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How acoustic tone ripens with time and play, “new” vs. old Adirondack spruce, how guitar cracks affect tone, and more.

Ed. Note: Master builder Andy Powers answered this batch of guitar questions, with Bob Taylor adding a bit of color commentary along the way.

I’m in the market for a 12-string. I played through the selection at Elderly [Instruments] in East Lansing, Michigan, and wound up playing a 362ce for a long while. I see you make them jumbo-sized as well. I got the fever for a K68e. At the moment there are 18 of these on Reverb, and I’ve been appreciating how different each soundboard looks. Some are more straight-grained. Others have more figuring. I have a short list of questions:

1. Does an acoustic guitar’s wood figuring affect tone and how the guitar will sound/perform over time? If so, how?

2. What’s the timeline on breaking in koa to peak its sound? I know, it depends. But give me a clue. If I strum it an hour a day, will it fully unlock in a day, a week, a year, a decade?

3. How much will different units of the same guitar model vary in terms of sound and performance? Read Answer

Any plans for a square-shouldered rosewood and spruce dreadnought with V-Class bracing? Also, if you did offer one, in what ways would it sound different from the round-shoulder Grand Pacific? Read Answer

I just got this very beautiful PS14ce (in look and sound) with Adirondack spruce/Honduran rosewood made in 2022. The sound of this guitar is very lush, shimmering and with more headroom when compared with my Taylor 914ce with Sitka spruce/Indian rosewood. I would expect this Adirondack wood was harvested from the recently grown red spruce trees. In your opinion, what is the characteristic sound difference between this newly harvested Adirondack and the old/pre-war harvested Adirondack? Read Answer

Would the 200 Series (214ce/224ce DLX) benefit from V-bracing? If so, any plans to incorporate it on 200 Series? Read Answer

Bob & Andy, I’ve been reading in Orfeo magazine a bit about classical guitar bracing patterns. The original modern designs by Antonio de Torres (1817-1892) were symmetrical. Since then, many luthiers have added an angled bar to try to keep the bass and trebles in balance. Others have used different weights or numbers of “fan” braces to achieve the same thing. One pointed out that the shape of a piano is longer for the bass strings and shorter for the treble. To my untrained ear, Taylor produces wonderfully balanced instruments. I’m a proud owner of a Builder’s Edition 614ce.

With V-Class bracing, at first glance, it appears the design is symmetrical. On a closer look, though, it may be that the angled braces on the bass and treble side, near the bottom of the V, might differ in length and thickness. I’m not sure from the photos I’ve seen. Is this part of the design asymmetrical? If so, do these bars need to be tweaked differently for each tonewood pairing and body style? Read Answer

A few years ago, I had an accident with my 2010 310ce (impact damage), which led to some fairly long top cracks running parallel to the grain above the bass side of my soundhole. I’m still kicking myself for that mistake, as that guitar is very precious to me. I had the guitar repaired by an authorized repair shop, but since then I have been paranoid that the tone isn’t the same as it was before it was cracked. How much do cracks affect the tone on a guitar? Do the size and location matter? If cracks do affect the tone, in what specific ways is the tone affected (e.g., reduced bass, treble, etc.)? Read Answer

I’m from Chile, I’ve owned a GS Mini for about two years, and I want to “upgrade” that Taylor sound. I love the size and sound of the GS Mini, but I’m looking for an American-made guitar. I started to research the American Dream line but didn’t have a clue which one of them to choose. Can you give me any advice on this task? I’m mostly a strummer and sometimes play a little bit of lead guitar. Read Answer

Got a question for Bob Taylor or Andy Powers? Shoot them an email: