Taylor PS-10 Acoustic Guitar
Taylor’s PS-10 ($9,358 with case), a top-of-the-line dreadnought from its Presentation Series, is endowed with such endless reserves of acoustic resonance and sheer tone that it ranks with the finest acoustic guitars I’ve ever played—and stands as a stunning aesthetic paradigm of all that is musically enduring in the many subsets of the Taylor line as a whole. “Wait, Chip, this is utterly impractical; I’m not some well-heeled hobbyist, but a working musician.” OK, I’m busted: Yes, this is the ultimate statement guitar. However, fret not, for if you substitute Indian rosewood for Brazilian (and a slightly less prime spruce top); get rid of all the fancy appointments, such as the Byzantine vines of abalone inlay on the neck; perhaps even add a cutaway and Fishman transducers, and you have the superb Taylor 910ce acoustic-electric dreadnought—prime technological steak minus extraneous aesthetic sizzle at a retail list of $4,328.
Since 1999 Taylor has redone their line from top to bottom with a patented new technology, NT Neck Design, for attaching necks to the body without a glued joint. While I can’t vouch for the efficacy of this design in the long term, right out of the case the PS-10 was in tune and a breeze to play; the neck was ruler flat from top to bottom, without any bowing or roller-coaster rises and bumps, the playing action just as smooth and pliant and even at the ninth fret, as at the second or 14th. The satin finished mahogany neck had a smooth, accommodating feel and I could dig in with enormous percussive intensity without fretting out a note; most telling was perfectly articulated intonation in that nether world above the 14th fret.
Fitted with a set of medium Elixir strings (056. -.013), the PS-10 had a resoundingly fat, warm, focused tone, which is surely a function of the ultraprime, ultrascarce, mucho-pricey Brazilian rosewood back, which conferred enormous tonal depth, harmonic complexity and acoustic resonance to this instrument, as did the prime, two-piece Englemann spruce top; chords came out richly articulated, while single lines had the kind of full-bodied, solid attack you’d expect from an archtop, but with greater reserves of resonance, harmonic complexity and tonal nuance. Add a rock solid, form-fitting case (I should only be buried in something this nice), and you are living large.