April 2002

Taylor K22ce Acoustic-Electric Guitar

The K22ce Acoustic-Electric is a gorgeous-looking instrument from Taylor’s Koa Series. The Grand Concert model represents a smaller, lighter, shallower body type than Taylor’s Dreadnaught models (analogous to a 000-series Martin), which makes for a more comfortable, practical, “standing-with-a-strap” performance instrument. And while bells and whistles matter little to jazz guitarists on a budget, the aesthetic workmanship of this guitar is hypnotic. The liquidity of the grain on the top and back of this guitar is psychedelic in depth, perfectly complemented by tortoise and agoya shell bindings with subtle abalone inlays, dot markers and highlights.

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Taylor K22ce Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Still, as handsome as a Koa top is, it just doesn’t sing out with the brilliance and projection of spruce. Comparatively speaking, it has a rather dry, focused midrange, and it’s on the leaner side acoustically compared to a spruce top. But just as jazz guitarists like Tal Farlow and Herb Ellis turned to the laminate tops, back and sides of guitars like the Gibson ES-175 to achieve a nice balanced acoustic quality, I suspected that an all-Koa Taylor Grand Concert model would be the practical choice for amping up.

Sure enough, while the guitar was relatively tame and muted when played acoustically, when plugged in, she just opened up with a full, natural, bell-like tone—all the brilliance and jangle, but never too bloody bright. The Fishman Prefix Stereo Blender piezo pick-up/internal-mike system (with its ingenious battery/tone controls top-mount), works like a charm. I found the internal mike mix to be very effective when plugged into a 20-year-old Mark IIB Mesa Boogie Simul-Class combo, especially in the all-triode mode, but I had to be very conservative with the Boogie’s various gain stages while standing carefully on the left, to the neck side or else—feedback! Ouch. A notch filter provided a useful means of canceling the offending frequency, though this tended to dull the sound a mite, but probably not much more than the typical jazz player would work the treble or bass roll-off (and boost) or the contour (warm to bright) to mellow things out.

Nine times out of 10 your typical jazz player would still prefer the cellolike tone, projection and volume of an archtop. But as a first-class acoustic-electric for folkies and solid-body players, or as a steel-string change of pace for jazzmen who disdain an amplified nylon-string, the Taylor K22ce flattop is a splendid performer.

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