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Introduction

While there are numerous contexts that can surround the guitarist, those of the “artist” and the “working musician” are quite common. These scenarios are by no means mutually exclusive, yet many guitarists find their careers heading down one of these two paths. The Taylor K26ce speaks to the artist, featuring an impressive complement of woods and expertly designed electronics. Taylor’s T3 directly addresses the needs of working musicians by providing a wide range of sounds. In both cases Taylor’s vision and craftsmanship translate to instruments that guitarists can turn to with confidence.

Taylor K26ce

When acoustic artists select a guitar, their final choice says as much about them as the music they create. Taylor's K26ce is an instrument that casts a spotlight on the artist via first-class craftsmanship and tonal flexibility. Its selection of woods makes for an instrument capable of rich complex sounds, and its advanced electronics extends the guitar’s reach beyond that of the traditional context.

The selection of woods is a bold design step for the K26ce. Its Grand Symphony size body is constructed of Hawaiian Koa, a unique wood that is known to change over time. It is not uncommon for a guitar made of Hawaiian Koa to see its tone mellow with age. Koa is known to possess warmth similar to rosewood and a high-end that resembles mahogany, as well as impressive flame (also known as “curl”). Flamed Koa is one of the most attractive and sought-after aesthetics by guitarists. Ebony has been employed by Taylor to complement the Koa; not only is it used for the fret board, but the bridge and headstock overlay as well.

While the more traditional approach to acoustic guitar has been an unamplified context, modern artists face the challenges of large halls and the increased stage volume, which ensues. These concerns are addressed via well-designed electronics. Taylor's proprietary Expression System was designed in partnership with legendary audio expert Rupert Neve who is known for such products as the 1073 Mic Preamp & Equalizer, 1073DPA Stereo Mic Preamp and 88RS mixer.

But there is more in-hand than simple amplification. This smartly designed Expression System offers 40-50 hours of plugged-in battery life and is designed to resist feedback, even at high volumes. Two surface-mounted microphones (sensors) and a neck pickup provide a large and complex voice. These two body sensors can be turned off, leaving only the neck pickup, which dramatically alters the overall voicing of the guitar. The ¼” output has been engineered so that players can plug directly into a snake or mixing console without using a direct box. In addition to the master volume, there are controls for both treble & bass. The mids are effectively adjusted when simultaneously changing the bass and treble levels. This kind of forward-thinking helps to keep the control area clutter free, yet allows for a high degree of tonal flexibility.

For the live performer, the tone controls have been engineered with a noticeable bump in the knob’s turn. This center position (otherwise known as the “detent”) can easily be felt in complete darkness so that operating the controls in low stage light is effortless. An additional feature that live performers will value is the inclusion of a grounding plate, called “Fused String Ground Protection”, protecting the player from unwanted shocks. Each of the Taylor Expression System’s features are significant assets to the performing artist, simplifying operation and helping to minimize the frustrations associated with live contexts.

James MacNeill Whistler once said: ”An artist is not paid for his labour but for his vision.” While Taylor put a great deal of effort into the K26ce, it is their vision that sets this instrument apart. Like painters, musicians construct images for their audience. In this case, those images are sounds that challenge the listener to travel with them to another place, or another time, or possibly both. Each of the K26ce’s individual parts stands on its own, but it is the sum of these features that transcends the notion of a product, and transforms this instrument into an artist’s companion.

Taylor T3

Working musicians tend to need a wide range of tones. For most, the ability to reproduce a number of differing sounds is critical to their employment. Session players are often asked to participate in multiple genres. Likewise, live performers must at times switch gears quickly between songs, or even within the same piece of music. The Taylor T3 is an electric guitar capable of the versatility needed by professional musicians.

This Semi-solid guitar is available with a stop tailpiece or genuine Bigsby vibrato. Although the Bigsby is known to complicate the tuning process, Taylor’s roller bridge minimizes this unwanted effect, providing a smooth interaction that reduces string friction. A slim “C” profile neck has been chosen for the T3. It fits any hand, facilitates fast playing, and is attached via Taylor’s proprietary “T-Lock”. Some may be surprised to find out that the T-Lock uses only one bolt to fasten the neck to the body, yet the fit and solid feel are outstanding. An added benefit of the T3’s semi-acoustic nature is that it is noticeably louder than a typical solid body guitar when unplugged.

On the surface, the electronics consist of a master volume, a tone control and three-way selector switch. Under the hood, the T3 is powered by two of Taylor’s HD (“high definition”) humbuckers. In an unusual move, Taylor utilizes neodymium magnets for the HDs, which tend to offer higher output with respect to each magnet’s size. The HDs are similar to PAF-style pickups; plenty of bite yet warmth and subtlety. High-gain contexts are well served; putting the bridge humbucker through a driven setup yields surprisingly aggressive tones. While this may not be the best guitar for extreme genres such as Metal, the T3 excels with all variations of Rock. In the same context, the neck pickup offers exactly the kind of thick and fluid textures one expects.

But full-humbucking / series wiring is just the beginning here. When the volume knob is pulled-up, both pickups go into single-coil mode, significantly lightening their output. This creates a more airy sound that takes the player in a different direction, with the kind subtlety and nuance that speaks well to genres such as R&B, Blues, Funk or even Pop. The tone knob is hard-wired to boost the mids. When pulled-up, it introduces a second capacitor. This additional capacitor results in an effect similar to putting the guitar through a Wah pedal and positioning the rocker at about 50%, transforming the T3’s tone in the direction of textures such as Jazz and BeBop.

Stunning craftsmanship is revealed through the T3’s deceptively simple electronics; a facade by which a rich extent of tones are available. Such features as the proprietary “T-Lock” not only simplify the guitar’s construction, but also provides a neck-body connection that will stand the test of time. Well-respected working musicians such as Scotty Morris (Big Bad Voodoo Daddy), Mike Lent (Barry Manilow, Shania Twain, Marie Osmond, Ricky Martin, and Grover Washington, Jr.), and Dolores O'Riordan (the Cranberries) turn to the Taylor T3, a testament to it’s reliability and versatility.

Conclusion

In the course of their careers, both artists and working musicians will likely come across many different guitars. When borrowing or renting any instrument, guitarists will evaluate the strengths of each one. Careful consideration always precedes a purchase as the guitarist must know for sure that they have made the right choice. The Taylor K26ce and T3 are world-class instruments that provide the kind of craftsmanship and flexibility both artists and working guitarists can depend on.

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