Sunday, December 19, 2010

Taylor GC-8 review & GC series

I recently met Bob Taylor when he visited Gryphon Strings in Palo Alto, California. This was an informal mini-show that was very informative and genuinely fun. Bob spoke about his two factories and how he entered the business after purchasing a small shop from a person who was leaving the guitar repair business. The entire meeting was well over two hours long and Bob was very generous with his time and insites. I'll save the information for another post.

Bob did bring some really nice guitars a long with him and several caught my attention. One guitar was a 12 fret short scale guitar without a cut-away, spruce top, and ovangkol body and sides. The tone was not over-bearing and the beauty was astounding. Not one to simply review a guitar based on beauty, I found that the guitar had a decent bass response to finger picking and a nice balance with a pick. The guitars that Bob Taylor brought on tour certainly were meant to provoke some serious GAS! The simplicity of this guitar is an excellent segue to the Taylor Grand Concert series.

The Taylor GC line starts at an affordable $1300 range. The target audience are light strummers and finger pickers. The body is smaller than the x14 series of Taylor instruments. All of these instruments are made in the USA and more importantly - California. My subject model is a GC-8 with Sitka Spruce top and Indian Rosewood back and sides. The inlays are abalone as is the rosette. The spruce shows some light bear claw but is mostly flawless. The neck is mahogany and the fingerboard is ebony with ivoroid binding. This guitar is by no means a cherry-picked guitar and is a random choice in terms of this review. I think the most important part about a review is what input can I give that isn't represented by the manufacturer's website?

I am used to playing Grand Auditorium sized guitars so the first thing I noticed was the smaller rear bout on this guitar. A larger person might find this size guitar to be less desirable due to the lack of arm support while smaller people will welcome the petite body. The fingerboard is a 15 inch radius and the neck size is neither small nor a boat neck. The neck shape is distinctly different than the V style of Martin guitars. I love the Martin necks but this neck is a very comfortable neck and easy to grip. The frets are cut well with no overhang and butted to the edge of the fingerboard. The super cool feature is the slotted headstock. This design affords easy access to the tuning knobs and makes tuning a joy. However, some might complain about string installation with this configuration because one must employ a little more effort when holding the strings and turning the tuning keys. This complaint about the slotted headstock is the same fuss I've heard about 99% of all classical guitars and unless you are changing strings daily, it shouldn't be an issue--hardly a deal breaker for this player. The scale is 24 7/8th which is great for a personal guitar. The size of this model's body makes for sensible volume levels where it will top out if you strum hard. If you employ aggressive strumming then you should seek a different model guitar with a larger body and longer scale as this guitar never had that style of playing in mind as a functional requirement.

Playability is awesome if you love blues or folk finger picking. The short scale affords easier string bends due to reduced string tension per scale. The tone is slightly brighter than a Martin 000-28 which many consider to be an alternative. I tuned the GC-8 guitar down for a little slide playing and found that this style is not a perfect match for this guitar. In contrast, my Taylor 514 CE plays far better in slide style and I attribute this to the 25.5 inch scale. As a side note, I am not sold on the coated strings of any brand (see article) but I think many people will appreciate the coated string's ability to reduce string oxidation. A plectrum user might find this guitar to be an appreciable challenge at first but a little time on the instrument provided me with broad array of tones short on only deep baritone values of which I didn't expect from this size and type of instrument.

Portability of the instrument is excellent especially since it fits most airplane over head compartments. The case fits fine but I don't like the fixed handles which I've found to be subject to premature wear but otherwise the case is rugged and protective.

Most of the Taylor GC models do not come with pickups or the expression system although you can order this guitar to be custom built with the expression system as well as a variety of wood combinations.

I would strongly suggest trying out one of these guitars even if you have decided to purchase a long scale dreadnought guitar. The wonderful playability, portability, pleasing aesthetics and delightful tone might fuel your desire to diversify your guitar quiver.

More musician jokes!

What's the difference between an oboe and an onion?
No one cries when you chop up an oboe.

What's the difference between a bassoon and a trampoline?
You take off your shoes when you jump on a trampoline.

Why did the chicken cross the road?
To get away from the bassoon recital.

Why do clarinetists leave their cases on the dashboard?
So they can park in the handicapped zones.

What is "perfect pitch?"
When you lob a clarinet into a toilet without hitting the rim.

What's the definition of a nerd?
Someone who owns his own alto clarinet.

What do you call a bass clarinetist with half a brain?

What's the difference between a lawn mower and a soprano sax?
You can tune a lawn mower, and the neighbors are upset if you borrow a lawn mower and don't return it.

If you were lost in the woods, who would you trust for directions: an in-tune tenor sax player, an out of tune tenor sax player, or Santa Claus?
The out of tune tenor sax player. The other two indicate you are hallucinating.

How do you make a chain saw sound like a baritone sax?
Add vibrato.

How do you make a trombone sound like a french horn?
Stick your hand in the bell and play all the wrong notes.

What's the difference between a dead trombonist in the road and a dead snake in the road?
Skid marks in front of the snake.

What's the difference between a dead trombonist in the road and a dead country singer in the road?
The country singer might've been on his way to a recording session.

How do you improve the aerodynamics of a trombonist's car?
Take the Domino's Pizza sign off the roof.

What kind of calendar does a trombonist use for his gigs?

What's the range of a tuba?
About twenty yards, if you have a good arm.

What's a tuba for?
1-1/2" by 3-1/2".

What do you call someone who hangs around with musicians?
A drummer.

What does a timpanist say when he gets to work?
"Would you like fries with that, sir?"

What did the drummer get on his I.Q. test?

"Hey buddy, how late does the band play?"
"Oh, about a half a beat behind the drummer."

How can you tell when a drummer is at your door?
The knock gets faster.

How can you tell when a soprano is at your door?
You can't. She can't find the key, and doesn't know when to come in.

How long does a harp stay in tune?
About twenty minutes, or until someone opens the door.

Why are a violinist fingers like lightning?
They rarely strike the same spot twice.

How can you tell if a violin is out of tune?
The bow is moving.

Why is a violinist like a scud missile?
Both are offensive and inaccurate.

What do violists use for birth control?
Their personalities.

How do you make a violin sound like a viola?
Sit in the back and don't play.

What's the difference between a violist and a dog?
The dog knows when to stop scratching.

Did you hear about the violist who bragged he could play 32nd notes? The rest of the orchestra didn't believe him, so he proved it by playing one.

Why are violins smaller than violas?
They really are the same size, but the violinists' heads are bigger.

What's the difference between violists and terrorists?
Terrorists have sympathizers.

How do you make a cello sound beautiful?
Sell it and buy a violin.

What's the difference between a cello and a coffin?
The coffin has the corpse inside.

Why are orchestra intermissions limited to 20 minutes?
So you don't have to re-train the cellists.

One string bass player was so bad, even his section noticed.

How do you put a twinkle in a soprano's eye?
Shine a flashlight in her ear.

What's the definition of a gentleman?
One who knows how to play the accordion, but doesn't.

If you took all the tenors in the world and laid them end to end...
it would be a good idea.

Where's a tenor's resonance?
Where his brain should be.

What do you call ten baritones at the bottom of the ocean?
A good start.

What's the definition of a male quartet?
Three men and a tenor.

If you drop a conductor and a watermelon off a tall building, which will hit the ground first?
Who cares?

What's the difference between a conductor and a sack of fertilizer?
The sack.

What's the definition of an optimist?
A choral director with a mortgage.

What's another definition of an optimist?
An accordion player with a pager.

A musician calls the symphony office to talk to the conductor.
"I'm sorry, he's dead," comes the reply.
The musician calls back 25 times, always getting the same reply form the receptionist.
At last she asks him why he keeps calling.
"I just like to hear you say it."

Why do bagpipers walk when they play?
To get away from the sound.

How do you get a violist to play down bow staccato?
Put a tenuto mark over a whole note and mark it "solo."

What's the best recording of the Walton Viola Concerto?
"Music Minus One"

How do you get a cellist to play fortissimo?
Write "pp, espressivo" on the music.

What's the difference between a soprano and the PLO?
You can negotiate with the PLO.

Three guys are sitting at a bar.

#1: "...Yeah, I make $75,000 a year after taxes."
#2: "What do you do for a living?"
#1: "I'm a stockbroker. How much do you make?
#2: "I should clear $60,000 this year."
#1: "What do you do?"
#2: "I'm an architect."
The third guy has been sitting there quietly, staring into his beer, when the others turn to him.
#2: "Hey, how much do you make per year?"
#3: "Gee...hmmm...I guess about $13,000."
#1: "Oh yeah? What kind of sticks do you use?"