The word “affordable” may not immediately come to mind when thinking about Taylor dreadnoughts—especially 12-string models—but not only does the new 150e drop into the sub-$700 category, it is the lowest-priced 12-string acoustic made in the lower 48. This full-sized flat-top features laminated sapele (a wood similar to mahogany) for the sides and back, and a solid Sitka spruce top that is braced in Taylor’s 100-series 12-string pattern. To enhance resonance, the woods are given a thin varnish finish that has a nice satin sheen. Cosmetics consist of pearl dots on the ebony fretboard; black binding on the top, back, and neck; a multi-ring rosette; and an overlay of Indian rosewood on the headstock.
Amazingly at this price level, you also get Taylor’s original Expression System electronics, which incorporates a preamp with Volume, Bass, and Treble controls, along with a pickup in the neck and a body sensor on the lower bout. Developed to produce a warmer and more open amplified sound than is possible with under-saddle piezo pickups, the Expression System is a welcome feature on a guitar like the 150e, which is designed especially for working players who need to be able to get consistent sound in any performance environment. The system, which also has good resistance to feedback, is powered by a 9-volt battery that’s gripped in a convenient holder beneath the endpin jack. A strap button is also installed on the neck’s heel.
This isn’t the first go-round we’ve had with Expression System-equipped Taylors, so it was not surprising that the 150e sounded sweet and natural though the various P.A. systems and Fishman amps we tested it with. Of course, a lot of this is due to the 150e’s excellent acoustic tone, which is rich and shimmering with deep bottom, nice midrange complexity, and bright, clear highs. This is one of the most enjoyable 12s we’ve played in some time, and thanks to its slim neck, great setup, and tuneful intonation, the net result is a very satisfying experience in unplugged situations. The 150e’s dynamic responsiveness provides the abundant volume you expect from a dreadnought, as well as impressive sustain even when strummed very lightly. The Elixir 80/20 phosphor bronze strings make for easy fingering, and once pulled to pitch with the smooth die-cast tuners, they stayed in tune quite well—always a boon with a 12-string!
Anyone wanting to add some 12-string magic to their sound should check out what this high-quality, U.S.-made guitar has to offer—and that especially applies to electric players, who will appreciate the familiar playing feel that the 150e’s neck affords. Add it all up, and this new Taylor easily nabs an Editors’ Pick Award.
PRICE $699 street, padded bag included
NUT WIDTH 1.68"
NECK Sapele with adjustable neck joint
FRETBOARD Ebony, 25.5" scale, 12.5" radius
TUNERS Die-cast mini
BODY Laminated sapele sides and back, solid Sitka spruce top
BRIDGE Ebony with Tusq saddle
ELECTRONICS Taylor Expression System preamp with neck and body sensors
CONTROLS Volume, Treble, Bass
FACTORY STRINGS Elixir 80/20 Lights
WEIGHT 5.4 lbs
KUDOS Excellent acoustic and amplified tones. Superb playability.