I normally lean towards badass, sometimes pointy electric guitars.
So imagine the looks on my guitar friends’ faces when I declared that Taylor Swift’s signature model was one of the best guitars I’d ever played in my life.
I first tried this model in a guitar store: my friend was trying something else; I grabbed this guitar because it was nearest and “Hah! Taylor Swift!” I didn’t know any of her songs, just what I picked up from entertainment headlines, which focused on country, blonde, fashion and Kanye West. None of that sets the scene for a good guitar!
I’m excited to share why I fell in love with this guitar so much.
Looking through the specs of this guitar, there’s nothing actually too exciting. It’s all a completely standard affair.
Apart from one thing: the ebony fingerboard. That’s a big surprise on a guitar at this price, but I’m certainly not complaining!
|What body style is it?||¾ – what Taylor term their Baby range|
|What top wood does it use?||Sitka spruce|
|What body wood does it use?||Layered sapele|
|What wood is used for the fingerboard?||Ebony|
|How many frets does it have?||19|
|Does it have electronics?||An electro-acoustic version is available with Taylor’s own ES-B pickup/preamp, which has a built-in tuner|
|Dexterity?||You can get it right or left-handed|
I find in the past maybe five to seven years, brands who make guitars, and guitar-related gear, are getting reluctant to say where their guitars have been manufactured. Perhaps they don’t want consumers to judge their instruments based on country of manufacture?
Anyway, Taylor make their Baby Taylors south of the border in Mexico, and that’s something that will drive down the costs of a guitar. It’s interesting to note that the regular Baby Taylor, that doesn’t have Taylor Swift written on it is the same price. That’s very unusual – normally celebrity names add $100 or so to a guitar’s price.
With this in mind, you can guarantee that with costs this low, they’re not going to be using the best of the wood they can get: they’re looking to sell an OK guitar because of the name on it, rather than seasoned purists. The best wood will go on the US-made models they can can charge $3,000+ for.
Apart from the electronics on the electric version of the instrument, the rest of the parts are unbranded.
I’m intrigued by the neck joint: there are two little screws visible on the 16th fret. I’ve never seen that before, and can’t work out if it’s a design compromise to keep costs down, or a design feature that’s necessary for a smaller bodied guitar.
The aforementioned screws on the fingerboard bothered me like no other design feature on a guitar ever has.
I couldn’t find a definitive answer, but from what I can make out, it’s a Taylor Guitars thing, essentially to apply the principles of a bolt-on neck to acoustic guitars. The screws will go through the fingerboard, through the body and into the neck. That all sounds secure, and like it will be a great deal cheaper for the guitar manufacturing process than more traditional methods.
It sounds barbaric, and just a thing you’d never do, but unless you were looking closely, they’re so tidily finished, you wouldn’t even know they were there. Also, given the likely audience for this, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll notice, or care, or even know that it’s weird.
Looking at the reverse side of the joint, it looks cleanly finished, with no blemishes or glue residue.
The finish of the guitar is also worth mentioning. Rather than the shiney lacquer that you might be more accustomed to if you look at a lot of guitars, this Baby Taylor has been finished with some simple varnish. Obviously, this is a much cheaper alternative, but I really like it. It lends a rustic, understated feel to the aesthetic of the instrument.
It’s hard to get too elaborate about the tones of an acoustic guitar. It will either do it, or it won’t, unlike for example a Strat with an infinite number of tonal possibilities!
I’ll get straight to it and state that I love this acoustic guitar’s single tone.
Being more specific, it got a sweetness and a brightness that I love. I don’t know if that’s a tone that was specifically engineered for the instrument, given the artist name on it and the target market, or if that just happened.
I do appreciate that for some, it might be a bit too sweet and bright. It certainly doesn’t have bass-heavy sounds.
I did a little bit of recording with it. I played the exact same parts on this, and on an Epiphone Hummingbird, then panned one wide right, and the other wide left, and I swear it’s my favorite acoustic guitar sound I’ve ever recorded.
So if the brightness is overbearing, using it to compliment a more mellow-sounding instrument, for me, is one of the best ways to get a lot out of it.
Given its relatively diminutive size, it’s definitely not a loud instrument. If you’re into giving acoustic guitars a good thrashing, you’ll still be able to sing comfortably over it. It also makes it a good guitar to have around the house for casual strumming, without worrying too much about bothering roommates, neighbours, or significant others.
A key part of the playability of this guitar is how fun it is to play, and I feel like that’s due to a combination of features.
Other acoustic guitars might have a fuller, more rounded tone, especially full-size dreadnoughts, but they’re not always as fun.
Given that this guitar is likely aimed at young guitarists, inspired by Ms. Swift to take up a guitar for the first time, you want it to be as fun as possible, so they enjoy the experience, and keep playing.
There are plenty of reasons for more seasoned guitarists to enjoy it too. Firstly, the cost is much lower than most professional, or even intermediate instruments, so you’ll be less precious with it. It has a nice low action, and obviously a smaller body, so it does feel a bit like a toy.
The sound is light and bright. It’s not as… intense maybe, as other instruments? It’s a chilled out sound that you can’t take too seriously, and if you do, you’ve completely missed the point of this instrument.
I defy anybody who tries this guitar to not want to keep going back to it.
I’m not the only one raving about Taylor Swift’s signature model. Some band in Birmingham in the UK were so passionate about the guitar, they wrote a song about it!
Regardless of whether you’re Taylor Swift fan, this is a very cool instrument. It’s ¾ size, so doesn’t take up much room, making it ideal for bringing to gigs, houses, recording sessions, whatever.
It also means it won’t take up much room as your living room guitar – you know that guitar you have to have out of its case so you can just pick it up as you feel like it!