In case you are not familiar with Taylor’s models (like me), the 312ce is a small-body acoustic with a Venetian cutaway and onboard electronics. It is a very comfortable size, with the body measuring around 4 3/8”deep, 15” wide, and 19 ½” long. This guitar has a shorter scale than most acoustics (24 7/8” versus the usual 25 1/2 inches), but this is the same as a Les Paul, which should make those switching over to acoustic from electric happier.
The body is made from Sapele, which is very similar to Mahogany, and the top is made from solid Sitka Spruce with forward shifted braces. The top has a glossy finish and the back and sides have a smooth satin finish. The top and back are bound with black plastic, and there is a faux tortoise shell pickguard (newer ones are black).
This Taylor’s unbound neck (newer ones are bound) has 20 frets, 16 of which are free from the body, thanks to the cutaway. The neck is mahogany with an ebony fretboard (the bridge is ebony too), and there is a very pretty Indian Rosewood peghead overlay and trussrod cover. The nut is 1 ¾” wide and it has a Tusq nut to match the bridge saddle. The nickel-plated sealed tuners hold well, and look so much nicer than chrome, which is as played as brown Louis Vuitton. The neck also has a satin finish, so it feels broken in right out of the box.
The last piece of the puzzle is the electronics package, which is Taylor’s dynamic Expression System pickup and preamp. This is an under the saddle-type piezo, while newer guitars get the ES2 system with a behind the saddle piezo. The three control knobs (volume/treble/bass) are on the upper bout, and the battery access is down by the endpin/¼-inch jack.
Nice years after this guitar was made it is still in great shape. The frets are in wonderful shape and perfectly level, and the finish on the top has darkened handsomely. It has a super-fast neck, and though I have heard that these guitars do their best for fingerstyle, it is a nice strummer, even when digging in. It is certainly not the loudest guitar on the planet, but it has an uncanny brightness and clarity. The top has loosened up nicely over the years, and it is as sweet as can be.
Plugged in, things are also very good. Taylor’s pickup system has a very natural and earthy tone, and it works well at very loud amplified levels without feeding back. When plugged directly into the board there is no hiss or hum, and it sounds exactly like it does unplugged. Impressive! It does all of this without putting the right arm at an uncomfortable angle, and it is easy on the back too, weighing in at around 4 ½ pounds.
The Taylor Grand Concert 312ce is well-made, attractive, a good player, and It sounds wonderful. So, you are going to pay a fairly hefty price if you want to get one into your arsenal. It has a list price of $2,318.00 and a street price of $1799.00, which includes a nice hard case. These guitars seem to sell for around a grand on the used market, which brings them more within the realm of us mortal men. Check one out for yourself and see what you think!