When hunting for a new acoustic, it’s useful to learn about tonewoods and construction, as both play a huge role in how an instrument sounds.
With Taylor’s Grand Symphony body shape, the 326ce Urban Ash departs from other flat-tops in several respects. Sides and back are made from a California species of ash tree (Fraxinus uhdei). The mahogany top is a hardwood, unlike the softer spruce on most acoustics. The combination of tropical ash and mahogany creates an extremely warm and focused tone, with a tight midrange perfect for fingerpicking, jazz, or any blues/roots jam. If you want a big, boomy dreadnought, other Taylors fit the bill. The 326ce is a subtler beast.
Visually, almost everyone will point to the unusual cutaway and ask, “What’s that?” It’s a newer feature called a Soundport cutaway, which allows upper-fret access without reducing the sound chamber as much as a standard cutaway; it also projects cavity sounds in a fresh direction. Taylor’s V-Class bracing system complements everything with even, stable dynamics.
In hand, the Urban Ash has an excellent neck and setup, thanks to that African ebony fingerboard and perfect fret dressing. The shallower D profile made grabbing chords a breeze and single-note runs like butter. It’s a first-class neck, all the more alluring with the shorter scale.
The 326ce Urban Ash is a good reminder of the importance of materials and construction. It has moderate acoustic output, but a sweet and surprisingly balanced tone with a warm top-end. For louder adventures, the Expression System 2 preamp is ready to be plugged into a PA or acoustic amp. Electrified or not, the 326ce offers a ton of aural possibilities. With its hybrid, beveled cutaway design and V-Class bracing, there’s even more to explore.
This article originally appeared in VG’s August 2021 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.