Taylor revamps two 500 Series acoustics with an all-new tonewood: Urban Ironbark

Taylor Urban Ironbark
(Image credit: Taylor Guitars)

Taylor has revamped its 500 Series of acoustic guitars, outfitting two models with an all-new tonewood: Urban Ironbark.

Two guitars – the Grand Concert 512ce and Grand Auditorium 514ce – now boast the responsibly sourced wood, which Taylor says brings an “entirely new flavor of acoustic tone, and a bold, rich and sweet sound with remarkable balance and clarity."

Both guitars feature Urban Ironbark backs and sides, paired with torrefied spruce tops and a new voicing recipe – which uses Taylor’s patented V-Class bracing – for a “highly dynamic” tone and “piano-like fidelity."

Urban Ironbark – a name given by Taylor to red ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon), a member of the eucalyptus family – is the second tonewood utilized by Taylor and sourced in collaboration with Southern California-based tree management organization West Coast Arborists.

The collaboration sees Taylor looking to source wood from trees located in urban environments that need to be removed – either because they are at the end of their natural lifecycle or for safety reasons.

The first material used by Taylor as part of the partnership was Shamel ash, a mahogany-like wood that debuted on Taylor’s Builders Edition 324ce. The second, red ironbark, proved to have excellent qualities for acoustic guitar-building, as Taylor CEO, President and Chief Guitar Designer Andy Powers explains.

“Red ironbark has a tone-shaping quality where it produces the deep, clear sound of rosewood but with just enough of the damping effect of ebony or mahogany that helps smooth out the sharp edges of the sound,” he says.

“The voice is bold, rich and sweet. It has that bell-like amplifying response of a dense wood – it’s vibrant and dynamic. Imagine if you could take the traditional sound of a rosewood guitar, while filling and warming the midrange. It has a very piano-like character."

As Powers explains, he became pleasantly surprised by red ironbark’s workability, despite it being a harder tonewood.

“Usually, denser woods are hard to dry and prone to distortion, which needs to be carefully controlled to yield a stable guitar part – like ebony,” he says. “With red ironbark, we were surprised to find we could dry it consistently well the way we might dry East Indian rosewood. This ironbark has similar characteristics in that regard. It’s very stable.”

“On top of all of this,” he adds, “it has one of the smoothest and most uniform textures of any dense wood I’ve ever seen."

In terms of other appointments, both the revamped 512ce and 514ce aim to preserve the traditional aesthetic of Taylor’s 500 Series, with understated visual touches to bring out the aesthetic of the new red ironbark tonewood.

The guitars also feature new Aerial inlays in Italian acrylic and faux pearl, faux tortoiseshell bindings and pickguards, single-ring abalone rosettes with maple and black purfling, and Taylor-made nickel tuning machines. Both guitars also feature Venetian cutaways and ES2 electronics.

For more information on Urban Ironbark and the newly revamped 500 Series acoustics, head to Taylor Guitars (opens in new tab).

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Sam is a Staff Writer at Guitar World, also creating content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar (opens in new tab).