With outstanding playability, flawless craftsmanship and stunning aesthetics, Taylor are one of the most highly regarded acoustic guitar makers of all time. Their incredible drive for innovation has pushed guitar design and construction into a new realm of possibilities, and their passion for sustainability has changed the way that manufacturers and players think about tonewoods.
The Taylor range is massive, from beginner-friendly layered-wood guitars through to breathtaking, highly-adorned custom-built masterpieces. This can make choosing your Taylor guitar a sometimes confusing process, which is why we've put together this guide to help you on your journey.
Understanding Taylor Model Numbers
Taylor number their models in three ways - by Series, by Number Of Strings and Tonewood, and by Body Shape. For example, the Taylor 317 is a 300 Series (denoted by the first digit), a 6-string with softwood top (the second digit), Grand Pacific body shape (the third digit). Often these numbers will also include 'c' and 'e' at the end of the number, referring to 'Cutaway' and 'Electric' - as in 'electronic pickup on board'. Let's break this down a little further.
Taylor splits its range into multiple series, with everything 200 Series and below made in its Tecate factory in Mexico, and everything from the America Dream and 300 Series upward built at their El Cajon factory in California.
Academy: Solid Sitka spruce and layered Sapele, designed for the beginner guitarist
100: Solid Sitka spruce top and layered walnut back-and-sides
200: Solid Sitka spruce paired with layered Rosewood or Koa back-and-sides
American Dream and 300 Series and above are all-solid, and made in the USA:
American Dream: Sitka Spruce tops with Ovangkol, or Mahogany tops with Sapele and minimal appointments
300: Sitka Spruce or Mahogany tops, with Mahogany or Blackwood back-and-sides
400: Sitka Spruce tops with Rosewood or Ovangkol back-and-sides
500: Mahogany back and sides with a choice of three top options: Lutz spruce, mahogany, or cedar
600: Torrefied Sitka Spruce tops with Maple back-and-sides
700: Lutz spruce top with Rosewood back-and-sides
800: Sitka spruce top with Rosewood back-and-sides and timber appointments
900: Sitka Spruce top with Rosewood back-and-sides and pearl appointments
Koa Series: Figured Koa back-and-sides with Koa or Torrefied Spruce tops
Presentation Series: Showcasing at the finest of Taylor craftsmanship, tonewoods and aesthetic detail
A note on bracing - all Taylor Tecate models have traditional X-bracing, whereas all USA models 300 and above have the revolutionary V-bracing system (Taylor Grand Theater models have a slight variation on this system, called 'C' Bracing). Tecate models also generally have a shorter scale length and thinner nut width, making them more suitable for younger players and beginners.
Strings / Tonewoods
The second digit in a Taylor model number designates two things:
1. Whether the guitar is a 6-string or a 12-string
2. Whether the top features a softer tonewood like spruce or cedar, or a hardwood like mahogany or koa. For example, within the 300 Series Grand Auditoriums, you can choose between a 314ce (Sitka Spruce top with Mahogany back-and-sides) or the 324ce(Mahogany top with Blackwood back-and-sides).
The middle number will be 1 or 2:
312ce = softwood (spruce) top
322ce = a hardwood (mahogany) top
The middle number will be 5 or 6:
352ce = a softwood (spruce) top
362ce = a hardwood (mahogany) top
The third and final digit identifies the body shape according to this numbering system:
Choosing Your Guitar
Once you put these numbers together, you can start to think about the guitar that best suits your needs. For example, if you are wanting a traditional, warm dreadnought suited to strumming with Taylor playability, you could look at the Sitka Spruce and Mahogany 317e Grand Pacific. Or you might prefer a fingerstyle guitar that is comfortable with excellent projection and shimmer - a Grand Concert with Maple would be a good choice, such as the 612ce.
A good way of narrowing down your choice is to pick out a tonal combination that you like, and then choose the body size that suits your needs. For example, if you love the 800 Series' Spruce and Rosewood tonality and subtle appointments, you can choose from the 811e, 812e, 812ce, 814ce, 816ce BE and 818e! The Grand Theater 811ewould be a beautiful couch guitar for a fingerpicker, whereas the 816ce BE would suit a heavy-handed strummer looking for power and volume.
Ultimately, the guitar you choose should have a sound and feel that inspires you. The wide range of Taylor guitars available allows you to find a sound, look and feel that is tailored to your exact preferences.
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