Part of Taylor Guitars Master Builder Andy Powers' philosophy in building guitars is to make each one better than the last. This can be seen in countless Taylor models, from the Grand Pacific body shape to the limited Builder’s Edition releases. Since 2011, Powers has been an active part of Taylor Guitars mantra of continually moving forward. With several great innovative instrument designs to his name, Powers has already created quite the legacy.
Following the successful release of the Taylor 800 Series, Powers returned to the Taylor Guitars factory in El Cajon, California to face the ever-present question shared by all artists, "what next?". Today, Taylor Guitars V-Class bracing is a revolutionary step in acoustic guitar design. Engineered by Powers, V-Class bracing seeks to bring acoustic guitars into a new realm previously beyond imagination.
The Compromise: Volume vs. Sustain
Andy Powers identified an inescapable compromise shared by all acoustic guitar builders. Following conventional design and wisdom, traditional acoustic guitar design presented a limit to two critical qualities. Volume and sustain were at odds with one another, making guitar builders choose between the two resulted in an inevitable path that forked. While quality acoustic guitars had been constructed for generations, Powers believed that fundamentally altering the bracing design could break the paradox that boxed in the industry.
How could two vital qualities exist without one affecting the other? Physical design specifications influenced this conflict, where rigidity produces excellent sustain and flexibility produces excellent volume. Thus, if you make the top sturdy, you’ll have a powerful sustain, while leaving it pliable will allow a much stronger projection. The consensus historically was the idea of finding a “sweet spot” where both were accommodated.
Designing Taylor V-Class
Starting with a clean slate and taking internal architecture back to square one, Powers reevaluated traditional bracing. While examining the conflict between sustain and volume, Powers also attested that traditional “X”-shaped brace tops worked to, in a sense, control every quality of an acoustic guitar’s tone at once. With a braced top designed to accommodate all aspects in sound, there is certain to be loss in some qualities over others. Traditional shaped bracing inherently prevented some tonal qualities from not shining as brightly. Powers designed a bracing pattern that allowed each part of the internal architecture to contribute to the overall sound, rather than a pattern that left stones unturned.
V-Class bracing exists as an alternative to traditional “X”-shaped internal bracing. With its “V”-shaped internal bracing pattern underneath the top wood, V-Class bracing provides new avenues for air displacement through the internal structure. The conflict between volume and sustain, flexibility and rigidity, is remedied by a top that is rigid in a “V” shape parallel to the strings and flexible as it moves outward toward the body’s edges. Powers describes the movement of V-Class top wood as teetering left and right as if on an axis parallel to the strings. Where traditional “X”-shaped bracing would allow the top to move more freely and randomly, V-Class normalizes the vibration and resonation produced in playing to a predictable and more stable pattern of movement.
The V-Class idea fundamentally changes the characteristics of the top. You could have stiffness parallel to the strings to get the sustain and the rigidity that you want. You could have flexibility on either side to get the air movement you wanted. And in doing that, you could create so much order, so much responsiveness.
- Andy Powers
This new model of design not only allows variation in shape, but also precise intonation. V-Class bracing affects the projection and movement of an acoustic guitar but also enhances intonation to ensure accuracy in tuning and prevent any dissonance between strings. With this, along with a balance between rigidity and flexibility, Taylor V-Class bracing reinvents and revitalizes acoustic guitar internal architecture. Powers calls it, "a new sonic engine."
Exploring V-Class Bracing
Volume and sustain now live harmoniously together. Successful across each Taylor series and body shape, V-Class bracing introduces a new dynamic where each new note is as impressive as the last. A single picked note reaches the same fulfilling apex as a large, resonant chord. The iconic Taylor Guitar voice has not been lost among this new revolution, rather, it has been taken to the next realm in acoustic guitar design.
Andy Powers encourages players to explore with V-Class bracing and think about music making in ways they have not yet considered. V-Class bracing is a wildly exciting and promising development in acoustic guitar design and with new horizons to meet and frontiers to explore, players can trust in Taylor.