Taylor’s New “V-Class” Top Bracing
We are very excited to announce the arrival of Taylor’s new V-Class series of guitars here at Gryphon. Named for the distinctive shape of the new bracing system designed by Andy Powers, the V-Class guitars are an intriguing step forward in guitar evolution. Perhaps the most noticeable attribute of the new guitars is the increase in sustain and overall responsiveness. These guitars produce some impressive sound at the lightest touch and yet they can be played aggressively without breaking up. Another notable feature is the balance of tone up and down the neck. No matter where you play on the neck, the notes ring out clearly without any variation of timbre or volume.
As good as the V-Class guitars sound, and they sound very good, we are perhaps more impressed with the engineering that Andy Powers has put into them. Frank Ford and Richard Johnston have been restoring and repairing guitars for almost 50 years and in that time they have seen just about every style of bracing imaginable. Tone is very important, of course, but structural stability is even more vital. The V brace delivers both. If you look at an X-braced top compared to Taylor’s V-braced top, one of the things you notice is how the upper portion of the V borders the right and left (bass and treble) sides of the soundhole, after going underneath the larger horizontal brace just below the soundhole. Compared to an X-braced top, you can see there’s a lot more bracing that’s in line with the pull of the strings on the bridge. Yes, these long continuous “legs” of that V pattern increase the guitar’s sustain, as Andy Powers points out, and at the same time that long V brace also increases the soundboard’s stability.
Since Gryphon does a lot of repair, that stability issue is a big deal to us. We’re constantly dealing with problems that result when a guitar’s soundboard just can’t withstand the strain of a set of steel strings pulling on the bridge (a set of light gauge strings exerts over 150 lbs of “pull” on a pin bridge). The top bulges behind the bridge under the strain, the top sinks in front of the bridge as that bridge rolls forward under string tension, and often the top gets distorted around the soundhole because right where the top needs to be strongest, there’s a big (sound) hole! This flexibility where you don’t want it also increases the chance of the string action going up and down depending on how the soundboard reacts to changing humidity levels.
We agree that Taylor’s new V-Class guitars sound both different and impressive when compared to a typical X-braced acoustic guitar of similar size and materials, but we feel players will also benefit from a guitar that’s far less likely to need adjustment or repair in order to be optimally playable. If you look at the design, you can see these V-braced Taylor soundboards are a lot stronger, but only where they really need to be. To increase the guitar top’s stability while at the same time improving the volume and sustain is quite an achievement, and so far everyone at Gryphon loves the sound of the V-Class 914ce Taylor sent us. We can’t sell it yet, but you can play it. We’ll be posting videos soon, but there’s nothing like playing a guitar yourself and we hope you’ll do just that.