I'll try to be brief. I really will. The Taylor 410CE is the final entry into my 2 x 2 Taylor review square, which looks like this:
Recommend this product?
Taylor 310 Taylor 410
Taylor 314 Taylor 414
I will explain.
The first row contains dreadnought guitars (the "10" suffix). The second row contains "grand auditorium" guitars (the "14" suffix). The first column contains sapele (similar to mahogany) guitars (the "3" prefix). The second column contains ovangkol guitars (the "4" prefix).
When I reviewed the Taylor 414 (an ovangkol grand auditorium style guitar), I was impressed by its full bass and its "churchy" quality, which is my term for a sound that swells slowly and decays slowly, like that of an organ in a large cathedral. I wanted to know whether the grand auditorium body shape or the ovangkol wood was responsible for these two impressive characteristics.
Like any decent scientist masquerading as a musician would, I played several of each of the above four instruments (so I could play each possible combination of wood and body style), added to my previous review of the Taylor 310, and wrote up the results of my "experiment" in my review of the Taylor 314:
The bottom line: Relative to a good quality sapele/mahogany dreadnought (like the Taylor 310), ovangkol wood adds bass depth, while the grand auditorium shape adds liquidity and that churchy quality I like.
But I still wanted to write a review of the 410 (an ovangkol dreadnought), and this is that review. I chose the CE (cutaway/electric) version for the simple reason that I've found them to be more readily available than the straight 410, and I have therefore played them more often.
This is not a SCADS review, so here's the skinny:
The Taylor 410CE is a high quality dreadnought guitar with ovangkol back and sides and a spruce top. Ovangkol is an African hardwood said to produce a warm, rich tone. The ovangkol in Taylor's guitars is a light chocolate color, and the grain can yield quite exotic and beautiful patterns, leading to very attractive and interesting-looking instruments.
As with all of Taylor's guitars, the fingerboard of the 410CE is ebony, which is faster playing than rosewood fingerboards. Neck width is 1 3/4 inches at the nut, and scale length is 25 1/2". Internal bracing is scalloped (shaven), but the guitar still feels fairly heavy and very well put together. As is the case with the 310, 314, and 414, the top is finished gloss, while the rest of the guitar is finished matte. The tuners are of high quality, and chrome plated. Fingerboard inlays are simple and attractive large dots. Binding is light in color.
The retail price of the Taylor 410CE is about $1950. You can get one for about $1460.
Playability of the 410CE is excellent, as is the case with most Taylor guitars. Chord changes were easy up and down the neck, and I found myself playing bluegrass runs faster than usual. Hammers and pulls were also a breeze.
The 410CE is a lively guitar, so a light touch yielded good tone. One way in which I liked the 410CE better than the 314 or 414: It seemed I could play it harder without experiencing string buzz. Maybe it's because the dreadnoughts come with medium Elixer strings, while the Grand auditorium models come with lights.
Intonation of the 410CE was excellent, even up the neck, and even when I used alternate tunings (e.g., DADGAD).
The cutaway begins to taper away from the neck after two frets, but it provides access to several additional frets on the treble strings. I don't generally play that high up the neck, so I'll leave further discussion of the cutaway to someone else.
I really enjoyed the sound of the 410CE. It was another of those guitars that I kept returning to simply because I liked it.
As expected (based on my experience with the Taylor 414), I found the sound to be warmer and fuller than that of the Taylor 310 and several other Taylors I've played. The usual lively Taylor treble was there, but it was nicely balanced by the bass and lower midrange.
I also liked the way chords sounded on this guitar. They sounded well-integrated, rather than like a collection of individual notes. Sustain was better than that of a Martin D-16GT, and comparable to that of a Larrivee D-04 or D-05.
The 410CE is a fairly "liquid" sounding guitar, though perhaps slightly less so than the Taylor 414, Larrivee D-04, or Larrivee D-05. It is as punchy as a Taylor 310, but less top-heavy in sound.
Overall, I found the 410CE ot be an excellent guitar for bluegrass picking, and it also handled finger picking quite well. The medium strings (something you can change, I know) and (perhaps) slightly more rugged construction may make this a better guitar than the 314 or 414 for bluegrass and other kinds of picking that involve some hard playing.
I don't currently use electronics, but the Fishman electronics included with the CE version of the 410 have a good reputation. Attachment to the guitar is via the strap peg at the base of the guitar. Controls, unobtrusively placed on the "top side" of the guitar, include volume, notch, brilliance, treble, bass, and a frequency adjustment with settings ranging from 220 hz to 10khz.
The 410 and 410CE are among my favorite Taylors on a quality/price basis. They play like butter, have good projection and warmth, and have excellent sensitivity and sustain. Chords are also quite well integrated (they sound smooth and in tune) through the 410s. I actually preferred the sound of a 410CE I was playing the other day to a Taylor 710CE that was on hand for comparison. I'm not saying I'd prefer all 410s to all 710s, but that is a strong recommendation, considering the 710CE costs about $800 more.
If you are looking for a good dreadnought in the $1500 price range, be sure to check out the Taylor 410 and 410CE, as well as comparably priced dreadnoughts from Martin and Larrivee.