck, rosewood headstock and ebony fretboard. This basically means it's a standard acoustic shape, with a warm, glossy top and a dark, rich back and sides. It wasn't what I went into the shop looking for - but it's a gorgeously well made guitar! It's equipped with the Taylor ES-T electronics, which minimise their visual impact by providing no tuner but just three rubbery dials on the top of the guitar. At first I was slightly perplexed about not getting a tuner (apparently most guitars in this price bracket don't have one). Then I started using the thing and I realised why it didn't have one! Everything about the way this guitar is put together is quality. Even the machine heads and strap buttons are very good quality (as you'd expect from an £800 guitar). It comes supplied with a rigid Taylor soft case and Elixir Light strings (which really are the ones to put on it, bronze or bronze/phosphor).
Sound — 10
Walking into the guitar shop I wasn't really looking for anything like this Taylor. I was thinking exciting dark coloured woods, multi-featured built-in-tuners, perhaps a Takamine (my friend had a particularly nice one). However after picking up and playing several Takamines, Yamahas, Faiths, Martins and a few other Taylors, the sound of the 214ce blew me away. In comparison to the £400-£600 the tone was (as you'd hope) in another league. Even amongst the £800-£1000 guitars the 214ce stood out. While a few of the other Taylors sounded great, and the Martins boasted solid woods and a strong tone, the 214CE had a sensitivity and versatility that the others didn't have. While the Martins had a consistent tone throughout their range, and some of the other Taylors sounded beautifully bright, the 214CE coupled the brightness with a deep, woody richness that gave it an incredible tonal range and much more character than its Martin counterparts. I've played this guitar in Christian meetings, for acoustic gigs, a carol service, for everything from low-down strumming to high-up picking, plugged in, acoustic - it's a dream. Acoustically this guitar shines - it's big enough to have a sound full of tone, depth and character, but not too big. When it's plugged in, the electronics also do the guitar justice, replicating the natural tone of the guitar well.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The guitar was beautifully finished, and set up perfectly. The Elixir Light strings really are the ones to use. I've also tried some light phosphor/bronze strings which are supposedly a little mellower, and also sound great! I wasn't sold on dark/light wood combinations on guitars, but the ebony parts really do look and feel great. The neck is smooth and narrow enough to be playable, and just generally the build quality and attention to detail are exceptional. The electronics unit did break on my guitar within the year - however as it was still under warranty it was shipped over to the workshop in Holland to be replaced free of charge via PMT. I wasn't colossally impressed at the speed of repair, but I've had no problems since! The guitar also came back thoroughly pampered and well set up with new strings.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Aside from the faulty electronics system, the guitar is solid! The strap buttons aren't ever letting anything off (particularly as the cable goes into the one at the base). Despite the electronics failure as mentioned above, I would now trust the guitar completely. While the problem didn't fill me with confidence, the build quality of the guitar is such that I would not expect a component to fail under normal circumstances, and so I reckon I must have been the exception to the rule and got the one guitar with a faulty set!
Overall Impression — 10
This guitar is a total dream! I play everything on it from hymns to rock to singer-songwriter stuff to Christmas carols. It's versatile, reliable and just sounds so good. It's had many compliments and it's really helped me improve as it's just so lovely to play and easy to get a good tone out of. I've played a lot of other guitars - I also own a Vox HDC-77 and some cheaper guitars - you really do get the quality you pay for at this price point. The Taylor compares favourably in tone and playability to all of the Takamines, Martins, Yamahas etc I have played - a fact attested to by all my friends asking to play it whenever they come round...! I bought this guitar after playing through a shop and falling in love with its tone. Electronics issues aside, I'd buy another in a blink if for some reason I lost this one.