If you’re looking for a high end acoustic guitar, there are a few go to names that will automatically spring into mind for the majority of guitarists, with Taylor being one of them. This California based builder has been making some of the world’s best acoustics for almost 50 years, and while they have in recent years started to build more affordable entry level models, guitars like the Taylor K14ce Builder’s Edition remind us all why this is such an aspirational brand for many.
This heart-achingly beautiful guitar was named as our Editor’s Choice in our roundup of the Best Taylor Guitars, because simply put, we think it’s the single best guitar in the entire Taylor lineup, bar none.
In this KillerGuitarRigs Review, we had the good fortune of being able to spend an extended period of time with the amazing K14ce Builder’s Edition to bring you even more detail about its looks and feel, its playability, and of course, its tones.
Whether you’re in the market for a pro grade guitar, or you just have an appreciation for beautiful acoustics, you’ll want to keep on reading.
Taylor K14ce: Who is This For?
There’s no escaping the fact that the Taylor K14ce is an expensive guitar. With a retail price of around $6000, it’s definitely marketed towards pro players, serious amateurs with no concerns about budget, and of course the occasional blues lawyer.
Despite the price, it’s a guitar that has really been designed to be played. Yes, it looks like it could belong in a museum or an art gallery, but Taylor has thrown just about every piece of advanced design and technology they could at the K14ce to ensure that it plays and sounds as good as it looks.
Appearance / Features / Controls
The K14ce is a Grand Auditorium style guitar, making it one of the larger models in the Taylor lineup. Despite its size, the GA style body is actually one of the more comfortable and ergonomic shapes on the market, helped along by the beveled armrest and binding on the upper front edge of the body.
It’s made with some of the finest woods you’ll find on any production guitar, including a torrefied Sitka spruce top, and solid koa back and sides. Both aesthetically and tonally these woods were perfection.
There is more abalone on this guitar than you can shake a stick at, making it one of the more distinctive models in the line up. The binding, rosette, and fretboard were all heavily, yet tastefully inlaid.
The tropical mahogany neck, like most Taylors, had an ultra slim electric guitar type feel, again adding in a big way to the already incredible playability. It was built with copious amounts of ebony, with the fretboard, bridge and even the binding all being constructed from the high end, black wood.
As you’d expect, not only was it made with the best of the best in woods, but also the hardware and electronics. It had gorgeous matte bronze finished tuning machines, and it was fitted with Taylor ES2 electronics. The pickup system included a proprietary under saddle transducer, paired with a master volume control and 2 band EQ. For feedback reduction, it also boasted a polarity switch.
The worst thing about testing guitars like the Taylor K14ce Builders Edition is knowing that after the review it has to go back. It really was love at first strum. Whether or not you’re into the flashy aesthetics, the tones of this guitar were undeniably beautiful.
The torrefied top gave it an incredible broken in vintage voice right out of the box. This lent it the kind of character that would normally take years, decades even, to develop naturally.
The Grand Auditorium shape also had a huge influence on the tone. Its dreadnought like size gave it enormous presence and volume, but the narrow waist helped to make the top end much more prominent than you’d find on something like a Martin D-45. There was unbelievable shimmer and brightness, and it had an uncanny ability to slice through a mix.
Its V class bracing helped it to deliver what felt like endless sustain, too. This, coupled with the extraordinary brightness made it one of the best sounding acoustics we’ve ever had on the test bench, from any brand.
As for playability, Taylor knocked this guitar out of the park. All of the modern design features worked in harmony, resulting in a fantastically comfortable guitar. The beveled arm rest and top binding was probably our favorite touch, but the ergonomic upgrades didn’t stop there. The Venetian cutaway also had a PRS style carved opening, which facilitated incredible upper fret access.
The neck was amazing, with top to bottom comfort, and a slick satin finish. This kept it fast, while still allowing for good grip and proper form. In line with the rest of the guitar, the fretwork was also perfect – mirror like crowns, and flawless edges.
Other Guitars to Consider
If you couldn’t guess from the review body, we absolutely love everything about the Taylor K14ce Builder’s Edition. Having said that, if you’re looking to spend this much money on a guitar, it definitely makes sense to at least look at some alternative options before pulling the trigger. We’ve highlighted our favorites below.
The Martin 000-42 offers similar playability and voicing to the Taylor, but is built with a more traditional selection of woods, with spruce on top and East Indian rosewood on the back and sides. It offers extraordinary depth, and incredibly rich, complex tones. The balance is absolutely sensational, making this an incredible choice for recording, and thanks to its dynamic performance and amazing responsiveness, it also has no issues cutting through a mix in a live setting. An overall sensational guitar, and definitely worthy of consideration.
The Gibson SJ200 was a favorite of Elvis, which tells you everything you need to know about this guitar’s rock and roll chops. It’s a big, booming guitar that begs to be strummed hard, but it’s no one trick pony, in fact, it performs just as well with delicate fingerpicking. It’s dynamic enough to take a back seat and blend in with a mix, but can cut through on demand. Boasting all solid woods, with spruce on top and rosewood on the back and sides, it’s an heirloom quality instrument that will only get better with age.
Final Thoughts on the Taylor K14ce Builder’s Edition
What can we say about the Taylor K14ce Builder’s Edition that we haven’t already said!? This was truly a joy to test, and we can only hope that we get the chance to play one again in the near future. Yes, it’s a significant investment, but if you’re looking for a high end acoustic made with the best woods by some of America’s most skilled luthiers, this is the guitar for you.