REVIEW > TAYLOR
sunburst finish that fades in what seems like
a thousand subtle shades, from warm honey
to amber to a deep chocolate.
The rosette is a tasteful 3-ring array that
echoes the subtle pinstriping in the ivoroid
binding and the ivoroid diamond inlay.
The mahogany neck is also dressed up in a
lovely satin-finished sunburst that mirrors
the shading of the sunburst top and the
guitar’s overall mid-century Gibson aura. It
all adds up to a look that’s beautifully balanced between classic and contemporary.
About the only aspects of the 710ce’s
design that clearly walk on the modern side
of the vintage-contemporary divide are the
Venetian cutaway and the controls for the
Expression System electronics—a 3-button
array that bears an uncanny resemblance to
flattened chocolate drops (not a bad look
for the very cocoa-hued rosewood sides) and
that really couldn’t be more unobtrusive.
The whole is immaculately constructed—
flawless bracing and kerfing on the inside,
and seamless joints and binding all around.
This interesting middle ground between
rosewood and mahogany tones is a potential
boon for singer-songwriter types who take
a dynamic approach to strumming.
Set up as it was with medium strings,
our 710ce was a flatpickers dream. The 1
3/4" nut made the string spacing just right
for that playing style, but it’s the fast action,
superb articulation, and ringing, even
volume from string to string that make
bluegrass and country blues runs a pleasure.
That said, the string-to-string balance does
seem to come at the expense of some of the
projection and bass output you expect from
a dreadnought. And, given the rosewood
back and sides, you’d expect a much more
booming tone signature. Instead, the 710ce
has the slightly softer attack of a mahogany-
backed dread—no bad thing, and perhaps
even preferable, depending on your tastes—
but certainly unexpected given the expanse
of beautiful rosewood on its backside.
This interesting middle ground between
rosewood and mahogany tones is a potential boon for singer-songwriter types who
take a dynamic approach to strumming.
Even though the guitar has a softer attack
than your average rosewood-backed dread,
it won’t easily blur or overdrive when you
really attack the guitar. The superb string-to-string articulation pays dividends in this
situation, too. But it’s most splendorous
when you dabble in folk-rock chord arpeggios and jazzy country chord
phrases, both of which showcase the 710ce’s
knack for lingering, chiming notes and a
mellow picking approach.
The Expression System, while feedback
resistant and intuitive, isn’t ideal for every
player. Its strong suit is handling midrange-heavy strumming and arpeggio work that’s
spacious enough to take advantage of the
instrument’s strong string definition. In flatpicking situations, the Expression System
sounds a little more compressed. While
really attacking bass notes with a heavy pick
at high volume won’t induce rumble and
feedback like a lot of piezo systems, you do
lose a little dynamic range.
Straight Down the Middle
The 710ce is a really agreeable guitar from
the minute you pick it up. You can shape
barre chords all the way to the 12th fret
without a bit of strain or hearing a hint of
sour intonation. The action is on the lowish
side of medium, but it’s also very even—
suggesting an almost-perfect neck angle.
And while our guitar came set up with
medium-gauge strings, the 710ce would
be ideal for a lighter setup to benefit fleet-fingered, bend-fixated fingerstylists.
Rosewood dreadnought traditionalists—the
ones who favor the husky, barrel-chested-
but-singing sounds of pre-war and mid-cen-
tury dreads—may find the 710ce lacking
some of the bombast of those instruments.
But the 710ce inhabits a world all its own:
The midrangey, ringing, and slightly com-
pressed tones that the guitar generates in
flatpicking situations work beautifully for
ringing chords. It sounds nice and tight in
rhythm situations, too—neither too bossy
nor too bright—which begs the question
about how the guitar will
sound as it ages and warms
up a touch. It’s not too
much of a stretch to
imagine the 710ce
taking on an almost
J-45-like balance. With
electronics that are both
adaptable and easy to
work with, and build qual-
ity and playability that are excellent by any
measure, the 710ce feels a little like the gui-
tar equivalent of an Audi—rock solid, ver-
satile, and nimble, if not weak-in-the-knees
superlative. The sum of these attributes,
however, is a dreadnought you can count
on in just about any performance situation,
and it’s that kind of never-let-you-down
reliability that, over time, can make a guitar
Pros: Exceptional quality. Gig-ready electronics.
Handsome style. Sweet, slightly compressed midrange
that’s ideal for folk rock and strumming.
Taylor 710ce, $2,799 street, taylorguitars.com
Cons: Not as much punch as you’d expect from
rosewood. A tad expensive.
PREMIER GUITAR JUNE 2012 157