Ok, so we’re on to Taylor 214ce today. Taylor’s 200 series has been a perennial popular with all Taylor enthusiasts as a reasonably priced gateway to the extensive and impressive range of acoustics that this company has in offer. With 214ce, we have a lot to discuss since many who consider getting their hands on this guitar has this common question: what is the difference between 214ce and 214ce DLX and is it really worth spending those extra wads on the latter?
So, without further ado, we’ll dive right into the review. On our way along, we will be mentioning some of the crucial differences between the 214ce Standard and the Deluxe edition. For the rest, you can make up your mind whether or not you see it fit to spend that about $400 extra for the DLX version.
Taylor 214ce Guitar Review
Body and the Build
The model features a solid sitka spruce top and layered-i.e. laminate-back and sides. Now, there seems to be some confusion regarding the woods that are used for back and sides. Many stores would tell you that 214ce has a layered rosewood construction with rosewood veneer on the outside and sapele veneer on the inside.
However, you will find at Taylor’s own site (as well as in some other places) that the body is made of layered Koa. Now, the confusion might stem from the fact that Brazilian Rosewood and Acacia Koa are considered to be the two greatest tonewoods. However, with all the marketing lingo, these differences sometimes tend to get lost on the prospective buyer. So, someone mentions Koa, but it is Acacia Koa or some other variety? Similarly, when we are talking of Rosewood, is it the Brazilian Rosewood, Indian Rosewood or something else?
Now, as long as you have the liberty to walk into a store and try out the different guitars to determine which one suits you best, this may not mean a huge deal. However, at times when you’re not too sure and so want to check out the specks sheet, do inquire or spend some time researching on the exact variety of a tonewood that is used for a model.
This, of course, is of vital importance when you are looking to buy a solid woods guitar. However, not to stray too far from our present topic, it may suffice you to know that the model 214ce is made of a solid middle poplar core with koa and sapele layers or veneers. The 214ce DLX version, on the other hand, features a similar inner poplar core but the both outside and inside veneers are of Indian Rosewood.
Another difference that may matter to some guitarists is that the standard 214ce comes with a stain coat across its entire body whereas the Deluxe version features a gloss finish on the body but (and this is important) the neck comes in a porous satin finish and this last feature affords a natural, tactile feel when you glide up and down the neck. For amateur players, this may not mean a lot, but all pro or semi-pro guitarists (who often need to perform long sessions) will appreciate this difference.
Both versions include ebony fingerboards and bridges which is obviously a better option than a rosewood fretboard—standard for ‘entry-level’ guitars. You also get the standard rosewood veneer Taylor headstock with the model with die-cast chrome tuners (the DLX version now includes 100/200 chrome tuners but this is more of a visual embellishment and has little to do with performance).
The Action is a bit on the lower side, but pretty standard anyway. 214ce has a plastic truss rod compared to the DLX’s rosewood truss rod. The pickguard is of faux tortoise shell and both models feature Nubone nut and Tusq saddle as well as plastic black bridge pins. At this price region (especially for the DLX), you may have justifiably expected real bone nut and saddle. However, this is not a big deal especially in regard to the sound quality of the models.
The model comes with a standard 43 mm nut width and a full length scale of 648 mm. If you are a beginner and is considering buying this model, you must take into account the scale length factor. This is a cutaway guitar (employing the Venetian cutaway style) which means that you’ll have access to pretty much all the frets. And for someone who is only starting out, managing this sort of full length scale may prove to be difficult.
Sound and Tone Quality
When it comes to sound, the basic thing about 214ce is that it is a Grand Auditorium model which means you get a more balanced sound—something which sits nicely between the full-bodies depth and volume that you get from a dreadnought (such as from the Taylor 210ce) and the more focused, tighter punch characteristic of small-bodies guitars (such as a concert or a parlor guitar). This body shape is especially popular with guitarists who play different styles. So, no matter whether you are fingerpicking, flat-picking or strumming, the model is a great choice.
The tone is bright and you get great clarity both in the high and at the low end. Just to put it in perspective, a guitar such as the Taylor 114ce is primarily mid-range dominant whereas you get louder and brighter, as well as more pronounced, high and lows with the 214ce model. As for the difference with the DLX, the latter gives off a brighter sound with greater clarity and sustain, thanks mainly to its double Indian Rosewood veneers.
This is one of the standout features of the 214ce model. The model features Taylor’s patented ES2 pickup design. This is a behind-the-saddle pickup featuring individually calibrated sensors that, to go by the company’s claims, gives off an acoustic sound of an hitherto unequalled dynamic range. Whether or not this is an exaggeration, we can certainly vouch for the exceptional responsiveness and amplified tone that the ES2 pickup design is enable to provide. And the good news is that contrary to earlier (when 214ce models used to feature the standard Taylor ES-T pickup system), currently both 214ce and 214ce DLX feature the ES2 pickup system.
Lows of this model?
Great projection, sound and sustain, but one place where this guitar suffers a bit in comparison to some of its competitors is that the sound quality does not mature over the age. And when we talk about this, we have more in mind the DLX model. The latter, with its price mark of about $1,400, will have many rivals who offer solid woods models at this price. And as you can expect with solid body construction, as the wood settles and ages, the tone of the guitar will mature and improve. So, if you are planning to buy a 214ce DLX, you’ll have to make the choice: this one (with its great electronics as well as its other virtues) or a solid body guitar from another reputed manufacturer? The choice is yours!