Taking Maple to New Heights
Andy Powers is a visionary, a genius, and possibly a wizard. Whether he has magic powers or not, he has revolutionized the world of acoustic guitar design as Taylor’s master guitar designer. His first project was to redesign of Taylor’s 600 Series guitars, and his enhancements put his brilliance on full display. Basically, Andy re-defined what a guitar with maple back and sides can be.
The 600 series features guitars with spruce tops and maple back and sides. This classic combo has produced many legendary sounds, but some guitarists are a bit leery of dipping their toes into the wonderful world of maple. Though maple-bodied guitars are renowned for their bright, clear, transparent tone and exceptional articulation, they can sound a bit strident and thin until the aging process mellows them out. Andy Powers sought to rectify this problem and craft a maple-bodied acoustic that everyone could love.
In order to accomplish this Heruclean feat, Andy utilized the magic of torrefaction. Basically, torrefaction is when you heat a piece of wood to somewhere between 200 and 320 °C. At that point, the wood dries out and develops a cellular structure similar to an actual vintage instrument that has aged naturally.
More importantly, the torrefaction process imparts a vintage sound. Guitars with torrefied tops have a warmer, woodier timbre with a rounder attack and greater openness. All of these qualities are heavenly when paired with maple. You get crisp, quick response, fast decay, superb articulation, and a bright chiming high end from maple. Then, the torrefied top gives that sound a healthy sunny glow by smoothing out the harsh edges and providing balancing warmth.
Normally, maple guitars are bright and transparent. The redesigned 600 series still sounds transparent, but now the guitars mostly sit right in the middle of the spectrum between bright and dark. By using torrefied tops and tweaking the bracing pattern, Andy Powers has redefined what is possible with maple.