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.