Pros: Beautiful sound, perfect fit and finish, good choice of options, not flashy
Cons: Not flashy
The 2001 Model Taylor 700 series had been changed somewhat from the 1998-2000 models. The previous models had abalone dot inlays, abalone soundhole rosette, black plastic binding, Fishman Blender preamp/pickup system with mic/piezo, and a standard cedar top on all models. The 2001 700-series lineup changes the guitar significantly, and opens it up to a much wider audience. It has small pearl dot inlays, beautiful rosewood binding, a koa soundhole rosette, and the new Fishman stereo Blender pre-amp with a mic and piezo pickups. 2001 also sees the addition of the optional top. This year, you can order your 714CE with your choice of Engelmann Spruce top, Sitka Spruce, or Cedar. Therefore, there is a 700 model that should suit most any acoustic players needs. This is a very positive step for Taylor, and already I've seen many Engelmann topped 700's in stores and players hands. The guitar can also be order with/without a cutaway, and with/without electronics allowing you to customize the guitar to your liking. If you would like electronics but would prefer not to have a hole cut in the side of your beautiful guitar, Taylor offers Fishman Natural pickups (two different types) that require an outboard preamp for contol of the sound.
As the guitar is one of Taylor's "deluxe" models, it features beautiful gold hardware and an all-gloss finished body and top.
The 700 series Taylor has always been a favorite of mine. My first 700 was a 1989 712 built in the old Santee California factory. This was an exceptional guitar that, to this day, I really regret selling. I wanted a 700 with electronics so I sold the 712 and upgraded to the 2000 model 714CE. (This was subsequently replaced by the 2001 714CE.) Being somewhat of a Taylor fanatic (I run the taylor-enthusiast discussion site - www.taylorforum.com), I enjoy trying many different Taylor models, so I'm often trading and changing guitars. However, I like the 714CE so much that I'll probably always own one.
The cedar/rosewood combination produces a beautiful warm sound that is bright at the same time. For years, classical players have enjoyed this wood combination, and Bob Taylor took a cue from classical designs to build the 700 series. The sound from the larger-body 714 is very thick and rich, while still maintaining clarity. (It's hard to imagine that someone would not like this sound, but as tone is subjective, Taylor makes many different models and wood combinations to satisfy virtually all players and acoustic styles.)
Plugged in, the guitar mostly sounds like any other Taylor. The Fishman pickup/preamp provides a clear sound that easily cuts through the mix. Some people say that the Fishman is too bright and prefer an L.R. Baggs pickup which is known to have a somewhat darker and thicker amplified sound. The new Stereo Blender allows you to send the mic signal one direction and the piezo signal another when using a stereo cable, or simply use a mono cable and contol the "blend" between the mic and piezo right on the guitar's preamp. This gives you a lot of flexibility when playing live, and is a welcome update to this guitar.
Overall: This is a very sweet sounding guitar that plays fantastic. Taylor has really made great strides in guitar building technology, and I think you'll find that their guitars are pretty consistent one to the next. The Taylor 714CE is not an inexpensive instrument. But it's a quality, well-built instrument with a lifetime warranty, that should provide you a lifetime of enjoyment. It's not a flashy guitar but rather a simple and honest instrument that chooses to focus on sound and quality woods rather than sparkling cosmetic appointments. To me, the beauty of this guitar is in it's striking simplicity. I really enjoy the solid wood appointments that seem to give this guitar a very "natural" theme. I personally prefer the cosmetics of the 2001 model over the previous models, but that's just my Epinion! :-)