Taylor 30th Anniversary XXX-RS Acoustic Guitar - ProSoundNetwork.com

Taylor 30th Anniversary XXX-RS Acoustic Guitar

In late 2004, to commemorate 30 years of guitar making, Bob Taylor introduced a limited run of XXX-RS, a Grand Concert series guitar with a slightly shorter, scale length, slotted peg head, and elaborate inlay that is offered in a variety of woods.
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In late 2004, to commemorate 30 years of guitar making, Bob Taylor introduced a limited run of XXX-RS, a Grand Concert series guitar with a slightly shorter, scale length, slotted peg head, and elaborate inlay that is offered in a variety of woods.
Product PointsPrice: $5,398

Player Style: Fingerstyle steel-string, accoustic-electric or all accoustic

Recommended Venues: Studio-plugged in or direct, Live-plugged in or direct

Body Size: Grand Concert

Construction: Solid Sitka spruce top,solid Indian rosewood, one-piece mahogany neck

Finish: UV-cured polyurethane

Neck Scale Length: 24.75-inches

Nut Width: 1.75 inches

Special Features: Slotted head stock, Sloan-Waverly open tuners, special in-lays, optional Expression Active Preamp

Contact: Web Site
Every so often Taylor introduces a series of limited editions with features not available on regular models. Many of these features end up on regular models in subsequent releases.

Features

The XXX-RS components include a solid Indian rosewood body, an exquisite, Sitka spruce top, and a satin-finished mahogany neck with an ebony fret board, high-end Waverly tuners, and a Tusq nut and saddle.

The internal bracing is borrowed from 2002 and later high-end Taylor guitars. The X-bracing is shifted forward to about 1-inch from the soundhole, which offers stronger bass and allows the guitar to stay clean when attacked hard with a pick.

The guitar has quite the "wow" factor at first glance. The smaller body, pearl/18k gold-inlay work and a classic slotted peg head -- a typical feature for steel strings prior to 1930 -- seem to meld together guitar-making from the turn-of-the-last two centuries; it is "early 1900s meets early 2000."

The construction is what you would expect from Taylor. The spruce top is adorned with an abalone edge, and the 20 frets are edged and crowned beautifully in an ebony fret board.

The XXX-RS is built with modern production methods, including computer machining for consistent, accurate build, bolt-on necks and UV cured polyurethane finishes.

A peek inside shows the detail that goes into them. There is no trace of glue beading or stray splinters. In fact, the entire guitar, along with the gloss finish, is clean and pristine.

Dimension-wise, the guitar has an overall length of 40.5 inches with a body that measures 19.5 inches wide, 15-inches wide and 4 3/8-inches deep.

Those dimensions, along with the shorter scale length of 24 7/8 inches, makes for a very comfortable playing guitar. The neck width is 1 3/4 inches at the nut.

The guitar I reviewed shipped with Taylor's own Expression System electronics, developed by Taylor and Rupert Neve. With three, low-profile control knobs located on the upper shoulder, the electronics do not detract from guitar's look.

The guitar lives safely and securely in an included Taylor deluxe hard-shell case. The price for this limited edition beauty, with optional Expression electronics, is a rather high price of $5,398 retail. But they built less than 300 of them.

The Audition

The guitar comes out of the case ready to play. The setup and feel of the guitar make it a pleasure to play. The compensated bridge and comfortable action just seem to invite you to travel up the neck. Notes speak clearly and sustain surprisingly well with no buzzing.

The XXX-RS is a responsive guitar that works well for finger picking. In my experience, other small body Taylors tend to compress when you really lay into them with a pick. This model does not compress because of the forward-shifted bracing.

Sonically, this guitar plays well with others in the studio. Because you're not dealing with a dreadnought-sized instrument, this is a well-balanced acoustic that would find its own sonic space on a track. On many sessions, recording engineers end up EQing a bigger-body guitar to tame the extra bass that comes from miking. The XXX-RS has a nice midrange focus -- without the low end loading up or overtaking the sound.

At their worst, acoustic pickup systems can sound harsh in the mid tones with smacky-piezo highs, blubberous low end, and a lack of dynamic range. The Rupert Neve-Taylor Expression System takes a step forward in solving the direct acoustic dilemma.

Does it sound exactly like a miked up acoustic? No, but the overall electronic tone of the guitar is much smoother and has increased dynamic range. It really sounds good. In the studio, you could mike the guitar up and pan it to one side, then take the direct sound to another track and pan it to the other side.

If you have heard a player that has jumped through hoops to get a good live sound with high quality outboard preamps -- and a tube DI box to sweeten things up, this is what the Expression System can do right out of the box.

The Expression system comes with a stereo 1/4-inch to XLR cable that allows you to plug right into a console. You can use a normal guitar cable, but the output is lower and you would probably need the DI box then.

Summary

So who would be interested in this type of guitar? The acoustic sound is intimate, responsive and a natural for finger-style, but by no means does that rule out strumming or flatpicking. The size makes for a friendly-to-handle guitar and is perfect for intimate songwriting sessions as well as studio and road work.

In the studio, the Taylor is perfect without the need for extensive EQ. Plus the electronics give the engineer a great-sounding DI.