The Taylor Expression System – how it works to improve ‘plugged in’ acoustic guitar tone
The Taylor Expression System, the pickups system used in a range of Taylor’s superb acoustic models, was designed to push things forward from the more commonly seen piezo under saddle pickups. These pickups, whilst very useable, produce a sound that is similar to the tone of a real acoustic guitar, yet slightly harsher, and, well… just not quite ‘acoustic’ sounding.
Several other techniques have been employed to try and better the sound of acoustic pickups, such as sound-hole microphones, but these present other issues.
When Taylor Guitars set out to design the Expression System, they decided that a magnetic pickup was the way to go. As you may expect from one of the World’s most innovative acoustic guitar producers, this was unlike any magnetic pickup system previously seen.
To explain how and why it came to be, a series of videos has been released, with Bob Taylor and his team of master luthiers chat about how it works.
It’s all about magnets…
The decision to use magnetic pickups in the Taylor Expression guitar pickup system might seem like an odd one. However, as Bob Taylor points out in the videos, magnetic pickups are used in everything from turntables to tape players/ recorders and microphones. Therefore, there was no reason that a magnetic guitar pickups system shouldn’t sound like a real acoustic guitar
The resulting system employs the principles of a microphone (as a well-placed microphone in front of a guitar yields the most natural results), but within an internal magnetic pickup system.
This uses a Dynamic Body Sensor, which is mounted under the soundboard, in conjunction with a Dynamic String Sensor under the fretboard and quality Taylor preamp. All of this technology is built into the guitar with the minimum of intrusion.
Though it could be argued that you would be pressed to find many better guitars as a sound source, the Taylor Expression system sounds just great. Don’t take my word for it however; here are the videos that illuminate Taylor’s premier pickup system.