A few years ago Taylor released guitars with a revolutionary new bracing type, V-class which replaced the X-class bracing seen on many of their models. But what’s the difference between X and V bracing and why does it matter? In this article, I’ll compare the two bracing patterns so you know all the differences.
The Quick Answer
V-class bracing on an acoustic guitar helps to improve sustain, intonation and increase the volume compared to X-class bracing. X-bracing results in a warmer and fuller tone with more bass and mid-range frequency emphasis whilst V-braced guitars sound thinner but brighter with clearer note separation.
X-bracing has been around since the 1850s and is used on most acoustic guitars nowadays. Martin is the most popular brand associated with X-braced guitars. This bracing pattern is well known for producing warm and full tones.
The main issue with X-Class bracing is that is creates a trade-off between the acoustic guitar’s volume and sustain. An acoustic guitar’s volume is affected by how flexible the top of the guitar is, the more flexible you make it, the louder the guitar can be. Conversely, the sustain is also affected by the flexibility of the top, however in this case, the more flexible the top is, the lower the sustain will be.
This creates an issue. If the guitar needs to be louder, then the top will need to be more flexible, which worsens the sustain. Equally, if you want the sustain to be better then the top will need to be stiffer, which lowers the volume.
V-Class bracing is a very recent piece of technology in the acoustic guitar world, with Taylor guitars first showcasing it back in 2018. Taylor wanted to move away from the traditional X-bracing pattern because it creates a trade-off between volume and sustain.
V-bracing helps to fix this issue so that volume and sustain are not stuck in this inverse relationship. So how does it do this?
Well, the V-pattern helps to keep the centre of the guitar stiffer in the direction that the strings travel in. This helps to ensure that the strings can continue to vibrate, hence increasing the sustain. Okay, but what about the volume then if the centre is still stiff?
With V-bracing, the top is still allowed to be flexible, and this is how you get more volume without affecting the sustain since this is the most important area for increasing volume.
Another advantage of V-bracing is that is results in better intonation because the bracing pattern follows a more similar place to the strings compared to X-bracing. Hence, this reduces the amount of wavering which could cause the notes to go slightly out of tune.
V-bracing gives better intonation and sustain which is most obvious when you consider harmonics. Since harmonics are high-pitched this makes V-braced guitars sound slightly brighter with better clarity because they favour treble frequencies. On X-braced guitars, the tone is a little warmer because there is less emphasis on the harmonics.
- X-Bracing: more bass and mid-range = warmer and fuller tone suited to strumming
- V-Bracing: more treble = brighter tone with better note separation suited to fingerstyle
As with most questions surrounding the tone of a guitar, one type of bracing isn’t necessarily better than the other. With V-bracing you’ll get more brightness and sustain, whilst with X-bracing you’ll get more warmth and depth.
Typically this brighter tone is more suited to fingerstyle players rather than heavier strummers who may find the warmer and fuller tone of the X-class bracing more suitable. However, it’s all personal preference and I’d advise you to compare some guitars in the store before reserving much judgement.
In the meantime, check out this YouTube video to hear a comparison between V and X braced Taylor guitars.
Which Taylor Guitars Use V and X-Class Bracing?
Since V-bracing was introduced by Taylor in 2018, many of their models have adopted this pattern.
However, some Taylor guitars still use the more traditional X-bracing pattern so don’t worry, you can still get that warmer and fuller tone from a Taylor. X-bracing is used on the Baby, GS Mini, Academy, 100 and 200 series guitars.
Here is a list of Taylor models and the bracing pattern being used in 2022.
V-Class Braced Guitars
- 312e/ 312ce
- 317/ 317e
- 322e/ 322ce
- 522e/ 522ce
- 614e/ 614ce
- 812e/ 812ce
- 814e/ 814ce
- AD17/ AD17e
- AD27/ AD27e
- Builder’s Edition 324ce
- Builder’s Edition 517/ 517e
- Builder’s Edition 614ce
- Builder’s Edition 652e/ 652ce
- Builder’s Edition 717/ 717e
- Builder’s Edition 816ce
- Builder’s Edition 912ce
- Builder’s Edition K14ce
- Builder’s Edition K24ce
X-Class Braced Guitars
- Baby/ Big Baby
- GS Mini/ Mini-e
- Academy 10
- Academy 12/ 12-N/ 12e
- 210ce/ 210ce Plus
- 214ce/ -K/ -N/ Plus/ DLX
- 250ce-BLK DLX
- 224ce-K DLX
Check out my comparison between scalloped and straight bracing