8 Best Taylor Guitars [2020 Reviews]
Taylor makes a wide array of awesome acoustic guitars. From high-end showstoppers to entry level travel buddies, there is a Taylor Guitar for every purpose and style. Taylor features cutting-edge, innovative electronics and designs and has established itself as one of the preeminent contemporary guitar builders. Check out these Taylor Guitars reviews to find the best Taylor Guitar for you!
Top Picks: 8 Best Taylor Guitar Reviews
1. Taylor 214ce Deluxe Grand Auditorium Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar – Best Overall
The Taylor 214ce Deluxe Grand Auditorium Cutaway is a top of the line acoustic guitar and our Best Overall choice. The Taylor Deluxe Grand Auditorium includes everything you want to see in high-end acoustic guitars. The craftsmanship is wonderful, the choice of woods is superior, the body shape is comfortable, and the pickup system is top notch.
The 214ce Deluxe Grand Auditorium features a solid Sitka spruce top. This is standard for most acoustic guitars (1). The Deluxe Grand Auditorium features layered Indian rosewood back and sides that match well with the spruce top. This combination produces a warm and rich tone with a proper balance of high end sparkle and low and mid range punch. You will find this combination of woods on many high-end guitars, including most on this list.
The Deluxe Grand Auditorium includes Taylor’s renowned Venetian Cutaway for easy access to all 20 frets along the 25.5″ scale ebony fretboard. Last, but not least, the Deluxe Grand Auditorium comes equipped with Taylor’s Expression System 2 pickup design. The innovative Expression System 2 features 3 pickup sensors behind the saddle as opposed to the traditional under the bridge piezo system. This behind the saddle placement produces a more dynamic and nuanced sound than traditional piezo pickups.
Overall, the Taylor 214ce Deluxe Grand Auditorium is a perfect example of Taylor’s high craftsmanship and attention to detail. The combination of tonewoods on the body, neck, and fretboard, the comfortable body shape with cutaway, and the Expression System 2 pickup system make this the Best Overall choice for a Taylor acoustic guitar.
The Taylor GS Mini Rosewood acoustic guitar is a tight little cruiser guitar perfect for the musician interested in a Taylor guitar on a budget. The GS Mini Rosewood may be small, but don’t let that fool you. This guitar is a mean tone machine perfect for travel, recording, and performance alike and features many higher-end appointments.
As the name suggests, the GS Mini Rosewood is a scaled down version of Taylor’s Grand Symphony body design. The GS Mini Rosewood features a solid Sitka spruce top for a clear and rich tone and layered rosewood body and sides for a flexible and durable guitar that can be brought along just about anywhere. The GS Mini does not feature a cutaway, but the shortened 23.5″ scale length maple neck makes up for the lack of access to the higher registers.
The GS Mini does not come with any built-in electronics, but Taylor has designed an aftermarket pickup called the ES-Go especially for the GS Mini. The ES-Go is a passive magnetic sound hole pickup that can quickly be attached to the GS Mini via the pre-fitted connecting bracket inside the guitar and is perfect for impromptu performances.
Overall, the Taylor GS Mini Rosewood acoustic guitar is a perfect choice for a guitarist interested in breaking into the Taylor world, but does not want to spend a fortune. The Taylor GS Mini is an accessible and flexible guitar that can be taken to the beach or the mountains. The ES-Go after market pickup is an easy addition to make if you are interested in amplified performance.
The Taylor guitars Baby Taylor BT1 is a 3/4 size dreadnought guitar perfect for players with smaller hands or players interested in a smaller size travel guitar for writing and recording. While many 3/4 and half size guitars lack quality construction and components, the Baby Taylor boasts all of Taylor’s established craftsmanship in a compact and portable size.
Like many other Taylors, the Baby Taylor features a solid Sitka spruce top. This level of quality is unusual for a smaller size guitar. Imagine having a baby dreadnought solid Sitka spruce top for all your adventures! The Baby Taylor BT1 also features layered walnut back and sides, a nice appointment that blends well with the brighter spruce top. The mini-dreadnought does not feature a cutaway, but like the GS Mini, you probably won’t notice with the 22.75″ scale length. An ebony fretboard and mahogany neck round out this quality little guitar.
Overall, the Baby Taylor BT1 packs a large amount of quality into a small instrument. The Baby Taylor is the best Taylor guitar for smaller hands and one of the best smaller scale guitars on the market today. The body is well constructed of quality woods and the BT1’s shorter scale length and smaller size make it a perfectly portable choice that won’t break your bank account.
4. Taylor T5z Classic Acoustic Electric Guitar Natural – Best Electric
Top: Tropical Mahogany
- Fretboard: Ebony
- Cutaway: Single Cutaway
- Scale Length: 24 ⅞”
- Built-in Electronics: Yes
Taylor is primarily known for the outstanding acoustic guitars, but did you know that they have also built an electric model? The Taylor T5 debuted in 2005 and was an instant hit and successful combination of electric and acoustic worlds. Built upon the success of its predecessor, the T5z is a great example of Taylor’s craftsmanship and attention to detail in a beautiful, fully-electric semi-hollow body guitar.
The Taylor T5z Classic features a tropical mahogany top giving the guitar a rich and earthy tone with plenty of weight and sustain and a hollow sapele back and sides round out this uniquely designed instrument. The T5z also features a sapele neck and ebony fretboard, a dark and comfortable pairing with the mahogany and sapele body. The 24 ⅞” scale length is slightly shorter than the Grand Auditorium and will feel fast and smooth in comparison.
The Taylor T5z features a unique combination of electronics. It is truly a hybrid of an acoustic and an electric guitar, not just an acoustic guitar with a pickup or an electric guitar with some sort of piezo system. The T5z is equipped with a three-pickup configuration of an acoustic body sensor, a hidden Samarium Cobalt humbucker, and a visible bridge Samarium Cobalt humbucker. Samarium Cobalt humbuckers are basically a “stacked” humbucking pickup that fits inside of a traditional single coil space (2). Instead of the side-by-side configuration of traditional humbuckers, the Samarium Cobalt humbucker is stacked on top of itself. The sound is somewhere in between a traditional single coil and humbucker.
Overall, the T5z is definitely a non-traditional Taylor, but could be an excellent choice for someone in the market for a well-built, thinline hollow body guitar. You might like this guitar if you are thinking about purchasing a 335 style guitar or something similar. The combination of heavier woods and a unique pickup combination make for a guitar with plenty of tonal possibilities worth exploring!
The Taylor 814ce Rosewood Grand Auditorium is one of Taylor’s flagship acoustic guitars. The 814ce Grand Auditorium features comparable woods and construction to the 214ce for about twice the price. If you are looking for an expensive, well-built acoustic guitar, the Taylor 814ce Rosewood Grand Auditorium may be the choice for you!
As you would expect from a high-end acoustic guitar, the Taylor 814ce features a solid Sitka spruce top. The 814ce is completed with Indian rosewood back and sides for a classic blend of warmth, low-end presence, and high-range sparkle. The 814ce features a similar neck and fretboard construction to the 214ce, but has enhanced aesthetic touches that command a higher price point.
The Taylor 814ce Grand Auditorium has one special feature that sets it apart from less expensive models. The 814ce is constructed with Taylor’s revolutionary V-Class bracing system. Acoustic guitars have been built with a X-bracing system for about 100 years. The X-bracing pattern forces a compromise between volume and sustain. The V-class bracing system has transformed this paradigm and maximizes flexibility and stiffness across the soundboard, instead of trading one for the other. This produces a guitar with greater sustain and volume than before.
Overall, the Taylor 814ce Rosewood Grand Auditorium is a great guitar for a collector or other advanced guitarist who wants to invest in a new, high-end acoustic guitar. The 814ce combines many of the basic features you would expect from Taylor with a revolutionary bracing design that enhances the tonal characteristics of the instrument.
The Taylor 314ce features many of the same design appointments as the 214ce and the 814ce at a price point slightly above the 214ce. However the 314ce features Taylor’s innovative V-Class bracing system for enhanced volume and sustain, which the 214ce does not. This feature, along with slight aesthetic updates, makes for a wonderful guitar perfectly suited for a wide range of playing situations.
Like most other guitars on this list, the Taylor 314ce features a solid Sitka spruce top. Upgrades include solid sapele back and sides, as opposed to layered woods in less expensive instruments. This upgrade further enhances the tonal characteristics of the 314ce and produces a balanced and articulate blend of top-end brightness, midrange fullness, and low-end warmth that accommodates an array of playing styles. The 314ce also includes a tropical mahogany neck with a standard 25.5″ scale length ebony fretboard for easy and comfortable chord and single note playing.
The 314ce features Taylor’s proprietary Expression System 2 preamp and pickup system. The Expression System 2 features 3 pickup sensors placed behind the saddles of the bridge as opposed to the traditional under-the-bridge location of most piezo pickup systems. This innovative feature produces a more clear and resonant dynamic range and opens the door to professional-level amplified performance.
Overall, the Taylor 314ce is an excellent choice for a real professional guitarist looking for an upgrade to the popular 214ce model. The only reason the 314ce is not the best overall choice is the price point. The 214ce and 314ce are comparable in their appointments, but the higher price point of the 314ce makes it a little more difficult to attain.
Top: Sitka Spruce
- Fretboard: Ebony
- Cutaway: No Cutaway
- Scale Length: 22 ¾”
- Built-in Electronics: None
The Taylor Swift Signature Baby Taylor is the perfect guitar for any Taylor Swift fans out there. The small and compact design combined with standard Taylor features makes for a wonderful little guitar for travels and inspiration whenever it strikes! This guitar is comparable to the Taylor BT-1 for about $100 more.
The Taylor Swift Signature Baby Taylor is a ¾ size dreadnought guitar that features a standard, solid Sitka spruce top. Durable and affordable layered sapele wood is used for the back and sides. As you have probably found, this is a common combination on middle price guitars and produces a well-balanced, warm and resonant sound. The Taylor Swift Signature features a traditional X-bracing pattern instead of the innovative V-Class bracing system on other higher-end Taylors. This bracing pattern has been used on acoustic guitars for about a century, from expensive Martins to cheap Yamahas.
The Taylor Swift Signature also features a sapele neck with a 22 ¾” scale length ebony fretboard. This combination is a comparable but more affordable version of mahogany and ebony and matches well with the spruce and sapele body. The Taylor Swift Signature does not feature a cutaway nor any built-in electronics.
Overall, the Taylor Swift Signature Baby Taylor is an exciting and fun choice for the younger Taylor Swift fan. This guitar is comparable to the BT-1 Baby Taylor in tonewoods, construction, and design. However, sometimes that little touch of inspiration from an artist’s signature guitar boosts creativity in unknown ways!
The Taylor American Dream AD27e is Taylor’s newest guitar. First designed and built in early 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the American Dream AD27e is intended to combine the highest quality performance and value into a beautiful instrument that is readily accessible to the working musician. The American Dream is the most inexpensive, solid wood, USA manufactured guitar in Taylor’s current repertoire (3). And it looks great!
The AD27e features a solid tropical mahogany top and solid sapele back and sides. This combination of darker tonewoods in a solid construction, as opposed to composite or layered construction, makes for a deep, warm, and rich sounding guitar with plenty of mid-range bite and thickness. The Grand Pacific body shape harkens back to older, parlor style guitars and helps channel the sound of vintage Americana and folk styles.
The AD27e also features Taylor’s revolutionary V-Class bracing system for enhanced volume and resonance. This is one of the more affordable guitars with this system, which is a huge benefit. The AD27e also includes a mahogany neck with a eucalyptus fretboard. Eucalyptus is a less common choice for fretboards, but according to Bob Taylor, founder of Taylor Guitars (4):
… it’s quite close to an Indian rosewood fingerboard in color, hardness and tone.
This means that the combination of mahogany neck and eucalyptus fretboard is nearly identical to the combination of mahogany and Indian rosewood, with the added benefit of increased sustainability. The American Dream AD27e is finished off with Taylor’s proprietary Expression System 2 preamp and pickup system, which we have described in previous reviews in this article.
Overall, the Taylor American Dream AD27e is a fitting offering to the professional musicians of 2020. The AD27e is a beautiful, well-built guitar at an accessible price point and includes many of the features and appointments Taylor is known for. The mahogany body and neck, sapele sides and eucalyptus fretboard all combined with the V-Class bracing system make for a true dream machine.
Things to Consider When Purchasing a Taylor Guitar
The Woods Used and the Construction
It is important to consider the woods used when purchasing a Taylor guitar. Taylor makes use of a wide range of woods, each with different properties. For example, most Taylors feature a solid Sitka spruce top wood. Solid top means that the top wood is one single piece of wood, as opposed to multiple pieces in a layered or composited top. Solid top guitars generally have longer sustain and resonate better. The price point generally determines the construction of the sides. Lower and mid-range guitars often have sides made of layered rosewood or sapele.
Layered wood is more durable and less labor intensive than solid wood designs. However, solid wood sides and back are generally more resonant.
Most Taylor guitars on this list include a mahogany or sapele neck and an ebony fretboard. This combination produces a smooth, warm, and darker sound than other common neck woods like maple. They also come in a variety of scale lengths to accommodate various hand sizes.
Additionally, it is important to consider the bracing style. Taylor uses both a traditional X-bracing design and a revolutionary V-Class bracing system. The X-bracing design was pioneered by Martin Guitars shortly after World War I and the V-Class bracing system is a newer Taylor design with increased volume and sustain.
Cutaway or No Cutaway?
It is important to consider whether or not you want a cutaway on your Taylor guitar. Taylor offers a few different body styles with and without cutaways. The traditional, dreadnought guitar does not usually feature a cutaway. Examples of dreadnought style guitars without cutaways on this list include the GS Mini Rosewood, the Baby Taylor BT-1 and Taylor Swift, and the American Dream AD27e. These guitars are actually all on the smaller end of the spectrum. Generally, the main reason to have a dreadnought style guitar without a cutaway is the increase in body size and volume also increases the overall volume. One disadvantage to no cutaway is it becomes more difficult to access the higher frets. Guitars without cutaways often have fewer frets to begin with.
On the flip side, Taylor makes many guitars with single cutaways. The 214ce Deluxe Grand Auditorium, T5z, 814ce Rosewood Grand Auditorium, and the 814ce all feature Taylor’s iconic Venetian cutaway. According to the Taylor Guitars website (5):
Standard on all ‘CE’ models in the 300 Series through the Presentation Series, the Venetian cutaway is known for its soft, round lines.
The soft, round lines referred to on the Taylor Guitars website enhance the player’s access to the higher frets on the neck and also help improve comfort and playability of the entire guitar. A smooth, round body is much nicer to hold and play for extended periods than a clunky, boxy guitar.
The Importance of Built-in Electronics
The final factor to consider in a Taylor Guitar is the importance of built-in electronics. What performance and recording situations will you be in? Will you want to perform amplified with your Taylor? Will you want to record with a microphone or direct-in to an interface?
Taylor includes the proprietary Expression System 2 preamp and pickup system on many guitars including the CE series guitars on this list and the American Dream AD27e.
The Expression System 2 is an innovative pickup design.
Traditional piezo pickups for acoustic guitars place the pickup transducers below the bridge on the bottom part of the soundboard. This has generally worked fine, but some players find that traditional piezo pickup systems sound thin and brittle.
The Expression System 2 has innovated the traditional piezo system by placing the pickup transducers behind the saddle on the top of the soundboard, as opposed to under the soundboard on the bottom of the soundboard. This new design, combined with a reimagined preamp, allows more of the guitar’s natural resonance to shine through and increases the dynamic range of the amplified sound.
Of course, other options for amplification include aftermarket soundhole pickups like the Taylor ES-GO pickup designed for the GS Mini, or others. You can always use a microphone in recording situations to capture more of the room sound of your Taylor.
Taylor Guitars are better than Martin Guitars in the ear of the beholder! Taylor guitars are generally brighter, lighter, and smaller than most Martins and are often favored for strumming styles. However, it is advisable to play both a Taylor and Martin if you are unsure which you will prefer!
Yes, Taylor Guitars will generally hold value reasonably well over their lifespan. But there is some question because Taylor is constantly upgrading their guitars. However, all Taylor guitars are well made with quality materials. Quality never goes out of style.
CE stands for “cutaway” and “electronics” on Taylor Guitars. For example, the Best Overall guitar on this list, the 214ce Deluxe Grand Auditorium, features both a single Venetia cutaway and the Expression System 2 preamp and pickup. Check out the other “ce” models and you will see that they all have a cutaway and electronics built-in!
- Sitka Spruce. Retrieved from: https://www.taylorguitars.com/guitars/acoustic/features/woods/top-woods/sitka-spruce
- Fender Noiseless Pickups. Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fender_Noiseless_Pickups#Samarium_Cobalt_Noiseless_(SCN)
- The American Dream Series. Retrieved from: https://www.taylorguitars.com/guitars/acoustic/american-dream
- Ask Bob. Retrieved from: https://woodandsteel.taylorguitars.com/issue/2020-issue-3/ask-bob/ask-bob-eucalyptus-fretboards/
- Venetian Cutaway. Retrieved from: https://www.taylorguitars.com/guitars/acoustic/features/cutaways/venetian-cutaway