It's not often that a veteran guitar builder introduces an entirely new shape of guitar, but in 2020 that's exactly what Taylor did. In their efforts to bridge the gap between a full-sized, tonally balanced traditional acoustic and the ever-popular travel guitar size, head luthier Andy Powers designed a small-bodied guitar with the volume and bass resonse of a much larger instrument: The Grand Theater.
Interestingly, Powers' inspiration came from an unusual place - the slinky feel of electric guitars.
“If you take a typical 25.5-inch scale length that’s common for, say, a Fender and were to drop-tune that to Eb you kinda get this appealing slinky, easy-feeling guitar, right? A lot of electric guitar players do that. I don’t always do it, but I enjoy the feel of it. But I don’t necessarily want to play drop-tuned. So, to get that same feeling you could capo up one fret and then you’re back at concert pitch, but you still have this really nice slinky feeling."
From this starting point, the Grand Theater shape was developed. An all-solid, American-manufactured acoustic guitar with an entirely new 'C-Class' bracing pattern, 1-23/32" nut width, 24-1/8" and a compact body that sits between the much-loved GS Mini and Taylor's Grand Concert series.
The Grand Theater lineup now includes 7 USA-made models - The GT and GTe (using reclaimed Urban Ash with a Sitka Spruce top), the GTe Blacktop (Walnut back-and-sides with a satin-finished Black Sitka Spruce top), the GTe Mahogany (a gorgeously subtle all-mahogany edition), and Grand Theater-sized additions to it's high-end series', including the GT 611e LTD, the GT 811e and the K21e.
Each of these models have their own personality, and the entry-level GT and GTe are a wonderful starting point. Using reclaimed and sustainable timbers (including reclaimed Ash street trees, and Eucalyptus fretboards), and built to the same exacting standards as the rest of the USA Taylor range, they're the ultimate 'grab and go' acoustic guitar, with a throaty, complex tone that belies their small size.
If you're looking for a warmer tone suited to fingerpicking and alternate tunings, the GTe Mahogany and GTe Blacktop have a thicker, darker sound without becoming muddy, and the gorgeously-appointed GT 611e LTD and 811e have wonderfully rich and strident tone. The K21e is simply stunning, built entirely from Taylor's signature incredibly-figured Koa, resulting in a truly luxurious playing experience.
While there's a variety of tonal options on offer, the Grand Theater range all have the same Goldilocks quality - not too big, not too small, with a slim and very playable neck, and a sense of outright fun that has made the GS Mini such a hit. Powers' has mentioned that this was a fudamental part of the design process:
“The entire philosophy behind this GT guitar was that I want it to be fun to play – make it appealing, make it sound good, but it can’t be a guitar that takes itself too seriously. For me, the measure of merit in an instrument is how much I enjoy playing it. It should be gratifying to play, you know – you should enjoy it and it should make you want to play.”
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