Taylor Baritone 8-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Taylor Guitars, taylorguitars.com
While Taylor offers a traditional six-string baritone acoustic guitar, the Baritone 8-String delivers a unique baritone experience with an acoustic sound that is versatile and dynamic.
The baritone steel-string acoustic guitar has gained popularity recently thanks to its use by players like Dave Matthews, Martin Simpson, Alex De Grassi and Pat Metheney (whose entire One Quiet Night album consists of solo performances on a baritone acoustic). A baritone acoustic is an ideal first choice for players seeking bigger sound and an extended lower range.
Until recently, baritone acoustic guitars were only made by a handful of specialists or in limited amounts by small, high-end companies. Taylor is one of the first big-name companies to offer baritone models as part of its regular production, making it easier than ever for players to obtain a baritone acoustic. In addition to a standard six-string model, Taylor also offers the unique Baritone 8-String guitar, where the third and fourth A and D strings (corresponding with the D and G strings on a standard-tuned guitar) are doubled with strings tuned an octave higher. The Taylor Baritone 8-String expands the baritone’s range even further, delivering a unique voice with enhanced dynamics and tone.
The Taylor Baritone 8-String is a true baritone guitar featuring a long, 27-inch scale and heavy-gauge .016–.070-inch baritone strings tuned (low to high) B E Aa Dd F# B. With a Grand Symphony body that’s 16 1/4-inches wide, 20 inches long and 4 5/8-inches deep, the instrument feels surprisingly compact and very comfortable to play. The curvaceous Grand Symphony body shape and a Baritone bracing pattern enhance the instrument’s extended bass frequencies and deliver impressive volume output and rich midrange tones. A generous but not too deep Venetian cutaway provides comfortable access all the way to the highest (19th) fret. Attention to detail isn’t overlooked with top-notch appointments that include a mother-of-pearl peghead inlay, graceful diamond-shaped fretboard inlays, a three-ring abalone rosette and abalone-dotted bridge pins. Further inspection reveals that Taylor always selects premium tone woods and choice materials for the classic acoustic steel-string combinations of Indian rosewood back and sides, Sitka spruce top, tropical American mahogany neck, ebony fretboard and bridge, bone nut and saddle. The 1 3/4–inch nut width may seem a little narrow on paper for a baritone instrument, but in the hands it feels very comfortable and provides players ample room between strings to fret notes cleanly.
The Baritone 8-String’s Taylor Expression System greatly expands the instrument’s versatility. The Expression System consists of two magnetic sensors. One is placed on the underside of the soundboard, while the other is mounted beneath the fretboard extension to capture neck and string vibrations. The preamp features three simple, elegant but highly versatile controls for adjusting volume and bass and treble EQ. The preamp board, accessible via the sound hole, also provides switches for turning off either or both of the dynamic body sensors, giving players even greater flexibility for the modifying the instrument’s amplified sound.
Despite having a longer scale and heavier strings (two of which are doubled), the Taylor Baritone 8-String doesn’t feel much different to play than a standard-scale six-string. The low-profile neck has a slight V shape that makes it easy to anchor your hand but doesn’t get in the way of playing runs and chords up and down the neck.
Tonally the Baritone 8-String is a real stunner. The lowest bass notes sound incredibly deep, yet exceptionally clear and well defined, while the doubled strings provide harmonically rich, piano-like overtones that make the overall tone attractively bright and lively. The result is almost symphonic, especially when strumming open chords or playing intricate fingerstyle patterns, which can make the Baritone 8-String sound like a duo of instruments playing in unison.
Plugged in, the Baritone 8-String retains its stellar tone, with the Taylor Expression System providing warm, lively tones that have the resonance and dynamics of the instrument’s natural acoustic tone. The upper-octave A and D strings cut through exceptionally well, making the paired strings ideal for playing single-note lines. Alternatively, you can back the treble control down a bit to make these strings blend less conspicuously with the guitar’s deep baritone tones.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Taylor Baritone 8-String is in a class by itself. While Taylor offers a traditional six-string baritone acoustic guitar, the Baritone 8-String delivers a unique baritone experience with an acoustic sound that is versatile and dynamic. Guitarists looking for new inspiration will want to give this symphonic wonder a try.
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