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NAMM 2018: Taylor V-Class Bracing

by Richard Blenkinsop. Posted on 2018-01-29 13:39:47

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is not a phrase that Taylor's Master Builder, Andy Powers lives by. Powers is constantly striving to innovate and improve - it's partly why Taylor are one of the most popular guitar brands in the world right now. Whilst Taylor have acheived huge success since their first foray into guitar building in the mid 70s, they haven't at all rested on their laurels. Their latest innovation - V-Class Bracing is a new way of bracing the acoustic guitar that increases both sustain and volume.

Since the 1840s, when C F Martin came up with X bracing, not a great deal has changed in how builders construct acoustic guitars. We've seen things like the Kasha bracing on the Gibson Mark series in the 70s, but the majority of steel string acoustics use some sort of X-style bracing; even Bob Taylor claims that that's just how acoustic guitars were made. The only problem with this is that it's nigh on impossible to increase volume without decreasing sustain, and vice cersa. This bothered Andy Powers so he set out to do something alter that - enter Taylor V-Class bracing.

Volume is generally attributed to the flexibility of the top, and sustain to the rigidity, or stiffness of it. As the name suggests, instead of an X, Powers based this new bracing on a V - see the pictures below (it's very slightly reminiscent of the tone bars you'd see inside a mandolin, or archtop guitar). The bracing runs nearly parallel to the strings, thus increasing stiffness where it really matters, which in turn, keeps the strings in motion. The V bracing also controls the top's flexibility - it allows it move in a more orderly rocking motion, which in turn, gives you more volume.

A very forunate by-product of increasing sustain and volume with Taylor's new V-Class bracing, was that it also improved the guitar's intonation. Notes played anywhere on the neck are completely in tune. You might not notice that the guitar is more in tune, per se, but open chords, barre chords - anything that creates some sort of harmony will sound richer as there's less friction between the harmonics that are ringing out. Also, more and more people now are playing alongside digital instruments; keyboards, synths, software-based instruments etc. Having a guitar with better intonation will mean that it will lock in better with those on both recordings and in live performances. Bottom line; the new Taylor V-Class bracing make your guitar more in tune and sound better.

Taylor will be gradually introducing V-Class bracing on all American-made guitars. It's not going to drastically change the voice of Taylor guitars, it's going to enhance it. It takes a brave man to go against over 150 years of tradition but it would appear that for Andy Powers, it's really paid off.


By Richard Blenkinsop for Reidys. Posted on 2018-01-29 13:39:47