Tone Terminology

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How to talk like a guitar expert

Like wine lovers and foodies, guitar players wield colorful lingo to describe “flavors.” The good news: Guitar talk translates into definable qualities of sound. The flip side: Our ears, like our taste buds or senses of smell, are wired in many different ways, and we each have our own impressions and preferences. Case in point: “Bright” tone can have a positive or negative connotation depending on the listener’s perspective and musical context.

Despite his depth of knowledge about tonal characteristics (or perhaps because of it), master designer Andy Powers is often wary of the ways words are used to describe sounds — even though we do it all the time — due to the different interpretations often associated with those words.

He also emphasizes that there’s a lot going on sonically when guitar notes resonate.

“A note is not a simple, single-frequency tone; it’s a composite of multiple tones originating from one fundamental frequency,” Andy says. “What we hear is a summation of a frequency, with various degrees of complementary frequencies responding and blending with the primary pitch. The composite will take on different characteristics that subtly affect how the note is perceived over the beginning, middle and end of the sound.”  

That said, getting a handle on some frequently used terms provides a helpful reference for talking about tone. Some of these are more technical; others are more descriptive. And these really just scratch the surface. If nothing else, hopefully they’ll help you deepen your appreciation for the different sonic characteristics that shape a guitar’s musical personality.

Attack: The front-end trajectory of a guitar’s tonal response — how quickly it reaches its peak volume. This can be heavily influenced by the type of pick a player uses. Attack can also be used to describe the intensity of the player’s strokes on the strings. Related terms that follow the continuing progression of the sound as it resonates are “sustain” and “decay.”

Boomy: Bass-dominant or bottom-heavy tone, often lacking tonal definition. This can be interpreted differently based on personal preferences and musical applications. Some players favor a big, powerful bass response, often associated with a larger guitar. But in recording scenarios, a boomy guitar can overpower other frequencies in a mix. One of the benefits of Taylor’s V-Class bracing in the Grand Pacific is that the bass response isn’t boomy; it produces clear low-end power.

Bright: Treble emphasized, or with a lower degree of bass.

Buttery: Rich and smooth, with multiple notes easily blending together as if they could be spread from individual notes into a single harmonic entity, especially when the tone of the individual notes has a warm, low-frequency emphasis. These notes usually lack a sharp or fast attack and have a smooth beginning, middle and end.

Ceiling: A defined boundary, often used in reference to volume. A guitar or wood’s ceiling is the point at which it stops delivering volume or tone.

Complex: Rich with sonic detail, often featuring harmonic content from overtones. A rosewood guitar tends to produce a high degree of tonal complexity, especially in the treble frequencies.

Compressed: At Taylor we usually talk about compression in the context of a hardwood top like mahogany and the natural leveling effect it produces. A softer wood like spruce vibrates more freely and often produces a more open and dynamic response, while mahogany, being denser, will control the response of the note, leveling it out to create a more linear or balanced sound. The leveling effect can help smooth out an aggressive strummer. It also helps produce clear, well-behaved amplified sound for live performance.

Crisp: Clear and well-defined, typically with more treble emphasis and without lingering overtones.

Cutting: Often used in the context of a guitar’s ability to “cut through in a mix” with other instruments, either in live performance in a band setting or for recording. Essentially, it means some combination of volume, clarity and definition.

Dark: Bass tones emphasized or tone with a lower degree of treble.

Decay: The way a sustained, ringing note diminishes over time.

Dry: Tone with a strong fundamental focus and minimal overtones. Mahogany’s focused midrange is often described as dry.

Fundamental: The true frequency, or pitch, of a note. A low E, for example, vibrates at a frequency of 82.407 hertz (Hz). (1 Hz = 1 vibration per second.)

Growl: A certain rasp or overdriven sound that a bigger-bodied guitar puts off, often as the result of aggressive playing.

High-Fidelity: Usually used to describe acoustic guitar tone with pleasing clarity and tonal definition, often with more discernible sonic detail from harmonic overtones, and lacking distortion. (Also see “Piano-like.”) Rosewood guitars often have a high-fidelity quality to their voice due in part to the bell-like sparkle of the treble overtones.

Honky: A nasally sound, usually focused in the midrange frequencies.

Meaty: Lots of midrange, usually with a full low end. Also referred to as fat, full or thick.

Midrange: On car stereo or home audio systems, the frequency response often ranges between 20 Hz to 20 kilohertz (kHz). Midrange covers from 110 Hz, which is a low A string, up as high as 3 kHz. High-frequency (treble) tones tend to reside beyond that. If one considers where an acoustic guitar’s pitch range falls, predominantly all the notes on the fretboard occupy the midrange of the frequency spectrum that can be heard. It’s where the human voice resides; it’s the middle part of a piano.

Muddy: Lacking clarity or definition. It’s usually used in the context of describing bass or lower midrange frequencies.

Overtones: Multiples of a fundamental frequency, also referred to as harmonics, which occur as a string vibrates, creates wave patterns, and the harmonics stack up. The term “bloom” is used to describe the sonic effect of the overtones as they stack up over the decay of the note. Although overtones tend to be more subtle than the fundamental, they add richness and complexity to a sound.

Piano-like: Exactly what it sounds like. As if you packed a grand piano inside a guitar’s body and put strings on it. The sound has a bell-like, high-fidelity quality and a brilliance of note separation.

Presence: Generally, the treble frequencies that provide articulation and definition. If you put your hand over your mouth and talk, your voice has less presence. One can still hear and understand the words, but they will have less presence because they lack the articulation of a clearly defined high frequency.

Projection: How the tonal output is propelled and travels from the guitar. The physical range of the sound.

Punchy: Strong tonal output and projection, often focused in the midrange frequencies. An immediate and percussive attack.

Scooped: Attenuated, or slightly diminished. Picture the visual connotation, like on a graphic equalizer. If you scoop the midrange, you dip those middle sliders down a bit, which would look like a smiley-face curve. The result would be a level low end and high end, but a little less of the midrange.

Sparkle: In a general sense, the opposite of warm; some excited high frequencies. Koa or maple tends to have a high-end sparkle. Same idea as “zing.” Sparkling treble frequencies might also be described as “zesty.” If they appear to linger, you might say they “shimmer.”

Sustain: The length of time a note audibly resonates.

Throaty: An extremely beefy midrange. The origin might be based partly on the fact that the human voice tends to occupy midrange frequencies.

Warm: A sound with very little low-frequency damping. That lower-frequency emphasis is present in the composition of every note, including the midrange and high-frequency pitches. This is often heard as a note with lots of “body” supporting the note, and often reminds a listener of the naturally firm, strong support of wood, leading to a closely related description of “woody.”

Woody: A seasoned, well broken-in dry tone, often with softer high frequencies. A vintage mahogany guitar will have an especially woody sound.

Woofy: Similar to boomy, a dominant low-end sound, usually lacking clarity, giving it a “muddy” or “mushy” quality. This can interfere with other notes and cause feedback.

The 2022 Guitar Guide

Enjoy a scenic tour of our latest guitar lineup

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When it comes to choosing an acoustic guitar that will spark fresh musical discoveries and serve you well for years, you can’t go wrong with a Taylor. Every guitar in our lineup is built to deliver all the essentials of a great playing experience. An easy-playing neck. Clear, balanced tone. Durable construction. Impeccable craftsmanship. All backed by top-notch Taylor service and support. When you consider our commitment to environmental stewardship and ethical business practices, you can feel good about everything that goes into a Taylor guitar.

Over the years, our driving passion to advance guitar design in exciting, player-friendly ways has led to a broad palette of models and musical flavors. Our 2022 guitar line reveals our most diverse collection of models ever, in both feel and sound.

To help you navigate the line, we’ve created this latest edition of our annual guitar guide. We start with the fundamentals: our different body shapes and the sonic characteristics that distinguish them, followed by the different woods we currently use and how they color a guitar’s sound. Then we’ll walk through the guitar series that form the framework of our line. Each series is distinguished by a combination of wood pairings and aesthetic details (such as inlays, binding, finish and more).

*Prices, specifications and availability are subject to change without notice.

A Guide to Taylor Acoustic Model Numbers

Here’s how our model numbering system works.

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In the end, finding the guitar that’s right for you should be your own personal experience. The good news is that if you’re looking, the right guitar seems to have a way of finding you. Inspiration can come from many places. Beautiful woods. The feel of a neck. The rich resonance of a strummed chord against your body. A great guitar will coax songs out of you as if they were there waiting to be discovered the entire time. It will channel your every mood.

Wherever you may be in your musical journey, we hope you find some joy, some solace, some connection with others, by playing guitar. And if you have questions along the way, we’ll be here.

Understanding Tone Terminology

We throw around a lot of terminology when discussing guitars and guitar-building. Read up on the most commonly used language used to describe guitar parts, tone and features.


The Taylor Difference

5 things that set the Taylor experience apart

Why do people choose to play a Taylor guitar?

We can think of lots of reasons. From our perspective, they all flow from the same wellspring: our underlying passion for improving the guitar-playing experience. That creative drive set a teenage Bob Taylor on a path of innovation 46 years ago, and that push for continuous improvement laid the creative foundation of our culture, guiding our approach to everything we do. For anyone curious about what makes us unique, here are five things that players can count on from us.

Playing Comfort

Easy-playing necks are a hallmark feature of a Taylor guitar and the gold standard of playability across the acoustic guitar industry. This makes our guitars more accessible to beginners, reducing hand fatigue and accelerating their progress. For seasoned players, the slim profile and comfortable string setup of our necks translates into a fast feel that allows them to express themselves more fluidly.

Our obsession with playability has led to innovative designs like the patented Taylor neck, which improves both stability and adjustability. This allows the geometry of our guitars to be set precisely for optimal performance, with unprecedented micro-adjustability to ensure a lifetime of playability.

We offer a range of other comfort-centric playing features within our guitar line, including different scale lengths, string tension profiles and neck profiles, along with ergonomic refinements to the guitar body, such as armrests and other contouring features.

Tone-Enhancing Innovation

Our passion for ear-pleasing musicality has fueled our efforts to voice our guitars to inspire and perform at the highest level. It starts with guitars that stay in tune and readily respond with clear and balanced articulation. With Taylor master designer Andy Powers at the helm, our drive to refine the sound of our guitars has led to a steady stream of tone-enhancing designs, such as our award-winning V-Class® bracing. This powerful tone-shaping platform allows us to create a wide range of musically inspiring acoustic flavors, offering something for every level and style of player. For many pro musicians and recording engineers, having a Taylor means having a reliable tool to get the job done, whether for songwriting, recording or performance.

Precision Craftsmanship

A guitar design is only as good as the ability to produce it. One of Bob Taylor’s greatest accomplishments as a guitar maker has been his pioneering work to transform guitar making from its old-world heritage into an innovative manufacturing operation that enables us to craft instruments with remarkable precision and consistency. We have an entire tooling and engineering division devoted to making our latest guitar designs production-ready. This includes everything from developing the software programs we use with our sophisticated computer-controlled mills and robots to fabricating our own tools and machines to help our skilled craftspeople produce our guitars. That unique integration of technology, tooling and skilled hand-craftsmanship makes our guitar factory operation truly one of a kind. Not only does this allow us to imbue our guitars with impeccable detail work, but the superb build quality gives players an heirloom-quality instrument.

Sustainability Leadership

We are deeply committed to safeguarding the future of the natural resources we use. Beyond our pursuit of ethical, socially responsible sourcing practices, we have pioneered several innovative sustainability initiatives around the world. Flagship programs include the Ebony Project in Cameroon, which funds research about ebony’s ecology and has shaped a robust replanting initiative; Paniolo Tonewoods in Hawaii, a collaboration with supply partner Pacific Rim Tonewoods to ensure a healthier future for koa by regenerating native forests; and a new Urban Wood initiative in tandem with an innovative California arborist to create new markets for wood from previously discarded trees that have been removed from municipal areas at the end of their life cycle. Not only does some of this wood, such as Urban Ash, make wonderful guitars, the project aims to support the re-greening of urban areas. Bob Taylor’s vision of environmental stewardship at Taylor also led him to hire a forest policy expert to become our Director of Natural Resource Sustainability, a unique position within the guitar industry.

Service & Support

Taylor is more than just a company that makes and sells guitars. We’re equally passionate about providing the resources to support your guitar-playing journey, whether you need help choosing the right guitar or taking care of it. One of the best things about a well-made and well-maintained guitar is that it will continue to sound better over time, and we love helping Taylor owners enjoy their instruments to the fullest. From friendly service to expert repair, you can count on a lifetime of attentive Taylor support.


Finding Your Fit

At Taylor Guitars, we believe in helping each player choose the guitar that will best inspire their musical interests and ignite a passion for the instrument. Watch the video below and learn how shape, size, features and tonewoods factor in to your decision of which acoustic guitar to buy.

Taylor Guitar Pick Primer

Your choice of guitar pick has a dramatic influence over your guitar’s tone, and playing with picks of different shapes, thicknesses and materials, such as our DarkTone picks, will emphasize different parts of the guitar’s range. The result is a wider spectrum of tonal colors to add to your musical arsenal. Watch Taylor guitar guru Andy Lund as he runs through how different picks can shape your guitar’s sound.

Understanding the ES2:
A Deep Dive with
Gabriel O’Brien

If you’re a Taylor player, you’re probably aware of our Expression System 2 (ES2), the pickup and preamp unit featured in most of our guitars. Thanks to its innovative design, the ES2 provides a rich, dynamic translation of your Taylor’s acoustic sound into natural, warm amplified tone. 

So what is it about the ES2 that makes it different from other acoustic pickups? In these videos, audio engineer Gabriel O’Brien dives into the factors that set the ES2 apart and how to get the most out of your ES2-equipped Taylor guitar.

First, Gabriel explains the ES2’s design and how it translates acoustic vibration into amplified sound.

Next, Gabriel demonstrates how you can easily use your ES2 pickup to record your playing — no microphones required.

Finally, Gabriel explores the primary differences between the ES2 and other under-saddle acoustic pickups.

On the Bench: How to Change Guitar Strings

Changing strings is a fundamental skill for any guitar player, whether for changing a broken string on the fly or swapping out a whole set for that fresh new-string sound. Watch Taylor Network Service Manager Rob Magargal as he shows you how to change acoustic guitar strings.

On the Bench: Guitar Tools

Every guitarist needs a few basic tools to maintain their instrument. Watch the video for Rob’s rundown of the basic tools you should keep handy in your practice space or guitar case.

On the Bench: Humidity and Acoustic Guitars

Acoustic guitars are dynamic instruments that are always reacting to their environment, and keeping humidity at a safe level is important for keeping your guitar in great condition. Watch the video for Rob’s explanation of how humidity affects acoustic guitars.

three taylor acoustic guitars in a row

The Taylor Line by Series

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A snapshot of our series framework and tonewood pairings.

All-Solid-Wood Guitars

A guitar made with a top, back and sides of solid wood will produce the most complex sound and continue to improve with age.

Builder’s Edition

Born from a passion to provide the ultimate playing experience, the Builder’s Edition collection blends the best of Taylor craftsmanship and player-focused design into an elite family of guitars.

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Presentation Series

Extraordinary tonewoods adorned with our finest aesthetic appointments make the Presentation Series our richest showcase of craftsmanship detail.

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Honduran Rosewood

Top

Sinker Redwood (Optional Adirondack Spruce)

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Koa Series

With its dazzling beauty and distinctive musical character, Hawaiian koa has long been a beloved tonewood in the Taylor line.

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Hawaiian Koa

Top

Hawaiian Koa, Sitka Spruce

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900 Series

Imbued with luxurious playing features and artful visual touches, the 900 Series showcases the musical dynamism of the classic rosewood/spruce tonewood combination.

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Indian Rosewood

Top

Sitka Spruce, Lutz Spruce

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photo of Taylor 800 series acoustic guitar close-up on armrest feature

800 Series

Taylor’s flagship series has been thoughtfully refined over decades, preserving a pedigree of vibrant musical tools that perform at the highest level.

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Indian Rosewood

Top

Sitka Spruce

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700 Series

Our 700 Series offers another uniquely compelling model mix for fans of rosewood guitars to explore.

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Indian Rosewood

Top

Lutz Spruce

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600 Series

Maple’s sonic transparency enables it to channel both the nuances of the player and the guitar design.

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Figured Big-Leaf Maple

Top

Torrefied Sitka Spruce (618e: Sitka Spruce)

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500 Series

Our 500 Series starts with a foundation of mahogany — loved for its dry, woody, focused response — and branches out with top options of cedar, mahogany or, with the Builder’s Edition 517e, torrefied Sitka spruce.

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Neo-Tropical Mahogany

Top

Neo-Tropical Mahogany, Western Red Cedar, Torrefied Sitka Spruce

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400 Series

Our 400 Series has evolved over time yet never strayed from offering players a premium blend of quality, utility and value.

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Indian Rosewood

Top

Sitka Spruce

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300 Series

For years, the 300 Series has been the gateway to the full-featured Taylor acoustic guitar experience.

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Sapele (Spruce Top), Urban Ash (326ce) or Tasmanian Blackwood (Mahogany Top)

Top

Sitka Spruce or Neo-Tropical Mahogany

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GT Series

Our latest player-friendly guitar design, the Taylor GT sports compact dimensions that allow it to carve out an appealing niche in the acoustic guitar world.

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Urban Ash, Indian Rosewood, Hawaiian Koa, Walnut, Mahogany

Top

Spruce

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American Dream Series

The American Dream Series embodies the plucky spirit of innovation that has fueled Taylor for nearly half a century, offering players our lowest-priced entry point to all-solid-wood construction.

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Ovangkol (Spruce Top) or Sapele (Mahogany Top)

Top

Spruce or Neo-Tropical Mahogany

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Layered-Wood Guitars

Guitars crafted with layered-wood back and sides, featuring three layers of wood, paired with a solid-wood top.

200 Series Standard | Plus | Deluxe

Our 200 Series covers three tiers and offers a breadth of options, all linked by robust acoustic tone and signature Taylor playability.

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Layered Koa, Rosewood or Maple

Top

Hawaiian Koa or Sitka Spruce

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100 Series

No matter how far we push the boundaries of acoustic design, we never lose sight of the essentials: clear, balanced tone and a comfortable neck.

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Layered Walnut

Top

Sitka Spruce

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Academy Series

Remember those early days of learning to play guitar? The Academy Series was inspired by our desire to create the most inviting playing experience for developing players, setting up a long and rewarding musical journey.

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Layered Sapele

Top

Sitka Spruce or Lutz Spruce (Nylon)

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GS Mini Series

Few acoustic guitars can match the sweeping popularity of our GS Mini.

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Layered Koa, Rosewood, Maple or Sapele

Top

Hawaiian Koa, Sitka Spruce or Neo Tropical Mahogany

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Baby Series

Our Baby Taylor is a little guitar that’s made a big impression.

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Layered Walnut (Spruce Top), Sapele (Mahogany Top) or Koa (Koa Top)

Top

Sitka Spruce, Neo-Tropical Mahogany or Hawaiian Koa

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Electric Guitars

Hollowbody or Semi-Hollowbody

T5z Series

Our innovative hollowbody electric/acoustic hybrid guitar is chock full of sonic potential, thanks to our proprietary electronics and a three-pickup configuration controlled by five-way switching.

Body

Sapele

Top

Figured Koa or Cocobolo (Custom), Figured Maple (Pro), Sitka Spruce (Standard), Neo-Tropical Mahogany, Sassafras or Koa (Classic)

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T3 Series

The semi-hollowbody T3 builds off the classic archtop electric designs that took over the music world decades ago.

Body

Sapele

Top

Layered Figured Maple

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Custom Guitars

The Taylor Custom shop has produced some of our most stunning works of craftsmanship, allowing players to create their dream guitar by selecting a body shape, tonewoods and aesthetic features.

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two taylor acoustic guitars, one standing and one leaning, facing front to display body shapes

Taylor Body Shapes

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How to find the size and sound that fit you best

Body shape is a great place to start your search for the right acoustic guitar model. That’s because the shapely curves and depth that define the body’s dimensions will influence both your physical relationship to the guitar and the type of voice it produces. Once you find the right shape, you can play and compare versions with different tonewood pairings. (For more on that, see our guide to tonewoods.) Here are a few considerations when it comes to comparing different body styles.

Feel

Comfort is important, so pay attention to how the body proportions feel when you play. A smaller guitar with a more tapered waist and slightly shallower body depth tends to create a more intimate feel. With larger bodies, consider the comfort of your picking/strumming arm in relation to the size of the lower bout, especially if you often play while seated. Body depth can also be a factor. Additionally, some Taylor models have advanced comfort features like chamfered (rounded) body edges or an armrest.

Neck-to-Body Relationship

Though not part of the body, the neck is connected to it, so the orientation of the two is another key comfort consideration. One factor is the point where the neck joins the body (12th or 14th fret). Another is the string scale length (the length of the string from the nut to the saddle), which in some cases varies based on the body shape. These design distinctions will influence how close together your hands are when you play, the amount of string tension, and the spacing between frets.

Sound

An acoustic guitar body is a natural amplifier for the strings. The body dimensions define the air capacity inside the guitar, and the amount of air volume tends to emphasize certain frequencies. In general, the smaller the air volume, the more focused the voice, often with an emphasis on upper-register frequencies. The greater the air volume, the bigger and deeper the voice, with an emphasis on low-end frequencies.

The Secret Sauce: Bracing

An acoustic guitar’s internal bracing architecture works in concert with the body shape and tonewoods to voice the guitar in unique ways. Our proprietary bracing patterns have been designed by master builder Andy Powers to optimize the tonal properties of each model. These include our award-winning V-Class® bracing, featured on most of our U.S.-made steel-string guitars. The patented design enhances the response of the guitar body to the vibrating strings, putting them more in tune with each other and producing more volume, more sustain, and better harmonic agreement between notes. It’s also a framework that can be fine-tuned in unique ways based on the body style and tonewood pairing, which creates a more distinctive sonic personality for each model. Another proprietary voicing system, C-Class bracing, is used with our Grand Theater body to coax more low-end warmth from the smaller guitar.

Travel-size Body Shapes

We also offer several scaled-down versions of existing body styles: the GS Mini (based on the Grand Symphony), the Baby Taylor (a three-quarter scale dreadnought) and the Big Baby Taylor.

How does a cutaway affect tone?

What people usually want to know is whether a cutaway diminishes a guitar’s tonal output. The answer: not in a discernible way. One might argue that it enhances the tone in the sense that it offers access to more notes along the treble-side of the fretboard where the neck meets the body. We recommend that you decide based on whether you want that extra upper-fretboard range or simply based on your aesthetic preference, as some people prefer the more traditional, symmetrical look of a non-cutaway, while others favor the sleek contouring of the cutaway. Many of our models can be ordered with or without a cutaway, but some guitars are offered exclusively in non-cutaway form: all Grand Theater, Grand Pacific and Grand Orchestra models, plus the Academy Series, GS Mini Series and Baby Series.

When you’re searching for the right acoustic guitar, one of the fundamental considerations is body shape. The body’s curves and depth help define our physical relationship with the guitar and literally shape the sound it produces. In addition to our family of full-size guitar bodies, we offer three scaled-down versions of existing shapes — the Baby Taylor (traditional dreadnought shape), the GS Mini (Grand Symphony), and the Big Baby Taylor.

Grand Theater

(“GT”; most models end in a 1; e.g., GT 811)

The GT sports the curves of the Grand Orchestra, but they’re scaled into uniquely compact proportions, including a shorter scale length. Its dimensions position it between our Grand Concert and travel-friendly GS Mini. Thanks to Andy Powers’ C-Class bracing wizardry, the GT packs the tonal depth of a full-size guitar into a form that’s easy and fun to play. If you crave a parlor-style guitar reimagined for the modern era, wrap yourself around this body style and enjoy.

Sound

• Rich, robust voice for its compact size — sonically punches above its weight
• C-Class bracing accentuates the lower frequencies to produce a warm bass response
• Smaller body optimizes the response to a lighter touch

Fit & Feel

• Compact body and neck dimensions make it ultra-comfortable to hold
• 24-1/8-inch scale length makes it easy to form chords and bend strings
• Light string tension and condensed fret spacing add to the easy, agile feel

  • Dimensions

  • Sound

  • Feel & Fit

GT 811e

Grand Concert

(Models end in a 2; e.g., 812)

This compact shape blends an intimate feel with an articulate, touch-sensitive response. Voiced with V-Class bracing, these guitars produce impressive volume and sustain. The 14-fret models lean toward a vibrant, high-definition sound, while 12-fret editions feature a slinkier handfeel and produce extra warmth and sweetness. We’ve also embraced the GC shape for most of our 12-string models to make the 12-string playing experience more accessible and musically useful.

Sound

• Clear, focused voice with pleasing treble chime and controlled overtones
• 14-Fret: modern and articulate
• 12-Fret: warm, sweet tonal character
• Great for recording; fits nicely in a mix

Fit & Feel

• Compact body and tapered waist feel comfortable and intimate
• 24-7/8-inch scale length provides a slinkier, more relaxed fretting-hand feel
• Highly touch-sensitive, giving the player a lot of nuanced control

  • Dimensions

  • Sound

  • Feel & Fit

812e

Grand Auditorium

(Models end in a 4; e.g., 814)

Taylor’s flagship shape remains our most popular for its comfort and musical range. The quintessential modern workhorse, its notes are vibrant, well-defined, and balanced across the tonal spectrum, thanks in part to having a more tapered waist that a traditional dreadnought. It responds well to both fingerstyle and strumming, and it’s a reliable tool for recording and live performance. Among our shapes, it’s the Swiss Army knife of the line.

Sound

• Vibrant voice with articulate, balanced notes
• Impressive projection and sustain thanks to V-Class bracing
• Appealing midrange presence

Fit & Feel

• Medium size with tapered waist makes it physically comfortable
• Large enough to produce room-filling volume
• Musically versatile, making it a great workhorse guitar

  • Dimensions

  • Sound

  • Feel & Fit

814e

Grand Pacific

(Models end in a 7; e.g., 517)

Our round-shoulder dreadnought delivers a different flavor of Taylor tone: a warm, seasoned voice in which notes overlap in a way that recalls traditional acoustic recordings. The difference is that no studio enhancements are needed to produce great acoustic tone here. V-Class bracing pumps out clear low-end power, making this a more musical, usable voice that’s as versatile as the Grand Auditorium and as assertive as a traditional dread.

Sound

• Warm, blended sound with round, broad notes
• Clear, full-range power across the entire musical spectrum
• More versatile than other dreadnought-style guitars

Fit & Feel

• Comfortable for traditional dreadnought players, with Taylor playability
• Offered exclusively as a non-cutaway
• Musically versatile, making it another workhorse option

  • Dimensions

  • Sound

  • Feel & Fit

517e

Grand Symphony

(Models end in a 6; e.g., 816)

Featuring a larger air chamber than the Grand Auditorium, the Grand Symphony combines V-Class bracing with an innovative soundport cutaway. The two components work together to produce a high-fidelity, symphonic voice that’s truly unique. The way the sound radiates creates an immersive, reverb-like effect with remarkable sustain. Together with its slightly shorter scale length and light-gauge strings, the GS is a great option for a seasoned player looking for a whole new acoustic experience.

Sound

• Rich, piano-like voice with symphonic musical response
• Soundport cutaway creates an expansive, surround-sound experience
• Notes sound like they’re growing as they sustain out

Fit & Feel

• Larger footprint and lung capacity than the Grand Auditorium
• 24-7/8-inch scale length and light-gauge strings make it comfortable and responsive
• Expressive instrument for solo acoustic players

  • Dimensions

  • Sound

  • Feel & Fit

816ce

Grand Orchestra

(Models end in an 8; e.g., 818)

Our biggest, deepest body shape has evolved from our former Jumbo shape. Our V-Class voicing architecture harnesses the Grand Orchestra’s huge air capacity to unleash a powerful sound, capable of deep rumble and rich sustain. Yet equally impressive is its touch sensitivity, giving it remarkable dynamic range and impressive versatility. Currently the GO shape is offered with two wood pairings: rosewood and spruce or maple and torrefied spruce.

Sound

• Powerful, commanding tone that remains balanced across the tonal spectrum
• Remarkable soft-touch responsiveness for a large guitar
• Huge dynamic range offers a broad, textured palette of musical colors

Fit & Feel

• Large and deep body but with a wider waist than old-style Jumbos
• Responsive — doesn’t require a heavy attack to activate the top
• Great for players who want a deep, bold voice and like to tune down

  • Dimensions

  • Sound

  • Feel & Fit

818e

Dreadnought

(Models end in a 0; e.g., 210)

The most traditional body design in the Taylor family, our Dreadnought shape has continuously been refined over the years to create a clearer, more balanced sound (to go with our ultra-playable necks). The Dread’s wider waist contributes to a robust voice with low-end power, a snappy midrange, and brilliant treble notes. Here, we’ve retained our X-bracing framework. The body shape is featured within the Academy, 100 and 200 Series.

Sound

• Warm, powerful low end with punchy trebles for a “modern vintage” voice
• Throaty midrange character
• Lots of headroom for players who like to dig in

Fit & Feel

• Wider waist causes the guitar to sit slightly higher in the player’s lap
• Traditional look and sound fit bluegrass and other roots music
• Responds well to flatpicking and a strong attack

  • Dimensions

  • Sound

  • Feel & Fit

110e
taylor acoustic guitar with back facing camera to show grain of wood

Taylor Tonewoods

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How different woods flavor a guitar’s sound

Here’s the thing: Describing the tonal properties of different woods is hard. Well, not hard, but insufficient. That’s because, for starters, an acoustic guitar is made with different wood species that each contribute to the sound: the back and sides (the same species), the top, the neck, the fretboard, the bridge, the internal bracing. Each is just one ingredient in a complex recipe that requires thoughtful design and skillful craftsmanship.

Woods are to a guitar maker like ingredients are to a chef: They have certain inherent properties that translate into sonic flavors, but it’s all about how the guitar maker works with them. So anytime you find yourself hungry to explore acoustic guitar tone, it helps to have an idea of what the guitar “chef” was trying to do in the first place.

That’s why, elsewhere in this issue, we talk with Taylor master designer Andy Powers about guitar making. One of the takeaways is that good guitar design is important because it helps harness the best of a wood’s natural sonic characteristics to create a musically pleasing guitar. That’s why we’ve been so excited about breakthrough designs like our V-Class and C-Class bracing, along with other techniques that help us continually refine the voicing and musicality of our instruments.

Another important takeaway is that wood sourcing is a fluid endeavor because we’re trying to be responsible stewards of the natural resources we rely on, which means embracing new wood species (or grades) to help reduce our reliance on others. It means using woods that might not (yet) have the pedigree of, say, rosewood or mahogany, or the exotic allure of figured Hawaiian koa, but have musical virtues we feel we can showcase through Andy’s designs. It also means thinking generations ahead and planting woods like ebony and koa for the future.

Tone Profiles

All that said, we think it’s helpful to highlight some of the innate musical characteristics of the different woods we use to help you better understand the basic tonal nuances that distinguish them. Last year, we enlisted Andy to help us create the tone charts shown here. Even though these woods are just one part of a larger musical recipe, Andy identified four tonal properties that guide his design choices, and in turn, inform the sound of a guitar. Here’s a recap of how they help flavor a guitar’s tone profile.

1. Frequency Range

Think of an EQ curve. We often describe a wood’s sonic attributes in terms of its tendencies to resonate in a certain frequency range (i.e., accentuating lows, mids or highs). For example, rosewood tends to favor low and high frequencies. Spruce tends to have a high-frequency preference.

2. Overtone Profile

At one end of this scale is a wood’s natural harmonic complexity — its tendency to resonate not only with the source note and string harmonics, but to also allow its own overtone additions to be heard. Think of rosewood’s rich voice, with its ringing overtones. At the other end is a wood’s tendency to focus more on the fundamental — basically to dampen its own overtone input, allowing only the source note and harmonics generated by the string to be heard. Think of mahogany’s dry, focused voice.

3. Reflectivity

This spectrum indicates the degree to which the wood is inclined to take on the character of the player and/or guitar design versus asserting its own sonic character. This relates to the overtone profile mentioned above. As an example, we often describe a wood like maple as being player-reflective, which means it has a certain neutral or transparent quality that allows it to channel the player’s style or the design of the instrument more directly. As a result, it can be more of a musical chameleon. Other woods, like rosewood, tend to have more intense character traits that will always flavor the sound, regardless of the player or instrument design.

4. Touch Sensitivity

This suggests how easily and immediately the guitar responds to a player’s touch. It can be a reflection of different factors, such as the wood’s density, strength and weight. At one end of the scale is a guitar that responds immediately to the lightest touch with an open and airy voice; at the other end is a guitar that responds well to a strong attack, producing dense and equally strong projection.

We often talk about touch sensitivity in the context of the soundboard. As an example, a cedar top is lightweight and has a high degree of touch sensitivity, which is why it often appeals to fingerstyle players with a light touch. A wood like Lutz or Adirondack spruce tends to have less touch sensitivity due to its strength and weight. It often shines in the hands of a player with a livelier attack and packs quite a sonic punch. A hardwood top like mahogany has a lower touch sensitivity, and with its natural compression, helps level out a heavier attack.


Solid vs. Layered Woods

One key distinction between the woods we use is whether the tonewood is solid or layered. Solid woods produce the most complex tone, and the sound continues to improve with age. Every model in the Taylor line features a solid-wood soundboard.

Our layered-wood construction (back and sides on our 200 Series and below) consists of a middle core with a thinner layer on each side. Building guitars with layered-wood backs and sides allows us to use our resources efficiently, and we’re able to arrange the woods with an alternating grain pattern to increase the guitar’s stability and resilience.

Back & Side Woods

Hardwoods are used exclusively for the backs and sides of guitars. Acting as the supportive framework for the instrument, the back and sides contribute rigidity and stability that help coax greater sustain from the guitar, along with physical traits that emphasize different resonant frequencies. Think of them as natural tone controls for an acoustic guitar, adding bass, midrange and treble along with varying degrees of overtones.

Indian Rosewood

Series

900, 800, 700, 400 Series

Tone Profile

  • Warm, resonant bass range with sparkling treble tones
  • Complex overtones with rich sustain
  • Scooped midrange, ideal for players who also sing

Hawaiian Koa

Series

Koa Series

Tone Profile

  • Strong midrange presence and an extra splash of top-end brightness
  • Ages gracefully — the more it’s played, the more koa will open and sweeten over time
  • Gorgeous grain lends a striking visual character

Tropical Mahogany

Series

500 Series

Tone Profile

  • Fundamental-strong focus without many overtones; the note you play is the note you hear
  • Dry, woody tone; responds well to a strong attack
  • Natural compression smooths out sharp volume edges for a more even response

Ovangkol

Series

American Dream Series

Tone Profile

  • A rosewood-esque African tonewood with a broad, balanced tonal spectrum
  • Punchy midrange scales up to a shimmery, articulate top end
  • Pleasing depth and character from a responsive bass range

Featured Models

Sapele

Series

300 Series (with spruce tops), American Dream Series (Mahogany tops)

Tone Profile

  • Similar fundamental focus to mahogany, but with slightly more treble sparkle
  • Consistent and balanced across the entire tonal spectrum
  • Slides in beautifully alongside other instruments

Featured Models

Tasmanian Blackwood

Series

300 Series (with mahogany tops)

Tone Profile

  • Extra headroom lends volume without having to dig in too hard
  • Dry, clear sound similar to mahogany, with a stronger low-end response
  • Versatile and adaptable to a wide range of styles and situations

Featured Models

Urban Ash™

Series

300 Series (Builder’s Edition 324ce, 326ce), GT/GTe Urban Ash

Tone Profile

  • Comparable to mahogany
  • Fundamental-focus with direct, dry tone and some natural compression
  • Responds well to most playing styles

Walnut

Series

Grand Theater

Tone Profile

  • Pleasing blend of woodiness and clarity
  • Similar to mahogany, but with more tonal support in the lower register
  • The low end will continue to fill out after being played in

Featured Models

Top Woods

The wood used for a guitar’s soundboard plays a key role in defining the overall tone of the instrument. Often, we use “soft” woods, which come from coniferous trees. Spruce and cedar are valued for their combination of being lightweight yet strong, possessing an elastic quality that allows them to be set in motion easily. These woods generally produce a wide dynamic range, and contribute their own unique musical flavor to the mix.

We also use hardwoods such as mahogany and koa as guitar tops. These denser materials require more energy to set in motion, and the vibration tends to move more gradually through them. The result is a kind of natural compression effect that rounds out the guitar’s initial attack, producing a focused voice with fewer overtones. Hardwood-top guitars often amplify well.

Sitka Spruce

Tone Profile

  • Crisp and articulate, with a broad dynamic range
  • Accommodates a wide variety of playing styles and musical genres

Featured Models

Mahogany

Tone Profile

  • Natural compression yields a controlled “roll-in” effect to a note
  • Even, balanced volume response to a varied strumming or picking technique
  • Strong fundamental focus with a direct, dry sound without overtones

Featured Models

Hawaiian Koa

Tone Profile

  • Natural compression yields a controlled “roll-in” effect to a note
  • Even, balanced volume response to a varied strumming or picking technique
  • Similar to mahogany with a touch more top-end shimmer and chime

Western Red Cedar

Tone Profile

  • Less dense than spruce, generating a warmer, more played-in sound
  • Additional midrange presence adds complexity
  • Especially sensitive to players with a soft touch, but with more dynamic range for strumming from V-Class bracing

Featured Models

two taylor acoustic guitars, one standing and one leaning, facing front to display body shapes

Taylor Body Shapes

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Each body’s dimensions create a distinctive feel and sound.

Feel

Choosing a body style that fits you both physically and musically is important. Start by looking for a body with proportions that feel comfortable when you play the guitar. The width at the waist and across the widest part of the lower bout, plus the body depth, will define your physical relationship with the body (especially when you’re sitting). Another comfort consideration — though technically not a body feature — is the string scale length, since that will influence how close your hands are when you play, and in many cases, the string tension, too.

Neck-to-Body Relationship

Body dimensions literally shape the guitar’s sound. Think of the air volume inside a guitar as its lung capacity. The size of that air chamber tends to emphasize a particular set of frequencies. In general, the smaller the air mass, the more focused the voice, often with emphasis on the upper register. The larger the air mass, the deeper the low-end response and overall voice. Think about the role you want the guitar to perform, and the kinds of sounds you want to get from it. If nothing else, think in terms of small, medium and large sizes, which will help you narrow your search.

Sound

Travel: Baby, GS Mini
Small: Grand Theater, Grand Concert
Medium: Grand Auditorium, Grand Pacific, Dreadnought
Large: Grand Symphony, Grand Orchestra

The Secret Sauce: Bracing

Another influential design element is the internal bracing architecture, which helps voice the instrument. Our innovative V-Class® bracing, designed by Taylor master builder Andy Powers and featured on almost all our U.S.-made steel-string guitars, provides an enhanced voicing platform. The design optimizes the response of the guitar body to the vibrating strings, putting them more in tune with other and producing more volume, more sustain, and better harmonic agreement between notes as a result. The V-Class framework is uniquely tailored for each body style, which creates a more distinctive sonic personality for each. Andy’s design also informed the development of another proprietary voicing system, C-Class bracing, used with our new Grand Theater body to coax more low-end warmth from the smaller guitar.

Addition by Subtraction: The Cutaway

A common question among the acoustic guitar curious is how much a cutaway impacts (i.e., diminishes) the tonal response. The truth: not much at all. And what you gain is access to more of the treble-side fretboard high up the neck. So whether you decide based on musical utility or aesthetics, the choice is yours. Many of our models can be ordered with or without a cutaway, but some guitars are offered exclusively in non-cutaway form: all Grand Pacific and Grand Orchestra models, plus the 100 Series, Academy Series, GS Mini Series and Baby Series.

When you’re searching for the right acoustic guitar, one of the fundamental considerations is body shape. The body’s curves and depth help define our physical relationship with the guitar and literally shape the sound it produces. In addition to our family of full-size guitar bodies, we offer three scaled-down versions of existing shapes — the Baby Taylor (traditional dreadnought shape), the GS Mini (Grand Symphony), and the Big Baby Taylor.

Grand Theater

(“GT”; most models end in a 1; e.g., GT 811)

The GT sports the curves of the Grand Orchestra, but they’re scaled into uniquely compact proportions, including a shorter scale length. Its dimensions position it between our Grand Concert and travel-friendly GS Mini. Thanks to Andy Powers’ C-Class bracing wizardry, the GT packs the tonal depth of a full-size guitar into a form that’s easy and fun to play. If you crave a parlor-style guitar reimagined for the modern era, wrap yourself around this body style and enjoy.

Sound

• Rich, robust voice for its compact size — sonically punches above its weight
• C-Class bracing accentuates the lower frequencies to produce a warm bass response
• Smaller body optimizes the response to a lighter touch

Fit & Feel

• Compact body and neck dimensions make it ultra-comfortable to hold
• 24-1/8-inch scale length makes it easy to form chords and bend strings
• Light string tension and condensed fret spacing add to the easy, agile feel

  • Dimensions

  • Sound

  • Feel & Fit

GT 811e

Grand Concert

(Models end in a 2; e.g., 812)

This compact shape blends an intimate feel with an articulate, touch-sensitive response. Voiced with V-Class bracing, these guitars produce impressive volume and sustain. The 14-fret models lean toward a vibrant, high-definition sound, while 12-fret editions feature a slinkier handfeel and produce extra warmth and sweetness. We’ve also embraced the GC shape for most of our 12-string models to make the 12-string playing experience more accessible and musically useful.

Sound

• Clear, focused voice with pleasing treble chime and controlled overtones
• 14-Fret: modern and articulate
• 12-Fret: warm, sweet tonal character
• Great for recording; fits nicely in a mix

Fit & Feel

• Compact body and tapered waist feel comfortable and intimate
• 24-7/8-inch scale length provides a slinkier, more relaxed fretting-hand feel
• Highly touch-sensitive, giving the player a lot of nuanced control

  • Dimensions

  • Sound

  • Feel & Fit

812e

Grand Auditorium

(Models end in a 4; e.g., 814)

Taylor’s flagship shape remains our most popular for its comfort and musical range. The quintessential modern workhorse, its notes are vibrant, well-defined, and balanced across the tonal spectrum, thanks in part to having a more tapered waist that a traditional dreadnought. It responds well to both fingerstyle and strumming, and it’s a reliable tool for recording and live performance. Among our shapes, it’s the Swiss Army knife of the line.

Sound

• Vibrant voice with articulate, balanced notes
• Impressive projection and sustain thanks to V-Class bracing
• Appealing midrange presence

Fit & Feel

• Medium size with tapered waist makes it physically comfortable
• Large enough to produce room-filling volume
• Musically versatile, making it a great workhorse guitar

  • Dimensions

  • Sound

  • Feel & Fit

814e

Grand Pacific

(Models end in a 7; e.g., 517)

Our round-shoulder dreadnought delivers a different flavor of Taylor tone: a warm, seasoned voice in which notes overlap in a way that recalls traditional acoustic recordings. The difference is that no studio enhancements are needed to produce great acoustic tone here. V-Class bracing pumps out clear low-end power, making this a more musical, usable voice that’s as versatile as the Grand Auditorium and as assertive as a traditional dread.

Sound

• Warm, blended sound with round, broad notes
• Clear, full-range power across the entire musical spectrum
• More versatile than other dreadnought-style guitars

Fit & Feel

• Comfortable for traditional dreadnought players, with Taylor playability
• Offered exclusively as a non-cutaway
• Musically versatile, making it another workhorse option

  • Dimensions

  • Sound

  • Feel & Fit

517e

Grand Symphony

(Models end in a 6; e.g., 816)

Featuring a larger air chamber than the Grand Auditorium, the Grand Symphony combines V-Class bracing with an innovative soundport cutaway. The two components work together to produce a high-fidelity, symphonic voice that’s truly unique. The way the sound radiates creates an immersive, reverb-like effect with remarkable sustain. Together with its slightly shorter scale length and light-gauge strings, the GS is a great option for a seasoned player looking for a whole new acoustic experience.

Sound

• Rich, piano-like voice with symphonic musical response
• Soundport cutaway creates an expansive, surround-sound experience
• Notes sound like they’re growing as they sustain out

Fit & Feel

• Larger footprint and lung capacity than the Grand Auditorium
• 24-7/8-inch scale length and light-gauge strings make it comfortable and responsive
• Expressive instrument for solo acoustic players

  • Dimensions

  • Sound

  • Feel & Fit

816ce

Grand Orchestra

(Models end in an 8; e.g., 818)

Our biggest, deepest body shape has evolved from our former Jumbo shape. Our V-Class voicing architecture harnesses the Grand Orchestra’s huge air capacity to unleash a powerful sound, capable of deep rumble and rich sustain. Yet equally impressive is its touch sensitivity, giving it remarkable dynamic range and impressive versatility. Currently the GO shape is offered with two wood pairings: rosewood and spruce or maple and torrefied spruce.

Sound

• Powerful, commanding tone that remains balanced across the tonal spectrum
• Remarkable soft-touch responsiveness for a large guitar
• Huge dynamic range offers a broad, textured palette of musical colors

Fit & Feel

• Large and deep body but with a wider waist than old-style Jumbos
• Responsive — doesn’t require a heavy attack to activate the top
• Great for players who want a deep, bold voice and like to tune down

  • Dimensions

  • Sound

  • Feel & Fit

818e

Dreadnought

(Models end in a 0; e.g., 210)

The most traditional body design in the Taylor family, our Dreadnought shape has continuously been refined over the years to create a clearer, more balanced sound (to go with our ultra-playable necks). The Dread’s wider waist contributes to a robust voice with low-end power, a snappy midrange, and brilliant treble notes. Here, we’ve retained our X-bracing framework. The body shape is featured within the Academy, 100 and 200 Series.

Sound

• Warm, powerful low end with punchy trebles for a “modern vintage” voice
• Throaty midrange character
• Lots of headroom for players who like to dig in

Fit & Feel

• Wider waist causes the guitar to sit slightly higher in the player’s lap
• Traditional look and sound fit bluegrass and other roots music
• Responds well to flatpicking and a strong attack

  • Dimensions

  • Sound

  • Feel & Fit

110e
taylor acoustic guitar with back facing camera to show grain of wood

Taylor Tonewoods

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How different tonewoods flavor a guitar’s sound.

Here’s the thing: Describing the tonal properties of different woods is hard. Well, not hard, but insufficient. That’s because, for starters, an acoustic guitar is made with different wood species that each contribute to the sound: the back and sides (the same species), the top, the neck, the fretboard, the bridge, the internal bracing. Each is just one ingredient in a complex recipe that requires thoughtful design and skillful craftsmanship.

Woods are to a guitar maker like ingredients are to a chef: They have certain inherent properties that translate into sonic flavors, but it’s all about how the guitar maker works with them. So anytime you find yourself hungry to explore acoustic guitar tone, it helps to have an idea of what the guitar “chef” was trying to do in the first place.

For tops, we frequently use softwoods, such as spruce or cedar, which come from coniferous trees. They tend to have a winning combination of being lightweight yet stiff and strong, possessing an elastic quality that allows them to be set in motion easily. And that’s an important part of their job, because they harness the energy of vibrating strings to move the air inside the guitar body. These woods generally produce a wide dynamic range.

Sometimes we use hardwoods such as mahogany or koa as guitar tops. These denser materials require more energy to set in motion, and the vibration tends to move more gradually through them. The result is a kind of natural compression effect that rounds out the guitar’s initial attack, producing a focused voice with fewer overtones.

For the back and sides, hardwoods are always used. They essentially form the speaker cabinet of the shapely acoustic “box,” helping to naturally flavor and amplify the tone based on their own unique acoustic characteristics. The thing is, describing the inherent sonic identity of each wood species we use can feel a bit reductive because we never hear that particular wood in isolation — it needs to interact with other components, including one of the most influential ones: you. So in some ways, describing the sound of a tonewood is kind of like describing the flavor of a spice — yes, it has a distinct identity, but it works its magic based on the role it plays in a larger recipe, determined by the chef (or in our case, luthier). And sometimes the effort to simplify a wood’s sonic properties can lead to misunderstanding or overgeneralization.

That said, we love exploring the world of woods with guitar enthusiasts in the hope of shedding light on their natural musical flavors and how they contribute to a guitar’s sound. If nothing else, this will give you some food for thought when you play and listen to different guitars. And the more you do that, the more you’ll enrich your own musical palette and come to appreciate the nuances that distinguish guitars made with different woods. It’s a pretty fun exercise, if we do say so ourselves.

Tone Profiles

This year, we asked Taylor master builder Andy Powers to highlight the properties he thinks matter most in considering the tonewoods used for a guitar. Or as he described it, “the characteristics that directly relate to a player’s experience with the guitar.” He picked four categories, each of which covers a sonic spectrum. Then we asked him to use those to sketch out a sonic profile for each tonewood. These are not in order of importance.

1. Frequency Range

Think of an EQ curve. We often describe a wood’s sonic attributes in terms of its tendencies to resonate in a certain frequency range (i.e., accentuating lows, mids or highs). For example, rosewood tends to favor low and high frequencies. Spruce tends to have a high-frequency preference.

2. Overtone Profile

At one end of this scale is a wood’s natural affinity toward harmonic complexity — its tendency to resonate not only with the source note and string harmonics, but to also allow its own overtone additions to be heard. Think of rosewood’s rich voice, with its ringing overtones. At the other end is a wood’s tendency to focus more on the fundamental — basically to dampen its own overtone input, allowing only the source note and harmonics generated by the string to be heard. Think of mahogany’s dry, focused voice. One point Andy emphasizes is to avoid thinking of harmonic complexity as good and damping as bad. “The two extremes are neither good nor bad,” he says, “although depending on our own preferences as players, we can be quick to label them as such.”

3. Reflectivity

This spectrum indicates the degree to which the wood is inclined to take on the character of the player and/or guitar design, versus asserting its own sonic character. This relates to the harmonic content scale mentioned above. As an example, we often describe a wood like maple as being player-reflective, which means it has a certain neutral or transparent quality that allows it to channel the player’s style or the design of the instrument more clearly. As a result, it can be more of a musical chameleon. Other woods, like rosewood, tend to have more intense character traits that will always flavor the sound, regardless of the player or instrument design.

4. Touch Sensitivity

This is pretty self-explanatory. A player will understand this as how easily and immediately the guitar responds to their touch. It can be a reflection of different factors, such as the wood’s density, strength and weight. At one end of the scale is a guitar that responds immediately to the lightest touch with an open and airy voice; at the other end is a guitar that responds well to a strong attack, producing dense and equally strong projection.

We often talk about touch sensitivity in the context of the soundboard. As an example, a cedar top is lightweight and has a high degree of touch sensitivity, which is why it often appeals to fingerstyle players with a light touch. A wood like Lutz or Adirondack spruce tends to have less touch sensitivity due to its strength and weight. It often shines in the hands of a player with a livelier attack and packs quite a sonic punch. A hardwood top like mahogany has a lower touch sensitivity, and with its natural compression, helps level out a heavier attack.

Tonewood Pairings

Again, remember that an acoustic guitar’s sonic personality comes from a combination of tonewoods, the body shape, the bracing architecture and other design elements, the player and other attributes. But let’s assume that the design elements, shape and player are the same across the board and just look at the way the tonewoods paired on a guitar body (the top wood together with the wood used for the back/sides) might work together. As an example, let’s take a Taylor Grand Auditorium body with a cedar top and rosewood back and sides, and walk through that pairing sonically based on those four categories.

The cedar top will have a tendency to: 1) prefer low frequencies; 2) have medium to high harmonic complexity; 3) sound much like itself; 4) and have a high degree of touch sensitivity. The rosewood will: 1) favor low and high frequencies; 2) have a high degree of harmonic complexity on the high end and somewhat lower harmonic complexity on the low end; 3) be extremely wood-reflective; 4) and have little touch sensitivity by itself. 

With those elements working together, the resulting guitar will respond with a warm, harmonically rich sound that is very characteristic of itself, and respond quickly to a light touch, making this a good choice for a fingerstyle player who wants a warm-sounding guitar.

How about a Grand Auditorium body with a Lutz spruce top and mahogany back and sides?

The spruce will: 1) have a somewhat high-frequency preference; 2) with medium to high harmonic complexity; 3) be in the middle of the player- to wood-reflective scale; 4) with less touch sensitivity than cedar due to its strength and weight. The mahogany back and sides will: 1) prefer the low frequencies; 2) be very fundamental strong; 3) be substantially player- and design-reflective; 4) with a higher level of touch sensitivity. As a whole, this guitar will have a balanced frequency response, pleasing harmonic balance, tend to be player-reflective, and have a slight preference toward a stronger playing style.

Here’s another example featuring a hardwood top: an all-koa Grand Auditorium.

Koa will: 1) have a mild midrange preference, bordering on neutral; 2) fall near the middle of the range of harmonic complexity; 3) fall near the middle range of reflectivity, sounding somewhat like the player, somewhat like the design, and somewhat like itself; 4) and fall in the middle of touch sensitivity, preferring to be strummed or played with fingers.

In this example, using the same wood for the entire body reveals some characteristics becoming more important due to the role the wood plays. As a top, koa displays less touch sensitivity than it does as a back, due to the direct coupling with the strings. As a result, this all-koa combination produces an even string response, responding well to strumming and fingerstyle playing, with a well-balanced tonal response, offering a hint of its inherent sweetness, and reflecting some of the design, playing style and its own personality. Finally, it smooths out the player’s articulation without requiring an aggressive strumming style. And, oh yes, koa also happens to be visually gorgeous. (Let’s face it: sometimes we “hear” with our eyes too!)

As a final note, Andy acknowledges that while some players and builders are tempted to quantify the contributing role the top wood plays in producing the overall sound compared to the back and side wood, in reality, it can vary based on the woods and the design.

“I’ve heard folks say that 95 percent of an acoustic guitar’s sound comes from the top selection,” he explains. “If that were true with our guitars, you could take a spruce and maple Grand Auditorium and a spruce and rosewood Grand Auditorium, play them next to each other, and they would sound 95 percent the same. It might be just my ears, but I don’t hear them that way. I’ve long thought that not all percentages are equal, and that this last five percent is actually a lot more meaningful than the first 95 percent.”   We can’t emphasize enough that our tone chart merely paints a partial picture. But hopefully it gives you some helpful criteria for evaluating the acoustic properties of any guitar you play.


Solid vs. Layered Woods

One important distinction between the materials we use is whether the tonewood is solid or layered. Solid woods produce the most complex tone, and the sound continues to improve with age. Every model in the Taylor line features a solid-wood soundboard. Our layered-wood construction (back and sides on our 200 Series and below) consists of a middle core with a thinner layer on each side. Building guitars with layered-wood backs and sides allows us to use our resources efficiently, and we’re able to arrange the layers with an alternating grain direction to increase the guitar’s stability and resilience.

Back & Side Woods

Hardwoods are used exclusively for the backs and sides of guitars. Acting as the supportive framework for the instrument, the back and sides contribute rigidity and stability that help coax greater sustain from the guitar, along with physical traits that emphasize different resonant frequencies. Think of them as natural tone controls for an acoustic guitar, adding bass, midrange and treble along with varying degrees of overtones.

Indian Rosewood

Series

900, 800, 700, 400 Series

Tone Profile

  • Warm, resonant bass range with sparkling treble tones
  • Complex overtones with rich sustain
  • Scooped midrange, ideal for players who also sing

Hawaiian Koa

Series

Koa Series

Tone Profile

  • Strong midrange presence and an extra splash of top-end brightness
  • Ages gracefully — the more it’s played, the more koa will open and sweeten over time
  • Gorgeous grain lends a striking visual character

Tropical Mahogany

Series

500 Series

Tone Profile

  • Fundamental-strong focus without many overtones; the note you play is the note you hear
  • Dry, woody tone; responds well to a strong attack
  • Natural compression smooths out sharp volume edges for a more even response

Ovangkol

Series

American Dream Series

Tone Profile

  • A rosewood-esque African tonewood with a broad, balanced tonal spectrum
  • Punchy midrange scales up to a shimmery, articulate top end
  • Pleasing depth and character from a responsive bass range

Featured Models

Sapele

Series

300 Series (with spruce tops), American Dream Series (Mahogany tops)

Tone Profile

  • Similar fundamental focus to mahogany, but with slightly more treble sparkle
  • Consistent and balanced across the entire tonal spectrum
  • Slides in beautifully alongside other instruments

Featured Models

Tasmanian Blackwood

Series

300 Series (with mahogany tops)

Tone Profile

  • Extra headroom lends volume without having to dig in too hard
  • Dry, clear sound similar to mahogany, with a stronger low-end response
  • Versatile and adaptable to a wide range of styles and situations

Featured Models

Urban Ash™

Series

300 Series (Builder’s Edition 324ce, 326ce), GT/GTe Urban Ash

Tone Profile

  • Comparable to mahogany
  • Fundamental-focus with direct, dry tone and some natural compression
  • Responds well to most playing styles

Walnut

Series

Grand Theater

Tone Profile

  • Pleasing blend of woodiness and clarity
  • Similar to mahogany, but with more tonal support in the lower register
  • The low end will continue to fill out after being played in

Featured Models

Top Woods

The wood used for a guitar’s soundboard plays a key role in defining the overall tone of the instrument. Often, we use “soft” woods, which come from coniferous trees. Spruce and cedar are valued for their combination of being lightweight yet strong, possessing an elastic quality that allows them to be set in motion easily. These woods generally produce a wide dynamic range, and contribute their own unique musical flavor to the mix.

We also use hardwoods such as mahogany and koa as guitar tops. These denser materials require more energy to set in motion, and the vibration tends to move more gradually through them. The result is a kind of natural compression effect that rounds out the guitar’s initial attack, producing a focused voice with fewer overtones. Hardwood-top guitars often amplify well.

Sitka Spruce

Tone Profile

  • Crisp and articulate, with a broad dynamic range
  • Accommodates a wide variety of playing styles and musical genres

Featured Models

Mahogany

Tone Profile

  • Natural compression yields a controlled “roll-in” effect to a note
  • Even, balanced volume response to a varied strumming or picking technique
  • Strong fundamental focus with a direct, dry sound without overtones

Featured Models

Hawaiian Koa

Tone Profile

  • Natural compression yields a controlled “roll-in” effect to a note
  • Even, balanced volume response to a varied strumming or picking technique
  • Similar to mahogany with a touch more top-end shimmer and chime

Western Red Cedar

Tone Profile

  • Less dense than spruce, generating a warmer, more played-in sound
  • Additional midrange presence adds complexity
  • Especially sensitive to players with a soft touch, but with more dynamic range for strumming from V-Class bracing

Featured Models

three taylor acoustic guitars in a row

The Taylor Line by Series

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A snapshot of our series framework and tonewood pairings.

All-Solid-Wood Guitars

A guitar made with a top, back and sides of solid wood will produce the most complex sound and continue to improve with age.

Builder’s Edition

Born from a passion to provide the ultimate playing experience, the Builder’s Edition collection blends the best of Taylor craftsmanship and player-focused design into an elite family of guitars.

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Presentation Series

Extraordinary tonewoods adorned with our finest aesthetic appointments make the Presentation Series our richest showcase of craftsmanship detail.

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Honduran Rosewood

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Sinker Redwood (Optional Adirondack Spruce)

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Koa Series

With its dazzling beauty and distinctive musical character, Hawaiian koa has long been a beloved tonewood in the Taylor line.

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Hawaiian Koa

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Hawaiian Koa, Sitka Spruce

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900 Series

Imbued with luxurious playing features and artful visual touches, the 900 Series showcases the musical dynamism of the classic rosewood/spruce tonewood combination.

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Indian Rosewood

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Sitka Spruce, Lutz Spruce

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photo of Taylor 800 series acoustic guitar close-up on armrest feature

800 Series

Taylor’s flagship series has been thoughtfully refined over decades, preserving a pedigree of vibrant musical tools that perform at the highest level.

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Indian Rosewood

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Sitka Spruce

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700 Series

Our 700 Series offers another uniquely compelling model mix for fans of rosewood guitars to explore.

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Indian Rosewood

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Lutz Spruce

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600 Series

Maple’s sonic transparency enables it to channel both the nuances of the player and the guitar design.

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Figured Big-Leaf Maple

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Torrefied Sitka Spruce (618e: Sitka Spruce)

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500 Series

Our 500 Series starts with a foundation of mahogany — loved for its dry, woody, focused response — and branches out with top options of cedar, mahogany or, with the Builder’s Edition 517e, torrefied Sitka spruce.

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Neo-Tropical Mahogany

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Neo-Tropical Mahogany, Western Red Cedar, Torrefied Sitka Spruce

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400 Series

Our 400 Series has evolved over time yet never strayed from offering players a premium blend of quality, utility and value.

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Indian Rosewood

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Sitka Spruce

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300 Series

For years, the 300 Series has been the gateway to the full-featured Taylor acoustic guitar experience.

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Sapele (Spruce Top), Urban Ash (326ce) or Tasmanian Blackwood (Mahogany Top)

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Sitka Spruce or Neo-Tropical Mahogany

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GT Series

Our latest player-friendly guitar design, the Taylor GT sports compact dimensions that allow it to carve out an appealing niche in the acoustic guitar world.

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Urban Ash, Indian Rosewood, Hawaiian Koa, Walnut, Mahogany

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Spruce

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American Dream Series

The American Dream Series embodies the plucky spirit of innovation that has fueled Taylor for nearly half a century, offering players our lowest-priced entry point to all-solid-wood construction.

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Ovangkol (Spruce Top) or Sapele (Mahogany Top)

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Spruce or Neo-Tropical Mahogany

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Layered-Wood Guitars

Guitars crafted with layered-wood back and sides, featuring three layers of wood, paired with a solid-wood top.

200 Series Standard | Plus | Deluxe

Our 200 Series covers three tiers and offers a breadth of options, all linked by robust acoustic tone and signature Taylor playability.

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Layered Koa, Rosewood or Maple

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Hawaiian Koa or Sitka Spruce

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100 Series

No matter how far we push the boundaries of acoustic design, we never lose sight of the essentials: clear, balanced tone and a comfortable neck.

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Layered Walnut

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Sitka Spruce

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Academy Series

Remember those early days of learning to play guitar? The Academy Series was inspired by our desire to create the most inviting playing experience for developing players, setting up a long and rewarding musical journey.

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Layered Sapele

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Sitka Spruce or Lutz Spruce (Nylon)

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GS Mini Series

Few acoustic guitars can match the sweeping popularity of our GS Mini.

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Layered Koa, Rosewood, Maple or Sapele

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Hawaiian Koa, Sitka Spruce or Neo Tropical Mahogany

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Baby Series

Our Baby Taylor is a little guitar that’s made a big impression.

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Layered Walnut (Spruce Top), Sapele (Mahogany Top) or Koa (Koa Top)

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Sitka Spruce, Neo-Tropical Mahogany or Hawaiian Koa

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Electric Guitars

Hollowbody or Semi-Hollowbody

T5z Series

Our innovative hollowbody electric/acoustic hybrid guitar is chock full of sonic potential, thanks to our proprietary electronics and a three-pickup configuration controlled by five-way switching.

Body

Sapele

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Figured Koa or Cocobolo (Custom), Figured Maple (Pro), Sitka Spruce (Standard), Neo-Tropical Mahogany, Sassafras or Koa (Classic)

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T3 Series

The semi-hollowbody T3 builds off the classic archtop electric designs that took over the music world decades ago.

Body

Sapele

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Layered Figured Maple

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Custom Guitars

The Taylor Custom shop has produced some of our most stunning works of craftsmanship, allowing players to create their dream guitar by selecting a body shape, tonewoods and aesthetic features.

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The 2021 Guitar Guide

From the Baby Taylor to Builder’s Edition, our guitar lineup is loaded with inspiring musical tools for every type of player.

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Taylor Body Shapes

Each body’s dimensions create a distinctive feel and sound.

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Taylor Tonewoods

How different tonewoods flavor a guitar’s sound.

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The Taylor Line by Series

A snapshot of our series framework and tonewood pairings.

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When it comes to choosing an acoustic guitar that will spark fresh musical discoveries and serve you well for years, you can’t go wrong with a Taylor. Every guitar in our lineup is built to deliver all the essentials of a great playing experience. An easy-playing neck. Clear, balanced tone. Durable construction. Impeccable craftsmanship. All backed by top-notch Taylor service and support. When you consider our commitment to environmental stewardship and ethical business practices, you can feel good about everything that goes into a Taylor guitar.

Our Guitar Guide takes you on a tour of the 2021 Taylor guitar line. We start with two core ingredients that help define an acoustic guitar’s musical personality: body style, which literally shapes its voice, and tonewoods, which infuse it with additional sonic flavors. From there, we’ll walk you through the framework of the Taylor line, organized by series. Each is defined by a combination of tonewood pairings and aesthetic details, presenting an array of options in feel, sound and looks. Whichever way your tastes lean, you can always count on a reliable musical companion that’s built to last.

Our website is also a robust resource for information on all of our models, including photos, videos, specifications* and pricing. And if you have specific guitar questions, feel free to contact our Customer Service team; they’ll be happy to help you.

*Prices, specifications and availability are subject to change without notice.

A Guide to Taylor Acoustic Model Numbers

Here’s how our model numbering system works.

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The Taylor Difference

5 things that set the Taylor experience apart

Why do people choose to play a Taylor guitar?

We can think of lots of reasons. From our perspective, they all flow from the same wellspring: our underlying passion for improving the guitar-playing experience. That creative drive set a teenage Bob Taylor on a path of innovation 46 years ago, and that push for continuous improvement laid the creative foundation of our culture, guiding our approach to everything we do. For anyone curious about what makes us unique, here are five things that players can count on from us.

Playing Comfort

Easy-playing necks are a hallmark feature of a Taylor guitar and the gold standard of playability across the acoustic guitar industry. This makes our guitars more accessible to beginners, reducing hand fatigue and accelerating their progress. For seasoned players, the slim profile and comfortable string setup of our necks translates into a fast feel that allows them to express themselves more fluidly.

Our obsession with playability has led to innovative designs like the patented Taylor neck, which improves both stability and adjustability. This allows the geometry of our guitars to be set precisely for optimal performance, with unprecedented micro-adjustability to ensure a lifetime of playability.

We offer a range of other comfort-centric playing features within our guitar line, including different scale lengths, string tension profiles and neck profiles, along with ergonomic refinements to the guitar body, such as armrests and other contouring features.

Tone-Enhancing Innovation

Our passion for ear-pleasing musicality has fueled our efforts to voice our guitars to inspire and perform at the highest level. It starts with guitars that stay in tune and readily respond with clear and balanced articulation. With Taylor master designer Andy Powers at the helm, our drive to refine the sound of our guitars has led to a steady stream of tone-enhancing designs, such as our award-winning V-Class® bracing. This powerful tone-shaping platform allows us to create a wide range of musically inspiring acoustic flavors, offering something for every level and style of player. For many pro musicians and recording engineers, having a Taylor means having a reliable tool to get the job done, whether for songwriting, recording or performance.

Precision Craftsmanship

A guitar design is only as good as the ability to produce it. One of Bob Taylor’s greatest accomplishments as a guitar maker has been his pioneering work to transform guitar making from its old-world heritage into an innovative manufacturing operation that enables us to craft instruments with remarkable precision and consistency. We have an entire tooling and engineering division devoted to making our latest guitar designs production-ready. This includes everything from developing the software programs we use with our sophisticated computer-controlled mills and robots to fabricating our own tools and machines to help our skilled craftspeople produce our guitars. That unique integration of technology, tooling and skilled hand-craftsmanship makes our guitar factory operation truly one of a kind. Not only does this allow us to imbue our guitars with impeccable detail work, but the superb build quality gives players an heirloom-quality instrument.

Sustainability Leadership

We are deeply committed to safeguarding the future of the natural resources we use. Beyond our pursuit of ethical, socially responsible sourcing practices, we have pioneered several innovative sustainability initiatives around the world. Flagship programs include the Ebony Project in Cameroon, which funds research about ebony’s ecology and has shaped a robust replanting initiative; Paniolo Tonewoods in Hawaii, a collaboration with supply partner Pacific Rim Tonewoods to ensure a healthier future for koa by regenerating native forests; and a new Urban Wood initiative in tandem with an innovative California arborist to create new markets for wood from previously discarded trees that have been removed from municipal areas at the end of their life cycle. Not only does some of this wood, such as Urban Ash, make wonderful guitars, the project aims to support the re-greening of urban areas. Bob Taylor’s vision of environmental stewardship at Taylor also led him to hire a forest policy expert to become our Director of Natural Resource Sustainability, a unique position within the guitar industry.

Service & Support

Taylor is more than just a company that makes and sells guitars. We’re equally passionate about providing the resources to support your guitar-playing journey, whether you need help choosing the right guitar or taking care of it. One of the best things about a well-made and well-maintained guitar is that it will continue to sound better over time, and we love helping Taylor owners enjoy their instruments to the fullest. From friendly service to expert repair, you can count on a lifetime of attentive Taylor support.


Finding Your Fit

At Taylor Guitars, we believe in helping each player choose the guitar that will best inspire their musical interests and ignite a passion for the instrument. Watch the video below and learn how shape, size, features and tonewoods factor in to your decision of which acoustic guitar to buy.

Taylor Guitar Pick Primer

Your choice of guitar pick has a dramatic influence over your guitar’s tone, and playing with picks of different shapes, thicknesses and materials, such as our DarkTone picks, will emphasize different parts of the guitar’s range. The result is a wider spectrum of tonal colors to add to your musical arsenal. Watch Taylor guitar guru Andy Lund as he runs through how different picks can shape your guitar’s sound.

Understanding the ES2:
A Deep Dive with
Gabriel O’Brien

Many of today’s acoustic guitars are sold with built-in electronics, and Taylor is no different. Taylor guitars with model designations including “e” (e.g., 814ce) incorporate acoustic electronics, most often the Expression System® 2, our proprietary behind-the-saddle pickup and preamp. Watch audio engineer and recording expert Gabriel O’Brien as he demonstrates the basic functions of the ES2 and explains how to tweak it to achieve the tone you want for live or other plugged-in situations.

First, Gabriel explains the ES2’s design and how it translates acoustic vibration into amplified sound.

On the Bench: How to Change Guitar Strings

Changing strings is a fundamental skill for any guitar player, whether for changing a broken string on the fly or swapping out a whole set for that fresh new-string sound. Watch Taylor Network Service Manager Rob Magargal as he shows you how to change acoustic guitar strings.

On the Bench: Guitar Tools

Every guitarist needs a few basic tools to maintain their instrument. Watch the video for Rob’s rundown of the basic tools you should keep handy in your practice space or guitar case.

On the Bench: Humidity and Acoustic Guitars

Acoustic guitars are dynamic instruments that are always reacting to their environment, and keeping humidity at a safe level is important for keeping your guitar in great condition. Watch the video for Rob’s explanation of how humidity affects acoustic guitars.