Price paid: $ 1900
Features: This Taylor was made in America in 1999, the year Bob introduced the NT neck. It has a solid red Cedar top with solid Indian rosewood back and sides. It also features a mahogany neck with ebony board and bridge. The pieces of wood are all gorgeous, and not only that resonate quite well. The whole guitar rings in my lap when I play it.
The pins are ebony and both saddle and nut are made from Tusq. The body is a "concert" size which is slightly shallower and smaller than a 000 or an OM. Additionally, this is an early model, before Bob shifted the bracing and deepened the body a tad. Additionally, the guitar sports a shorter scale length with a wide neck, reminiscent of a classical guitar. The radius is also quite flat compared to other guitars I've played.
The guitar came with a beautiful, heavy duty hard shell case with a fit, plush inside. It didn't come with electronics but I had an LR Baggs anthem installed for live performances. // 10
Sound: The guitar has a fantastic tone, yet it's surprisingly different from it's other Taylor kin. The red Cedar top warms the bright Taylor top end and brings a little more depth to the sound. The ebony board and bridge do return a bit of that bite but the rest of the body balances that. The guitar is also incredibly responsive, characteristic of a smaller body with lighter bracing. The strings are relatively balanced as well, though the A string tends to overpower the others slightly.
While crisp and powerful on the high end, the guitar does lack some bass "oomph" as one would expect from the Concert body. A set of 80/20 bronze strings tend to bring a deeper tone out of it but phosphor works well too. The balance is perfect for fingerstyle arrangements, jazz and even light strumming and flat picking but when I need a really deep, powerful tone she doesn't quite cut it.
That being said, I use this guitar for all of my performances and even though I think it falls short, no one in the audience notices. // 9
Action, Fit & Finish: I got the guitar used so I can't speak for the factory set-up but the shop I bought it from had the action a little too low for my tastes. It was quite easy to play but the bottom E string would rattle out under any real pick attack. I had it raised a bit and it's perfect now.
The gloss finish is absolutely gorgeous. It's thin enough to allow the top to breathe but thick enough to protect the wood to some degree. Cedar typically dings with a forceful finger tap but this finish shields against such accidental blemishes. The wood selections are exquisite for a standard line guitar. It's top grain is nice and even and evenly colored as well. Her Indian rosewood back is one of the best I've seen yet. // 10
Reliability & Durability: I rely fairly heavily on this guitar and it has yet to fail me, I never even feel the need to bring a back up to shows. Hopefully my children will be playing her long after I'm gone.
The hardware is quality and still works well 12 years later, though the metallic finishes are wearing off slightly. I have no worry about the finish lasting as long as it's properly taken care of. It is quite thin but finely done. // 10
Overall Impression: I play what I like to call "Percussive Fingerstyle". If you have no idea what I mean, look up Andy McKee and Antoine Dufour. This guitar matches relatively well though it probably isn't my be all end all of guitars. I use it for all of my college recitals and live performances and it more than serves it's purpose.
I wish the dealer had been more honest with me about the body size (I had never bought a quality Acoustic guitar before) because I probably would have looked for a 714 instead of this. The body and top just don't have enough power for some of the music I play. However, when played the way it was designed, she excels.
When I went to buy this, I compared it to Martin's GPCPA1, a custom shop Breedlove OM and Taylor's new line of GA and GC guitars. The only one that held a candle to it was the Breedlove (which cost $5000). The GPCPA lacked clarity and the other Taylor guitars were too bright without the beautiful warmth of my 712.
This is probably one of the best fingerstyle instruments that can be had for under $2000. To be honest I would recommend the 714 over it simply because of the deeper body and great volume but the response and balance of this one is just so sweet. Given the opportunity, I would find it hard to trade my 712 for another instrument. I had the chance to sell it and purchase a Lowden F25 and I couldn't do it. // 9