4/05/2017

1984 Taylor 555 12-String Jumbo Flattop Guitar





A customer of mine bought this new and has had it ever since. It's remained beautifully healthy over the last 33 years and the only signs of age are a tiny ding on the lower-bout top and finish checking on the top and a little on the back and sides. Well -- the finish has also UV-aged -- but that gives it that lovely, old, buttery guitar look.

I might not be called the biggest fan of Taylors (I like shorter scale and less jangle, mostly), but I have a lot of respect for the earlier "Lemon Grove" instruments that have come through the shop. The mid-80s ones have been some truly fantastic guitars. This is one of them and has a rich, full, and sustained tone and an extremely playable neck. The nut width is 1 7/8" and the neck itself is a shallow, "low oval" profile with a lightly-radiused fretboard. It's also perfectly stable and straight, with a truss working exactly as it should. The attributes of a Taylor that I'm usually not so fond of (for my own style of play) work excellently in a jumbo-sized 12-string -- by which I mean the enhanced clarity, smooth lower-mids, superb balance, and longer (25 3/8") scale length.

My only work on this was to give it the slightest fret level/dress and then re-string and set it up. I added some string ramps at the bridge, a hair of extra compensation for some strings at the saddle, and adjusted the nut a little bit -- but that was all it needed. It's playing perfectly with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret. I gauged the strings a little lower for a truly "rock and roll strummer" feel tuned to pitch -- the strings on it right now are like regular 12-string lights but with a little less tension here and there. Gauges are 22w/46w, 15/36w, 11/26w, 8/18w, 14/14, 10/10. It would take heavier gauges quite easily but I like the slinky, balanced, almost electric feel of a set like that for standard tuning.


This is a 17" wide, solid spruce, x-braced box. The back and sides are solid mahogany and the neck is as well. The board, bridge, and headstock veneer are all rosewood and the nut and saddle are synthetic.


While the body is finished in gloss, the neck is finished in satin and it's a nice feel and look. The gardware is gold-plated and these tuners are all individual, sealed units (easy on the ears).


There's black binding at the fretboard and top and back edges of the body. The dots are pearl.


The trim is a pretty straightforward, Martin-ish 18-series treatment.


Here you can see the nice, tight grain and the weather-check in the finish.


The very bottom edge of the pickguard has just a hair of curl to it -- not enough to warrant bothering-about. During setup I added some back-angle-enhancing string ramps (like on modern Martins). I do this on 12-strings as standard procedure because the rear-mounted set of pins usually leaves those strings with a shallow angle that I like to improve.

The pins are all rosewood.








Nice "zipper," huh?









It comes with its original, dark-brown, branded, hard case -- also in excellent shape!

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