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Best Taylor Guitars 2021: Our Pick Of The Finest Taylor Acoustic guitars You Can Buy Today

Best Taylor Guitars 2021: Our Pick Of The Finest Taylor Acoustic guitars You Can Buy Today
(Image credit: Taylor )

Curating a list of the best Taylor guitars was never going to be an easy task – there are just so many. Since it was founded by Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug in 1974, Taylor has become one of the world’s most respected guitar manufacturers, with a reputation for innovation, high build standards and an industry-leading commitment to the use of sustainable tonewoods. Now, under the leadership of design guru Andy Powers, the Californian company is soaring to even greater heights.

Our guide to the best Taylor guitars available today reflects the firm’s desire to improve and refine its craft, offering players a wide choice of models for home, stage and studio.

Explore the latest news and guitar gear offers on our Black Friday guitar deals page.

Best Taylor guitars: Product guide

Best Taylor guitars: Taylor Builder’s Edition 517e

(Image credit: Taylor )

1. Taylor Builder’s Edition 517e

A different kind of dreadnought

Launch price: $2,899/£2,100 | Type: Grand Pacific round-shouldered dreadnought | Scale length: 25½” | Top: Torrefied Sitka spruce | Back & sides: Tropical mahogany | Neck: Tropical mahogany | Fingerboard: West African Crelicam ebony | Frets: 20 | Electronics: Taylor Expression System 2 | Tuners: Taylor Nickel | Left-handed?: No | Finish: Silent Satin

Super finish and feel
Advanced V-Class bracing and compound carve-neck profile
Balanced sounds with a rounded tonality 
Some dreadnought fans will prefer a boomier low end and hi-fi trebles 

When Taylor launched its Builder’s Edition 517e Grand Pacific in 2019, it came as a surprise to many. Here was a vintage-look, round-shouldered dreadnought that had been brought kicking and screaming into the 21st century by Andy Powers’ innovative V-Class bracing (read more about that in our buying advice at the bottom of the page). 

The torrefied Sitka spruce top and Silent Satin finish help to deliver a mature, broken-in voice that comes without those tactile ‘squeaks’ you normally expect from a new gloss guitar. Meanwhile, the compound carve-neck profile transitions from a subtle ‘V’ at the nut to a rounded ‘C’, providing superb comfort and facilitating higher fret work. 

That V-Class bracing provides wonderfully consistent sustain across the fretboard, along with pristine intonation that means there’s less chance of hitting a sour note while fingerpicking. 

Best Taylor guitars: Taylor Builder's Edition 324ce

(Image credit: Taylor )

2. Taylor Builder's Edition 324ce

Sustainability meets premium features

Launch price: $2,999/£2,172 | Type: Grand Auditorium electro cutaway | Scale length: 25½” | Top: Solid mahogany | Back & sides: Urban Ash | Neck: Mahogany | Fingerboard: West African Crelicam ebony | Frets: 20 | Electronics: Taylor Expression System 2 | Tuners: Gotoh 510 | Left-handed?: No | Finish: Silent Satin

An impressive debut for Urban Ash
Builder’s Edition appointments enhance playability
Strong midrange tonality
Some may find it pricey for a guitar made from reclaimed tonewood 

Taylor’s trailblazing commitment to using sustainable tonewoods in its guitar building is a cornerstone of its identity, and the 324ce showcased a new chapter in that story, being constructed from Urban Ash – Shamel ash from damaged trees found in urban Californian areas.

The manufacturer has described Urban Ash as being similar to coveted Honduran mahogany, and, true to the comparison, there’s a strong mid voice on this Grand Auditorium, with excellent sustain clarity when fingerpicking.

The Builder’s Edition appointments are subtle rather than showy, but they definitely matter, the upper-bout armrest and chamfered body/fingerboard edges adding comfort, and the Gotoh 510 tuners’ 21:1 ratio offering outstanding precision.

Read the full Taylor Builder's Edition 324ce review

Best Taylor guitars: Taylor GS Mini-e Koa

(Image credit: Taylor )

3. Taylor GS Mini-e Koa

A benchmark for travel guitars

Launch price: $799/£579 | Type: Scaled-down Grand Symphony | Scale length: 23½” | Top: Solid koa | Back & sides: Koa laminate | Neck: Sapele | Fingerboard: West African Crelicam ebony | Frets: 20 | Electronics: Taylor ES-B | Tuners: Taylor Chrome | Left-handed?: Yes | Finish: Varnish

Great portability for travel
A big sound from a small body
ES-B system makes it giggable
There’s still no cutaway GS Mini design

Over a decade after its introduction, the GS Mini remains the standard for travel guitars, delivering projection that belies its scaled-down dimensions.

A great choice for those who want a go-to home and away acoustic (a high-quality gigbag is included), the GS Mini-e Koa offers easy playability combined with stunning figured grain. 

Its versatility is further boosted by its ES-B pickup/preamp combo, which comes with a handy onboard tuner – ideal for gigging guitarists.

Best Taylor guitars: Taylor AD17e Blacktop

(Image credit: Taylor )

4. Taylor AD17e Blacktop

Amazing value for a pro-spec guitar

Launch price: $1,699/£1,230 | Type: Grand Pacific round-shouldered dreadnought | Scale length: 25½” | Top: Solid Sitka spruce | Back & sides: Solid ovangkol | Neck: Mahogany | Fingerboard: Eucalyptus | Frets: 20 | Electronics: Taylor Expression System 2 | Left-handed?: No | Finish: Matte black

Offers a pro spec at a competitive price
A great all-rounder
Expression System 2 captures the strengths well 
Blacktop look may not appeal to fans of traditional aesthetics 

While The Everly Brothers and Johnny Cash brought black acoustic finishes to the fore, they’re a rare sight in the Taylor line-up. However, there’s much more to admire with this Grand Pacific dreadnought than stealthy looks. 

The American Dream series is where you’ll find Taylor’s most affordable solid-wood acoustics. Despite its value, though, the AD17e Blacktop offers a professional spec, its V-Class bracing delivering a wonderfully detailed single-note response in the higher frets, along with a strummed character that recalls Gibson’s J-45. 

Add in a deliciously sweet high end, and you have an acoustic guitar that you won’t be able to put down. 

Best Taylor guitars: Taylor GTe Urban Ash

(Image credit: Taylor )

5. Taylor GTe Urban Ash

A new medium

Launch price: $1,599/£1,158 | Type: Reduced-scale Grand Theater | Scale length: 24⅛” | Top: Solid Sitka spruce | Back & sides: Urban Ash | Neck: Tropical mahogany | Fingerboard: Eucalyptus | Frets: 20 | Electronics: Taylor Expression System 2 | Tuners: Taylor Nickel Mini | Left-handed?: No | Finish: Matte

This new scale feels great and could become a preference for many
C-Class bracing offers superb response across the fretboard
An easy player 
A cutaway option would make sense, too

Featuring an adapted version of the V-Class bracing system – called the C-Class – the GTe Urban Ash is a higher-end and larger successor to the GS Mini; a mid-sized acoustic that falls somewhere between that travel guitar and a full-fat Taylor.

The new 24⅛” scale length works very well. Compact but wonderfully playable, it could well become the favorite acoustic guitar size for many who try it. The C-Class bracing means that the compromises of higher fret tonality you often get with smaller acoustics don’t apply here – and it really inspires your playing, with wonderful treble resonance and no hint of dead spots.

Elsewhere, the inclusion of Urban Ash and eucalyptus showcases Taylor’s sustainable approach to guitar building, the scale is akin to playing with a capo on the first fret, while the clear midrange and strong EQ balance offer a compelling combination. 

Read the full Taylor GTe Urban Ash review

Best Taylor guitars: Taylor 512ce 12-Fret

(Image credit: Taylor )

6. Taylor 512ce 12-Fret

The fingerstylist’s dream

Launch price: $2,799/£2,027 | Type: Grand Concert | Scale length: 24⅞” | Top: Red Western cedar | Back & sides: Tropical mahogany | Neck: Tropical mahogany | Fingerboard: West African Crelicam ebony | Frets: 18 | Electronics: Taylor Expression System 2 | Tuners: Taylor Slot Head | Left-handed?: Yes | Finish: Gloss

Dimensions feel great for fingerpicking
Detailed tonality, with good projection for the size
Additional options available 
Pricey

Taylor designed this Grand Concert model, complete with a slotted headstock, for fingerstyle guitar players, and if that’s your preferred style, it’s one of the very best options in the current line. The company also offers a range of special finishes, including Sitka spruce, Tobacco and Honey Sunburst – though you’ll need to pay more for these. 

Even the standard option represents a significant investment, though you’ll be rewarded with an intimate playing experience, thanks to the body size – which sits between parlor and jumbo – and the comfy satin finish neck. 

The tonality feels rich and mature with a volume that will surprise. Single notes have a bell-like resonance and clarity, while chords are articulate and full, with the short-scale feel bringing great satisfaction while fingerpicking.

Best Taylor guitars: Taylor Academy 12e-N

(Image credit: Taylor )

7. Taylor Academy 12e-N

A classical classic

Launch price: $749/£542 | Type: Grand Concert | Scale length: 25½” | Top: Lutz spruce | Back & sides: Sapele laminate | Neck: Mahogany | Fingerboard: West African Crelicam ebony | Frets: 17 | Electronics: Taylor ES-B | Tuners: Classical Nickel | Left-handed?: Yes | Finish: Varnish

Classical tones with steel-string, acoustic-style neck
A friendly experience if you’re new to nylon strings
ES-B does a fine job 
It has a lot of competition in this price range

If you’d like to start playing classical with an excellent foundation guitar, then the 12e-N is hard to beat. Part of the Academy range aimed at providing new players with a positive first experience, its playability is something that all guitarists could benefit from – though it comes in a relatively utilitarian package by Taylor’s standards. 

The Grand Concert shape works beautifully with classical nylon strings, but the neck is narrower than the usual classical fare, making this a good option for those looking to make the transition from an electric or steel-string acoustic. A thin satin varnish helps to enhance the resonance, though it leaves the body more susceptible to knocks.

The open midrange reveals a Latin-style voicing that’s ideal for clear complex chords, and even flamenco when played harder. Taylor ES-B is the company’s entry-level preamp system, but offers a balanced and clear representation of the 12e-N’s acoustic strengths, with a low end that doesn’t require taming.

Best Taylor guitars: Taylor 562ce

(Image credit: Taylor )

8. Taylor 562ce

Shimmer me timbers

Launch price: $2,999/£2,172 | Type: Grand Concert 12-string cutaway | Scale length: 24.8” | Top: Mahogany | Back & sides: Mahogany | Neck: Mahogany | Fingerboard: Ebony | Frets: 18 | Electronics: Taylor Expression System 2 | Left-handed?: Yes | Finish: Shaded Edge Burst

A genuinely fresh take on the 12-string acoustic that sounds fantastic
Smaller body is very comfortable
Classy, understated looks
A significant investment if you only play 12-string occasionally 

Taylor eases the transition to 12-string here, choosing a 12th-fret neck join so that the bridge can sit further back on the guitar’s body for greater resonance. 

Two strings share a peg to keep the bridge compact and the break angle across the saddle consistent. It’s said to help the pairings respond in a more uniform way that benefits tuning and response. 

The 562ce’s lap-friendly Grand Concert body is a treat to hold, while the guitar’s V-Class bracing helps to deliver a harmonic shimmer that’s tonic for the ears. It’s a wonderful, carefully engineered sound by Andy Powers – though it doesn’t come cheap.

Best Taylor guitars: Buying advice

Inside a Taylor guitar showing the V-Class bracing

(Image credit: Taylor )

To further understand why Taylor acoustic guitars are among the very best on the market, let’s home in on some of the company’s unique features:  

V-Class bracing 

Bracing is the name given to an acoustic guitar’s internal framework, and it can have a significant effect on the sound. The manufacture of steel-string guitars has traditionally been dominated by X-shaped bracing, but in 2018 Taylor revealed a new approach called V-Class. Andy Powers’ V-shaped bracing changes the way the guitar top vibrates, resulting in “a more orderly rocking motion across both sides of the top” for greater sustain and notes that are “more in tune with each other”. Taylor’s claims of improved sustain are undeniable to us, with the higher register especially benefiting from sweeter clarity and resonance. 

V-Class bracing has now been introduced to existing Taylor lines in the 300 series and above, as well as new designs. 

Expression System 2 

While many guitar companies use third-party preamps and pickups for their electro-acoustic models, Taylor decided to develop its own. The consistently strong performance of the current Expression System 2 adds to the versatility of its instruments.

Expression System 2 uses three adjustable pickup sensors under the guitar saddle, as opposed to the traditional single piezo sensor. These work together with Taylor’s preamp, offering volume, treble and bass to provide onboard tone-shaping for players.

The ES-B system found on models including the GS Mini-e and the Academy series includes a digital chromatic tuner, but features only tone and volume controls. 

Taylor headstock with stone wall in background

(Image credit: Taylor )

Shapes 

A guitar’s shape and size can make a real difference to its sound and playability. Taylor offers five distinctive shapes that are unique to the company and should be considered as part of any buying decision:

Grand Theater: Taylor’s most compact body shape, this is used for the GTe Urban Ash, the GT 811e and the GT K21e

Grand Concert: Sitting somewhere between the reduced-scale Grand Theater and the Grand Auditorium, this is Taylor’s most compact full-scale body shape, and is ideally suited to fingerstyle

Grand Auditorium: Before the Grand Pacific arrived in 2019, this was Taylor’s main ‘all-rounder’ body shape 

Grand Pacific: Taylor’s take on a traditional round-shouldered dreadnought, the Grand Pacific’s balanced tone is ideal for strumming  

Grand Symphony: This shape now includes a soundport cutaway, while its curves are the basis for the reduced-sized GS Mini

Grand Orchestra: Taylor’s largest body shape, the Grand Orchestra lends itself to low-end response and louder volume  

Sustainability 

Taylor is a wise choice for those who are concerned about the impact their guitar purchases have on the environment. The manufacturer is committed to sourcing sustainable tonewoods, and in 2011 became the joint owner of the Ebony Project, a scalable replanting initiative in Cameroon, Africa, that provides employment for an entire community. 

More recently, Taylor formed a partnership with West Coast Arborists Inc., a tree maintenance and management service based in California. The collaboration sees the guitar manufacturer recycling wood from ash trees that have been felled in urban Californian areas due to age, safety and other factors.

Rob is the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before that he worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar, and is a regular contributor to Guitar Player and Guitar World.