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THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE

TO BUYING AN ACOUSTIC GUITAR


Table of Contents
3 Introduction Acoustic Guitar Anatomy 101 (cont.) 69 Acing the Shopping Experience
How To Start Thinking About Your Search How a Guitars Components Work Together
23
How to Find, Try and Buy the Right Guitar
24 The Front
5 Why a Good Guitar Matters
25 The Back
With Confidence
5 Why Your Search is Unique
70 7 Tips for Finding a Great Dealer
26 Interior Bracing
27 Steel-string vs. Nylon-string
72 Shopping Online: Pros & Cons

6 Your Player Profile 29
30
Aesthetic Appointments
Plugging In: Acoustic Pickups
74 Financing Options
Identifying Your Playing Needs Will 8 Tips for Test-Driving Guitars
75

78 In-Store Etiquette: Dos and Donts
Help You Narrow Your Search
8 10 Questions to Help You Define Your 31 Body Shapes
80 Bob Taylors Guitar Tips

82 Road Show & Find Your Fit Events
Player Profile How to Choose the Right Guitar Body

12 Bright vs. Dark Tone
32 Guitar Body Types and Their Sound Profiles
Matching Bodies with Playing Applications 83 The Taylor Guitars Line
14 Playing Comfort
43 Cutaway or Non-Cutaway?


A Guided Tour of Taylors Model Selection
84 5 Things That Set the Taylor Experience Apart
How to Size a Guitar for Your Body and Hands
15 The Body
44 Tonewoods

87
88
A Guide to Taylor Model Numbers
The Taylor Line by Series
16 The Neck Popular Guitar Woods 89 Solid Wood Models
18 5 Signs of a Quality Guitar and their Unique Tone Profiles
100 Layered Wood Models

45 How Tonewoods Flavor a Guitars Voice
105 Compact/Student/Travel Guitars

19 Finding Your Fit


46 Hardwoods vs. Softwoods

47 Solid Wood vs. Laminate Construction

108

109
Nylon-String Guitars
Custom Options
Learn the Three Most Important Ingredients
47 Why Solid Wood Guitars Sound Better with Age
of a Guitars Sound
49 Visual Tone Chart


20 The Tone Equation:

50 Popular Back and Side Woods 111 A Guide to Guitar Terms

51 The Classics: Rosewood, Mahogany & Maple
Your Map to the Right Guitar Learn the Lingo and Talk Like an Expert

55 The Modern Alternatives: Sapele, Blackwood,

21 Balancing the Tone Equation
112 Tone Talk: Acoustic Tone Terms Translated
Ovangkol

114 Acoustic Guitar Parts Defined: An Index

59 The Exotics: Koa, Macassar Ebony

22 Acoustic Guitar Anatomy 101


62 Layered Woods

63 Top Woods
Getting a Handle on a Guitars Features
64 Spruce
Will Make Your Search Easier
66 Cedar

67 Hardwood Tops The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 2

68 Fretboard Woods
1

S E CT I O N
Introduction

Why a Good
Guitar Matters

Why Your Search


is Unique

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 3


Introduction

How This Guide Will Help


You Find the Right Guitar
There are a lot of guitar options out there. This guide will help you find the right
guitar for your needs. Why does it matter? Because you wont play the wrong
guitar for long. Thats why a lot of people who take up the guitar dont stick with it.

Here are 4 things this guide will reveal to lead you to


the right guitar:

1 The essential qualities of a good guitar

2 The questions you need to ask yourself to narrow


your search

3 How a guitars body shape and woods influence its sound

4 How to test-drive a guitar with confidence, even if youre


a beginner
If you pick up a guitar
and it says, Take me,
Im yours, then thats
the one for you.
Frank Zappa, from Zen Guitar

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 4


Introduction

2 Key Thoughts to Guide


Your Guitar Search
1 Investing in a good guitar makes a difference.
As you explore your guitar options, youll find a wide range of features,
price points and quality. Our advice: Buy the best guitar you can afford.

If youre a first-time guitar buyer, you might feel reluctant to invest in


a nice guitar, either due to budget constraints or Im Not Worthy
Syndrome the feeling that your playing level doesnt justify it. We
understand. But the truth is that a beginner will benefit the most from a
well-made instrument. Heres why:

Youll sound better right away, even strumming basic chords.


The playing experience will be easier and more enjoyable.
Youll be more inclined to stick with it.
Youll improve more quickly.

Nothings worse than a guitar thats hard to play and wont stay
in tune. The good news is that quality guitars are available at different
price points.
Generally speaking,
2 Like relationships, sometimes its about chemistry. the stronger and louder
Any good guitar should deliver certain fundamental qualitiesplayability,
clear tone and good intonation, for example. But each persons the sound youre
relationship with a guitar is unique. And its a multisensory
experience part visual, part tactile, and part sonic. Embrace it.
looking for, the bigger
the guitar youll need.
Sometimes its love at first strum; other times a guitar reveals itself
gradually over a few playing sessions. However it happens, what matters
is that you find a guitar that inspires you. Take your time and trust your
feelings. If you pay attention, the right guitar has a way of finding you.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 5


2

S E CT I O N
Your Player Profile
Identifying your playing needs will help you narrow your search

10 questions to
help you define your
player profile

General
recommendations
based on different
playing styles

Bright vs. dark tone

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 66


The Player

Whats Your Player Profile?


This section is all about you. The guitar you choose should respond well to your
playing style and other aesthetic preferences, both in terms of sound and looks.
If youre a beginner and dont have a defined playing style yet, dont worry. You
can start by thinking about what your musical interests and goals might be.

A guitar is a very
personal extension
of the person playing
it. You have to be
emotionally and
spiritually connected
to your instrument.
Im very brutal on my
instruments, but not
all the time.
Eddie Van Halen

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 7


The Player

10 Questions to Help Define Your Player Profile


1 How will you be playing the guitar: fingerpicking,
strumming, flatpicking, or a mix?
This will help you decide whether you want a versatile performer or a guitar
that suits a more specialized playing style.

2 Do you have a light picking/strumming attack, a heavy


attack, or something in-between?
This will help you focus on the right body style to accommodate the amount
of energy youll be applying to the guitar. Generally speaking, the stronger
and louder the sound youre looking for, the bigger the guitar youll need.

If you have a softer, more delicate attack:


You need a guitar that will come alive in your hands without requiring too
much attack. In general, smaller-body guitars require less energy to get the
top moving and with a light touch will often be louder than a larger body
shape. Its a good option for fingerstyle players.

If you have a heavier picking or strumming attack:


Generally speaking,
Your playing style may overload a smaller guitar body. Youll be better served
with a full-bodied guitar that will respond to the high energy that comes
the stronger and louder
from the strong pick attack. the sound youre
If you have a dynamic or hybrid playing style: looking for, the bigger
Youre looking for versatility, and a medium-size guitar will usually get you
there. Youll be able to get an immediate response when you play lightly and
guitar youll need.
a more powerful sound when you dig in. If you want an even wider dynamic
range (one that offers more tonal output), try a bigger body size.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 8


The Player

3 Where will you be playing the guitar?

If youre looking for a couch strummer, you might want something


thats comfortableprobably with a smaller body thats easy to cradle.

If youll be playing with friends and want a good amount of acoustic


volume without having to plug in, youll likely benefit from a bigger body.

If you plan to play live gigs, youll definitely want a guitar with a pickup.

4 What style(s) of music do you want to play?


Think of what type of sound you need to express that style or musical genre.
A lively bluegrass picker or someone who plans to strum big, open cowboy
chords might want a bigger body thats capable of producing robust bass,
volume and projection. A fingerstyle player might prefer a more responsive
and articulate sound and lean toward a smaller body.

Bluegrass/flatpicking: Dreadnought or other medium to large body for


maximum volume and projection

Country/Blues fingerpicking: Small to medium body

Acoustic rock strumming: Medium-size body for rich open chords


Guitar is the best form of
self-expression I know.
Slash

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 9


The Player

5 Are there certain tonal properties you have in mind,


such as volume, richness, low-end response, warmth, etc.?
If you have a certain sound profile in mind, this will help steer you toward
both your body shape and tonewoods. Rosewood tends to emphasize the
low end and high end of the musical spectrum; mahogany has a focused,
meaty midrange presence. A cedar top produces warmth that really shines
with fingerstyle playing. Well get into more of those tonal characteristics
in the shapes and woods section. And if you dont really know what you
want, thats okay. Youll just want to sample some different options and pay
attention to which ones sound and feel good to you.

Bigger bodies: More bass response, volume, sustain

Smaller bodies: More tonal clarity

Different tonewoods: Distinctive tonal flavors, from rich and complex


to controlled and focused

6 Will you be playing more often by yourself or with other


players/instruments?

By yourself: You might want a guitar that provides a more expansive


sonic palette to give yourself a wider range of tonal colors to explore.

With others: You might want a guitar that has enough clarity or volume
to be heard clearly in the instrument mix.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 10


The Player

7 Will you be singing with your guitar?


If so, youll want your guitars tonal personality to complement your voice.
A rosewood guitar tends to create a nice pocket of space for vocals
because it has a scooped midrange, which is the frequency range where
the human voice sits. But its all about your voice and the guitar together.

It might help to visit a music store at a time when you feel comfortable
singing with the guitar or having access to an isolated room where you can
pair your voice with each instrument.

If youre more of a solo instrumental player, does the guitar give you a
colorful enough sonic palette with which to express yourself?

8 Are there guitarists whose style or tone you would


like to emulate?
You might want to embrace a similar body style or tonewood pairing.
But not necessarily. You might actually need a different type of guitar
to capture that sound.

9 Do you plan to play lead lines higher up the neck


(toward the body)?
If so, a guitar with a cutaway might be a good idea. It gives you access
to more of the guitars upper register.
If you plan to play solo
10 Do you plan to do any live performing or recording? acoustic guitar, you
If you want to plug in, you should buy a guitar with an onboard pickup.
might want a bigger or
If you plan to record, think about the instrument mix that might be involved. richer voice to give you
If there will be multiple tracks, you might lean toward a smaller body guitar,
since it will have a smaller sonic footprint. Sometimes a bigger, fuller guitar a more dynamic range
voice can take up too much space in the mix and cloud the clarity. And
remember, when you record, pure acoustic volume typically isnt as important
of expression.
because you can control the volume levels with your recording gear.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 11


The Player

Bright vs. Dark Guitar Tone


A common descriptive trait with acoustic guitar tone is the degree of sonic
brightness or darkness. This can come from your playing style or the tonewoods
used on a guitar.

Bright guitar tone has a lot of top end, or treble emphasis. Dark guitar tone has greater low end, or bass emphasis.

Bright Tone Dark Tone


Bright tone can come from using thin picks or from where you strum the guitar Dark tone can come from using heavier picks. They tend to cross the string with
in relation to the soundhole. The closer to the bridge you get, the brighter and a darker thud sound, compared to the brighter flap of lighter picks. (In fact,
thinner the attack will sound. the pick material and thickness have a major influence on your sound.) A player
with a darker style sometimes wraps around the guitar body more, which pushes
If you have a bright playing style, you might aim for a guitar with a warmer sound the strumming hand on top of, or in front of, the soundhole (closer to the neck).
to counterbalance the brightness. A larger body shape can also help by naturally The closer to the neck you play, the darker and rounder your attack will sound.
adding some fullness to the low end to offset the brightness. (Good guitarists know how to use these positioning nuances to add variety to
their playing.)
Believe it or not, your posture can affect the degree of brightness or darkness
of your playing. The more upright you sit, the more likely youll be to pull your To offset the round tone, you probably would be well served with a wood pairing
shoulders back, causing you to strum farther back behind the soundhole like rosewood and spruce wood because of the added top-end clarity and
(closer to the bridge). tightening of the low end. Whats more, darker players tend to be softer players,
in which case a small- to medium-size guitar body might respond better.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 12


The Player

Player Profile Recap:


4 Key Takeaways
Your playing technique is an important contributor to
your overall sound

Look for a guitar with a body shape and tonewood


combination whose sonic attributes are compatible
with your playing style

If youre a beginner and dont really have a defined


playing style, think about the type of music you would
like to play

Your posture and where you pick or strum the guitar


relative to the soundhole can influence the brightness
or darkness of your guitar tone

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 13


3 3

S E CT I O N

S E CT I O N
Playing Comfort
How to size a guitar for your body and hands

This section covers


the two features of a
guitar that will have the
biggest impact on your
playing comfort:

The Body
The Neck

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 14


Playing Comfort

The Body
Guitars come in a range of body sizes, from small and intimate to big
and curvy. Youll want to consider how a guitars overall body dimensions
feel against your body when you hold it. Here are a few things to consider:

Do you plan to play sitting down or standing up?


Most recreational players play sitting down. If so, how high does the
guitar sit in your lap? The taper of the waist and the other contours of
the body will influence how high the guitar sits in your lap. For example,
a guitar with a wider waist will sit higher on a person.

How does the body feel with your picking/strumming


arm draped over it?
If you sit while you play, a big, curvy lower bout can push your strumming
arm higher and cause discomfort. Can you play freely?

If youre a woman, does the guitar bodys anatomy


match up favorably with your own?
Sometimes a guitars curves can interfere with your own, especially
since youll be holding the guitar against your body. If so, a smaller body
style might prove to be more comfortable.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 15


Playing Comfort

The Neck
One of the most important contributors to a comfortable playing experience is
the feel of the neck. The more comfortable a neck feels in your hands,
the easier it will be to form notes and chords. Youll also be less prone to
experiencing hand fatigue with extended playing. Because the size of peoples
hands can vary considerably, the feel of the neck is important.

Here are 5 neck attributes that will influence the playability:

1 The Profile
This refers to the shape of the back of the neck, which will rest in the palm
of your fretting hand when you play. Some guitars have chunkier profiles,
while others feature slimmer dimensions. A slimmer profile tends to be
easier to play.

2 The Width
This is typically measured at the nut, where the neck meets the headstock.
The wider the neck, the wider the spacing between each string.

A narrower neck width, such as 1-11/16 inches, makes it easier to


form barre chords. Players with small hands might prefer this.

A medium width, such as 1-3/4 inches, offers a balance of compact


spacing with enough room to cleanly fret individual strings.
Nut

A wider neck, such as 1-7/8 inches or even wider, might appeal to


a predominantly fingerstyle player with bigger hands or longer fingers.
Traditional classical guitars have very wide necks, usually of 2 or
more inches.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 16


Playing Comfort

The Neck
3 Action
This refers to how high above the fretboard the strings are. Guitars with
lower action tend to be easier to fret. If the action is too low, the strings
will buzz; if its too high, the strings require more pressure to fret, especially
as you slide up the neck toward the body. If youve had a bad experience
playing a cheap guitar, chances are it had high action and was hard to play.

4 Intonation
When an instrument is properly intonated, all the open strings and every
fretted note on the fretboard sound at their correct pitches. In other
words, the instrument is in tune with itself all along the fretboard. Side view of neck (nut at left) showing action.
This creates a pleasant, musical uniformity that makes the playing
experience easier and more enjoyable, because you dont have to play
around any weak, off-pitch or dead spots on the fretboard.

5 Scale Length Saddle Scale Length Nut


This refers to the maximum vibrating length of the strings and is
typically measured from the guitars nut to the saddle. Differences in
scale length can affect the string tension (and as a result, the
playability) as well as the guitars tone. For example, if two guitars
with different scale lengths are strung with strings of the same gauge and
then tuned to standard concert pitch, the guitar with the shorter scale
length will have less string tension, which creates a slightly slinkier feel.
This can make it easier to fret or bend strings.

Different guitar manufacturers each have their own standard scale length
specifications. On short-scale necks, not only is the string tension
looser, but the more compressed spacing between the frets also
makes it easier to reach more notes with your fingers. If you have
small hands or suffer from any hand ailments, you should consider a
short-scale guitar. The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 17
Playing Comfort

5
Signs
of a
Quality
Guitar
It stays in tune

The neck is comfortable


and easy to form chords

It has good intonation


all the way up the neck

The sound is clear and


consistent along the
tonal spectrum

It produces a pleasing
level of volume and
sustain

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 18


4

S E CT I O N
Finding Your Fit
Learn the three most important ingredients of a guitars sound

How a simple Tone


Equation will guide you
toward the right guitar

How to identify your


personal guitar-
playing profile

How different body


shapes define a
guitars basic sound

The unique sonic


personalities of popular
guitar tonewoods

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 19


Finding Your Fit

Use This Tone Equation to


Find a Guitar That Fits You
When we talk about guitar tone, heres a simple way of breaking down the three
key ingredients that contribute to a guitars sound:

Player + Body Shape + Tonewoods = Your Guitar Sound

These are the three most important variables that can change a guitars sound.
Heres why:

Player
This is all about you and the nuances of how you play. Think of it this way: If a
group of guitar-playing friends are hanging out and they pass around the same
guitar, each playing a tune, chances are the guitar will sound a bit different in
everyones hands, because of each persons unique playing style.

Body Shape
As mentioned earlier, different guitar body dimensions tend to produce
distinctive tone profiles.

Tonewoods
These sonically flavor or season the guitars sound.

The next three sections will explore each of these key ingredients in depth.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 20


Finding Your Fit

Balancing the
Tone Equation
In terms of getting the best sound, the key is for you to choose a guitar with a
body style and tonewoods that are most compatible with the way you play. For
example, if youre a lively acoustic rock strummer who likes big, long-sustaining
chords, tonally speaking, a small-bodied guitar probably isnt the best option for
you because it wont be able to handle that playing energy. Youll probably want
a bigger guitar, along with woods that produce rich sustain.

In the next section, well take a more in-depth look at each part of the tone
equation to give you some options.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 21


5

S E CT I O N
Acoustic Guitar Anatomy 101
Getting a handle on the material components of a guitar will give you a great foundation for differentiating models

How a Guitars
Components Work
Together
The Front
The Back
Interior Bracing
Aesthetic
Appointments
Pickups

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 22


Acoustic Guitar Anatomy 101

How a Guitars Components

3
Work Together

Design Ingredients
A guitars body serves as a natural sound box, or acoustic amplifier, for the
vibrating strings. The string tension is adjusted by tuning each string to a certain
frequency and by fretting the strings along the fretboard. When you pluck or
strum the strings, the vibrational energy is transferred to the guitars top, or
soundboard, with the help of the saddle and bridge, which anchor the strings
to the top. The top vibrates together with the back and sides to produce sound,
That Influence a
projecting it through the soundhole.
Guitars Sound
1 The Body Dimensions
A guitars contours literally shape the fundamental
voice of the guitar.

2 The Woods Used


Each different species has its own unique tonal
personality that helps flavor the sound.

3 The Internal Bracing


This controls the movement of the top, back and
sides, working in concert with the body shape and
woods to voice the guitar.

Taylor guitar body interior view with the soundhole above. The internal bracing for the top,
back and sides is visible. The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 23
Acoustic Guitar Anatomy 101

The Front
For a more detailed explanation of the function of these components, see our index of guitar features beginning on page 110.

Lower bout
Upper bout
Waist
Rosette Strings Frets Fretboard Nut Peghead
Soundboard
Bridge

Bridge pins

Saddle

Cutaway Inlays Truss rod cover Tuning machines

Soundhole Pickguard

Finish Sides
Binding

Purfling

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 24


Acoustic Guitar Anatomy 101

The Back

Back Heel Heel Cap Neck

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 25


Acoustic Guitar Anatomy 101

Interior Bracing
Theres often a lot going on under the hood
to influence a guitars sound. The bracing
is designed both to offer structural support
in response to the string tension, while also
optimizing the movement of the top, back
and sides for tonal purposes.

Bracing patterns may vary based on the


body geometry or particular tonewoods
used for a guitar.

Top Bracing Back Bracing

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 26


Acoustic Guitar Anatomy 101

Steel-string Versus Nylon-string Guitars


What are the main differences?
Besides the strings themselves, the tone and playing experiences are different.
A steel-string acoustic guitar has more string tension and tends to produce
a louder, brighter sound with a lot more tonal sustain from the plucked or
strummed strings. A nylon-string guitar has less string tension and produces
a much mellower sound with a faster note decay (less sustain).

Taylor 712ce Taylor 712ce-N


Which is better for a beginner? Steel-string Nylon-string
Many instructors suggest a nylon-string guitar because its easier for beginners
with sensitive fingers to press down the strings to form chords. But you also
should take into account the dimensions of the neck. Most classical-style
(nylon-string) guitars have wider necks and other differences in the neck shape
that can make it more challenging to form chords comfortably. A well-made
steel-string guitar (like a Taylor) will be set up in a way thats very comfortable
for beginners, making it easier to form chords. In such a case, it may come
down to which tone you prefer, or which style(s) of music you want to play.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 27


Acoustic Guitar Anatomy 101

Hybrid Nylon-String Options


In the modern era, some guitar makers, Taylor included, offer crossover or
hybrid nylon-string guitars that blend nylons tonal flavors with the familiar
playing features of a steel-string guitar, including a slightly narrower neck, a
cutaway, and onboard electronics. As a result, these nylon-string guitars are
very comfortable for a steel-string player (or a beginner), whereas a traditional
classical guitar could be a struggle to adapt to.
Taylor 314ce Taylor 314ce-N
Steel-string Nylon-string
Can steel and nylon strings be used interchangeably
on the same guitar?
No, because the construction of each type of guitar, especially features like
the internal bracing, is very different in order to accommodate the differences
in tension between steel and nylon strings. Because nylon strings have less
tension, nylon-string guitars are built and braced in a different, much lighter way.
Putting nylon strings on a steel-string guitar wouldnt produce enough tension
(and energy) to activate the top and get a good sound. The strings would also
be cramped, and the saddle would not be correct. Steel strings on a nylon-string
guitar would add too much tension for the more delicately designed nylon-string
guitar to handle and would end up damaging the guitar.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 28


Acoustic Guitar Anatomy 101

Aesthetic Appointments
A guitars cosmetic details reflect the builders design aesthetic. And yours.

From a guitar bodys curves to the look of exotic woods to its package of people, a guitars visual aesthetic contributes to the way they perceive it.
decorative appointments, the visual elements of a guitar undeniably play into If the visual artistry enhances your appreciation of it, embrace it. After all,
our attraction to it. If youre simply trying to find the best-sounding guitar for a guitar provides a multi-sensory experience.
your preferences, you might pay less attention to these things, but for most

There are many options available, Woods Inlay Areas Inlay Materials
from clean and simple to detail-rich. Color variegation, grain pattern and Fretboard, rosette, peghead Wood, mother-of-pearl,
If you like a vintage look, a sunburst orientation, figure abalone, ivoroid
top makes a great choice. If you
crave an organic aesthetic, you might
opt for wood inlays and bindings. If
you like a splash of color and sparkle,
abalone trim might be a good option.
Here are some visual characteristics
to consider:
Rosewood Fretboard Rosette Mother-of-pearl Abalone

Body Bindings Finish Color Treatments


and Purflings Gloss, satin, matte Sunburst, edgeburst, custom colors
Wood, ivoroid, plastic, etc.

Wood binding Plastic binding Gloss Satin Sunburst Custom stain

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 29


Acoustic Guitar Anatomy 101

Plugging In:
Acoustic Pickups
If you want to plug in and amplify your sound, a pickup is
a feature worth considering.
These days, many acoustic guitars come equipped with onboard pickups. Having
one enables you to plug into an acoustic amp or PA system and enjoy an amplified
acoustic sound. A pickup is also useful for plugging into a interface for recording
software to record a direct track as an alternative to playing into a microphone.
Even if youre a beginner and dont plan to plug in right away, it might be worth
considering getting a guitar with a pickup for some point down the road.

Here are 3 other benefits of having a guitar with a pickup:

1 You have the ability to manipulate your sound.


Some acoustic guitars equipped with electronics include onboard tone
and volume knobs. These allow you to adjust the bass, midrange and treble
levels of the guitar in an amplified setting, which gives you a broad range of
acoustic colors to suit different songs or playing scenarios.

2 You can incorporate other effects into your sound.


While you might not crave the heavy distortion or other crunchy effects often
associated with a wailing electric guitar, adding effects like reverb, delay and
other flavors gives you a whole new sonic palette with which to experiment.

3 You can easily balance volume levels if you play with


other instruments.
As one gigging Taylor player shared, he regularly performs house concerts
accompanied by a mandolin player. In an intimate setting, the natural
acoustic volume of the mandolin overpowers that of his acoustic guitar.
By plugging in, each can control his output level to create a clear and
balanced sound together. The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 30
6

S E CT I O N
Body Shapes
Shape matters discover the best shape for your playing preferences

Basic types of guitar


bodies and their
general sound profiles

A breakdown of
body shapes made
by Taylor Guitars
for reference

The types of playing


applications that match
up well with each

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 31


Body Shapes

Choosing a body shape is


a good place to narrow your
guitar search because a guitars
physical dimensions are very
tangible and play an important
role in producing its fundamental
sound. The guitar body should
feel comfortable since your arms
will be wrapped around it.

A simple way to classify body shapes


is in terms of overall size. Basically,
think small, medium and large, plus
a sub-compact size thats scaled
down for portability and to fit kids.

Remember, in general, a smaller-size


guitar will produce a more controlled
voice with a smaller sonic footprint,
while a bigger size translates into a
louder, more substantial voice with
more low-end presence.

To provide examples of different


guitar body shapes and their general
sound profiles, well be using Taylors
five standard body styles.

LR: 618e, 814ce

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 32


Body Shapes

Small
Body

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 33


Body Shapes

Small Body
Taylor Shape:
Grand Concert (GC)
General Sound Profile: A Good Option For:
Responsive to a lighter touch Fingerstyle players
More focused, articulate, People with smaller frames or hands
well-defined tone Players who dont need a super
Fits well in a mix with other loud guitar
instruments

Taylors smallest full-size shape has compact dimensions all around, which make Grand Concert
for a physically comfortable, lap-friendly playing experience. The Grand 812ce
Concerts slight waist and shallower body depth help produce a balanced
sound across the tonal spectrum, with the kind of note definition that
fingerstyle guitarists and session and stage players tend to appreciate.
The smaller body also means the guitars voice wont take up too much sonic
space in a mix with other instruments.

Taylors Grand Concert models feature a shorter scale length (24-7/8 inches
compared to 25-1/2 inches on other models), which makes it easier to form
chords, and the reduced string tension also makes it easier to bend the strings.
This makes the GC a good match for people with smaller hands, older
players, people with hand ailments, and really anyone looking to
reduce the stress on their fretting hand.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 34


Body Shapes

Medium
Body

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 35


Body Shapes

Medium Body
Taylor Shape:
Grand Auditorium (GA)
General Sound Profile: A Good Option For:
Louder and more dynamic than Generalists who want a great
a smaller body multi-purpose guitar
Well balanced, with more bass Light to medium strummers
response, sustain and projection A beginner who doesnt know what
A versatile performer that they want
accommodates a mix of playing styles
Grand Auditorium
The Grand Auditorium is the most popular and versatile of Taylors body shapes.
814ce
The next size up from the Grand Concert, it actually shares the same basic body
dimensions as a Dreadnought body (a traditional guitar shape), but with a more
tapered waist, enabling the guitar to fit more comfortably in your lap. Tonally, it
lives in the sweet spot between a Dreadnoughtknown for robust flatpicking
and rhythmic strummingand a Grand Concertdesigned with fingerstylists in
mindto give players the best of both worlds. The GAs well-defined midrange
helps maintain the balance and clarity, yet with enough power on the
top and bottom for medium-strength strummers and flatpickers to let
loose. Its a smart choice for a musician looking for one guitar to cover a diverse
mix of music. If youre a novice or generalist and want a guitar that can cover a lot
of ground or dont quite know what your playing style may be, you cant go wrong
with a Grand Auditorium.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 36


Body Shapes

Medium Body
Taylor Shape:
Grand Symphony (GS)
General Sound Profile: A Good Option For:
Slightly bigger and louder than Players with a strong
the Grand Auditorium strumming/picking style
Powerful voice with strong Acoustic/roots-rock players
bass response looking for a full-voiced sound
Wide dynamic range Players with a dynamic (light to heavy)
playing approach

Grand Symphony
The Grand Symphonys dimensions are slightly up-sized from the Grand
816ce
Auditoriumexpansions include a higher and wider waist, and a bigger, more
rounded lower bout. The result is a more potent all-around sound with
a deeper, more piano-like bass, thicker trebles, and increased volume
and low-end sustain, all without disrupting the tonal balance and clarity
of the guitar. Consequently, the GS can really be driven dynamically.
The lower mids have an extra roundness and girth that add richness
and complexity to the voice. Those who find the Grand Auditorium to be a
little bright for their ears will enjoy the greater depth and resonance of the GS.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 37


Body Shapes

Medium Body
Taylor Shape:
Dreadnought (DN)
General Sound Profile: A Good Option For:
Robust voice with low-end power Flatpickers and strummers with an
and upper midrange aggressive picking attack
Strong, clear treble notes Players who gravitate toward a
A neo-vintage voice for traditional traditional guitar sound & shape
flatpickers and strummers Playing acoustic leads that
require strong, clear treble notes
Dreadnought
This classic body is one of the most traditional and recognized shapes in the
810ce
acoustic guitar world. Due to its wider waist, the Dreadnought tends to sit
slightly higher in a players lap, making it feel more like a large body. (After all,
its name comes from an early 20th century battleship). The extra width helps
produce a loud, robust voice, especially on the low end, along with a
snappy quality in the midrange that will appeal to traditional strummers
and flatpickers. Its ability to handle a driving attack has given it something of a
workhorse personality in the guitar world.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 38


Body Shapes

Large
Body

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 39


Finding
Body Shapes
Your Fit

Large Body
Taylor Shape:
Grand Orchestra (GO)
General Sound Profile A Good Option For
A bold and complex voice Fans of big-bodied, big-voiced guitars
Broad dynamic range with Players looking for sonic depth
strong sustain and complexity
Surprisingly balanced and Players with a dynamic style
responsive for a big body

Among large guitar bodies, the Jumbo shape is perhaps the best known. Grand Orchestra
Gibson borrowed the outline of its archtop electric guitars to create the footprint 818ce
for their Jumbo acoustic shape in the late 1930s, and Guild also made a number
of Jumbo-style guitars. For years, Taylor made its own version of a Jumbo.
The shape evolved into our Grand Orchestra (GO). The new guitar dramatically
improved the capabilities of a big-body guitar to make it a more versatile instrument.

The GO is Taylors biggest, boldest, most complex-sounding body style.


But what really distinguishes it from other big guitars is that its balanced
from bottom to topeven the treble notes exude richness and powerand it
responds to a light touch, rewarding players who have a dynamic playing style.
If you crave a guitar sound thats brimming with power and rich detail,
the Grand Orchestra wont disappoint. Driving flatpickers will love the deep
growl and strong, clear highs. Solo performers will be inspired by the expansive
palette of sonic colors and textures. Whether you plan to strum big, open cowboy
chords or pluck lush fingerstyle arrangements, the Grand Orchestra gives you
a versatile and expressive tool.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 40


Body Shapes

Sub-Compact
& Travel

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 41


Body Shapes

Sub-Compact/Travel
Portability has always been part of the appeal of a guitar, and in recent years
guitar makers have scaled down their designs even further to accommodate
peoples active lives and their desire to have a guitar on hand when they travel.
There is also a demand for guitars that are downsized to be more comfortable
for children to play.

General Sound Profile: A Good Option For:


Baby Taylor: A more diminutive Travelers, songwriters, and anyone
voice due to its 3/4-scale looking for an extra portable guitar
GS Mini: Surprisingly full-voiced Couch strummers looking for a
due to optimized design features comfortable guitar
Kids and players with small hands Baby Taylor GS Mini-e
due to the shorter scale length Mahogany

Baby Taylor
The -size mini-Dreadnought offers impressive playability and musicality, broadening
its identity beyond simply being a childrens guitar. It offers a legitimate musical
instrument for players at every level. Adult players buy them for their kids but also
embrace the Baby as a slide guitar, songwriting guitar, an alternate tuning guitar, etc.
Its popularity helped establish the travel guitar category.

GS Mini
Taylors next-generation version of a scaled-down guitar after the Baby Taylor was
designed to create a bigger, richer guitar sound, yet still retain the compact feel of
a travel-friendly guitar. The guitar borrowed from Taylors shapely Grand Symphony
body style and incorporated many of Taylors latest design ideas. Right out of the
gate, the guitar was major success, yielding a full-size voice in a comfortably
intimate package that suited both an active lifestyle and relaxed couch strumming.
More than 125,000 GS Mini models have been made.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 42


Body Shapes

Cutaway or Non-Cutaway?
Some acoustic guitar bodies feature a cutaway on the treble-side upper bout
of the guitar. This gives players greater access to the frets near the soundhole
and broadens the playing range of the instrument.

Does a cutaway diminish the tonal output of the guitar?


Not by much. Even though a cutaway does reduce the soundboard surface
area and the overall air cavity inside a guitar, in reality, the part of the upper
bout where a cutaway is located doesnt vibrate as much as other areas of
the guitar. The tonal output is affected more by the taper of the waist.

Which is better?
Our opinion is that the access to the upper register offered by a cutaway far
exceeds the negligible tone loss. If you want to be able to reach those high
notes or simply like the aesthetic of a cutaway, go for it.If you dont plan to
venture that far up the neck, or simply prefer the aesthetic symmetry of a
non-cutaway, opt for that.

Cutaway Non-Cutaway The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 43


7

S E CT I O N
Tonewoods
Popular guitar woods and their unique tone profiles

How tonewoods
flavor a guitars
sound

Commonly used
guitar woods and their
unique tonal properties

The types of playing


styles that match up
well with each

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 44


Tonewoods

How Tonewoods Flavor


a Guitars Sound
The types of tonewoods used for the top, back and sides of an acoustic guitar
provide the core ingredients for its sound. The unique physical properties of
each different species of wood stiffness and density, for example translate
into different tonal personalities, meaning that different wood species will
yield different degrees of bass, midrange, treble and overall sustain relative
to each other.

The techniques of a guitar builder, like the cooking techniques of a chef, play
an important role in voicing the instrument. The way they season and mix their
ingredients is intended to coax a pleasing blend of flavors from their creations.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 45


Tonewoods

Hardwoods vs. Softwoods


Tonewoods are often separated into hardwood and
softwood categories.

Hardwood trees generally have a slower growth rate and higher density,
while softwood trees tend to have a faster growth rate and lower density.
The backs and sides of most acoustic guitars feature hardwoods. Some of
the most popular are rosewood, mahogany, maple and koa.

Softwoods, by comparison, are fairly lightweight but have a high tensile


strength. That balance of lightness, strength and elasticity makes softwoods
a popular choice for a guitars top, or soundboard. Such woods include spruce,
cedar and redwood. Sitka spruce is far and away the most commonly used
tonewood for guitar tops. Its stiff in the right ways, yet also flexible, which helps
produces a clear acoustic tone with good dynamic range and sustain. (Spruce,
incidentally, is also used for soundboards on pianos and bowed instruments
such as violins.) Some hardwoods, such as mahogany and koa, also can be
used for guitar tops.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 46


Finding Your Fit
Tonewoods

Solid Wood vs.


Layered Wood Construction
One of the distinguishing wood-related features among
Why Solid Wood Guitars
guitars is whether they are made from solid wood or
laminated layers of wood (or other materials).
Sound Better with Age
One of the interesting characteristics of a well-made solid-wood guitar is
Solid wood construction tends to convey a woods tonal spectrum in the that, if its properly cared for, its sound will improve with age. Guitarists
fullest, most complex way, resulting in a superior sound. often talk about the need to give a new guitar some play-in time to
allow the sound to open up. Initially, the woods used for a guitar tend to
Solid wood guitars also tend to be more expensive to produce because of the have a certain degree of inherent stiffness they arent used to vibrating
material costs and because the wood must be sawn, kiln-dried, book-matched, under the tension of strings. But through the playing process, the woods
and handled under climate-controlled conditions. become more relaxed and broken in. (Think of the way a stiff new pair of
jeans becomes softer with extended wear.)
Layered woods incorporate a plywood construction, usually with exterior
and interior veneers and a middle core layer, and typically yield a slightly less The natural aging process also contributes to this, changing the cell structure
complex tone. Among the benefits of layered wood guitars are: of the wood over time as its sugar content naturally crystallizes. It makes the
wood less resistant to motion, and as a result, a played-in or aged guitar
Affordability will often be more resonant and responsive to a players touch.
The ability to use visually exotic wood veneers to add aesthetic appeal
Stability within changing climate (humidity) conditions Certain hardwoods with a higher density tend to take a bit longer to open
up. Koa comes to mind. But as a guitar goes through this process, the
If youre on a budget, a guitar with layered wood back and sides can be sound tends to get warmer, richer and sweeter. This is one reason why
a good option if the guitar is well made. vintage guitars often have an appealing sonic character associated with
them. Thats also why comparing a new guitar to an old guitar, even if they
both incorporate the same woods and construction methods, often isnt a
fair comparison. This is also why a quality guitar will tend to hold its value
well over time. It wears in rather than out!

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 47


Tonewoods

Comparing Tonewood
Sound Profiles
Ahead weve compiled general sound profiles for some of
the commonly used woods in the acoustic guitar industry.
The more you get into the realm of boutique builders and
individual guitar makers, the more youll find other exotic
species, some of which youve probably never even heard of.

These tone profiles are merely meant to be a general reference, especially since
other variables factor into the overall tone of a guitar, things like:

The climate conditions that shaped a particular trees growth patterns


The interaction of the top wood with the back and side woods
The guitars body dimensions
Bracing and other construction nuances
Your playing style and ear The guitar is a
While modern technology has brought high levels of production consistency to small orchestra. It is
guitars (especially at Taylor), each individual guitar ultimately is crafted from a polyphonic. Every string
different set of tonewoods, which means that each will often present its visual and
sonic character in slightly different unique ways. The proof, we like to say, is in the is a different color,
playing. And thats all part of the fun of sampling guitars tuning in to the unique a different voice.
character traits of each. Like food, it often comes down to your personal tastes.
Andres Segovia

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 48


Tonewoods

Tone Chart Low Midrange High


Frequency Frequency Frequency
One of the most common ways to
describe a woods tonal properties Mahogany
is in terms of its frequency range,
which is often broken down into
low-end frequencies, midrange and Rosewood
high-end frequencies. Picture it as
a visual spectrum, as weve done in Maple
the chart to the right, with the lower
frequencies on the left and the higher
frequencies on the right. Koa

The graph line for each wood visually Ovangkol


depicts its general tonal range.
Rosewood and ovangkol, for example,
tend to resonate with more low-end Sapele
frequencies, whereas koa and maple
tend to sound brighter from having Macassar Ebony
more top-end frequencies. Note also
rosewoods scooped mid- range
and ovangkols fuller midrange.
The dotted lines for koa denote the
The chart is only meant to provide a general reference for wood tones relative to each other.
expansion of low-end frequency range
Keep in mind that this is not based on any scientific measurement of frequencies and is based
as the guitar opens up after a period
on our collectiveand subjective experiences with these woods. Acoustic tone will always
of playing it.
occupy some gray area, based on the uniqueness of each set of wood and other variables.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 49


Tonewoods

Back and Side Woods

The Classics
Rosewood, Mahogany and Maple

The Modern
Alternatives
Sapele, Blackwood, Ovangkol

The Exotics
Koa, Macassar Ebony

Layered Woods
Laminate construction with
an appealing outer veneer

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 50


Tonewoods

The Classics
These tonewoods claim a rich heritage in the acoustic
guitar world:

Indian Rosewood
Tropical Mahogany
Maple

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 51


Tonewoods

Indian Rosewood
Tonal Properties

A rich, musical tone with ringing overtones that add complexity and sustain

Broad frequency range with deep lows, bell-like highs, and a slightly
scooped midrange

One of the most enduring and popular tonewoods

Consider rosewood if:


You crave a rich, high-fidelity, acoustic voice with strong bass and treble, complex
overtones, and plenty of sustain. Rosewood is a very versatile tonewood, so it
matches up well with a wide range of playing styles.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 52


Tonewoods

Tropical Mahogany
Tonal Properties

Its tonal character comes through its meaty midrange, featuring a strong
fundamental focus often described as punchy, woody, or dry, without
a lot of ringing overtones

Has a more controlled response that responds well to a strong playing


attack; it can help even out the harshness of a heavy strummer

Clear and direct tonal character makes it a great option for playing with
other instruments

Sometimes referred to as an earthy, low-fi sound in contrast to rosewoods


richer, high-fidelity characteristics

Mahogany guitars have been featured on many roots music recordings over
the years, from country blues to folk to rock

Consider mahogany if:


You like a clear, direct tone with a lot of midrange, rootsy character. Its a
good guitar wood to try if youre not sure what tonal personality you want.
Its controlled response makes it a forgiving wood for beginner-level players.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 53


Tonewoods

Maple
Tonal Properties

Revered in the bowed instrument world for centuries for its linear,
transparent response; very reflective of the player rather than imposing
its own personality

Traditionally known for having a clean, bright and focused tone,


with a quick attack and fast note decay that cuts through a mix well

Taylors maple guitars were revoiced to produce more warmth, complexity,


volume, sustain, responsiveness and overall versatility, while retaining
maples naturally clear qualities

Consider maple if:


You want a great all-around wood that can respond well to a variety of different
playing styles. Keep in mind that Taylor has voiced its maple guitars to produce
greater warmth, complexity and sustain. With other acoustic guitar brands,
maple tends to have a brighter sound with less warmth or sustain.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 54


Tonewoods

The Modern
These tonewoods are lesser known than their classic
counterparts but have similar tone profiles:

Alternatives Sapele
Ovangkol
Blackwood

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 55


Tonewoods

Sapele
Tonal Properties

Alternative to mahogany, with extra top-end sparkle

Consistent and balanced output across the tonal spectrum

Compatible with a diverse range of playing styles

Consider sapele if:


You want a versatile-sounding guitar with good clarity and overall balance.
It does everything that mahogany does, with a little more top end. Because it
doesnt have as established a heritage as mahogany, sapele guitars tend to be
a more affordable option.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 56


Tonewoods

Blackwood
Tonal Properties

Strong volume and midrange focus dry and clear yet warm,
like mahogany and koa

Top-end shimmer and richness similar to rosewood

Its all-around musicality suits a variety of body sizes and playing styles

Consider blackwood if:


Youre looking for a great all-around acoustic sound. Blackwood responds
well to a variety of playing styles, making it a versatile performer. Its strong
tonal output makes it a dynamic voice that responds well to lively strumming,
while fingerstyle players will love the clarity, warmth and top-end shimmer.
It makes a great choice for recording and live performance applications.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 57


Tonewoods

Ovangkol
Tonal Properties

African relative of rosewood, sharing many tonal qualities including


a wide tonal spectrum from lows to highs

Slightly fuller midrange a treble than rosewood, resembling koa

Popular choice among players at every level

Consider ovangkol if:


You like the sound of rosewood with a little more midrange. Ovangkols
versatility makes it a great choice for a wide range of playing styles.
And because its a lesser known wood than rosewood, an ovangkol guitar
may be available at a more affordable price point.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 58


Tonewoods

The Exotics
These tonewoods are admired for their striking looks
as well as their musical properties:

Hawaiian Koa
Macassar Ebony

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 59


Tonewoods

Hawaiian Koa
Tonal Properties

Prized for its exotic visual appeal; guitar sets are often beautifully figured

Fairly dense tropical hardwood that shares some of the same tonal
properties as mahogany, i.e., namely a strong midrange but with extra
top- end brightness and chime

The more a koa guitar is played and the wood ages, the warmer and
sweeter its voice gets

Consider koa if:


Youre inspired by the visual appeal of exotic looking woods and crave midrange
tones with a little extra top-end brightness. And remember, a koa guitar will age
gracefully, rewarding you with a sound that improves with time.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 60


Tonewoods

Macassar Ebony
Tonal Properties

Dense hardwood produces a clear, focused sound with good


projection and volume

Strong bass and lower mids, clear highs, and a slightly scooped
midrange like rosewood

Rich overtones complement slower, softer playing

Also responds well to aggressive playing

Consider Macassar ebony if:


Youre either a fingerstyle player who savors rich, lingering overtones
or have a strong picking/strumming attack and crave a strong, clear sound.
With the right body shape, Macassar can accommodate a wide array of
playing styles.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 61


Tonewoods

Layered
Crafting guitars with backs and sides of layered, or laminated,woods allows
us to conserve tonewood resources (a veneer log will produce eight times the
yield of a log thats sawn for solid-wood guitar sets) and offer players a resilient,

Woods affordable and because of Taylors building techniques, a great-sounding


instrument. Taylors laminated construction features three layers of wood,
incorporating a middle core of poplar with a veneer on each side. The process
allows us to bend an arch into the back of the guitar for added strength, and
together with the layered approach, produces a durable guitar that travels well
and holds up better to fluctuating humidity conditions. Between the all-wood
layers, solid-wood soundboard, and signature Taylor construction techniques,
players can expect a full spectrum of acoustic sound.

Note: All laminates are not created equal. At Taylor, weve actually moved away
from using the term laminate to avoid confusion with the growing number of
laminate products in the marketplace made fromsynthetic, non-wood materials
such as High Pressure Laminate.
The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 62
Tonewoods

Top Woods
A guitars top, or soundboard,
is a vital part of its tonal equation.
Its the first filter and generator
of sound from the vibrating
string energy. The top resonates
together with the strings, saddle,
bridge and the rest of the body
to produce a complex range of
tones. Think of the top as the
equivalent of a speaker driver.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 63


Tonewoods

Sitka Spruce
Tonal Properties

The most commonly used wood for tops because its light and stiff
in the right ways, especially when quartersawn

Its lighter weight gives the top the freedom to move, which helps translate
the players picking or strumming into clear acoustic tone

Generates a broad dynamic range

Accommodates numerous playing styles, from aggressive strumming


to light fingerpicking

Goes well with:


Virtually every playing style. If you have an extremely aggressive strumming or
picking style, you might consider Adirondack spruce. If you have an especially
light touch or play fingerstyle, cedar is a good alternative.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 64


Tonewoods

Lutz Spruce
Tonal Properties

Naturally occurring hybrid of Sitka and White/Engelmann spruce

Blends tonal characteristics of Sitka and Adirondack spruce to produce


extra power, richness and volume

The midrange tones tend to have a slightly richer, sweeter quality

Goes well with:


Players with a driving attack who crave strong acoustic horsepower
and dynamic range.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 65


Tonewoods

Western Red Cedar


Tonal Properties

Less dense than spruce

Its relative softness adds warmth to a guitars tone, especially for players
with a lighter touch, like fingerstylists or light to moderate strummers
and pickers

Players with a stronger attack are often better paired with spruce

Cedar pairs well with nylon-string models because of its responsiveness


to the strings, which produce less overall energy than a steel-string guitar

Goes well with:


Fingerstyle players and players with a light picking or strumming touch who
crave a warm, responsive sound.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 66


Tonewoods

Hardwood Tops
A hardwood-top guitar, such as an all-koa or mahogany-top
model, produces a natural compression, so it wont yield
as quick a response as a spruce-top guitar will. There
tends to be more of a controlled, sustaining roll-in effect
to a note.

A mahogany-top guitar will produce strong fundamentals,


with clear and direct focus

Its natural tonal compression will help even out the response
of an aggressive strummer

An all-koa guitar will sound similar to mahogany but with a touch


more shimmer and chime in the upper register because of its slightly
denser nature

Players with a strong picking or strumming can often dig in


on a hardwood top guitar without overdriving it

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 67


Tonewoods

Fretboard Woods
True to its name, a guitars slotted fretboard hold the frets
in place. In the acoustic guitar world, ebony is widely used
due to its density.

At Taylor we use ebony for all of our fretboards because it holds frets
extremely well and its density provides resilience in the face of the rigors
of fretting the strings.

Some guitar makers use rosewood fretboards (even more so in the electric
guitar world), but because it has a lower density we find it to be less resilient
than ebony. Inexpensive guitars sometimes incorporate fretboards made of
Richlite, a composite material.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 68


Acing the
8

S E CT I O N
Shopping Experience
How to find, try and buy the right guitar with confidence

How to Find a Quality


Guitar Dealer

The Pros & Cons of


Shopping Online

Financing as a
Buying Tool

Test-Driving Tips at a
Guitar Store

In-Store Etiquette:
Dos and Donts

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 69


Acing the Shopping Experience

7 Tips for Finding


a Quality Dealer
Buying an acoustic guitar from a brick-and-mortar music store is ideal for
many customers for a simple reason: It lets them play, feel and compare
actual models. That tangible playing and listening experience can be
invaluable. Plus, a good store will have a knowledgeable staff that can help.
Here are 7 tips for finding a quality guitar dealer:

1 Ask around.
Find out where other local musicians buy their gear. Between traditional
word-of-mouth recommendations and small business review sites like Yelp,
you should be able to get a sense of which stores are popular and why.

2 Visit stores.
If its a good store, the
You can usually get a good sense of the vibe and philosophy of a store and its staff will make you feel
staff by spending time there. Even if you feel a little intimidated because youre
not a gear expert, if its a good store, the staff should make you feel comfortable comfortable there.
there. For more tips, see our section, 8 Tips for Test-Driving Guitars.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 70


Acing the Shopping Experience

3 Look for authorized dealers.


Especially if youre interested in particular brands, authorized dealers
for those brands will tend to have a strong model selection and product
knowledge. Theyll also be more inclined to feature in-store events
sponsored by guitar manufacturers. For example, Taylors Road Show
events are presented at Authorized Taylor Dealers around the world. You
can find a list of authorized dealers on most guitar companies websites.

4 Look for a healthy guitar selection.


A great dealer will carry a broad array of guitar brands and models at
different price points. It makes the store a more appealing destination
point and gives you more options to compare. The best-performing
dealers always stock a robust selection of models.

5 Check the stores return policy.


A good dealer wants a happy, long-term customer, and its return and other
service policies will help you gauge their level of customer support.

6 Visit the stores website.


While a slick website isnt a sure sign of a great dealer, the website gives
you a basis for how the store operates and engages with customers.
Many share their history and story there, and a good dealer will usually
feature up-to-date product information on their site.

7 Check their involvement with the local community.


If you want to support your local independent businesses, find out how
the store interacts with the local music scene, either through their lesson
program, sponsored events, etc.

71
Acing the Shopping Experience

Shopping Online Pros & Cons


Nothing beats a hands-on, in-store playing experience,
but a good online retailer can offer access to broader
model selection.

If youre reading this, you know there are lots of online resources available for
researching guitars. You can find everything from photos and specs to video
demos to customer reviews and guitar forum discussions among enthusiasts.
There has also been a rise in the number of online retailers who sell new guitars.
Lets set aside the category of used guitars and websites like eBay and
Craigslist for the moment and focus exclusively on buying a new guitar from
a music instrument retailer.

Buying a Taylor Online


Taylor Guitars is well known for having a high level of manufacturing
consistency. Consequently, many people feel comfortable purchasing
a Taylor online. While we continue to be major advocates of the in-store
experience, we also sell through a network of Taylor Online Preferred
Dealers. These dealers have committed to serving the online community
with high standards of Taylor guitar selection, product knowledge, customer
satisfaction and professionalism. You can find our Premier Online Dealers
at: www.taylorguitars.com/dealers/online

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Acing the Shopping Experience

Here are a few considerations for shopping online:

Consistent quality breeds consumer confidence.


One of the obvious challenges of buying a new acoustic guitar sight unseen and sound
unheard is exactly that: You dont get to play and experience the unique nuances of a
particular guitar. But as the modern manufacturing methods of some companies have
brought more consistency to guitars, people have grown more comfortable buying
online. If youre considering this, be sure to find out what an online retailers return
policy is. They may also offer attractive financing options.

Online retailers often offer expanded model selection.


Depending on the music stores in your general area, you might not have access to
the model selection you want. A good brick-and-mortar retailer understands the value
of a robust selection, but online retailers usually have the ability to offer an expanded
inventory. If youre interested in a specific model and a local dealer doesnt have it,
many are willing to order it for you, but online retailers can be a good outlet, with a
quick shipping turnaround.

If you plan to buy online, look for reputable retailers who are
authorized dealers for the brand you want.
They will tend to have the best selection, their staff will typically be knowledgeable
If youre interested in
about the product specs for the brands they sell, and they generally offer helpful
customer support.
a specific model and a
local dealer doesnt have
it, many are willing to
order it for you.

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Acing the Shopping Experience

Financing as a Buying Tool


Financing a guitar purchase may allow you to step up
to the guitar you really want. Heres some advice on how
financing can work for you.

Given the broad range of guitar price points (from a couple hundred to
thousands of dollars), a big question for many customers, especially beginning
players, is how much to spend. Should you buy one of those inexpensive player
packs? Would you be happier saving and buying a mid-level instrument with
better features at a higher price point? Should you consider financing to nab
that special guitar you cant seem to put down before someone else claims it?

Here are 4 tips as you consider your budget and financing options:

1 Youre not just investing in a guitar; youre investing 3 Financing can allow you to buy other gear to go with
in yourself. your new guitar.
Youve probably heard the expression, Buy nice or buy twice. Beginners If youre also looking into picking up a PA system, amplifier, accessories,
or recreational players will sometimes find a guitar that they love but think, etc., an interest-free financing program can help.
How can I justify spending the money? Im not that good a player. But
do you want to be? A good guitar will help get you there. Even if youre
on a budget, try not to skimp on fundamental qualities like playability, 4 A good guitar will sound better over time.
intonation, and sound. If you do, you might end up with a guitar that never This is one of the unique pleasures of a well-crafted instrument.
gets played or hampers your progress. This should give you some additional peace of mind as you consider
a purchase. It means that if for some reason you need to sell the guitar
down the roadpossibly to upgrade to a better guitarit will tend to
2 Financing can help you take home The One. hold its value well.
Some guitar manufacturers offer interest-free financing through
participating authorized dealers. Ask a dealer what their layaway or
financing options are. If youre really interested in a guitar, a good
dealer should be willing to work with you to help you secure it. Using a
combination of money saved and financing can also be a good option.
The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 74
Acing the Shopping Experience

8 Tips for
Test-Driving Guitars
If youre fairly new to the guitar, going to a music store can feel a little
overwhelming. But a good music store knows how to create a welcoming
environment, and if youre thinking about buying a guitar, youre the one
in the drivers seat. With a little planning, test-driving guitars should be
a fun experience. Here are 8 tips to help you get the most out of your visit
to a music store.

1 Have an idea of what you plan to play.


Thinking about which riff/chord pattern/or song you want to play ahead
of time will help you properly audition each guitar. And if you have a
certain type of pick you like, dont forget to bring it with you.

2 Most music stores have a dedicated acoustic room.


Use it.
If you can, go on a weekday morning or another off-peak time when
the store is less busy. Privacy and time alone with an instrument will
allow you to feel uninhibited and relaxed, which in turn will let your
ears and hands hear and feel a guitars nuances more naturally.

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Acing the Shopping Experience

3 Play the same thing on every instrument.


Some guitars feel perfect for fingerpicking. Others make barre chords
almost effortless. Some are so smooth you can solo for hours. Ultimately,
let the guitar take you where it wants to. But it helps to demo each guitar
the same way. If you know how to play, strum some chords (using the
same pick each time), play a single-note melody, fingerpick. These three
different approaches will allow you to assess the guitars versatility.

4 Isolate the particular features you want to compare.


Limiting the variables between two guitars makes it easier to decide which
you prefer. If you want to compare different tonewoods, play models with
the same body style to lend consistency to that part of the equation. Or if
you want to compare different body shapes, play models that have the same
wood pairings. That way, youll get a better idea of what is responsible for
those tonal differences.

5 Take notes.
It might sound nerdy, but writing down what you hear and what you like
about a guitar really helps when trying out instruments. After playing three
guitars you might find yourself asking, Wait, which one was brighter?
Which one had the wider neck? Which one felt good against my body?
Take notes and refer back to them. This will especially come in handy if
you visit a store on different occasions and want to refer back to your
previous playing sessions.

6 Use your phone to record yourself.


Your phones Voice Memo app can be a really useful tool for comparing
the tone profiles of different instruments. Its like having a second set
of ears, and it captures the sound of each instrument from a different
listening perspective. Just be sure to position the phone in the same spot
to have a consistent source point for your evaluation.

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Acing the Shopping Experience

7 Make friends with the sales person.


A good sales person is interested in building a lasting relationship with
customers. Even if you buy a guitar the first time you walk into a store,
they know that youll be more likely to come back if you have a good
experience. If youre just looking, its okay to say, Im just looking. No
plans to buy today. That will help put everyone at ease and allow you to
feel that the salesman is working for you, not for your money.

8 Take your time.


Your 30-minute lunch break isnt enough time to shop for a guitar. Instead
plan to spend at least an hour or more in a music store. You want to look,
play, make notes and ask questions without being hurried. And dont feel
like you need buy the first time you walk in, although, if you find what you
want, go for it. In your ensuing visits, try the same (and other) instruments
every time. Even if you arent looking to make a purchase, this will get you
in the habit of being comfortable in the store, getting a feel for different
instruments, and slowly educating yourself about guitars in general. The
more test-driving experience you have, the more discerning youll become.

You want to look, play,


make notes and ask
questions without being
hurried. And dont feel
like you need buy the
first time you walk in.

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Acing the Shopping Experience

In-Store Etiquette: Dos and Donts


Heres how to act like a good customer in a store.

DONT: Plug into an amp and crank it all the way up when there are lots
DONT: Lean a guitar against the wall or amp. of other customers around.

DO: Use a guitar stand or hanger. DO: Ask if there is an isolated room where you
can crank up without disturbing others.

DONT: Start using advanced percussive guitar techniques on a new,


vintage or really any guitar. DONT: Plug (or unplug) into an amp that is already turned on with the
volume up.
DO: Tell the salesperson you are interested in
modern percussive techniques and ask DO: Flip the amps stand-by switch and turn
their opinion on any given guitars the volume down (amp and guitar) before
compatibility with these concepts. you plug in.

DONT: Ask to borrow a pick and then put it in your mouth (ew), do a pick DONT: Leave amps on when youre finished.
scrape, and walk out of the store with that pick in your pocket.
DO: Turn amps off when youre finished.
DO: Bring your own pick(s).

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Acing the Shopping Experience

In-Store Etiquette: Dos and Donts

DONT: Sample a guitar with a heavy hand. Remember, you dont own it yet. DONT: Change the guitar to a different tuning to play it and then leave the
guitar in that tuning when you are finished.
DO: Be respectful of the instrument.
DO: Return the guitar to standard tuning when
you are done.

DONT: Play a guitar with dirty hands.

DO: Wash your hands before playing. DONT: Be afraid to ask dumb questions. Salespeople truly are there
to help.

DO: Listen to thoughtful answers to your


questions. And trust your own feelings
DONT: Wear a big belt buckle. It could damage the guitar. This goes for toward a guitar as you play. No one will
big zippered/buckled/buttoned jackets as well. know better than you what feels and
sounds right.
DO: Wear clothes that wont leave marks on
the back of the guitar.

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Acing the Shopping Experience

Bob Taylors Guitar


Buying Tips
Taylor Guitars co-founder Bob Taylor answers four
common questions about finding and caring for the
right guitar.

1 What advice would you give someone in their


guitar search?
Try to define what you want the guitar to do for you. Is it a one-time
purchase to solve all your guitar needs, or is a guitar to fit a particular
musical style, desire or application? Many people own multiple guitars
because they have multiple needs and play many styles. For instance, a
small-bodied guitar might be perfect for fingerstyle, but you might want
a larger guitar for strumming. Its often easier if you try not to make each
guitar solve every musical problem, especially if you already know you
need more than one guitar.

2 How will I know when I find the right guitar?


Sometimes this is easy, sometimes this is hard. Try not to second-guess
a feeling when you feel youve found the right one. All too often a person
laments the one that got away. When a guitar inspires you in a way that you
know is right, act on it.

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Acing the Shopping Experience

3 How will an acoustic guitars sound change over time?


It will develop more clarity, depth and volume. In short, it will just sound
better and better. Its one of the amazing treats of buying a guitar.
Whereas your clothes, car, computer, TV and furniture wear out with age,
your guitar wears in with age. Sure, a guitar gets worn cosmetically, but
the tone just improves.

4 What are the most important things to remember


about caring for a guitar?
Caring for a guitar is easy if you consider heat and humidity. Low humidity
ravages a good guitar. Also, heat, as in leaving your guitar in the trunk of
your car while you shop or eat at a restaurant on a summer day, will wreak
havoc on your guitar. But in our experience, its the long, slow lack of
humidity that does more damage than anything else. Store your guitar in
its case rather than displaying it in your living room or music room, unless
Digital Hygrometer
you are controlling the humidity in those rooms. Between 45 and 55
percent relative humidity is ideal. If necessary, use a soundhole humidifier
to restore lost humidity to the wood in your guitar. Sharp fret ends or low,
buzzy action are signs of a guitar drying excessively. Other than humidity
control, in my opinion a guitar doesnt need too much other care. Just
play it, wipe it down, polish it once in a while, and change the strings
periodically to keep the tone sounding good. In our experience,
its the long, slow lack
of humidity that does
more damage than
anything else.

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Acing the Shopping Experience

The Taylor Guitars


Road Show Find Your Fit Events
Another great resource to help you learn more about acoustic guitars is the In addition to Road Shows, our staff offers an even more personalized
award-winning Taylor Guitars Road Show. These are fun and informative in-store approach to helping customers with our Find Your Fit events. These are
events presented at the music stores of authorized Taylor dealers across North personal one-on-one in-store consultations. Just schedule an appointment
America and around the world. The events are free, and all are welcome. and a Taylor expert will talk with you about your playing style, musical
interests, and goals, and then recommend a guitar body shape and wood
At our Road Shows, a guitar expert from the Taylor sales staff is joined by a pairings that best match your needs. Theyll also answer any questions you
Taylor product specialist in a lively interactive presentation that helps guests have. And if youre not sure where to begin, theyll help you understand the
better understand what sets a Taylor apart and the differences between different basics.
types of guitars. One of the best parts is that the Road Shows feature playing
demonstrations that help you hear the tonal differences being discussed. Youll find a current listing of Find Your Fit events here:
https://www.taylorguitars.com/events/find-your-fit
Heres what you can expect:

A playing demo to show how guitar shapes and woods affect tone
Helpful tips on how to find the right guitar for your particular needs
A chance to test-drive the latest Taylor models
The opportunity to ask questions

Our staff is super friendly and genuinely loves helping people find a guitar
that will inspire them for years to come. Youll come away with a much better
understanding of what to look for in a guitar, and have a great time in the
process.

For the latest Taylor Road Show tour dates,


visit https://www.taylorguitars.com/events/road-show

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 82


9

S E CT I O N
The Taylor Guitars Line
How a Taylor contributes to a great playing experience

6 Things that set


Taylor apart

A guide to Taylor
model numbers

The Taylor line


by series

Additional model
options

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The Taylor Guitars Line

Why a Taylor?
We all crave an instrument that inspires us. Thats why people love
picking up a Taylor. It puts inspiration within reach of anyone, anytime,
from beginners to pro musicians. For years, Bob Taylor and his
development team have worked painstakingly to remove the obstacles
to a good playing experiencetuning issues, high action, murky tone,
and lack of serviceability, among others.

Here are 5 things that set the Taylor experience apart:

1 Manufacturing Innovation
Taylors world-class factory has reset the standard for modern-day
precision craftsmanship to create the best possible playing experience.
Fueled by an unrelenting drive to improve our guitars, our blend of
proprietary production technology with impeccable attention to detail has
led to unparalleled consistency in the build quality of our instruments.

2 Playable Necks
Our guitar necks are widely considered the most playable in the industry,
thanks to our patented design and sleek, comfortable neck profile. Our
neck assembly process allows us to precisely control every neck angles
accuracy to .002 inch and makes it easy to make micro-adjustments
if necessary throughout the life of the guitar. No other acoustic guitar
company can match our ability to consistently set a neck for an optimal
playing experience.

3 Great Tone
The Taylor product line gives players a rich musical palette to explore.
Beyond our robust selection of acoustic models, weve built additional
flexibility into our line with an array of standard model options, while
our extensive Custom program makes designing your dream guitar a
convenient reality.
The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 84
The Taylor Guitars Line

4 Service & Support


Our commitment to a great customer experience includes personalized
customer service wherever someone may be along their guitar-playing
journey, whether they need help choosing a guitar or taking care of
it. From our friendly and knowledgeable staff to our network of repair
technicians, we are committed to providing a lifetime of exceptional
Taylor service.

5 Sustainability Leadership
Our commitment to safeguarding the future of the natural resources we
use has led to many pioneering forestry initiatives around the world, from
co-ownership and management of Crelicam, an ebony mill in Cameroon,
to innovative mahogany-sourcing partnerships with remote forest
communities, to investment in the propagation of wood species such as
ebony, maple and koa for future generations. We want Taylor customers to
feel assured that when they purchase a Taylor guitar, they are supporting
the highest levels of ethical, eco-conscious business.

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The Taylor Guitars Line

The Taylor Line at a Glance Grand Concert (GC) - 812e

How to easily navigate our selection of model offerings

Below is the basic framework of our guitar line. This should help you navigate
through our options. Well also explain how our model naming structure works.
Grand Auditorium (GA) - 814e
Choose from Five Body Shapes
From smallest to largest:

Grand Concert (GC)


Grand Auditorium (GA)
Grand Symphony (GS) Grand Symphony (GS) - 816e

Dreadnought (DN)
Grand Orchestra (GO)

Note: Two offerings from our Travel category are scaled-down versions of
existing shapes. The Baby Taylor is a 3/4-size Dreadnought. The GS Mini
is a smaller version of the Grand Symphony. Dreadnought (DN) - 810e

Taylor Guitars By Series


The full-size guitar models in our line are organized by series, featuring the
100 through 900 Series, along with our Academy, Presentation (PS) and Koa
(K) Series. The models within most series share the same wood pairings and
appointment packages, and are offered in a variety of body shapes. In general, Grand Orchestra (GO) - 818e
the higher the series, the more premium the guitar features are.

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The Taylor Guitars Line

Understanding Taylors Acoustic Model Numbers


Taylor acoustic models are organized within about a dozen different series.

The majority of Taylors acoustic guitars are offered in three model variations:
Cutaway body with onboard electronics (e.g., 814ce)
Non-cutaway body with onboard electronics (e.g., 814e)
Non-cutaway body with no onboard electronics (e.g., 814)
The full-size guitar models in our line are organized by series, featuring the 100 through
900 Series, along with our Academy, Presentation (PS) and Koa (K) Series.

Heres how our model numbering system works:

The first digit (or letter) identifies Indicates a model with a cutaway
the Series. Most guitar models within
each series share the same back and 614ce
side woods and appointment package.
Indicates a model with onboard electronics

The second digit designates two things: first, whether the guitar
is a 6-string or a 12-string, and second, whether the top features a The third digit identifies the body shape according to this
softer tonewood like spruce or cedar, or a hardwood like mahogany numbering system:
or koa. The middle number 1 or 2 designates a 6-string guitar 0 = Dreadnought (e.g., 610ce)
with a softer tonewood (1) or hardwood (2) top. For example: 2 = Grand Concert (e.g., 612ce)
516ce = 6-string with a spruce top 4 = Grand Auditorium (e.g., 614ce)
526ce = 6-string with a mahogany top 6 = Grand Symphony (e.g., 616ce)
8 = Grand Orchestra (e.g., 618ce)
The middle number 5 or 6 designates a 12-string guitar
with either a soft (5) or hardwood (6) top. In this case: Taylor nylon-string models are integrated into the Academy800 Series
556ce = 12-string with a spruce top and are designated by the letter N at the end of the model name. For
example, a nylon-string Grand Auditorium with a cutaway and electronics
566ce = 12-string with a mahogany top
within the 600 Series is a 614ce-N.

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The Taylor Guitars Line

Guitars by Series
Heres a basic breakdown of the distinguishing features of each series in descending order,
starting with our ultra-premium offerings and ending with our most affordable options.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 88


The Taylor Guitars Line

All Solid Wood Series


One of the hallmarks of a premium acoustic guitar is the use of solid wood for the back, sides and top.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 89


The Taylor Guitars Line

Presentation Series
Back/Sides: Macassar Ebony
Top: Sitka Spruce

The entrancing appeal of Taylors


Presentation Series begins with
richly striped Macassar ebony back
and side sets, paired with top-shelf
Sitka spruce that boasts consistently
even grain structure. Each guitar
demands the highest levels of
craftsmanship, and it shows in the
harmony of intricate appointments
that adorn them. Ebony binding flares
smoothly into a contoured armrest
that heightens playing comfort, while
paua inlay artistry adds elegant
sparkle to the fretboard, bridge and
body. Each model we make renews
our commitment to a detail-rich
design aesthetic.

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The Taylor Guitars Line

Koa Series
Back/Sides: Hawaiian Koa
Top: Hawaiian Koa

Hawaiian koas evocative natural


beauty is unparalleled, especially
the figured sets we select for our
Koa Series. Our models showcase
koas rich character upfront with a
koa top (Sitka spruce and cedar are
available as options), and the overall
aesthetic is enhanced with a shaded
edgeburst finish on the top, back,
sides and even neck. An all-wood
appointment package features our
fluid Island Vine fretboard/headstock
inlay in maple and blackwood, with
Hawaiian plumeria flowers doubling
as fret markers, along with rosewood
binding, maple top trim, and a
rosewood/maple rosette. One of the
most rewarding traits of an all-koa
guitar is the way its tone sweetens
over time and with extended play.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 91


The Taylor Guitars Line

900 Series
Back/Sides: Indian Rosewood
Top: Sitka Spruce

Among the three classes of rosewood


guitars in the Taylor line, the 900
Series models project an aura of rich
sophistication. It begins with Indian
rosewood thats been graded for
consistently straight and tight grain,
often displaying a rich range of color
variegation. The 900s also boast an
array of tone-enhancing touches,
from Taylors Advanced Performance
bracingcustomized for each body
shapeto optimized wood thicknesses,
ultra-thin gloss finish, and protein
glues that enhance the tonal transfer.
Distinctive aesthetic features include
ebony binding that flares into an
ergonomic contoured armrest on the
lower bout; a paua rosette outlined
in koa and ebony; paua and koa
trim around the edges of the body
and neck, including the fretboard
extension; fretboard inlays of
Mother-of-pearl and pink abalone;
and a striking striped ebony pickguard.
Other premium touches include a
bound soundhole and gold Gotoh
tuners. From top to bottom, the 900s
radiate impeccable craftsmanship.

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The Taylor Guitars Line

800 Deluxe Series


Back/Sides: Indian Rosewood
Top: Sitka Spruce

Our rosewood/spruce 800 Deluxe


models boast all the tone-enhancing
design elements of our popular 800
Series, plus a trio of ultra-premium
features that manage to refine the
feel, sound and performance even
further. Our rounded radius armrest
literally takes the edge off the playing
experience, easing the physical
stress on your strumming or picking
arm. Adirondack spruce bracing
supercharges the tonal response to
create a more dynamic voice. Gotoh
510 tuners supply a higher a 21:1
gear ratio to give you finely calibrated
tuning control. The result is an overall
level of responsiveness that makes
these guitars incredibly expressive,
no matter what your playing level.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 93


The Taylor Guitars Line

800 Series
Back/Sides: Indian Rosewood
Top: Sitka Spruce

The essence of the Taylor playing


experience lives within our flagship
800 Series. Not only do these
models trace back to the start of
Bob Taylors guitar-making journey,
but they embody our philosophy of
continuous refinement, serving as
the catalyst for master designer Andy
Powers next-generation redesign
efforts, which explored every material
ingredient of our guitars to enhance
their performance. Wood and finish
thicknesses, internal voicing, glues
and other nuances were all optimized
to be as responsive to the player
as possible, making the playing
experience feel almost effortless.
The results deliver much more than
the sum of their individual parts, with
each different model asserting its
own musical personality and that of
the player more clearly than ever.
Our 800s will always honor both
our heritage and our spirit of design
innovation.

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The Taylor Guitars Line

700 Series
Back/Sides: Indian Rosewood
Top: Lutz Spruce

Each rosewood series in the Taylor


line offers something unique, both
tonally and aesthetically. The 2016
mid-year retooling of our 700 Series
introduced Lutz spruce tops, a
bracing update, and a refreshed look
to include warm, wood-rich details
and an optional Western sunburst
top, created exclusively for the series.
Riding the wave of our ongoing
12-fret revival is the 712e 12-Fret,
which blends playing comfort, a
richly detailed tonal response, and
irresistible neo-vintage appeal on the
sunburst-top edition. And with the
dynamic response of the Lutz tops,
these models respond exceptionally
well to a lively attack. Together
with our Performance bracing and
ES2 electronics, they also make an
excellent option for live performance.

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The Taylor Guitars Line

600 Series
Back/Sides: Maple
Top: Torrefied Sitka Spruce

We love maple for many reasons.


Its a sustainably managed domestic
tonewood, its player-reflective musical
properties have made it a staple of
the stringed instrument world for
centuries, and the beautiful flamed
sets we choose for our 600 Series
take on a rich, cello-like appearance
thanks to the infusion of our hand-
rubbed Brown Sugar stain. To
make things even better, the voicing
refinements we recently introduced
add a warmer, deeper dimension
that complements maples crisp
articulation and projection. Exclusive
to this series, our torrefied spruce
tops give the guitars a played-in
sound with pleasing responsiveness.
Beyond the ever-popular Grand
Auditorium 614ce, try the 612ce 12-
Fret, and if you like a deep, powerful
voice, the 6-string Grand Orchestra
618e and 12-string Grand Symphony
656ce deliver in a big way.

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The Taylor Guitars Line

500 Series
Back/Sides: Tropical Mahogany
Top: Mahogany, Lutz Spruce (GS,
DN) or Cedar (GC, GA)

In 2016 we transformed our


mahogany 500 Series, introducing
Performance bracing, adding fresh
soundboard options, and revealing
unique design touches to give
players a wealth of inspiring musical
tools. Fingerstyle players will love
the warmth and responsiveness of
our cedar-top Grand Concert and
Grand Auditorium models. Others
will gravitate toward our all-mahogany
offerings, which blend the rootsy
aesthetic of a shaded edgeburst
top with mahoganys warm, naturally
compressed sound. Still others will
embrace the sonic horsepower of
a Lutz spruce top. The breakout hit,
our small-body 12-fret/12-string
562ce, has wowed reviewers and
players alike by making the 12-string
experience more accessible than ever.
We even tweaked our Dreadnought
models, giving them a slightly shorter
scale length, slotted headstock, and
V-carve neck to offer a more inviting
handfeel. Our mahogany family has
never offered a more dynamic array
of options.
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The Taylor Guitars Line

400 Series
Back/Sides: Ovangkol or
Indian Rosewood
Top: Sitka Spruce

In 2016 we welcomed Indian


rosewood to our 400 Series,
and players have been thrilled
to find another path to explore
an established guitar tonewood
with such a rich musical heritage.
Meanwhile, the African ovangkol
weve featured on our 400s for years
continues to resonate with players
on the strength of its rosewood-like
properties, midrange presence, and
other unique sonic characteristics.
Which is better? Thats for you to
decide. Whichever way you lean, you
can count on a full-spectrum musical
range that suits all of our body styles
and makes a great guitar for any
music application. An all-gloss body
highlights the variegation that makes
each set of rosewood or ovangkol
truly unique.

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The Taylor Guitars Line

300 Series
Back/Sides: Sapele (Spruce Top)
or Blackwood (Mahogany Top)
Top: Sitka Spruce or Mahogany

The gateway to the pleasures of the


all-solid-wood playing experience is
a double door thanks to a choice of
two different wood pairings: sapele
back and sides with a Sitka spruce
top, and Tasmanian blackwood
matched with mahogany. The latter
conjures a vintage aesthetic thanks
to the shaded edgeburst, satin-finish
mahogany top, while sonically it
responds with impressive dynamic
range, featuring strong mids and
pleasing top-end sparkle. Popular
models include the Grand Concert
322e 12-Fret and Grand Symphony
326ce. Of the spruce-top models,
try the 314ce. Unique offerings
within the series include our slightly
shorter-scale (24-7/8-inch) 6-string
Dreadnoughts, while the 12-string
Dreadnought 360e pumps out a
potent low end that supports the
double-course shimmer.

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The Taylor Guitars Line

Full-Size Layered Wood Series


These guitars featured a back and sides of three-ply all-wood layers, with a solid wood top.

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The Taylor Guitars Line

200 Deluxe Series


Back/Sides: Layered Rosewood,
Koa or Sapele
Top: Sitka Spruce or Koa

No series offers more aesthetic


diversity than our 200 Deluxe
collection. The series now features
another enticing tonewood pairing
with our all-koa Grand Auditorium
224ce and Dreadnought 220ce.
Both match layered koa back and
sides with solid, shaded edgeburst
koa tops. The overall look is vintage
organic beauty, with the help of a
black pickguard and black binding
that complement the edgeburst and
the ebony fretboard and bridge from
our mill in Cameroon. Other layered
wood back and side options include
rosewood and sapele, with color
choices of a sunburst spruce top
(with rosewood) or an all-black Grand
Auditorium. The series also features
our only Grand Auditorium 12-string,
the 254ce-DLX. All models sport
a rich full-gloss body and optional
ES2 electronics, and include a Taylor
hardshell case.

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The Taylor Guitars Line

200 Series
Back/Sides: Layered Koa
Top: Sitka Spruce

In the spirit of ongoing Taylor


refinement, our 200 Series reveals
both an aesthetic and voicing
update. Now youll find layered koa
back and sides on our two models,
while the solid Sitka spruce tops
debut a freshly calibrated bracing
scheme that pumps out a louder,
bigger sound. Weve kept the model
selection simple, with cutaway Grand
Auditorium steel-string and nylon-
string models, each of which features
onboard Taylor acoustic electronics.
Clean appointments include white
binding, Italian acrylic dot inlays, a
faux tortoise shell pickguard, an ebony
peghead overlay, and satin-finish
back and sides with a glossy top.
Both models ship in our lightweight
hardshell gig bag for easy transport.

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The Taylor Guitars Line

100 Series
Back/Sides: Layered Walnut
Top: Sitka Spruce

The 100 Series features handsome


layered walnut back and sides plus
new internal bracing refinements
that boost the overall tonal output.
The slim-profile Taylor neck features
a slightly narrower 1-11/16-inch nut
width, a thin matte finish allows the
guitar to resonate freely, and the
onboard ES2 pickup outfits the guitar
for natural-sounding amplified tone.
Players looking for an affordable
12-string to add to their guitar toolbox
should try the 150e, an industry
bestseller in its category. Standard
appointments include black binding, a
black pickguard, and Italian acrylic dot
fretboard inlays. All models ship in a
Taylor gig bag.

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The Taylor Guitars Line

Academy Series
Back/Sides: Layered Sapele
Top: Sitka Spruce

We know from experience how much


an easy-playing guitar will help players
progress. Thats why we designed
our Academy Series. Weve cleared
a path to the most inviting guitar
experience an entry-level player or
anyone on a budget could ask for,
from a comfortable feel to pleasing
tone to performance reliability, all at
an affordable price. Our patented
Taylor neck ensures that the guitars
intonation will ring true for years
to come, and the combination of a
narrower 1-11/16-inch nut width,
24-7/8-inch scale length, and light
gauge strings serves up a buttery
string feel that fingers will love. The
guitar body even features an armrest
that improves the playing comfort.
Dollar for dollar, these guitars deliver
arguably the best playing experience
a customer could ask for. Choose
from the Dreadnought Academy 10,
Grand Concert Academy 12, or
nylon-string Grand Concert Academy
12-N, with optional Taylor electronics
that include a built-in tuner.

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The Taylor Guitars Line

Travel-Size Layered Wood Series

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The Taylor Guitars Line

GS Mini
Back/Sides: Layered Sapele,
Koa or Walnut
Top: Sitka Spruce, Mahogany or Koa

Once in a while a guitar comes


along that just feels right in every
way. Our beloved GS Mini is one
of those guitars. Since its arrival in
2010, its taken on a life of its own by
captivating players with the perfect
mix of qualities to make it feel fun and
accessible a comfortably scaled-
down size, a full-bodied voice, and
easy playability all without feeling
too precious for the real world.
Choose from several wood options,
including a handsome koa edition.
An exciting addition to the family is
the new GS Mini Bass, a bundle of
four-string fun that puts the acoustic
bass playing experience within reach
of everyone.

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The Taylor Guitars Line

Baby Series
Its a testament to the enduring appeal
of our beloved Baby Taylor that more
than 20 years after its debut, it remains
a staple of the Taylor line. Our mini
Dreadnought helped legitimize the
idea of a travel guitar as a real musical
instrument, and over the years tens of
thousands of kids have kicked off their
guitar-playing journeys with a Baby in
their hands. The Baby family has since
grown to include a mahogany-top
edition, a Taylor Swift signature model,
and our full-scale (15/16-size) Big
Baby, which features a slightly slimmer
body depth for extra comfort and
portability. Models are also offered with
an optional ES-B onboard pickup and
preamp, which includes a convenient
built-in tuner, low-battery indicator, and
tone and volume controls.

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The Taylor Guitars Line

Nylon-String Guitars
In addition to steel-string acoustic guitars, the mellow-toned character and
rhythmic textures of nylon-string acoustics offer players another distinctive
sonic palette to explore. A traditional classical-style neck has a much different
feel marked by a width of two or more inches and a flat fretboard.

Taylors hybrid-style nylon-string guitars were designed to be inviting and


comfortable for steel-string players. The radiused fretboard makes fretting
easier, and the slimmer neck profile makes for a smooth crossover from a
steel-string. If you find it difficult to play a steel-string acoustic, you might
consider the lighter string tension of a nylon-string guitar. Other modern
amenities of a Taylor nylon-string include a cutaway and onboard electronics.
Taylors nylon-string guitars are offered in two body styles: Grand Concert
and Grand Auditorium.

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The Taylor Guitars Line

Custom Options
As you become clearer on what features youd like with your first or next acoustic
guitar, you might gravitate toward certain custom options. In addition to the
standard models that make up a guitar companys line, many also offer additional
flexibility through standard model options or a full-blown custom program.

Standard Model Options


These deliver a minor twist on a stock guitar model. This might mean substituting
a cedar top for spruce, a different neck width option, a different scale length,
a different type of tuning machines, or a cosmetic option like a sunburst top or
shaded edgeburst. Taylor offers a menu of standard model options; some are
available at no additional charge, while others have an upcharge.

Custom Orders
A custom program usually offers a broader array of options and enables customers
to select their specifications from a variety of categories. For some customers, this
enables them to essentially design their dream guitar from the ground up to reflect
their personal preferences to the fullest. A custom program usually offers additional
species and grades of woods, along with a rich menu of appointment options.

Taylor offers a robust custom program through our authorized dealer network.
Over the years, weve made thousands of custom guitars, we know what works
and what doesnt, and were happy to help customers design a guitar that theyll
love. One important consideration is the turnaround time for a custom order.
Typically, the smaller the guitar company, the longer the wait. Because of Taylors
size and manufacturing sophistication, our turnaround time is much shorter.

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The Taylor Guitars Line

Tonewood Sourcing
and Sustainability
As with any consumer product that relies on natural resources, responsible
sourcing and sustainability have become important considerations for customers
as they make buying decisions.

Taylors commitment to conservation-minded tonewood consumption has led


to some industry-leading initiatives. One is a pioneering mahogany sourcing
partnership with remote forest communities in Honduras. The well-managed
program has become a model of sustainable social forestry and enabled
communities to improve their quality of life while properly managing the forest
resources around them for the long-term future.

In Cameroon, Taylor has been the co-owner of an ebony mill since 2011. Bob
Taylor has used Taylors manufacturing expertise to upgrade the harvesting and
milling efforts there, improving working conditions for employees, introducing
better tools and machines, and training employees to improve the mills processing
capability. Ultimately, this is helping Cameroonian communities to build a better
economy through responsible management of an important natural resource.
Taylors work there was honored in 2014 with the American Corporate Excellence
(ACE) Award from the U.S. Department of State.

Other forward-thinking sourcing programs currently being explored by Taylor


involve the planting of certain desirable tonewood species for future generations
to be able to use.

The Definitive Guide To Buying An Acoustic Guitar 110


10

S E CT I O N
A Guide to Guitar Terms

Basic types of guitar


bodies and their
general sound profiles

A breakdown of body
shapes made by Taylor
Guitars for reference

The types of playing


applications that match
up well with each

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A Guide to Guitar Terms

Talking Tone:
How Guitar Players Describe Acoustic Tone
Like wine lovers and foodies, guitar players wield colorful lingo to describe tonal Below is an earful of commonly used expressions relating to acoustic guitar
flavors. The good news: Guitar talk actually translates into definable qualities of tone. A few are technical, while others are more descriptive. Even if youre not a
sound. The bad news: Our ears, like our taste buds or senses of smell, are wired great player, with these in your guitar vocabulary youll be able to talk tone with
in a multitude of different ways, so we dont always hear tone in the same way. the best of them.
In the end, using words to describe sounds is, at best, an approximation, since
sounds dont always neatly translate into words. Dont get hung up on the lingo.
Understanding a few basic terms will take you a long way.

Bright: Treble emphasized, or with a lower degree of bass. Meaty: Lots of midrange, with a full low end. Also referred to as fat, full, rich, thick.

Buttery: Warm, rich notes, that melt away rather than decay. Midrange: On car stereo or home audio systems, the frequency response
More commonly used regarding chords. 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
Ceiling: A defined boundary, often used in reference to volume. A guitar tend to reside beyond that. If one considers where an acoustic guitars pitch
or woods ceiling is the point at which it stops delivering volume or tone. range falls, predominantly all the notes on the fretboard occupy the midrange
of the frequency spectrum that can be heard. Its where voice is; its the middle
Crisp: More treble emphasis, without lingering overtones. part of a piano.

Dark: Bass tones emphasized or tone with a lower degree of treble. Overtones: Multiples of a fundamental frequency, also referred to as harmonics,
which occur as a string vibrates, creates wave patterns, and the harmonics stack
Decay: The way a sustained, ringing note diminishes over time. 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
Dry: A tone with a strong fundamental and little to no overtones, with subtle than the fundamental, they add richness and complexity to a sound.
under-pronounced or very subtle frequency peaks. Mahoganys focused
midrange is often described as dry. Piano-like: Exactly what it sounds like.As if you packed a grand piano inside a
guitars body and put strings on it.A bell-like quality to the notes and a brilliance
Fundamental: The true frequency, or pitch, of a note. A low E, for example of note separation.
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.The alpha dog, if you will.
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A Guide to Guitar Terms

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.

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.

Throaty: An extremely beefy midrange. The origin might be based partly


on the fact that the human voice tends to occupy midrange frequencies.

Warm: Softer high frequencies, like if you took a little of the very top off the
treble. A rosewood Grand Auditorium has a warm treble sound; the treble is
there but its not overly bright.

Woody: A seasoned, well broken-in dry tone. A vintage mahogany guitar will
have an especially woody sound. Youre always learning
about this thing every
time you pick it up.
Keith Richards

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A Guide to Guitar Terms

Anatomy of an Acoustic Guitar: An Index


Learn the lingo and sound like a guitar expert.

Fretboard: The part of the neck into which frets are inserted and on which
Action: The distance of the strings above the frets, typically measured the strings are pressed when the guitar is played.
at the 12th fret of the neck.
Frets: Raised metal bars inserted into the fretboard, against which the strings are
Back: The thin, wide wood behind the guitar, opposite to the top. pressed to change their pitch.

Body Binding: Strips of fiber, plastic, or wood glued around the edges of the Heel: The end of the neck the joins the body. The neck is attached to the
body. The purpose of binding is to protect and decorate the edges of the guitar. body at the heel and the extension using three bolts.

Braces: The strengthening bars glued to the top and back of the guitar to High Angle: The plane of the frets aimed above the surface of the bridge.
provide stability and to control how the guitar vibrates. The size, shape, and Raising the angle lowers the action.
placement of the braces play a vital role in determining the tone, volume, and
balance of the guitar. Heel Block: A wooden block (usually made of mahogany) used to join the
two sides of the guitar body together at the neck joint, opposite the tailblock.
Bridge Pins: Small plastic or ebony pins that hold the strings in the bridge
of the guitar. Kerfing: Strips of wood, triangular in cross-section, slotted with a saw to make
them flexible, and wrapped and glued to the inside edges of the guitar sides.
Bridge Plate: Part of the bracing for the guitar top. The bridge plate, or pin Kerfing increases the glue surface where the top and back are glued to the sides.
plate, is a thin piece of maple or other hardwood that is placed directly under
the bridge to support the top under string tension. Label: A sticker placed on the back inside the guitar body, that has the model and
serial number printed on it. The label is visible through the soundhole of the top.
Endpin: A knob or button inserted through the tailstrip and tailblock that allows
the player to attach a strap to the guitar. Low Angle: The plane of the frets aimed below the surface of the bridge.
Lowering the angle raises the action.
Fretboard Binding: Strips of fiber, plastic, or wood glued around the edges
of the fretboard. The purpose of binding is to protect and decorate the edges Lower Bout: The widest part of the guitar body, below the waist. The
of the guitar. dimensions of the lower bout play a role in the bass response of the guitar.

Fretboard Inlays: Decorations of wood, shell, or other materials set into Neck Angle: The alignment of the fret surface relative to the top of the guitar.
hollowed-out areas called pockets in the fretboard. On a Taylor, the neck angle is set so that the plane of the frets aligns with the top
surface of the bridge.
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A Guide to Guitar Terms

Nut: A bar, usually of bone or plastic, placed between the fretboard and the Relief: The slight forward bow in a guitar neck; 0.004 to 0.007
peghead veneer. The nut provides a bearing surface for the strings and holds (4 to 7 thousandths of a inch) is the desired amount of relief in a Taylor neck.
them at the correct height above the fretboard and the correct distance from
one another. Rosette: The circular inlays around the soundhole of the guitar.

Peghead Binding: Strips of fiber, plastic, or wood glued around the edges Saddle: The narrow bar of hard plastic or bone set into the bridge to
of the peghead. The purpose of binding is to decorate and protect the edges provide a bearing surface for the strings, and to transmit string vibration
of the guitar. through the bridge and into the body.

Peghead Inlay: A decoration of wood, shell, or other material set into Shaft: The straight section of the neck between the peghead and the heel.
a hollowed-out area called a pocket in the peghead veneer.
Side Dots: Small round inlays on the side of the fretboard that mark positions
Peghead Logo: The guitar makers brand name or trademark design, on the neck. Single side dots are inserted at the 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th frets.
usually of pearl, wood, or plastic, inlaid into the peghead veneer. Double side dots are inserted at the 12th fret.

Peghead Veneer: A thin piece of wood, often Indian rosewood or ebony, glued Sides: The thin bent panels of wood that connect the top to the back
over the peghead as a decorative cover. of the guitar. The sides are made of the same wood as the back of the guitar.

Peghead: The section of the neck that holds the tuners. The peghead on a Soundhole: The round opening in the top of the guitar.
Taylor guitar is cut from the shaft and glued back on at an angle using a scarf joint.
Sticker: An adhesive label with the Taylor logo that attaches to the
Pickguard: A thin protective plate of plastic or wood attached to the top heelblock to cover the heel bolts.
of a steel-string or electric guitar to protect it against marking or damage
from fingerpicks or a plectrum. Strap Pin: A knob or button that is screwed into the heel of the neck
and used to hold one end of a guitar strap.
Pickup: Generic term for any electronic component that converts mechanical
vibration into an electrical signal for amplification. Tailblock: A wooden block (usually made of mahogany) used to join
the two sides of the guitar body together at the butt or tail of the guitar.
Pin Bridge: On a steel-string guitar the strings pass through this wood part
(usually ebony) that is glued to the top of the guitar. The strings are held in Tailstrip: A piece of wood that is inlaid where the two sides meet at
place with bridge pins. This type of acoustic bridge is called a pin bridge. the bottom of the guitar.

Purfling: Thin strips of fiber, plastic, or wood set between the binding and the
wood of the top, back, or sides. Purfling is typically arranged in alternating black
and white, or white and color patterns.
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A Guide to Guitar Terms

Tie Bridge: On the nylon-string guitar, the strings pass through holes in the
bridge itself and are tied in place. This type of bridge is called a tie bridge.
Look for this obvious clue to identify a nylon-series model.

Top: The front surface of the guitar body that has the soundhole cut into it and
the bridge attached to it.

Truss Rod Cover: The small piece of wood or plastic screwed to the peghead
to cover the truss rod opening.

Truss Rod: A metal bolt set into the neck of a guitar to counteract the
forward-bowing force of the guitar strings. The tension on the truss rod
determines the amount of relief in the neck. The truss rod is not designed
or intended to raise or lower the action of the strings.

Tuner: A mechanical device attached to the peghead of the guitar, used


to adjust the tension of the strings. The string winds around the tuner and
can be tightened or loosened to change the pitch.

Upper Bout: The part of the guitar body between the waist and the neck.
The upper bout plays a role in the treble response of the guitar.

Waist: The inside curve in the sides of the guitar body between the upper
and lower bouts. The waist plays a role in the midrange response of the guitar.

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Taylor Guitars
Were here for any questions you may have.

Customer Service
North America
1-800-943-6782

Customer Service
Europe
+31 (0) 20 667 6033

www.taylorguitars.com
To locate the Taylor dealer nearest you, visit:
www.taylorguitars.com/dealers

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