Review: The All-Koa Taylor 724ce is a superb Grand Auditorium guitar with exceptional warmth and balance
Excerpt from the November/December 2022 issue of Acoustic guitar | By Greg Olwell
In recent years, good quality acacia koa – an unforgettably beautiful wood that only grows in the Hawaiian Islands – has become harder to find for luthiers. But thanks to Taylor Guitars’ koa reforestation efforts on the Big Island of Hawaii, the company has managed to build up a stockpile of this precious wood. With access to visually stunning, straight-grain sets, Taylor is adding all-koa guitars to its popular 700 series. The new 724ce and its slightly smaller, concert-size sibling 722ce are built with koa with spectacular colors; ultra-fine, open-pore matte finishes; and elegant appointments. I checked out the 724ce and have to say Taylor knocked it out of the park with this koa beauty.
Beautiful inside and out
With intense coloration ranging from light khaki sapwood to dark chocolate brown streaks, the koa used on the review guitar is beautiful enough to stop you in your tracks. But, as anyone who has ever played an all-koa guitar can tell you, koa is more than just a visual feast. It’s an exceptional wood capable of a unique presence and timbre that can really set off your music.
Some tone enthusiasts describe all-koa guitars as sounding part mahogany and part maple, with plenty of midrange warmth and rich tones that mature with play. warm with crisp, sweet highs that are more refined than most other koa guitars I’ve played – more on that in a moment.
From the stained maple pickguard, Indian rosewood binding of the body, to the ebony lid and headplate, natural materials and textures abound on the 724ce. The guitar’s lightweight finish adds to the organic, woody feel of the instrument. The headstock and neck debut Taylor’s new mother-of-pearl fountain inlay, and a paua shell rosette provides a Pacific Island vibe.
The 724ce features a 16-inch-wide Grand Auditorium body, one of Taylor’s signature guitar shapes. Its proportions make it a versatile instrument suitable for strummers and fingerstyle players alike. The Grand Auditorium is quite light and very comfortable to rock while seated or standing (a button fitted to the treble side of the neck heel makes it strap-ready). Its slightly sloped Venetian cutaway is an attractive way to make room for the higher frets. Inside the body is Taylor’s signature V-Class bracing (see “Taylor Rolls the Dice—Again” in the May 2018 issue of AG).
The 25-1/2 inch mahogany neck is a classic Taylor: thin, elegant and perfectly playable. It’s topped with a West African ebony fingerboard, responsibly sourced, like all Taylor ebony, from the company’s factory in Cameroon. A black Tusq nut matches the ebony, and at 1-3/4 inches wide, the neck proportions have a familiar, comfortable feel. The fretwork is spot on, a testament to careful setup and properly seasoned wood, with no irregularities or sharp fret ends to deal with, even during a dry late summer in Northern California. And, in the long run, it’s good to know that if the guitar needs a neck reset, Taylor’s ingenious neck clamp and wedge system will make that repair quick and affordable.
It’s impossible to say if this is due to the proprietary bracing, the meticulous construction, the body shape, or the carefully chosen tonewoods, but the sound of the 724ce is more balanced to my ears than any other koa guitar I’ve had. I played. With an impressive midrange and a tight low end that is never soft or punchy, it has the characteristic warmth and smoothness of a hardwood instrument. The overall tone of the guitar is crisp and dry, with a rich midrange that seems to tie the low and high notes together into a single sound. There’s exceptional clarity in the low end, which is especially good for flatpicked bass notes in standard tuning or fingerpicked parts in open tuning.
But the treble range is where the 724ce sounds particularly special, from chords to single notes. Where many koa guitars can sound a bit crisp and pungent in the treble, the guitar’s top strings sound with a lacy high-end sweetness and a snappy, snappy response that’s also smooth and refined. To use a visual analogy, the treble response of the 724ce is bright and warm like an Edison bulb, compared to the harshness of the LED lights in a convenience store that other koa guitars project.
Something about the sound of this guitar sent me in different musical directions. I went from soft-rock classics of the 1970s to slack-key fingerpicking in open G and D minor. Although I haven’t had any gigs during my time with the 724ce to test out its boosted tone in a live environment, I plugged it in and confirmed that Taylor’s Expression System 2 electronic package is as good as in my memories. It’s precise, responsive, and capable of delivering textured sounds at high volume, which is all you can ask of a mic.
A special treatment
If you’re a finger picker who wants a responsive guitar that not only feels great but offers a very balanced tone, it’s worth looking into the Taylor 724ce. It’s an exceptionally comfortable instrument with an easy-to-play neck, a resonant feel whether fingered or flat, and a shape that doesn’t require you to reach or stretch to get into position. At $3,499, the 724ce is a moderately expensive guitar, but from its balanced sound to its beautiful tonewoods, it offers so much in return. From the first scratch it’s a happy and rich instrument, but it’s a treat knowing that the sound will get even richer as the koa is played more and more.
BODY Grand Auditorium shape with Venetian cutaway; solid koa top, back and sides; class V bracing; maple and black maple binding with Indian rosewood binding; paua shell and Indian rosewood rosette; dark stained figured maple pickguard; water-based matte finish
NECK 25-1/2″ scale tropical mahogany neck with neckerchief joint; 1-3/4″ black Tusq nut; 20-fret ebony fingerboard with 15″ radius and mother-of-pearl/shell fountain inlay; Taylor 18:1 sealed machine heads with polished bronze finish; water-based matte finish
OTHER Taylor Expression System 2 Electronics; Elixir Phosphor Bronze (.012–.053) light gauge strings; brown hard case; limited lifetime warranty; available left handed
THE PRICE $3,499 street
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MADE IN United States