When I attended the winter NAMM show in Anaheim a couple months ago, I was moved by the time spent with Bob Taylor, his humility and devotion to planting the trees that are so much the lifeblood of the guitar industry and essential to all of us in our our day-to-day living. Meeting with Andy Powers, the interview with him, and coming to a greater understanding of WHY the V-class engine is important, those were all signficant.
I recall playing the K14ce BE (Builder’s Edition) for the first time the day before, and knowing immediately that I was going to want one for me, for recording. But the real epiphany wasn’t then. That’s when I understood the changes conceptually, in abstract. The revelation hit home earlier today, when we got the first K14ce BE in at the shop and I had time to play it in quiet, undistracted privacy. I played it at the shop, let a couple of customers give it a brief test drive. (Both wanted it.) . Then I put it on the ToneRite for a few hours while working on the shop. Played it a little more and could hear the improvement. Eventually I put it in the case and took it home. That’s when it really became clear why this is a game-changer.
This guitar is as precise and exacting an instrument as I’ve ever played. It won’t cover your mistakes in a blurry gob of sound. Quite the contrary, you’ll get EXACTLY what you played back out of it, neither enhancing nor diminishing what your fingers expressed. It will make things a bit easier for beginners, while pushing intermediate and advanced players towards greater excellence. And that, in and of itself, justifies calling it a game-changer and earns this instrument a place in the books. But it doesn’t stop there.
The comfort of the guitar also makes you a better player. All the edges being gone, the armrest, the sensually smooth new finish, the fine attention to detail… The one in my hands a few moments ago is so well put together that I literally cannot tell where the neck binding stops and the graphite nut takes over! It looks like they neck binding continues right on up and becomes the nut! That same precision is both found in the K14ce DLX, and demanded by the instrument, if it is to grace your hands. You can’t be sloppy about strumming and have it sounding good. Like a sports bike, you’ll have to actively pilot this instrument, direct the sound. In return, you’re granted moments of flight, soaring with this exquisite instrument. That’s not to say that the everyman can’t play one, just that he (or she) will be upping his game, becoming a better player, an INTENTIONAL player, while becoming unfettered.
If you play it like any other guitar before, you’ll be frustrated, disappointed, and do the instrument and yourself a huge disservice. You’ll wonder what’s so great or special about it, and think (as I did for a little while) that the richness and action of an 814ce DLX with Adirondack top leaves it in the dust. And you’ll be flat-out wrong.
Most high-end guitars must played hard, made to vibrate, in order to Open Up to their fullest potential. This is no less true with the Koa and torrified Sitka top on the K14ce BE. It just happens much faster, presumably owing to the V-class bracing under that soundboard.
As I write this, I pause a moment now to pick the Game Changer up again and let the guitar’s truth wash over me again, let it tell me some more about itself. It wants you to know that the fullness of sound comes both in the short and longer term of playing it. And it reminded me of another awesome quality of this instrument: It has layers of depth, and as you discover one, it becomes the key to discovering the next… and then all at once it clicked in, the reason why Andy Powers was still so immersed and joyous in his playing of the Builder’s at the NAMM show — playing a guitar he had designed and built — and what he meant when he said that it’s like coming to a chapter and suddenly realizing you’re not at the end of the book, just finishing the first chapter. He himself was still relishing in discovering new layers of capabilities of the new beast he’d created. Through this guitar we will come to discover some of the REST of the possibilities guitars hold for us in the future, potentials that had been unavailable to us due to X-bracing. The tradition we’d all been falling back on was also a bottleneck. The V-class unlocks entire new dimensions of possibilities. K14ce Builder’s Edition is but the first in a whole new world of guitars, and that’s why I call it the Game Changer.
Oh, yeah, I almost forgot: This thing is flat-out sexy! Can’t wait to hear what the likes of Lindsey Buckingham dream up while playing one of these truly amazing guitars!
I’ll be checking in with you from time to time to share further layers and insights about the K14ce BE and other V-class guitars as they come out! — JT 3/28/18