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Taylor's new Expression System

michael saulnier

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I recently had a chance to try several Taylor guitars with their new acoustic pickup system.


The idea is interesting... change the way acoustic guitars convert sound into amplified sound... It uses multiple devices, including a part that senses the "top" and the movement of it...


In practice I found the sound quality, (using just a regular guitar cord) to be good, perhaps not "earth shattering"... maybe other cords would have a different result.


But I did notice a problem that makes this system a concern for my technique...


The very sensors that are designed to more accurately amplify the guitar are also "hyper-sensitive" to normal "movement" of your arm and hands on the guitar.


When I strummed the strings for example the sound of my arm lightly moving across the sound board was GREATLY amplified... to my dismay.


Hand "squeeks" were likewise highly amplified compared to "normal" amplification...


In order to play without these distrations, I would have to change my technique substantially including COMPLETELY removing my pick hand arm from touching the guitar... I'm not sure if I could always feel comfortable doing this...


Considering I wasn't "jaw-dropped" with "improved" sound quality... this system makes me believe I'm not missing something important...


Perhaps future versions of these systems will be able to better compensate for these issues while continuing to improve the sound quality...


I'm willing to keep trying them until they do...


So what about you?


Have you tried a new Taylor with this installed... if so, what did you think?


Did you experience the same thing I did?



I'm still "guitplayer"!

Check out my music if you like...



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I have a Taylor 12 string with a Martin Gold Line pick-up installed. I found that it amplified any pick noises that happened when my guitar pick hit the pick gaurd, while recording. To fix this, I tape a piece of foam rubber, onto the pick gaurd, where the pick was hitting it, and the little clicking noises I was hearing on the recordings stopped. Other than that, I've been very happy with the Gold Line Pick for recording. I run it thru a Tubessence pre-amp, and it sounds really good.


I haven't noticed any sqweaking hand noises though.

Living' in the shadow,

of someone else's dream....

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I have played a few of Taylors with the expression system and my reaction is similar to yours. Good but not great. It is also not a revolutionary system as they advertise. It is just a magnetic pickup (although hidden under the fretboard) and a couple of top mounted transducers going through a good pre-amp. Michael Hedges was doing this years ago with a Sunrise and a Trace system. I've been doing it for years with a Sunrise and a McIntyre going to a Sunrise stereo buffer box and then to a Raven PMB-1. (the best system I've heard IMHO)


The problem you mention of hyper-amplifying the artifacts is a function of placement of the top mounted transducer and it's type. You want to amplify some of those sounds for your guitar to sound "acoustic" but not too much. I think my McIntyre mounted on the bridge plate does a great job of just that.



"once it stops bein' a mystery it stops bein' true"

David Mowaljarlai - Ngarinyin Aboriginal Elder

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