One of the best guitars I've ever played, including $10,000+ customs.
By: Mike Gattus from Baltimore, MD, USA, Mikegattus@yahoo.com
Your general opinion of this product.
The 800 series is a huge sweet spot in the Taylor product line. I compared the 814 and 816 and spent literally five hours playing both and listening to others play them. The 816 has the same treble snap and midrange warmth of the 814, perhaps even a bit warmer, with amazing bottom end. It's comparable to similarly priced Martin dreads, in my opinion, but you get the amazingly smooth cutaway for more comfortable playing and easy access to all of the frets instead of having to do finger gymnastics to get past 14. Overall, I couldn't be happier with my purchase decision.
Would you consider this product to be made well? How dependable?
I purchased mine on 8 May, so I've had it a day short of six weeks. Upon picking it up in the shop I was immediately impressed by the solid feel of it. It's not overly heavy, but it feels like it was made with a lot of care and consideration. The appointments are flawless - beautiful curly maple binding, flawless pearl neck and headstock inlay work and every rosette is unique. This isn't some kind of mass produced "every guitar must be identical" aesthetic, the rosette on mine shines from different angles than others I've seen, which are equally unique.
I had mine strung with a fresh set of Elixir phosphor bronze light strings when I got it and the guitar just sounds better as it breaks in. I haven't felt the need to change out the strings yet and I spend at least an hour or two a day playing it.
Also worthy of note, the hardshell case that Taylor includes with this guitar is superb. It holds the instrument very securely and has a nice neck support.
Playability and Feel
How does it feel, Heavy, Fast, Chunky? How was the neck? Are the controls easy to get to while playing?
This guitar has a little bit more weight to it than a 600 series Taylor or Martin performing artist series, but it's far from heavy. It's perfectly comfortable to play in my lap or standing with it on a fairly narrow strap for extended periods. For reference, I have one of the Taylor webbed cotton straps with the suede ends, which I bought a couple of years ago when I picked up a GS Mini spring limited as well as a Levy's 1.25 inch leather strap that ties to my headstock.
The neck on this guitar is a dream come true. The curly maple binding is super smooth as your hand moves along the neck, the frets are perfectly dressed and the overall size is fantastic.
The controls are great, volume, bass, treble. No dips or peaks at all as you adjust the knobs. They're easy to adjust while playing and the tone controls give you a very notable difference in bass and treble response when you adjust them. Simple seems to be better, in this case.
Bright and snappy? Dark and smooth? Were the pickups hot, mellow, thick, thin?
The 816 is a very versatile instrument. I play both finger style and pretty heavy strumming, be it with my nails or a tortoise shell pick and it sounds gorgeous either way. It has crystalline highs, exceedingly warm and musical midrange and mid bass and a surprising amount of low bass. It sounds nearly identical unplugged or amped, until you move the tone controls from center. I've been able to dial in the perfect sound for every song I've wanted it play on it, from adding a little extra bass punch in standard tuning to adding a touch of extra high end when I'm playing in CGCGGC or CFCFGC, which are my primary alternates. The only pedals I use with mine are a Memory Man and a Cathedral Reverb - I have a nice eq pedal and an EP Booster, this guitar just doesn't need them.
How was the action out of the box?
I had mine lowered a little to go with the thinner strings I had put on it, but it played flawlessly with the stock strings right out of the box. Nice and low, very easy to finger from the top of the neck to the bottom.
How did the stain or paint job look?
Mine is absolutely perfect. The attention to detail on fit and finish on these guitars is immediately evident.
How has it stood up over time?
In the admittedly short period of time I've owned mine it's only gotten better. The more I play it the more open it sounds and the tone has stayed true but gotten a bit more warm. I can't wait to hear how it sounds after owning it for a few years, this is an instrument I have no intention of ever parting with.