We’ve always been big fans of cedar top guitars here at Gryphon so we were pleased to see Taylor offer the wood on the 514ce. The mix of cedar and mahogany produces a guitar with clarity, a focused midrange and lots of sustain. Cedar responds well to a light touch and fingerpickers seem to really take to guitars built with it.

Named for the distinctive shape of the new bracing system designed by Andy Powers, the V-Class guitars are an intriguing step forward in guitar evolution. Perhaps the most noticeable attribute of the new guitars is the increase in sustain and overall response. These guitars produce impressive sound at the lightest touch and yet they can be played aggressively without breaking up. Another notable feature is the balance of tone up and down the neck. No matter where you play on the neck, the notes ring out clearly without any variation of timbre or volume.

As good as the V-Class guitars sound we’re even more impressed with the engineering that Andy Powers has put into them. Frank Ford and Richard Johnston have been restoring and repairing guitars for almost 50 years and so have seen just about every style of bracing imaginable. Tone is very important, of course, but structural stability is equally vital. The V brace delivers both. If you look at an X-braced top compared to Taylor’s V-braced top you’ll notice how the upper portion of the V borders the right and left (bass and treble) sides of the soundhole, after going underneath the larger horizontal brace just below the soundhole. Compared to an X-braced top, there’s a lot more bracing that’s in line with the pull of the strings on the bridge. Yes, these long continuous “legs” of that V pattern increase the guitar’s sustain, as Andy Powers points out, and that long V brace also increases the soundboard’s stability.

Since Gryphon does a lot of repair long-term stability issue is a big deal to us. We’re constantly dealing with problems that result when a guitar’s soundboard just can’t withstand the strain of a set of steel strings pulling on the bridge (a set of light gauge strings exerts over 150 lbs of “pull” on a pin bridge). The top bulges behind the bridge under the strain, the top sinks in front of the bridge as that bridge rolls forward under string tension, and often the top gets distorted around the soundhole because right where the top needs to be strongest, there’s a big (sound) hole! This flexibility where you don’t want it also increases the chance of the string action going up and down depending on how the soundboard reacts to changing humidity levels.

stock no. 55175

Model514ce, V Class
TopWestern Red Cedar
Back and sidesTropical Mahogany
Frets to body14
Nut width1-3/4"
Scale length25-1/2"
Bridge materialWest African Ebony
Fretboard MaterialWest African Ebony
Neck materialTropical Mahogany
CaseOrig. Hard
InlayCentury
ElectronicsExpression System 2
CutawayYes
BracingV-Class with Relief Rout
BindingTortoise
RosetteGrained Ivoroid/Tortoise/Grained Ivoroid
Total frets20
Serial No1111068082
FinishGloss
TunersTaylor Nickel