Nick Jennison reviews Taylor Guitars' 324CE Builder’s Edition. Crafted for the ultimate playing experience — the Builder's Edition 324ce combines signature Taylor playability and comfort with the rich tonal character of our responsibly sourced Urban Ash tonewood. Originating from Shamel ash trees in need of removal from cities and municipal areas, Urban Ash offers a response akin to high-grade mahogany: warm and woody with a strong focus on the fundamental note and minimal overtones.
The Grand Auditorium is, in the minds of most, the quintessential Taylor Guitar - specifically, the spruce-topped 314c. Famed for it’s easy playability and bright, forward tone, the 314c is bold, punchy and authoritative, with a vibrant high end and cutting upper midrange. For the right player, this is a perfect combination, but tone is a very personal thing. One man’s “clear” is another man’s “harsh” and so on. Wouldn’t it be great if you could have the effortless play feel and unparalleled craftsmanship found on the 314c, but with a warmer, less strident tone?
If this is a question you’ve ever asked yourself, then you should check out the Taylor 324ce. Sporting the same slim neck profile, comfortable action and “just right” body shape as the 314c, but with a solid tropical mahogany top and urban ash back and sides, the 324ce plays like a classic Taylor but with a rich, midrange-focussed voice that’s less “punchy and powerful” and more “warm and seasoned”. There’s a natural compression to the sound that flatters more intricate playing styles, and it performs particularly well with single-note flatpicking lines where the evenness of the 324ce’s tone all across its range is much more forgiving than its Spruce counterparts. That’s not to say you can’t use this guitar for heavy-handed singer-songwriter style strumming - you absolutely can, but the smoother attack and softer upper midrange may leave you wanting for a little more aggression. Definitely not volume though - the 324ce can get plenty loud, it just does it in a more refined manner than a 314c.
In terms of playing comfort, Taylor has always excelled at making guitars that play effortlessly, and this is no exception. The satin finish feels extremely welcoming and looks absolutely gorgeous. Mahogany is a wood that can look fabulous with the right finish, and downright boring with the wrong one, and Taylor has nailed the look here with a tasteful blackburst that’s perfectly offset by the black pickguard and the striking white pinstripe binding and rosette. Being a Builder’s Edition, the 324ce sports bevelled cutaway and forearm contour that not only improves comfort and upper fret access, but also adds to the elegant and luxurious aesthetic.
Plugged-in tones come courtesy of Taylor’s Expression 2 pickup system, and there’s not much I can say about this system that I haven’t said in countless Taylor reviews already - it’s one of the most natural-sounding and feeling pickups out there with a super simple control set, and doesn’t mar the beautiful side woods with a hulking great lump of plastic. If the recipe is this good, why change it?
The 324ce Builder’s Edition is a very elegant and refined take on the classic Taylor formula. It plays like a Taylor (i.e.: very well) but has a warm and detailed voice that’s perfect for more involved playing styles. It looks every bit as good as it sounds too! If you’ve been looking for the feel of a Taylor with a richer and less forward tone, this might be the guitar for you!
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