Mention the word “Piezo” to guitarists and they’ll likely think about the brittle, harsh, quacky, artificial, sound typical of under-the-saddle Piezo transducers that have been very associated with virtually all brands. Really, it wasn’t any guitar brand’s fault, just the technology at the time. One well-regarded finger-style guitarist, Adrian Legg, actually sculpted his sound playing Ovations with their under-the-saddle Piezos with digital delay to great, umm… effect. But Adrian Legg was an exception; popular consensus generally indicates that most guitarists don’t like the under-the-saddle sound for good reason: it doesn’t capture the natural tone of an acoustic guitar.
Taylor is one particular guitar builder taking a leading role in developing on-board electronics to compliment their fine-sounding acoustic guitars. For such an endeavor, eliminating the harsh Piezo sound and capturing the natural voice of the instrument is priority. The company’s efforts have paid off with its proprietary Expression System 2 electronics. The ES2 still uses Piezo technology. However, whereas the unfavorable Piezo tones were generated using the aforementioned “under-the-saddle” type of transducers, the ES2 uses three individual transducers behind the bridge. This approach eliminates the harsh tones that came not so much from the Piezo technology but from putting the pickups under the guitar’s saddle (it was believed that the saddle moved up and down as the strings vibrated, and most efficiently created the output energy needed for transduction). Taylor debunked that theory, and realized that placing the Piezo sensors behind the bridge yielded less treble and more natural acoustic tone.
The ES2 uses a preamp with a gain structure that makes the system 25-percent “hotter” than the original ES system, which is still used in Taylor’s 400 lines and lower and can be custom ordered on guitars that come stock with the ES2. Its circuitry features controls over volume, treble, and bass. There’s also a phase reversal switch that helps cancel out common low-frequency feedback “woof.” In summation, we love the ES2 system and believe it’s a guitar advancement toward achieving truly an amplified guitar tone that’s convincing and natural from within the guitar…no easy feat, but Taylor’s done it. Check out our deep selection of Taylor Acoustic Guitars with this amazing ES2 system right here and enjoy this video from Taylor about the new design: