The verdict is unanimous — critics love the look, feel and sound of our new all-koa Grand Auditorium.
Following the launch of our redesigned koa 700 Series in May, guitar reviews have been rolling in from many of the MI world’s media outlets. We sent reviewers the Grand Auditorium 724ce model. Across the board, the reactions were overwhelmingly positive. Here’s a sampling of what the critics are saying.
Guitarist magazine (UK) published a 6-page review in its summer edition, including rich detail photos that captured the natural beauty of the guitar’s select-grade koa and appointment details. Writer Neville Marten gave the guitar a 9/10 score and a Guitarist Choice Award, citing the guitar’s “virtually unmatched build, fit and finish,” “fantastic playability,” and “organic and rewarding tones.” Among the highlights from his writeup:
On build/materials: “Examine our 724ce with a magnifying glass and we’d challenge you to find a flaw…. The move towards this beautiful and sustainable timber, too, must be applauded.”
On the playing comfort: “The action is low and slinky, and its strings feel tactile and unresisting under the fingertips. The neck’s nut width is great for easy open chording and all those ‘twiddly bits’ we pickers love to throw in.”
On the sound: Marten called out the guitar’s “warm and welcoming” voice: “There’s no thunderous bass evident, but more of a balanced lower-mid hum that ties in very musically with the musical upper-mids and sweet trebles that the guitar exhibits…. Fingerpicked tones are crisp and direct, while strumming with a medium pick elicits a wash of finely tuned chords that makes the perfect bed to any vocal performance, but wouldn’t be obtrusive in the context of other acoustic instruments.”
Wrapping up, Neville had this to say: “If [Andy] Powers and his team continue to create instruments that look, play and sound as good as this one, then there’ll be no stopping this company.”
In Premier Guitar’s September edition, Jason Shadrick immediately picked up on the tactile sensation of the guitar’s ultra-thin finish: “It’s so thin that you can feel the pores in the wood, and [it] arguably adds to the instrument’s liveliness.”
Sonically, he said the tone profile reminded him of “a modern, midrangey dreadnought with more focus.”
“The koa tones are complex and nuanced,” he writes, “with a little touch of mahogany midrange and maple sparkle…. It’s balanced in a way that would fit in with a broad range of styles. When I played a bit harder with a pick, I could sense how the koa top and, most likely, the bracing tweaks widened the dynamic range, and enhanced the guitar’s responsiveness.”
In his July review for Peghead Nation, Teja Gerken says this: “The 724ce has a great, open-sounding low end that works particularly well for big chords or lowered tunings, and I quickly found myself exploring some fingerstyle playing in open-D tuning. The guitar’s overall tonal quality is a bit ‘looser’ than most Taylor grand auditoriums, and I really liked its response and warmth. Naturally, it has Taylor’s typical precision setup, and the guitar played beautifully all the way into the cutaway…. Whether you think of it as a revamped 700 or a stripped-down Koa Series, the result is a very cool guitar that has its own look, feel and sound.”
Vintage Guitar’s Pete Prown loved the guitar’s look (“Visually, the 724ce is a dazzler”) and uber-playability: “In fine Taylor tradition, the guitar has fast setup with low action, ready for your quickest licks up the neck.” On its sound: “Acoustically, the V-bracing exudes a warmer, traditional sound, unlike the trebly ‘Taylor sound’ of the 1990s and 2000s…. With strumming or fingerpicking, the bottom end is nuanced perfectly with the upper strings for a sweet, sophisticated tone, especially for a cutaway.”
Prown also loved the amplified tone. “Plugged in, its ES-2 is one of the stars of the show….After decades of plastic-y sound from plugged-in acoustics, the ES-2 is a revelation and hopefully a harbinger of more organic acoustic-electric flavors to come.”
Over at Acoustic Guitar magazine (November/December edition), Adam Perlmutter called the 724ce the most balanced-sounding koa guitar he’s ever played, with these additional reactions to the sound: “With an impressive midrange and a tight low end that’s never mushy or boomy, it has the characteristic warmth and sweetness that comes with a hardwood-topped instrument.”
“The guitar’s overall tone is crisp and dry, with a rich midrange that seems to connect the bass and treble notes into a single sound. There is exceptional low-end clarity, which is especially good for flatpicked bass note runs in standard tuning or fingerpicked parts in open tunings.
“The treble range is where the 724ce seems particularly special…. Where many koa guitars can sound a little brittle and zingy on the high end, the guitar’s upper strings ring with a lacy high-end sweetness and a snappy, quick response that is also smooth and refined. To make a visual analogy, the 724ce’s treble response is bright and warm like an Edison bulb, compared to the harshness of a corner store’s LED lights that some other koa guitars project.”
Finally, Guitar Player’s Jimmy Leslie echoed others’ admiration of the guitar’s visual virtues. (“Take the 724ce out of its case and the only thought that crosses the mind is, ‘Gorgeous!’”) He also picked up on the impact of the thin finish on the guitar’s sound.
“It’s lighter and far less dampened than the established Koa Series. It takes very little pick energy to set the 724’s top in motion, and its sensitivity facilitates extreme nuance. It’s very player reflective, capable of a wide variety of tones from mellow to bright depending on the attack…. If you like your instrument lively and sensitive to subtlety, the 724ce delivers.”