Most 12-string acoustic guitars made over the last 100 years have predominantly featured large body sizes, from the Stella models of the Twenties favored by Lead Belly through the Martin dreadnought 12-strings popularized during the Sixties folk boom to Guild’s jumbo models played by rockers during the Seventies and beyond.
In more recent times, Taylor has reigned as the leading manufacturer of 12-string acoustics, and they now offer a wider variety of 12-string models than anyone else. The incredible popularity of Taylor’s 12-string guitars has allowed them to develop new designs that redefine previous notions of what a 12-string guitar should and could be.
The new 352ce and 362ce models are perfect examples of Taylor’s bold new vision for 12-string design. Both models feature Grand Concert body sizes—Taylor’s smallest—along with necks that meet the body at the 12th fret and 24 7/8-inch scale lengths. The smaller size provides maximum playing comfort, but the designs were carefully refined and tuned to deliver the clear, powerful voice and character that distinguishes a 12-string from other flattop acoustics.
With the exception of body materials, finish and list price, the Taylor 352ce and 362ce essentially offer identical features. The 352ce has a gloss natural-finish Sitka spruce top, sapele back and sides and neck, back and sides finished with medium brown stain. The 362ce has a satin shaded edge burst-finish tropical mahogany top and stained Tasmanian blackwood back and sides, with the top and neck finished with medium brown stain.
Both guitars have satin finishes. Both models have a compact Grand Concert body that measures 15 inches wide and 4 3/8 inches deep and feature a rounded Venetian cutaway. The neck is tropical mahogany with a West African ebony fingerboard decorated with small diamond inlays, 18 medium frets and a moderately shallow, rounded C-shaped profile. The bridge and bridge pins are crafted from West African ebony.
Typical of 300 series guitars, the decoration is simple and understated but classy, allowing the quality of the materials to be the main visual focus. Appointments include a single-layer black plastic pickguard, three-ring rosette, single-layer black back binding, black binding with several layers of black and white purfling and an unbound neck. The headstock overlay is West African ebony and features an inlaid Italian acrylic Taylor logo.
Both the 352ce and 362ce include Taylor’s Expression System 2 behind-the-saddle piezo pickup and electronics. Volume, treble and bass controls are mounted on the side at the upper bass bout, and a phase switch is located on the preamp circuit board mounted within easy reach inside the soundhole. Battery replacement is easy thanks to a battery compartment below the tail pin/output jack.
Whereas many manufacturers design 12-string models simply by placing a 12-string neck and bridge on a regular six-string body, the Taylor 352ce and 362ce are carefully designed with Performance bracing with relief routing that’s been finely tuned exclusively for these models. As a result, the tone is surprisingly big and powerful yet with the midrange focus and greater overall balance one would expect from a Grand Concert-size instrument. The 12-fret neck design also helps maintain bass response from smaller body dimensions. The bass is not as booming as that of typical jumbo-size 12-strings, but this results in much sweeter and sparkling treble and richer, more complex mids.
Thanks to its spruce top, the 352ce has more pronounced attack and greater bass and treble emphasis than the 362ce. If you’re looking for overall tone that’s closer to that of a larger, traditional 12-string flattop, the 352ce is an ideal choice, especially for playing open-chord rhythms. The 362ce’s midrange is much rounder and warmer, making it a better option for fingerstyle and single-note line playing as individual notes have more depth and body.
The smaller body dimensions and shorter scale length of the 352ce and 362ce make these models very comfortable to play in both seated and standing positions. Thanks to the generous cutaway, it’s easy to play up the neck, so the 12-fret neck isn’t a deterrent for players accustomed to 14-fret necks.
As for the electronics? Well, there’s a very good reason that when you see an acoustic guitar on stage it’s more than likely a Taylor. The Expression System 2 delivers true natural tone with EQ that’s flexible enough to satisfy solo performers and players who need to fit in a sonic pocket in a band alike.
STREET PRICE: 352ce, $1,899; 362ce, $2,099
MANUFACTURER: Taylor Guitars, taylorguitars.com
● Both models feature Grand Concert size bodies with necks that meet the body at the 12th fret to provide ample bass and well-balanced tone.
● The 352ce features a gloss natural finish Sitka spruce top and medium brown stain sapele back and sides.
● The 362ce features a satin shaded edge burst-finish tropical mahogany top and stained Tasmanian blackwood back and sides.
● Both include satin finishes, Taylor’s Expression System 2 behind-the-saddle piezo pickup and preamp system with volume, treble and bass controls.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Taylor 352ce and 362ce redefine the 12-string flattop acoustic for the modern age with their compact body size, comfortable playability and distinctive, well-balanced and focused tone.