I spent quite a bit of time geeking out over Taylor at NAMM (look for a photo special soon, and I’m taking the factory tour tomorrow!), and one of the coolest products I saw was this incredible Baritone 8-string acoustic. Tuned B to B, the middle two strings are doubled an octave higher for subtle 12-string effects. I spent a bit of time playing it and I found it quite intuitive: because only two strings are doubled, you don’t get that same ‘I’m playing on a cheese grater … I prolly shouldn’t be doing this’ feel you get from a full 12-string. Now, as someone who plays a lot of 7-string, I can really see this guitar fitting quite nicely indeed into my recordings, adding some punch to the low end and some zing to the top at the same time.
Another awesome thing about this guitar is that while I was playing it, John Petrucci strolled in to the Taylor booth. He remembered me from our recent interview (at least he said he did – maybe he was just being polite. Man that dude’s nice), and I showed him the guitar and told him how freaking awesome it is. Who knows, maybe he’ll pick one up and work it into some future music?
Anyway, here’s the press release:
Taylor Guitars Introduces the Baritone 8-String Guitar
ANAHEIM, Calif. – January 14, 2010 – Born from a love of tone and a passion for innovation, Taylor Guitars has expanded the possibilities of guitar voicing in its new model, the Baritone 8-String. With a bold, fresh sound, the Baritone 8-String broadens the tonal spectrum, giving players a rich musical palette that promises to uncork new inspiration of musical harmony.
Featuring a Grand Symphony body with a richly hued back and sides of Indian rosewood topped with Sitka spruce, the Baritone 8-String embodies the spirit of a traditional baritone guitar paired with Taylor’s quality craftsmanship and product innovation. The model features a longer-scaled 27-inch neck and Taylor-designed baritone bracing. The guitar is tuned from B to B and features additional octave strings paired along with the third and fourth (D and A) strings. This feature gives players an extended range of sounds, without compromising tonal integrity or playability.
The Baritone 8-String came to be as Taylor’s product development team was deep in the throes of designing several series of 35th Anniversary guitars, including a 6-string baritone (XXXV-B) and a 9-string guitar (XXXV-9). The team decided to experiment by creating a hybrid of the two, as Bob Taylor explains. “We loved the traditional baritone, but missed having some of that upper register. We thought, what if we turned it into a 9-string baritone? So, we made one. But after deciding it was a little too jangly, we pulled off the [doubled second] string, leaving the third and fourth octave strings. It sounded awesome.”
Adding the two octave strings, Taylor says, transformed the baritone. “It’s a whole new ballgame. It’s really, really cool because you can either accentuate those octaves or stay away from them. The beauty of this guitar is that it goes low and those two strings brighten it up, but they don’t sound too ‘octave-y’. It doesn’t give you that 12-string effect as much as it really just extends the range because, as a baritone, the octaves aren’t really high. It fills the guitar out and gives it a nice (tonal) spread.”
The Baritone 8-String is tuned a fourth below standard guitar tuning, allowing the player to play songs in a lower register. In terms of the playing experience, Taylor’s David Hosler, a member of the product development team, compares the tonal properties of the 8-string baritone to a blend of three different instruments. “When I hear it, I feel like I’m hearing a 6-string, a bass, and a bit of 12-string all in one guitar,” he says. “In giving it a good listen, it sounds like standard and alternate tuning at the same time.”
The product development team at Taylor isn’t the only group excited about the new model. Taylor-strumming dealers, from metal players to singer-songwriters, are lining up to play and share the experience with their customers. Matt Clancy, from Craig’s Music in Weatherford, Texas sampled the 8-string during a fall Taylor Road Show event. As a heavy metal musician, he was blown away with the “bigness of the tone.” In fact, he says his favorite thing about the guitar is the tonal fullness he gets from a single strum. “When you’re playing regular chords on the 8-string, there’s so much more body, especially with octave strings,” he elaborates. “It opens up the way minor chords sound, and they sound huge on it. It’s a great guitar for guys who do metal and some acoustic rock, as it’s perfect for power chords, and for some jazz too, especially if they like playing in low B. It’s a guitar that’s filled with big, tonal goodness. It adds a depth that you can’t get from any other guitar on the market right now.”
Evan Carmen, a Taylor dealer from Morgan Music in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, had the chance to play an 8-string prototype during a recent visit to the Taylor factory. As an acoustic singer-songwriter, Carmen is sure this guitar will be an addition to his collection. “There is practical application in nearly every style and genre I can think of,” he says. “It’s only a matter of time before it starts changing music forever. I can’t wait to see how people react to it right out of the gate. No doubt, we’ll be hearing it used frequently after people catch wind of what it’s capable of. I can’t wait to have one of my own.”
As enchanting as the guitar is to play and listen to, it’s equally attractive visually. The model’s appointments include a mother-of-pearl peghead inlay and delicate diamond-shaped fretboard inlays, a three-ring abalone rosette, and abalone-dotted bridge pins. Premium features include Indian rosewood binding, a bone nut and saddle, and an all-gloss finish. Amplified with the Taylor Expression System® pickup and strung with ELIXIR® Baritone strings, the model is also offered in a standard 6-string version.
Available at authorized domestic and international Taylor dealers in mid-winter, the Baritone 8-String will be offered at a suggested retail price of $3,998 and the Baritone 6-String at $3,798. Players looking to keep their baritone guitar equipped with ELIXIR strings® can purchase them through TaylorWare, the company’s online store of Taylor-branded clothing, accessories and gear.
To experience the company’s new guitars, artist performances, or to learn more about Taylor Guitars, please visit the Taylor Guitars booth on the second floor of the Anaheim Convention Center, Room 213.
For additional information about the Baritone guitars, please visit
For Taylor Guitars news, please visit
I’m stopping by the Taylor booth at NAMM today but before that, lemmie post this here news item for ya. There’s lots more cool Taylor stuff to come though!
Taylor Guitars Announces the Serj Tankian Signature Model T5
ANAHEIM, Calif. – January 16, 2010 – For the versatile rocker, no guitar can speak as loudly or as delicately as the award-winning Taylor T5, the industry’s best-selling electric/acoustic hybrid guitar. Just ask Serj Tankian, the accomplished, creative frontman and songwriter for the Grammy® award-winning rock band System of a Down. Tankian, who recently released his first solo album, Elect the Dead, has played Taylor acoustic guitars for several years, and has spent the past two years touring with a Taylor T5. Now, Tankian brings his creative input, coupled with the expertise of Taylor’s design team, to his own signature model, the STSM-T5.
The STSM-T5 is based on the popular T5-C and features a sleek, thinline opaque black body, crafted from sapele and paired with a maple top. Two stylized, unbound f-holes grace the top, and the fretboard and peghead feature a red “energy wheel” inlay design that was provided by Tankian. The same vibrant red binds the body, fretboard and peghead. Says Tankian of his T5: “The way the T5 is designed, especially when playing in an arena environment, sounds like a great acoustic and is by far superior to anything else in terms of sound, clarity, depth and tone. When I’m writing music or lyrics, I’m just pouring whatever comes out of me from the universe and channeling it and structuring it into a quality record.”
The versatility of this guitar lies in Taylor’s proprietary T5 electronics and five-way switching, which together yield a wide range of guitar tones, from delicate acoustic to full-on electric crunch. Three magnetic pickups – an under-fretboard neck humbucker, a visible bridge humbucker, and an acoustic body sensor mounted to the inside surface of the top – provide a complete integration of tonal output. “I try to make music in a way that I’d be interested in listening to it myself,” Tankian says. “Using the T5 gives me the versatility of a pure acoustic sound or electric. It’s light and thin too, so you can stand in front of the mic and just rock out. For a stage environment, the T5 works great.”
The STSM-T5 is offered at a suggested retail price of $3,198 and comes in a ready-to-rock hardshell case with a certificate of authenticity signed by Tankian. The STSM is available at authorized Taylor dealers worldwide.
To experience the company’s new guitars, artist performances, or to learn more about Taylor Guitars, please visit the Taylor Guitars booth on the second floor of the Anaheim Convention Center, Room 213.
For additional information about STSM-T5, please visit www.taylorguitars.com/news
To view video of the STSM-T5, please visit www.taylorguitars.com/videos/?id=143&pg=1
For additional Taylor Guitars news, please visit
This is cool news for Taylor Swift fans. Personally I’d love to see a signature model of that sparkly Taylor she’s often seen with (see photo at the end of this post), but we all know my penchant for sparkly guitars.
By the way, first person to make a ‘Yo Taylor, I’mma let you finish but Leo Kottke had one of the greatest signature Taylors of all time’ joke is banned from reading the site.
EL CAJON, Calif. – October 19, 2009 – Once a talented, aspiring preteen with a Taylor guitar and big musical dreams, country pop superstar Taylor Swift has made her mark on the music industry. After spending much of 2009 on her first headlining tour and celebrating the milestone success of 10 million total albums sold and over 20 million paid downloads, Swift is now adding to her repertoire as a singer, songwriter and actress with her very own signature guitar. In collaboration, Taylor Guitars and Taylor Swift announce the arrival of the Taylor Swift Baby Taylor guitar (TSBT), a model that is sure to inspire players of all skill levels with its compact size, full-voiced tone and a top that features Swift’s design touches.
Based on the best-selling Baby Taylor guitar, the TSBT is ideal for both promising players and accomplished pickers. At three-quarters the size of a standard dreadnought, with a slim 1 11/16-inch neck and a comfortably compact shape, the guitar is just right for both the littlest player’s hands and anyone who likes to pick up and play on the go. With the new model, Swift hopes to inspire others to express themselves through music. “I wanted to share my passion for playing guitar with my fans,” she says. “For a beginner, finding the right guitar can be intimidating, but this guitar, it’s the perfect size. Even if you’ve been playing for years, it’s a great size to travel with.”
The TSBT is crafted from a resilient sapele laminate body with a solid Sitka spruce top. Swift’s design, which encircles the guitar’s soundhole, features her well-known expression “Love, Love, Love” among delicate vines. The design also commemorates the songwriting spirit and success of her latest album, Fearless, whose title is inscribed above the bridge along with her signature.
Swift, who shares a close relationship with Taylor Guitars and regularly uses a variety of Taylor guitars when both performing and recording, fondly remembers her own Baby Taylor as a go-to guitar during her early days of touring. “I used to sit in the back seat of the rental car while I was on my radio tour at 16, writing songs on my Baby Taylor guitar,” she reflects. “I love the sound, and I love those memories.”
It’s not just Swift who is excited about this guitar. Taylor dealers everywhere are also eagerly anticipating its arrival, like Bryan Rankins from Fazio’s Frets and Friends in St. Louis, Missouri. “It’s not often that I get excited about another ‘signature’ guitar, but when I heard about the Taylor Swift Baby Taylor, my reaction was much different,” Rankins says. “Here you have an incredibly gifted young woman who is inspiring young people through her words and music. When I first saw a picture of the guitar, I knew right away that it would help spawn a whole new breed of young musicians and give them something positive that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”
In addition to Taylor’s global network of dealers, the Taylor Swift Baby Taylor is available now for pre-orders at Amazon.com. “We’re thrilled to work with Taylor Guitars to make the new Taylor Swift Baby Taylor available to our customers,” said Noah Herschman, director of Home Electronics and Musical Instruments for Amazon.com. “Taylor Swift is one of the hottest stars in country and pop music, and her collaboration with Taylor Guitars has resulted in a product that we think our customers will love. Now they can pre-order it and ensure they’ll get it in time for the holidays.”
Introduced in 1996, the Baby Taylor was designed to be the ultimate musical travel companion and set the standard for how good a small guitar could sound. Delivering impressive volume and tone for its compact dimensions, the Baby Taylor quickly became the favorite “road guitar” for many professional musicians, including rock legends Bono (U2) and Joe Elliott (Def Leppard), pop artist Katy Perry, and country music hit makers Clint Black and Tim McGraw.
The TSBT will be offered at a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $398 and comes ready to rock in a cushioned Taylor Guitars gig bag. The Taylor Swift Baby Taylor guitar is available for purchase at authorized Taylor Guitars dealers, Amazon.com and soon, at TaylorSwift.com.
To view pictures of the Taylor Swift Baby Taylor, please visit http://www.taylorguitars.com/guitars/limiteds/signature/TaylorSwift/
For a list of Taylor Guitars dealers and for additional information about Taylor Guitars, please visit http://www.taylorguitars.com/
If you’re a frequent reader of I Heart Guitar you’ve no doubt seen my gushing praise for the Taylor SolidBody Custom, a guitar I dug so much it inspired me to hunt out similarly-voiced pickups for one of my own guitars. I was blown away by the SolidBody’s build quality, playability and above all its unique tone. Taylor’s newest electric model is the T3. The T3 is available in two versions, identical except one has a stop tailpiece and the other has a Bigsby (the B in T3/B). Being a Bigsby geek myself, I was thrilled to get my hands on the Bigbsy version. Either way, the bridge itself is of the roller variety, ensuring frictionless tuning stability whether you’re going for a wild wiggle on the Bigsby or bending a note into the stratosphere and back on the fixed bridge version.
The sapele body is hollowed out like the venerable T5 with the exception of a solid block of wood that runs down the length of the center with the quilted maple top laid directly on top. The neck joint is Taylor’s unique T-Lock system, which uses a single bolt yet secures the neck as well as any set neck instrument I’ve played. Check out the photo below to see just why the T-Lock system provides such stability. The larger frets of the T3 helped me feel more at home with it – I’m used to fat-fretted 80s shredders after all – and the neck shape is comfortable without being too fat or too thin. In fact it’s bound to please Fender fans and those who dig Gibson’s 50s profile, and maybe even a few Ernie Ball Music Man fans.
Electronics consist of a pair of Taylor pickups (the same Style 2 model featured in the SolidBody Standard), a three-way pickup selector, and volume and tone controls, each of which has a secondary feature accessed via push-pull pots. Pull up on the volume control for three coil-split sounds. Pull up on the tone to change the character of the tone pot. More on that later.
So let’s plug the T3/B in. My first thought about playability is that at no point did I feel I had to fight the guitar when playing at full speed, yet when playing at slower tempos I felt like the guitar was with me for every phrase and beat. Some guitar designs aim to get out of your way completely so you can pretty much just move your fingers in the right direction and come off sounding more or less okay. Others challenge you with unfriendly string tension, unforgiving frets and pickups that leave out no detail of your playing, good or bad. The T3/B is right in the middle: it plays quite easily but you have to put some work in to get the most out of it. Upper fret access is a little impeded on the bass strings but you should be able to quite comfortably work your way up to the widdly end of the neck without hindrance.
The setup of the Bigsby was absolutely flawless – the best factory-setup Bigsby system I’ve ever tried. It had the perfect amount of wobble, warble and waver, integrating quite smoothly and naturally with the sustain of the note rather than boldly announcing ‘now he’s reached for the Bigsby!’
Taylor describes the T3 as souping up a semi-hollowbody’s essential sound, and it’s true: the classic semi-hollowbody traits are there. Sustain, that vocal upper midrange, the steely yet compressed treble, and the interactivity which invites you to really explore the dynamic range with picking and phrasing variations… yet there’s something firmer and more self-assured about the T3 compared to other semi-hollowbody designs. The T3’s pickups have the ability to handle everything from soft, delicate strumming to full-on metal. If you don’t believe me, check out the video below, where I use the bridge humbucker for an all-out thrash riff. Granted you might look a little out of place if you show up with this guitar for a gig with your Megadeth tribute band, but sonically it can sure do the job. And these same qualities – tight but full bass, bright treble and solid but not honky midrange – make the T3/B excel at lower-gain tones in blues, country and rock settings. Pop up the volume knob to split the humbuckers into single coils and the tones become brighter, zingier and even better suited to bluesy riffs. Here the sound kind of reminded me of a cleaner, more refined P90 rather than a Strat or Telecaster single coil, or maybe a more robust Rickenbacker or Gretsch single.
In its standard mode the tone control works like a regular tone control for most of its travel, but as you get towards the end of its range it boosts the mids, somewhat emulating the sound of a stationary wah wah pedal. This is a great way to add complexity to a lead tone without having to step on any pedals or change amp channels, and it’s especially effective with higher levels of overdrive or distortion. If you’re into the T3/B for its lighter, cleaner tones, pull the tone control up to engage a second capacitor which mellows out the sound for smooth jazzy voices.
The T3/B is one of those rare guitars that can pretty much be all things to all players: a jazz box, a bluesman’s muse, a rocker’s main squeeze, an indie player’s canvas, or even a shredder’s secret weapon. Like the SolidBody Custom, what I dig most about the T3/B is that it has its own sound – it doesn’t need to sound like any other brands’ instrument – yet that sound has a certain classic quality to it without directly recalling any particular other design.
There’s a huge range of tones achievable with the tone control and coil split settings too, and you can hear a lot more of the T3’s variety in this video by Taylor’s Andy Lund:
I’ve got a review coming up of the gorgeous Taylor T3/B but here’s something to satiate your Taylor fix in the meantime:
EL CAJON, Calif. – September 10, 2009 – As part of the company’s 35th anniversary celebration, Taylor Guitars is readying the next set of what the company is calling “You Asked For It” models: guitars players have requested through the years that are first-of-a-kind for the company. The first to be announced is the XXXV-9: a 9-string guitar that blends the best of a 6-string and a 12-string into a richly toned hybrid model.
The XXXV-9 takes the clarity and familiar feel of a 6-string guitar and embellishes the sound with three additional strings, two of which are paired an octave higher, to add extra sparkle to the midrange tone. The 9-string will appeal to players looking for extra shimmer without compromising the fundamental focus of the bass strings. The XXXV-9 features a GS body shape with Tropical mahogany back and sides, a Sitka spruce top, and Taylor’s Standard II soundboard bracing. Other appointments include a three-ring abalone rosette, a “35″ anniversary logo between the 11th and 12th frets, and the company’s Expression System® pickup, for high-fidelity plugged-in playing. Chrome mini tuners and buttons grace the rosewood peghead veneer, along with a mother-of-pearl peghead “Taylor” inlay.
The XXXV-9 comes ready to play with Elixir® strings and in a hardshell Taylor case, and includes a certificate of authenticity signed by Taylor Guitars co-founders Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug. The XXXV-9 will be produced in an initial run of only 35 guitars and offered at a suggested retail price of $4998. All 35th Anniversary models, including those yet-to-be announced, are expected to be available in North America in early fall and internationally late winter.
For additional information about the 35th Anniversary models, please visit
To read additional Taylor Guitars news, please visit www.taylorguitars.com/news
SolidBody players will lust after the shimmering feathered koa top of the XXXV-SB-K and the buttery golden waves of quilted maple on the XXXV-SB-QM. Both SolidBody anniversary models feature a body crafted from mahogany, a sloping venetian cutaway, and a single fretboard inlay of “35″ between the 11th and 12th frets. Complete with an ultra-adjustable bridge, easy-rolling control knobs and a shaded edgeburst, these guitars come ready to rock with Taylor’s Style 1 HD (high-definition) pickups for pure electric power.
The 35th Anniversary edition of the much-raved-about T3 gives players a choice of fiery-orange colored cocobolo (XXXV-T3-C) or rich, sparkling koa (XXXV-T3-K). These limited edition models feature bodies and necks crafted from sapele, ebony peghead overlays, chrome hardware and will feature the “35″ anniversary inlay between the 11th and 12th frets. Introduced earlier this year, the T3 features Taylor’s Style 2 HD pickups, three-way pickup switching, and coil-splitting that gives players a spectrum of humbucker and single coil sounds in one guitar. On the T3/B, an authentic Bigsby vibrato tailpiece is paired with a roller bridge for smooth functionality and an added dimension of sound. Both XXXV-T3 anniversary models will be produced in ultra-limited quantities.
The XXXV-SB-K and XXXV-SB-QM along with the XXXV-T3-K and XXXV-T3-C will be offered at a suggested list price of $3798, and the XXXV-T3/B-K and the XXXV-T3/B-C at $3998. All 35th Anniversary models, including those yet to be announced, are expected to be available in North America in early fall and internationally in winter.
For additional information about the 35th Anniversary models, please visit
To read additional Taylor Guitars news, please visit www.taylorguitars.com/news
When musician Dave Carroll checked in his beloved Taylor guitar on a flight from Halifax to Nebraska for a short tour, he never could have imagined the horrible fate that would befall the guitar before his very eyes during a stopover in Chicago.
So here’s the result: Dave’s song ‘United Breaks Guitars.’ You can read the full version of the fiasco HERE.
By the way, the Taylor guitar Dave is playing in the video is a T5 model. Here are a few of the colors available from Musician’s Friend:
Taylor T5 Standard Acoustic-Electric Guitar with Maple Top Trans Black Edge Burst
Taylor T5 Standard Acoustic-Electric Guitar with Spruce Top Blue Edge Burst
Taylor T5 Standard Acoustic-Electric Guitar with Spruce Top Honey Sunburst
Taylor T5 Standard Acoustic-Electric Guitar with Spruce Top Black
Taylor T5 Standard Acoustic-Electric Guitar with Maple Top Cherry Sunburst
Taylor T5 Custom Electric Guitar with Koa Top Clear Edge Burst
Taylor T5 Custom Acoustic-Electric Guitar with Spruce Top Tobacco Sunburst
Hot off the presses (well, Myspace actually), Mike Keneally says he’s finishing work on the first disc of his multi-album mega-project, Scambot, at this very minute.
Here’s an excerpt from Mike’s Myspace blog posting:
I’m finishing Scambot today
volume one of it, anyway…I’m posting regular updates from the studio on my Facebook and Twitter pages if you want to check out that action. Right now we’re bouncing down the final mixes of each song from the album in sequence.
SPOILER ALERT! Here’s the names of the songs on the album:
Big Screen Boboli
Cat Bran Sammich Part 1
You Named Me
Cat Bran Sammich Part 2
We Are The Quiet Children
Life’s Too Small
Behind The Door
You can follow real-time Scambot updates on Twitter.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009 Guitarworks 996 South State Road Greenwood, IN 46143 7:00 p.m. Admission $5 Info: 317-885-1510
Wednesday, May 13, 2009 Tumbleweed Trading Post & Guitars 7831 Airport Highway Holland, OH 43528 7:00 p.m. Admission Free! Info: 419-861-3512
Thursday, May 14, 2009 Firehouse Music 3125 28th Street SW Grandville, MI 49418 7:00 p.m. Admission Free! Info: 616-532-3473
Friday, May 15, 2009 Midlothian Music 15645 South 94th Avenue Orland Park, IL 60462 7:00 p.m. Admission Free! Info: 708-389-4041
Monday, May 18, 2009 Music Makers 3611 W. Willow Knolls Drive Peoria, IL, 61614 7:00 p.m. Admission Free! Info: 309-692-9000
I’m no stranger to talkin’ up Taylor in these here pages (see my review of the SolidBody Custom here and CLICK HERE to buy a SolidBody Custom from Music123) but even I get giddy with glee over Taylor’s decision to offer replacement loaded pickguards for the SolidBody Classic model.
Take it away, press release.
Change Your Tune: Taylor Introduces Loaded Pickguards for the SolidBody Classic
FRANKFURT – April 2, 2009 – For SolidBody Classic players looking to change the complete tonal characteristics and appearance of their guitar, Taylor Guitars has introduced new loaded pickguards for a solderless, no-tech-necessary, do-it-yourself experience.
Available with your choice of Taylor High Definition (HD) or High Gain (HG) humbuckers, the loaded pickguards come in six different pickup combinations and in a variety of popular pickguard styles. For players seeking versatile, articulate tones with lots of high fidelity and depth, Taylor’s HD pickguard combinations come in two styles: 3 Single Coils or 1 Humbucker and 1 Single Coil. For high gain players who prefer aggressive, fuller, heavier tones, the HG loaded pickguards are offered in four configurations: 2 Mini Humbuckers, 2 full-sized Humbuckers, Single Humbucker, or 2 Single Coils and 1 Humbucker.
All loaded pickguard combinations are available in left-handed options and come ready to be swapped via a few simple, solderless steps giving anyone the ability to “mod” their guitar. The new loaded pickguards will be available at dealerships worldwide in early June and offered through the Taylor Guitars website at an introductory price of $195.
Also available for Solidbody players are Taylor’s Plug and Play High Gain and High Definition modular pickups. Introduced in January, the pickups are available in Taylor Style 1 (Classic, Custom) and Style 2 (Standard) and offered in neck and bridge positions. Like the loaded pickguards, the Taylor SolidBody pickups feature solderless connectors for a quick and easy swap experience. Available through the Taylor Guitars’ website, the Plug and Play pickups are currently offered at a suggested retail price of $79.
To view the available options and combinations while at MusikMesse, please visit the Taylor Guitars stand located in the Fender exhibit in Hall 4.0.
To view video of the loaded pickguards or for additional news, please visit www.taylorguitars.com/news
The SolidBody Classic has a two-piece swamp ash body, funky pickguard, and Taylor’s Style 1 covered humbuckers. The SolidBody Standard has a sapele back with maple veneered laminate top and Taylor Style 2 uncovered humbuckers. I’m reviewing the flagship SolidBody Custom, which has a three piece sapele back with walnut burl veneered laminate top and Style 1 humbuckers.
At first glance the SolidBody Custom might look like a conventional single cutaway electric, but appearances can be deceiving. The first hint that this is something a little different is the neck joint: a single bolt affixes the neck to the body. This system is surprisingly stable, and seems to result in a much smoother transfer of vibration from body to neck, which in turn creates more sustain than typical four or five bolt attachment.
The body itself is heavily chambered, with only the area under the bridge remaining fully solid for maximum string vibration transfer. The rest of the body (or lack thereof, since we’re talking about hollow sound chambers) conspires to add layer after layer of harmonic complexity.
Other ‘look a little bit closer’ features include the unique Taylor hard tail bridge, with height adjustment through the back of the guitar, and a clever fused string ground, in case a faulty ground ever tries to get one over on you. Don’t worry: if the fuse is ever tripped, the guitar will still operate, but it might be a little bit noisy until you replace it. Small price to pay to eliminate the risk of frying one’s lips off due to the combined effects a dodgy microphone and a puddle of beer on stage.
The pickup height adjustment is also accessed from the back of the guitar, keeping the front nice and clean, free of busy-looking adjustment screws. The single volume and tone controls look elegant and feel very sturdy, and the five way pickup selector gives you the following settings: 1: full neck pickup. 2: inside coils of both pickups in parallel. 3: full neck pickup and one coil of the bridge pickup. 4: Two inside coils in series. 5: Full bridge pickup.
One especially useful feature is the tone control. For the first two thirds of its travel it functions like any other master tone control, but get into that final third and it increases midrange ‘honk’ just like a stationary wah pedal. It’s an ingenious design, and one which increases the guitar’s already impressive list of features to near revolutionary levels. Once I started investigating this feature, I must have kept the tone control all the way down for about an hour, experimenting with how this tone interacted with the guitar’s sustain and harmonics at different points on the fretboard.
The SolidBody Custom’s tones are very complex and bright. The chambered body seems to add an extra dimension to the sound not only unplugged (I swear it’s the loudest electric I’ve ever heard acoustically), but also through the pickups. The bridge pickup has a toothy bite with lots of subtle overtones and a healthy but not overbearing amount of string sound (I hesitate to use the term ‘string noise’ because that implies negative connotations, of which I mean none), and the neck unit has a warm and bright jangle. It’s almost like playing a Paul Reed Smith but hearing a Gretsch. The guitar excels at rock, jazz and fusion tones, and even sounds great at ultra high gain levels, where you wouldn’t expect these pickups and this guitar to thrive.
In all honesty, this is one of the best guitars I’ve ever played, and I can only hope that one day I can get my hands on one to keep. Taylor has made a stunning entry to the solidbody electric guitar game. Time will tell if the market is ready to accept Taylor as an electric guitar builder, but with a guitar this cool, if any acoustic maker can cross over, it’s Taylor.
BODY: Sapele with walnut top
NECK: Sapele, ebony fretboard, 22 medium frets
PICKUPS: 2 Taylor Style 1 covered humbuckers
ELECTRONICS: 1 vol, 1 tone, 5 way pickup selector
EXTRAS: Hard case included
Last year I reviewed one of those awesome new Taylor solidbody guitars for Mixdown magazine. Its Gretsch-inspired pickups sounded so great that they prompted me to order the similarly-voice Dimarzio EJ Custom pickups for my custom Ibanez project (which I still haven’t finished, boo). Anyway, my point, even though it’s taking me a while to get to it, is that Taylor’s electric guitars are amazing.
Press release time.
Following the success of the T5 and SolidBody models, and born from a love of innovative design and classic electric tone, Taylor Guitars is expanding its electric line with the company’s first purely electric semi-hollowbody guitar, the T3.
Melding the sleek lines and shape of the T5 into a semi-hollowbody, the T3 features an expertly crafted body of sapele, topped with quilted maple. A svelte neck of tropical American mahogany sports heftier fret wire for a truly electric feel, while brilliant chrome hardware adorns the T3 for a ready-to-rock look that screams electric, vintage and cool.
While the T3 offers plenty for any player on its own, the designers at Taylor decided to take the new line up a notch in a variation, the T3B. Marking a first for the company, the T3B includes an authentic Bigsby Vibrato (model B70). The T3B incorporates a roller bridge for high performance, allowing the player the independence in setting the intonation of each string and eliminating the “dragging string” sound so commonly found in fixed bridges. The standard T3 model comes with a stop tailpiece.
“This is one rockin’ guitar that produces sounds our SolidBodys and T5s don’t have. When you do something that looks good, that’s one thing, but when cool sounds start coming out, you go, ‘Man, that’s just it.’ We knew this guitar was too good to hold back,” shares David Hosler, lead designer.
The new model includes Taylor’s Style 2 humbuckers which are specially positioned to capture the T3′s fidelity and range of tones. A three-way switch covers three standard configurations of pickup switching and as an added twist, coil splitting is available for both humbuckers by pulling up on the volume knob.
“The way I describe it is, imagine you have a guitar with two humbuckers and a three-way, and you have a guitar with two single coils and a three-way, which gives you that really cool, ‘bitey’ sound,” adds Hosler.
The control knobs, located in the traditional electric position below the bridge on the lower bout, function as push-pull pots. Pulling up on the volume knob activates a coil splitter, which turns the humbuckers into single coils. The tone knob is also a pull switch, which when pulled engages a second capacitor.
Hosler explains, “In the down position, one capacitor punches up the mid tones. Then when you pull the knob up, it adds another capacitor on top of it and uncorks a warm, fat, mellow old-school jazz tone. In between these two voices, this guitar spans the spectrum from traditional, hard rock to jazzy fusion. Even when overdriven, the air, articulation and distinction of all notes are there.”
The T3 is available in a high gloss finish to highlight the naturally lustrous color of the quilted maple or in a variety of sunburst colors. Strung with Elixir light gauge electric strings with NANOWEB® coating (” target=”_blank” ref=”nofollow”>), the T3 comes ready to gig in a hard shell Taylor case.
The T3 and T3B will be available domestically in mid-February and internationally in early spring 2009.