Price paid: $ 1999
Purchased from: GC
Features — 9
Sitka spruce top, solid Ovangkol sides and back, ebony fretboard and bridge and pins, rosewood headstock overlay, mahogany neck, mother of pearl inlays, Taylor tuners. Comes with hardside case. Taylor Expression pickup system (volume, treble, bass). Fit and finish are really nice. I have found nowhere where I thought this axe could stand to have had a bit more attention to detail. I would like to have had a bit more latitude with the pickup system but it sounds pretty good run through a preamp. Set-up was exceptional right out of the box.
Sound — 9
I play bluegrass, country and gospel/Christian. I run mine through a tube preamp to add a bit of sparkle and then straight into the soundboard. Where this axe shines is acoustic sound though. While recording, I just mic it. Nice clear highs and lows with some nice mid undertones thrown into the mix. Volume is perfect across the neck. The top is incredibly responsive. I was playing mine under a ceiling fan and was getting a vibrato from the fan breeze. Not had that one happen before. The sound quality doesn't compare to high end acoustics like Naugler or Collings or Olsens, etc. But for $2K it is really nice.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Set-up was PERFECT out of the box. I wouldn't change a thing. With .012 gauge E string (Elixir Nanoweb) installed from the factory, it plays much like an acoustic with .010's. The inlays are perfect. Taylor uses CNC machines to make their inlays perfect. The top is a gloss finish which is nicely applied. The neck, back and sides are a satin finish which will be nice for warmer weather playing. Nicely chosen bearclaw sitka spruce top and well matched ovangkol back and sides. The mahogany neck is totally from the same piece of wood.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I've only owned mine for a few months - no issues. However, I know of two others in my area that are road tested and have stood the test of time well. They look a bit worn and slightly bruised but I am told that they have had no issue whatsoever with theirs. It appears to me that there is no place that will need attention in the near future. I will be taking the 414 on the road with me and feel fairly secure in not having to bring along a backup. The included hardside case is fairly snug and won't let the guitar do any flopping around inside of it. I guess the only down side I can think of would be the case MAYBE. I would like to see a little heavier latch system on the case but they seem fairly acceptable for now.
Overall Impression — 10
I've been playing professionally for 20+ years and this is my new BUDDY. I can leave the really expensive guitars at home and use the 414 in their place without sacrificing much in the way of sound quality. The 414 gives bluegrass a bit of a different type sound but it is a nice match in my opinion. I would use it for any type of music. I love how playable it is and the sound is nice. The vibration from the back can be intoxicating. I would most definitely buy another if something catastrophic happened to this one. I might look for one with the Expression2 system but the first type is acceptable.