The most obvious feature of the Taylor 618e, as with anything, is its appearance, and this is one gorgeous instrument. With maple sides, back and neck, Sitka spruce top and complementary white binding on the body and fretboard, Taylor has built a beautiful guitar that is going to get a lot of oohs and ahhs from shoppers and audiences. This guitar is big, built around Taylor’s Grand Orchestra body design, a new take on the jumbo body, with ebony fingerboard, bridge pins, truss rod cover and headstock overlay, gold buttons and tuners, and a tortoise pickguard. Sweet.
The important thing, though, is what a guitar sounds like. With a body this large – nearly 5″ deep at the lower bout – you expect a lot of volume and projection, and this guitar has it. But the sound is also rich and well-balanced, with a bottom end that isn’t boomy the way it can be on some guitars of this size. The even sound has partly been attributed to the guitar’s body bracing system, a blend of scalloped and parabolic bracing (it’s not as mysterious as it sounds, there are YouTube videos out there explaining bracing in detail). If that’s the secret it’s worked pretty well on this axe. Great, uniform action too.
This guitar is pretty loud on its own, but is PA- or amp-ready as well. The high-quality electronics package here is Taylor’s ES® (Expression System) setup, which was designed in conjunction with Rupert Neve, the electronics pioneer whose legendary recording consoles have been responsible for the sound captured on many of the classic record albums of the past 60 years.
This guitar is big and isn’t for everybody. But for anyone looking to purchase something dreadnought-ish this is definitely a guitar to check out. Bob Taylor’s company is having a continuing impact on how guitars are designed and their roles in music and culture, and the Grand Orchestra design is a nice new addition to the Taylor roster. With a deep brown hardshell case the street price is under three grand, pretty good compared to a lot of prices today.
This review is for the 618e I played, but it doesn’t stop there. On the Taylor website for this guitar, www.taylorguitars.com/guitars/acoustic/618e, a number of options are available in terms of the type of maple and the types of topwoods used, colors and more, many of them at no additional charge. Check it out.