I finally got a chance to play the GPCPA-1 head to head with the Taylor 814CE at the local dealer.
Let me preface this by saying I am not a Taylor basher; I own a Taylor 414CE, T5-S, and a baby Taylor. My Martins are an HD-7, Backpacker, and (my wife's) Jimmy Buffett Little Marlin. My wife doesn't play as such, but has a really good ear, so she went with me. I was amazed at how similar both guitars were in appearance, size and construction. That being said, the Martin's top toner was more visually appealing to both of us than the Taylor's. The Martin neck was flatter than the Taylor's rounded neck. Both played just fine in cowboy chord position, but the Martin was easier to barre chord cleanly up the neck. In fairness, I think the Taylor could have used a set-up that the Martin didn't require. Unplugged, the Martin had a high end clarity and single note separation I hadn't heard in other Martins, but still had that Martin sound I am familiar with. The Taylor had a fat bottom end I don't have in my 414CE, and a warm, overall sound that was pleasing, as well.
Plugged in however, wow what a difference! Using a Roland AC60 amp that was set up with a flat EQ, I tried them both and fiddled with the controls. The Martin Aura F1 sounded great at every setting I threw at it, while the Taylor cleaned up some with some more high EQ on the Expression controls, but never quite approached what I liked about the Martin sounds. My wife, not wanting to color my opinion, didn't say anything until after I put them both back up. She then told me exactly the same things I have said, she liked the color of the Martin better, and thought it sounded better overall. I wound up selling my Les Paul deluxe goldtop to fund the purchase of the GPCPA1 from Sweetwater, and don't regret it for a minute. This one's a keeper.