The Taylor 810- one of the most successful acoustic guitars in the USA
The Taylor 810 is NOT A D-28 Clone
Myself, I wasn't aware of Taylor guitars until sometime in the 90's. Taylor guitars, however, have been with us a lot longer than that, and had previously been two different companies in some way or another before becoming Taylor guitars. Bob Taylor is a great American builder of fine acoustic guitars, and besides that, he's a master innovator of guitar design. I can't say I've met Bob Taylor, but I can say I've stood within fifteen foot of him and listened to him talk about Taylor guitars, and guitar building. Among the most prominent of the very many fine models of guitar Bob and Taylor guitars builds is the Taylor 810.
The Taylor 810 is a beautiful guitar any which way you slice it. It's very ornate, features lots of abalone inlay, and starts at a very reasonable price for what one is getting. It's also a guitar built from a combination of woods which is maybe the single most desired combination in the world of steel string guitars, and at the relative size of what is the single most desired size instrument in flat tops the world over as well. What am I talking about? Well, it's a rosewood body dreadnought with a spruce top. It's a guitar built to compete with the nearly ubiquitous Martin D-28, but it's not designed to be one of the very many imitations of a D-28, the Taylor guitar company designs its own designs, and builds things to NOT be either Martin or Gibsons, but rather, Taylors.
While the 14 frets clear of the body and dreadnought sized Taylor 810 can be plainly said to be built to compete with the Martin '28 for being rosewood and spruce top, it's not built to be a replica of the D-28, an improvement of the D-28, or to sound or even look like the D-28. This Taylor 810 is built differently, braced differently, has a different snapped bridge, uses a different wood on the fretboard, has a different shaped pick guard, uses different fretboard or fingerboard inlay positioning markers, doesn't use a herringbone trim, and sounds like a very different guitar while still offering all the things people love about a standard 14 frets clear of the body dreadnought with rosewood back and sides, all solid wood construction, and a spruce top.
The Taylor 810 has been around for a significantly less amount of time than the D-28, but it's also gone through a lot of changes while still maintaining it's original character. There are a lot of these instruments out there, and in lots of different configurations options wise. This guitar is not going away, probably ever. This is a very good thing.
The Taylor 810ce with Tobacco Burst Finish
Woods And Identification Basics
As stated, the 810 is essentially a rosewood and spruce dreadnought with 14 frets clear of the body. There are a lot of options with the 810, and with Taylor guitars, the majority of them I've ever seen were shipped to distributors, or big retail stores like Guitar Center with electronics. Myself, I don't perform, I just play guitar to entertain myself; and so I don't need electronics, but I think a lot of persons will think of the Taylor instruments as rather more modern for having them when a body sees one. Technically, the 810 with electronics is called the 810e, and also, as can be seen in the photo above, the cutaway model is readily available, and would then be called the 810ce.
The standard woods used in the construction of the 810 are East Indian rosewood for the back and sides, Sitka spruce for the top, and mahogany for the neck. The binding on the body is of curly maple, there's a lovely abalone rosette, and abalone fretboard positioning markers Both the fretboard and the bridge are of African ebony, and both the nut and saddle are of bone.
The Taylor 810 Has Lots Of Tonewood Options
The 810 is was and will be a very successful instrument sold and produced in quantity and quality. It's not a guitar you're going to have to search far and wide to find, there's likely always going to be several of them in stock at any Guitar Center, or other music stores or guitar stores in your area. If you live far from any of those kinds of places, you can always get an 810 on amazon.com. If amazon is out of them, don't fret...or...rather, don't worry, as they're going to restock the Taylor 810. It's just one of the best selling and most desired flat tops in the USA, and probably in Europe and other industrialized music loving places too.
Standard wood for back and sides of the 810 is, of course, East Indian rosewood, but Brazilian rosewood 810's are available, as are 810's with Madagascar rosewood bodies. Then, there are 810's without spruce tops, but these will be rare, but are sometimes available. There is on in particular which is beautiful and very different from the crowd, the Taylor 810 DN Sinker with a redwood sinker top. What does "sinker" mean? It means the wood had been submerged in a river or lake for a long period of time for being very dense wood - such guitars are going to be more expensive, and that goes for the Brazilian, the Madagascar, and the sinker. Rest assured, Taylor 810 guitars are also available with Adirondack spruce tops, for a price, of course.
The Taylor 810 DN Sinker With Redwood Top
The following video is great for demonstrating the sound of the standard 810, and if you read the comments over on Youtube you can see me telling a random guy how wrong he is about this or that, and a crowd of folks chiming in alongside me. The video starts off by doing a bit of flatpicking style demonstration - and despite the long running affiliation between Martin guitars and bluegrass and flatpicking, I've been to lots of contests and seen some of the best of the best in flatpicking play Taylor guitars.
Another thing important to the shopper for Taylor 810's is the bracing of the instrument was changed along the way. In 2003 every gloss finish Taylor had its bracing pattern revamped for stronger bass response and more volume. The newer instruments are much louder, and the 810 was already known as a nice loud dreadnought. I'll leave a reference for those interested in the subject of Taylor bracing designs here, but the guitar buyer, in my opinion, should always go with the instrument that sounds and feels the best to him or her while also comparing lots of instruments before investing in one.
A very insubstantial, in my opinion, change to not just the 810, but all Taylor guitars is the very minor and mostly cosmetic pick guard design changes. Let's face it, most of us don't play like Willie Nelson, and so we're not going to wear holes in the top of our expensive guitar for lack of a pick guard. So pickguards aren't always necessary, and especially were one to not use a plectrum to begin with. Regardless of all of that, the Taylor brand went from using the traditional teardrop shape, to a very much more non-Martin shape, and also Taylor's are available with clear or transparent pickguards.
Taylor 810 Demonstration
Taylor Expression System Electronics
Like I stated previously, almost every Taylor I've ever played has been an "e" model with built in pickup and pre-amp. Taylor designed their own stuff, and it is known as the "Expression System." If it weren't outstanding, they'd not be shipping so many of them. I confess I'm no expert on acoustic guitar electronics, but the system is all magnetic, and works like a microphone. A man named David Hosler is the primary designer of the expression system, and there's no doubt Taylor guitars can in this day and age stay at the cutting edge in all manner of acoustic guitar development. There are numerous sensors and thus lots of processed information involved in the Taylor expression system, and the goal, of course, is to amplify the tone of the guitar as if it were not plugged into anything.
Friends, don't let anyone tell you a Taylor is better than a Martin, or that a Martin is better than a Taylor, or Gibson, or Fender, or any other brand. Start with what you know you can spend, and then play as many guitars as possible within that price range to determine what is best for you. I hope this has been useful. Thanks for reading.