Taylor 562ce 12 string ... Is there such a thing as a civilised 12 string?

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Oldbones
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Taylor 562ce 12 string ... Is there such a thing as a civilised 12 string?

Postby Oldbones » Sat Jul 15, 2017 5:40 pm

So, here I am, an old codger of 71yrs, going on 72 with dodgey lungs and a dodgey finger or two who is about to write a review about what, to my mind (the sanity of which several have questioned), is the best 12 string guitar I’ve ever been mad enough to buy.

As you may know from my previous posts, I’m a confirmed and incurable 12SNJ (12 String Nut Job). Although I wouldn’t dream of parting with my Admira Capricho, nor my Taylor GS Mini nor my last remaining electric, a wonderful PRS semi-hollow, I did decide to surrender my hitherto favourite 12 - the Vintage VE8000PB-12. I still rate this as an outstanding guitar and I have only boundless thanks for both Paul Brett and Vintage for putting me back in touch with 12s after the accident which nadgered my left hand, but the time has come to move on especially as even the much-loved PB12 was proving a little uncomfortable to play at times.

That was how and when I encountered the Taylor 562ce and my resolve to never to need to buy another 12 after the PB12 dissolved into just so much mush and whimsy. For one thing, I adore my GS Mini – for me it’s the perfect acoustic 6 string and I’ve liked every Taylor guitar I’ve ever had the chance to play or handle. Astonishingly, the 562 plays just as well and just as easily as the Mini. Indeed, the dreaded F shape (without barré) is easy right down the length of the fretboard. The Taylor connection and Taylor neck was a definite plus … although, as I’ll explain, I do have one unexpected but slight niggle with it ***.

12s can be a real challenge to play, even modern 12s. By far the majority are dreadnought or jumbo sizes and styles. The 562 has a shorter scale which definitely reduces tension on the neck and makes the instrument a lot easier to play or – as one review put it – it feels more ‘slinky’. The fretboard joins the body at the 12th fret so this is definitely a small guitar – but only in size, not in terms of sound nor tone.

Paul accurately described the VE8000 as a ‘lap or couch twelve string’ and that appellation also applies to the 562. You can happily sit in an armchair or on a settee and play it with ease if you want to. That is rarely possible with a dreadnought and definitely not comfortable with a jumbo. (Both being sizes that I now just don’t enjoy playing even a 6ers).

Before deciding to try a 562, I scoured Youtube and found a lot of excellent reviews but one interested me more than the others because although the actual demos are very simple, the demonstrator also has an impaired left hand.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Psp6uvS85d4

Two other Youtube uploads convinced me to track down a 562 and try it for myself:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLoK-vOCg4k&t=47s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4Zt8vFh0W4

I won’t bore you with endless details about specifications as you can easily find these for yourself on any website for a dealership which sells them, save to say that the 562ce has an all mahogany body whereas the 552ce has a natural cedar top and mahogany sides and back.

So – here’s the personal and subjective bit of my review --- What has been MY response to paying what is, for me, a LOT of money for this instrument?

In a word --- Awe. It truly is an astonishing guitar. As you’ll have inferred, I’m happy to admit that I’m a big fan of Taylor guitars. I know some folks aren’t. But this is a Taylor par excellence. It not only looks stunning, it plays so easily that if it wasn’t for the classic 12 string sound, I’d think I was playing a 6 stringer. It’s THAT deceptive and easy. The action is light so that I can play notes that are little more than soft chimes, or I can put some real pressure into the attack and the response is a melodious roar. That being said, this isn’t a guitar to thrash, it’s too subtle for that. It has a powerful voice, but you wouldn’t pitch it against a dreadnought or jumbo in the Volume Stakes. In terms of harmonics, they ring bell-clear at the 7th, 12th and17th frets and then directly over the end of the fingerboard as well as on several places directly over the soundhole. Harmonics at the 5th are there but weaker.

I play a little fingerstyle – very basic stuff in my own humbly-jumbly style – but mostly I play with a medium pick or my thumb. The 562 just seems to make me want to play something new every time I pick it up. I agree with those who say that’s the mark of a good instrument – that if there’s something about it which makes you want to try something different or more challenging or just new, then it’s special.

I’m not a great guitarist. Compared to Gordon I’m a Neanderthal, but I still love to pick up a guitar (or uke) and play for my own pleasure and satisfaction as a way of relaxing. The 562 encourages that sort of response in spades. It IS expensive. There’s no denying that, but even at that level, I still feel as if I got a lot more for my money than “just” a good guitar.

Now is probably the right time to mention that tiny niggle … possibly because the 562 has a shorter scale and therefore has reduced tension in the strings, it does not like being down-tuned by the full tone that I usually prefer to use with 12s. The high octave 4th string in particular develops a noticeable irritating buzz when played open***. However, even at standard EADGBE tuning, the guitar plays so smoothly all down the fretboard that it’s hard to believe it’s a 12. Perhaps the down-tune buzz is an acceptable penalty for such a low action?

I haven’t had the chance to try my own comparison between the 562 and 552 but you get some idea of any differences in sound and tone from that first comparative Youtube link I listed. My own experience of the 562 is that for a 12, it’s ‘jangle’ is possibly a little too civilised and constrained for the hard-line janglers out there. Its sound is very rounded and although you can accentuate the trebly highs when you need to, in essence this is a guitar capable of huge subtlety. And that isn’t something you often say about a 12.

Unamplified, the sound and tone are simply lovely across the full range from quiet arpeggios to full-on picking or strumming. This isn’t a guitar that can get out of control. But how is it when amplified using Taylor’s Expression System 2?

In another word - “Excellent”, at least 90% the same sound as when unamplified. I use a small 10w Stagg acoustic amp, so with a better spec you would probably get an even better result. I know many folks use a combination of mic and pickup to fully balance the sound. You have to be careful with the bass if you’re near your amp as there can be a real boomy feedback. An inbuilt phase switch does help a good deal with this. You can also adjust the sensitivity of pickup sensors which can be accessed behind the saddle. I haven’t done this but I noticed a very harsh clicking on the 2nd string pair when using a pick on those strings. I suspect that the factory settings are a smidgin’ off, When I play electro, I will bear this in mind and use a softer pick or (as I often do) the rounded end of a pick.

Perhaps the final review notes need to be about the one item that is often overlooked … the case. This is beautifully made and to describe the interior as ‘plush’ would be like describing Chet Atkins as ‘a bit of a strummer’. If you’ve ever seen those old tea caddies in which the inner canisters hiss as they slide into place because the fit is so perfect – that’s what this case is like for the body of the guitar.

As far as I can see, you can’t upload images into the forum unless you have them stored online, so I’ll just have to leave any readers of this review to go look for themselves. It’s definitely worth the effort.

So there you have it. I subtitled this review “Is there such a thing as a civilised 12 string?”. My answer is definitely “Yes” --- but civilisation can very easily break free of its constraints and let rip. So too can the 562.

*** The curious case of the buzz on the 4th has been resolved thanks to a reply to an email I sent to Reidys from whom I bought the instrument. See my reply to the comment that Brad made after I posted this review.
Last edited by Oldbones on Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.
It isn't how fast you can play that counts - it's that you only play as fast as you need to play that is important.
Silence can be as eloquent as sound.

BRC
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Re: Taylor 562ce 12 string ... Is there such a thing as a civilised 12 string?

Postby BRC » Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:36 am

Old ones,

Wow!!!! That is about the only way I can start this response. You have certainly pushed the boat out with this one, though at our age waiting around until such time as you can totally justify such an expense does seem to be not quite so critical.

I have a Taylor baritone that I am very pleased with, though don't play as often as I should. It is a very satisfying sit and play on my own 'picker', however I would like to use it more in 'group' sessions'. Enough of that. Back to your instrument. I have looked at the YouTube videos and can hear that it definitely sounds and seems a quality instrument - and trust you will be happy with that for a long time to come. Never mind the age/injury imposed restrictions, as long as playing is fun and enjoyable for you (and maybe others) that is the most important issue.

When your euphoria has subsided a little, not too much, perhaps you could let us all have a further considered opinion on how it sounds when bedded in and acclimatised. What strings did it come with? I know Taylor very much promote Elixir strings, though not sure if they push that through on all instruments.

I was up in London last Thursday and, sadly, the construction (more like 'destruction') work is still dominating with most of the shops on the North side of Denmark Street now closed. 'Wunjo Guitars' has moved further along to the junction with Charing Cross Road into smaller premises, so not quite the range of guitars as I am used to seeing. I didn't find an EKO 12 in any of the remaining shops so unable to make comment, though your latest acquisition may well make such superfluous. I am still interested for myself though.

It is a busy week for me this week with our annual 'Music Festival' this Saturday. I just hope my left hand is up to playing for the best part of two hours.

I look forward to your next post on the new machine.

Kind regards
Brad

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Oldbones
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Re: Taylor 562ce 12 string ... Is there such a thing as a civilised 12 string?

Postby Oldbones » Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:33 pm

Yes - boat well and truly pushed out but without any qualms, regrets, doubts etc. etc. In my review I mentioned an unexpected buzzing on the 4th octave pair when I detuned one whole tone. That has now been resolved by the truly excellent dealership I bought from (Reidys in Blackburn). Richard Moss who works there is apparently an authorised Taylor technician and explained that the 562ce is (to extract quotes from his email) ...

"... designed to 'live' in standard tuning. The combination of shorter scale, light strings and a low action mean that there might be a bit of a buzz when tuning down. If you keep the same string it might be a case of adjusting the truss rod to account for the change in string tension. The extra relief will give you some leeway for the lower string tension. It would be a left turn on the truss rod- try 1/8th to begin with. Another option would be to use a heavier set of strings- I would only recommend this if your guitar is going to be permanently tuned to D or lower..."

Obviously, there's no way on this earth nor the next nor on any earth imaginable that I'm going to fiddle with the trussrod on a new guitar. Like the Paul Brett VE8000, the guitar has obviously been built to withstand the tension of standard tuning, so that's fine by me.

I've been playing it a lot since the weekend but will certainly return to provide any relevant updates when I've had it for longer and have further explored it's potential.

As for the strings - yes, they're Elixir. Taylor do still promote them as they included a leaflet with a list of all their main sizes and styles of guitar together with the recommended type and gauge of Elixir strings for those models.

Shame about your restricted exploration of London guitar shops --- but your wallet is probably happy about it.
It isn't how fast you can play that counts - it's that you only play as fast as you need to play that is important.
Silence can be as eloquent as sound.

sultan4swing
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Oct 22, 2017 10:23 am

Re: Taylor 562ce 12 string ... Is there such a thing as a civilised 12 string?

Postby sultan4swing » Sun Oct 22, 2017 9:13 pm

Hi. Yes, I think there is such a things as a 'civilised' 12-string guitar. I started playing and singing in the late 60's.... I had various guitars : a BandM classical, Aria classical, an Italian Eros 12s. Loved the Eros but it got knicked after a gig. Had to find another quick and being young and not well off , someone gave me money for another guitar. so around 1970, got hold of an Italian EKO 12s guitar. It still plays altho, the bridge is half off, the top is buckled, but it was main instument for many years , taking a lot of gigging and a coach trip to/from Israel... Cheap or not , a good bassy sound and great action.... Some 30 years on, bought an Ovation Celebrity elec/accoustic 12s - amplifies well, but action nowhere near as good as the Eko, despite costing me 4x as much... but sounds good thru my Stagg accoustic amp.... Don't gig now - play at home - but get to sing while travelling and an occasional impromptu cabaret if I'm lucky.... The guitar has given me some great times and taken much of my spare time for many years.... Now, its back to a classical guitar - a Yamaha - and enjoying that style of playing and music again... But since 1976, my main instrument has been the first Yamaha jumbo solid top accoustic they produced - the CJ838S - modelled on the Gibson 'j' series jumbo accoustics. I was 27 when it cost me GBP200 a lot of money then, but have read many reviews and guitarweb sites and it is classed as a desirable vintage ( I thought that was me... Q!!!) fetching around GBP1200-1800... It still plays wonderfully and is a great instrument and gets better every year. But yes, to me all 12s are civilised.... just some more than others.. !!!!.


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