For the last 100 years or so, acoustic guitar bracing patterns have evolved very little beyond subtle refinements. Three basic patterns are traditionally accepted as the standards: fan bracing for nylon-string/classical guitars, ladder bracing mostly found on early lower-cost steel-string instruments manufactured between 1900 and 1940 and—most popular of all—X-bracing, which was developed by C.F. Martin during the 1800s and refined to its standard design during the Twenties and Thirties as Martin’s main production shifted to steel-string flattop acoustics.
Taylor Guitars’ new V-Class bracing, which the company unveiled earlier this year, presents a new standard in acoustic guitar bracing technology that is as revolutionary—and certain to be as influential—as the invention of the first X-braced guitars.
Developed by Taylor master guitar designer Andy Powers, V-Class bracing involves two longitudinal braces arranged in a V formation on the soundboard, with the guitar’s soundhole placed between the wide, open top of the V and with the two braces converging near the tail block. Four fan braces provide strength and stability while also enhancing the top’s most desirable flexibility characteristics.
The impact of V-Class bracing on an acoustic guitar’s tone is astonishing. While X-bracing patterns have always involved a compromise between volume output and sustain, where increasing one will decrease the other, V-Class bracing results in a guitar with both louder volume projection and rich, deep sustain.
Even more impressive is how this bracing pattern improves intonation and overall tonal and harmonic consistency from note to note and string to string. Individual notes within chords ring out more cleanly, and even the sonic characteristics and individual personalities of different tonewoods are enhanced.
V-Class bracing is featured on four new Taylor Grand Auditorium models, and more new models with V-Class bracing will be introduced in the near future. Current V-Class models are the Builder’s Edition K14ce with Hawaiian koa back and sides and torrefied Sitka spruce top, the PS14ce Presentation Series with stunning West African ebony back and sides and sinker redwood top, the all-koa K24ce with a gorgeous Spring Vine maple fretboard inlay and the 914ce with the classic Sitka spruce top/Indian rosewood back and sides tonewood combination, plus refined appointments like a beveled ebony armrest.