Taylor Expression System 2 Upgrade

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Taylor Expression System 2 Upgrade

Introducing The Taylor Guitars ES2

The Taylor Expression System 2 (ES2) pickup design is the latest in Taylor’s ongoing innovation in acoustic guitar amplification. The heart of the Expression System 2 is Taylor’s patented behind-the-saddle pickup, which features three uniquely positioned and individually calibrated pickup sensors. The location of the sensors is designed with the intent of capturing more dynamic range vs other pickup types.

Like the original Expression System, the ES2 features the same volume and tone control knobs. The preamp is similar but with a slightly different gain structure. As a result it will be about 25 percent hotter, which is more in line with other pickups. This makes it plug-and-play friendly both for artists and live sound mixers. The system also has a battery indicator light on the preamp and an internal phase switch.

Rethinking Piezo Under Saddle Pickups

For decades, piezo-electric transducers have been positioned under the saddle of a guitar. Critics of traditional under-saddle pickups characterize their sound as thin, brittle, brash or synthetic, especially with more aggressive playing. Furthermore, many people feel that placing a pickup between the saddle and the guitar top can have a negative impact on the acoustic sound of the instrument.

In response, Taylor guitars relocated the crystals from under the saddle to behind it. The new positioning enables the elements to respond more naturally to the guitar’s energy as it is transferred through the saddle. Three pickup sensors are installed behind the saddle, through the bridge, with three tiny Allen screws that calibrate the position of the sensors in relation to the saddle.

ES2 Retrofit Requirements

In our shop, The Taylor ES2 upgrade is available for Taylor guitars that already have an earlier version of the expression system. This includes Taylor guitars that were factory equipped with systems ES1.1, ES1.2, ES1.3, or ES-T. 

Please note: Taylor has made two versions of the ES2 available to accommodate legacy models utilizing either an AA or 9V battery box. If you wish to convert an AA box to a 9V box, Taylor Guitars recommends that the instrument be shipped back to the factory for that modification. 

If your guitar does not fit this description, please checkout our article on the K&K Pure Mini to learn about another excellent pickup system that might be better suited to your instrument.

ES2 Upgrade Cost

Guitar Repair Long Island is the areas preferred factory authorized service center for Taylor Guitars. Because of this special relationship, we are honored to be the only shop in the Long Island, NYC, Brooklyn, or Queens area that is able to offer this retrofit in house. You get the same quality of installation, at a fair price, without the added expense, risk, or wait time of shipping your guitar to Taylor. Please review out repair menu for general pricing information.

ES2 Retrofit Installation

Drilling Precision Mounting Holes


Before installation of the new ES2 system can begin, the strings, original electronics, and saddle must be removed from the guitar.

Once the specialty jig provided by Taylor Guitars is secured in place and leveled, we will begin carefully drilling through the top of the bridge in order to create the three openings for the ES2 pickup.

Once the holes have been drilled, we remove the jig and gently clean the debris left behind from the top as well as inside the sound box. Now we are ready to install the new electronics.

Mounting The New System

To install the electronics, we first inspect the pickup to make sure the elements are not exposed, before gently sliding the pickup up into position from inside the guitar. 

Once the pickup is in place, we install the new battery box and connect both to the preamp. Next we mount the preamp inside the guitar and secure it with threaded bushings. 

To wrap up installation, we secure the wires inside the guitar to clips to keep them out of sight and prevent them from rattling against the body of the instrument.

With the pickup properly installed, it is the perfect time to preform a setup and or an NT neck reset on the instrument to ensure it is playing its best.

About Guitar Repair Long Island

Guitar Repair Long Island is the area’s premier destination for fretted musical instrument care and maintenance. Led by owner/head technician Erik Salomon, the shop is dedicated to providing quick, honest, and reliable service. Our vast experience in all aspects of instrument repair ensures that we can help with whatever your needs are. Contact us with any questions or book your appointment today.

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