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Teach me on Taylor guitars

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by Vladimir, Mar 16, 2017.

  1. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    I'm always interested when I see cases like these. It's incredibly difficult to break in to an entrenched market like this, to the degree Taylor has.

    If you ask us today, in this thread, what defines a Taylor, we seem to be saying just that "they're bright", or perhaps if you believe the snooty young salesperson, "they're balanced".

    Then I compared how I look at a high end guitar, to @crumjack's scenario. He bought Taylor (used) for the fact that it was stage-ready for around $500, plus it was easily resold. And... when he's ready to spring for a $2k solid wood model, he thinks it will be a Martin. But every day he's playing that Taylor...

    Get 'em while they're young. If you look at Fender in the early years, they were doing exactly that. Having a hard time selling against the entrenched Gibson line. But look at most of their ads. Very much targeting the young. Who will grow up, play for decades, have kids of their own...

    Back to Taylor, who wouldn't want a stage-ready, easy-to-play neck, quality acoustic for $500 (or $700)?

    Well, depends who you ask. Only these past few years are we seeing any traditional Martin models being produced with built-in electronics. And honestly, I cringe at the few extra holes drilled in the body, and at seeing plastic covers, knobs, battery compartments, etc, on what is not only a guitar to me, but an heirloom in the making. It's as anachronistic as finding an iphone dock built in to an antique Chippendale side table.

    I can absolutely see how if you didn't grow up with it, all that seems like a ridiculous pain in the butt. Why wouldn't I want to be able to amplify my darn guitar? (I do amplify, but via a system that only relies on a slightly reamed endpin hole, and everything else is either outboard, or totally reversible. K&K Trinity)

    Does anyone know offhand, does Taylor even make a model without electronics?

    I can imagine Bob Taylor seeing this existing "old" market, and simply deciding not to sell to those folks. Sell a very good guitar, at reasonable price points (but not cheap!, and not a knock-off of anything!), and they're all easy to play (no baseball bat necks), and plug-in ready. All the young players will still be open enough to comparing - they haven't "chosen" yet. Sell the whole package, to people living in today's world (whichever decade we're talking about), not to people harking back to the lost-in-the-mists 1930s, when all the guitars sounded better.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the higher-priced Taylors only started selling in any numbers once the company (and their early adopters) matured.

    The thing about Bob Taylor... he takes the very long view. He owns an ebony mill. He's partnering with someone to plant certain guitar species that will only come to fruition decades after he's gone from this world.

    It always appears obvious in hindsight. It's becoming easier to see why Taylor was the one to break in to the "big two". Patience, the long view, selling to the current and upcoming market, not a market mummified by time. Cater to the younger generation, build from common sense, not from watching what everyone else does. Of course, still use a variant of Martin's X bracing, because EVERYONE does (except PRS). And don't forget the patents, the NT neck and the way it addresses maintenance and eliminates the 14th fret hump with age. All the manufacturers use CNC tech today, but I wouldn't be surprised to find the Taylor plant to be more technologically advanced than Martin or Gibson Montana. The flip side is that means less "hands on" time. Trade offs...

    Okay, I've probably bored everyone to death here with my musings...

    Personally, I'm glad we have Taylor to choose from. And if I had one (for free) hanging around the house, who knows, I might play it more and more. But if I need to spend on a nice acoustic today, the sound in my head is distinctly Martin.

  2. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Nov 21, 2012
    The fun part for me, is going into a guitar store with an acoustic room and trying out different guitars. I'm not looking for an acoustic right now (unless you count resonators) but nevertheless, I enjoy playing different manufacturers' different models. I enjoy the variety of tones, feel, touch of these instruments. As they say, "variety is the spice of life".
    JustABluesGuy likes this.

  3. rburd2

    rburd2 Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 13, 2016
    Georgia, US
    My personal experience with Taylors is pretty limited, mostly to what the local GC had in stock at the time. The 100 and 200 series I played were not to my liking at all. However, I liked the GS Mini Mahogany I played, as well as a 410ce.

    My uncle, a bluegrass and country picker, also owns a Taylor, I believe a 610. I trust him. He's a much better player
    than me and has owned a couple of Martin HD-28s and a Larivee parlor. I get by with a Seagull I picked up used for about $200, including tax.

    But if money is no issue when I buy an acoustic, I'm probably buying a Hummingbird.

  4. Stubee

    Stubee Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Jan 22, 2007
    I owned two 1995 Taylor 510s, a 1997 710 and a few others so I must have liked them. And I did: the good ones are very fast playing and loud/clear guitars. I only like the necks pre-NT stuff. It was to me a great smooth carve.

    The ones I bought were not pricey compared to Gibson and Martin models. My old brain finally went back to the Gibson guitars I cut my teeth on, but if you like a Taylor, play it and enjoy it.
    JustABluesGuy likes this.

  5. christhee68

    christhee68 Friend of Leo's

    Aug 1, 2011
    south carolina
    A couple of years ago I started getting a few paying gigs. I figured since I was now a "professional" I needed a professional guitar. I did a lot of research and ended up getting a 314ce. The tone, playability, and feel were all big factors but I think what sealed the deal was the adjustable NT neck.

    I'd still like to have a Martin someday, but I'm pretty sure I'll never get rid of my Taylor.

  6. ebb soul

    ebb soul Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 7, 2016
    Smyrna georgia
    Maybe they get much better when they age, that 'modern' sound mellows...

  7. wyclif

    wyclif Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 29, 2011
    To the question about electronics...most modern acoustic guitar players today probably want onboard electronics. And Taylor responds to that segment of the market. Taylor is getting a lot of young musicians and new musicians by doing the same thing for acoustics that Fender does for electrics: provide a good quality guitar at every price point. I'd love to have a Collings, but as someone mentioned above most young players can't afford them.

    My older Taylor 810 doesn't have electronics, though. The 810 model is Taylor's flagship dreadnought and one of their classic models. And it holds its own against the competition, especially in terms of playability and practicality, especially if you want a brighter acoustic sound. And the quality of the spruce top on this guitar is comparable to anything Martin produces at the same price point and possibly better.

    Another reason to favor Taylor over Martin at the same price point, all other issues being equal, is that you're not going to need a neck reset 10 years after buying the guitar new. I've seen this issue with Martins over and over again.
    nomadh and moosie like this.

  8. Pineears

    Pineears Tele-Holic

    Jun 25, 2016
    I have an 810C Custom and had Taylor put the ES2 in it while they were refretting it. When I dropped out of bluegrass performances and started doing solos I missed the harmony vocals so I added a vocal harmonizer pedal which needed the guitar input.

    However I picked the 810 for its voice when flatpicked and played thru a mic to a PA, with a bluegrass band filling the freq spectrum around me. The bit of brightness works well here. When I wandered around at a festival and set in on a bluegrass jam session (No mics) the brightness was appreciated to cut thru picking a lead with 6 Martins, 4 mandolins, 3 fiddles, 5 banjos, and 2 upright basses thumping out rythym.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017
    Dukex, moosie, Stubee and 1 other person like this.

  9. DSharp

    DSharp Tele-Holic

    Apr 26, 2003
    Southern Indiana
    I bought my Taylor 615 in 1994 for about $1800.00. Looking at the inflation calculator, that $1,800.00 is worth just under $3,000.00 in today's dollars. I haven't played a new Taylor in years, but mine is a sweet guitar, and I've never regretted spending the money on it. Great neck, beautiful workmanship, unbelievable quilted maple back and sides. I'm a fan!
    JustABluesGuy likes this.

  10. crumjack

    crumjack TDPRI Member

    May 8, 2016
    Not sure if the young comment is for me. I'm actually 40 but I'll take it.

    The other thing Taylor does well is ship their guitars with a playable setup and strings that last. This is an area that Martin needs to work on. I know they've switched up the strings they ship but the high action you find at the big box music stores put a lot of people off. Yes, this can be adjusted. But if I know exactly what I want without without being able to really play it, I'm calling a local dealer and ordering direct, not buying off the peg at Guitar Center.

    I've only played guitar for about a year but have over 30 years of piano under my belt. There are more variables with guitars than pianos, which I think is great. But the player is still the musician. Play what you have or what you like. Hopefully it's the same instrument but play it and use your skill to adjust for tone and volume.

    And now I'm rambling.
    Dukex likes this.

  11. howlin

    howlin Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 19, 2007
    Who wants to know?
    I don't know the economies of scale here but I'm guessing it has to do with higher resource costs & higher overhead in general. Plus, there is a diminishing market base overall I would think. More people with less $ = less guitars being sold. They also probably make more $ selling fewer expensive guitars then they do selling more inexpensive guitars. When you consider that the average price/guitar sold WORLDWIDE is $400 I could see Taylor deciding that their model would be to distance themselves from that to create an air of exclusivity to their brand.

  12. GuitarRandy

    GuitarRandy TDPRI Member

    Dec 24, 2012
    Parker, Colorado
    I have owned several Taylor guitars and in my personal experience the most consistent guitars I have ever played. I love Martins as well but I absolutely love the tone and brightness of the Taylor Spruce/Rosewood combination.

    If you really want to get a good intro to Taylor guitars, attend a Taylor Roadshow the next time one comes through your town. They usually do them a few times a year!
    JustABluesGuy likes this.

  13. JustABluesGuy

    JustABluesGuy Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 2, 2016
    Houston, TX
    My cousin has said this about mine, though I've loved the sound of it from the start. He plays a Gibson jumbo, but since he's moved to Central America he plays my 413ce when he comes into town.

    He's used the exact same word as well. "Your Taylor is 'mellowing' really nicely!" were his words.

    Like I said, I haven't really noticed any obvious changes myself. I've loved it from the start.

    Side by side with his jumbo Gibson, my Taylor definitely has less volume and bass. Less bass was one of the reasons I went with Taylor.

    I prefer playing with others, and wanted to make sure I got a guitar that would cut through in an ensemble situation. The reduced bass and "brightness" work to do exactly that.

    The Taylors also played much better than any of the other brands I tried.

    If I was going to do the solo acoustic singer songwriter thing mostly, I would have stuck with a Gibson or Martin (my original plan) for their extended bass response.

    In an ensemble situation "extended bass" tends to end up turning muddy, so for my needs, the Taylor was the best compromise for what I plan to do most.

    If I was richer, no doubt I would also own some Martin and Gibson acoustic guitars (among others).
    Obsessed and moosie like this.

  14. JustABluesGuy

    JustABluesGuy Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 2, 2016
    Houston, TX
    I have noticed that as with many things "tone" related. One person's "holy grail sound" is another's "wet fart" tone.

    I specifically bought my Taylor instead of a Martin (my original plan) because I wanted to cut through the mix in ensemble playing.

    Martin's are voiced wonderfully for solo acoustic work, but that wonderful, extended bass they are known for isn't very useful in an ensemble situation.

    The fact that every Taylor I played had a wonderful neck and all the Martins were dogs also played into my choice.

    The Taylors were also less expensive than the comparable Martins. I would still love to have a Martin and a Gibson, but not as my ONLY acoustic.

  15. Pineears

    Pineears Tele-Holic

    Jun 25, 2016
    Agree, and if I had been a bluegrass singer/rythym player I would of had a Martin.
    JustABluesGuy likes this.

  16. Grux

    Grux Tele-Holic

    Jan 10, 2017
    Clarksville, TN
    I cannot disagree with this enough.

    Taylor makes very good instruments, from the bottom of the line to the top!
    JustABluesGuy likes this.

  17. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    The 'young' comment was not directly specifically at you, though I wouldn't mind being 40 again! No, reading your post, I could easily modify your scenario to a younger person - thinking of my son who's 29, plays out, has two kids and no cash.

    Why do we think that Taylors have better action in guitar stores? I mean, all guitars are subject to humidity changes, and they should all need a minor setup unless they've got a carbon fiber truss rod, no? As I understand the NT neck, it doesn't address how the neck flexes. Still a normal truss rod, right?

  18. Flakey

    Flakey Friend of Leo's


  19. Flakey

    Flakey Friend of Leo's

    They make a well made guitar sure enough but they lack character. When one hears a properly made Martin, Gibson or Guild they know it. When one hears a Taylor they simply hear an acoustic guitar same as any one that was pulled off the wall at the store. But again, when your sound is coming from a bridge saddle pickup into preamp eq. it doesn't matter about what type of spruce made up the top, bracing style, solid or veneered back and sides. You just need a hollow chamber.

    A playable guitar but uninteresting sounding guitar as well.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017
    moosie likes this.

  20. Hippieway

    Hippieway Tele-Holic

    Mar 15, 2009
    One of my ex-wives has an old Taylor 710 she got when she lived in SD. She claims she bought it from Bob Taylor at his shop. The guitar was and still is a very nice guitar and she loves it, but I never cared for the sound. Like others have said, however it was too bright for my taste. Like the sound or not Taylor makes some really nice guitars.

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