The quick guide to finding the Taylor guitar that's right for you
At Moore Music, we love helping players find the right guitar for their needs. That’s why we have this guide. As you explore different model options in the Taylor guitar line, here are a couple of thoughts to keep in mind.
Choosing a guitar is a subjective process.
While our advice is meant to help you in your search, everyone’s relationship with a guitar is unique. The connection we make is part visual, part tactile, and part sonic, and we each hear and respond to sound in unique ways. Finding the “right” guitar is a courtship of sorts. You might find your match after weeks of test-driving or in one glorious strum. However it happens, take your time, have fun, and trust your feelings. If you do, the right guitar has a way of finding you.
Taylor guitars are more alike than different.
Although this guide will help differentiate between models in the Taylor line — based on the pairing of different body shapes and tonewoods — all Taylor guitars share an underlying family resemblance when it comes to the fundamental qualities of a great guitar: they stay in tune, the necks are comfortable to play, and the tone is clear and balanced. Although your search might boil down to specific details, the bottom line is that with any Taylor model, you can always count on an enjoyable all-around playing experience.
The Taylor Difference
5 things that set Taylor experience apart
Taylor’s world-class factory has reset the standard for modern-day precision craftsmanship to create the best possible playing experience. Their blend of proprietary production technology with impeccable attention to detail has led to unparalleled consistency in the build quality of their guitars.
Taylor guitar necks are widely considered the most playable in the industry, thanks to their patented design and sleek, comfortable neck profile. The Taylor neck assembly process allows them to precisely control every neck angle’s accuracy to .002 inch and makes it easy to make micro-adjustments if necessary. No other acoustic guitar company can match their ability to consistently set a neck for an optimal playing experience.
Taylor guitars are known for having clear, balanced voice across the tonal spectrum. Their manufacturing precision has also allowed them to push the envelope with tone-enhancing design ideas and materials to give players an inspiring array of tonal flavors and a more musically rich playing experience.
Service & Support
Our commitment to a great customer experience includes personalized customer service wherever you may be along your guitar-playing journey, whether you need help choosing a guitar or taking care of it. From our friendly and knowledgeable staff to our network of repair technicians, we want to provide you with a lifetime of great Taylor service.
Taylor’s commitment to safeguarding the future of the natural resources they use has led to many pioneering 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 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.
Finding Your Fit
How to choose a Taylor that’s right for you
With a broad range of Taylor options to choose from, an inspiring guitar is within reach of every type of player. Here are two basic ways to think about finding a guitar that “fits” you:
Physical Fit: A guitar should be physically comfortable to hold and play.
Musical Fit: A guitar’s sonic attributes should complement your playing style.
Balancing the Tone Equation Here’s a simple “tone equation” we use to help people find the right guitar. It highlights the three main ingredients that contribute to a guitar’s tonal personality:
Step 1: Player Profile
The more you know about your needs and preferences as a player the better. If you’re a beginner and don’t have a defined playing style, that’s OK. Think about your musical interests and goals and what you want out of a guitar. Here are some questions to help you.
1. Will you be strumming, flatpicking, fingerpicking? A mix?
This will help you decide whether you need a versatile performer or a guitar that suits a more specialized function. If you’re a novice and don’t have a clearly defined playing style, leaning toward versatility will give you the most latitude to explore different techniques and musical genres. But if you already own one or more guitars or have a specific musical application in mind, you can be more focused in your search.
2. Where will you be playing the guitar?
If you’re looking for a couch strummer or portable option, you might want something that’s smaller and more physically comfortable. If you’ll be playing somewhere that demands a good amount of natural volume and projection without having to plug in the guitar, you’ll likely benefit from a bigger body. If you plant to play live gigs, worship services, or open mic nights, you’ll want a guitar with a pickup.
3. Do you have a light, medium or heavy attack, and how dynamic a range do you want?
This will help you choose the right body style to accommodate the amount of energy you’ll be applying to the guitar. If you’re a strong strummer and play a smaller guitar, you’re more likely to overdrive the top.
4. What styles(s) of music do you want to play?
A bluegrass picker might want a bigger body like a Dreadnought or a Grand Orchestra for maximum volume and projection, while a country fingerpicker might want something smaller like a Grand Concert or Grand Auditorium. An acoustic rocker who wants to strum rich open chords might prefer a medium-size guitar like a Grand Symphony or a big Grand Orchestra.
5. Are there certain tonal properties you have in mind, such as volume, richness, low-end response, warmth, etc.?
If so, this will help steer you toward an appropriate shape/tonewood pairing. Rosewood has a deep low end and high end with a rich overtones. Mahogany yields a focused midrange presence. Our new maple guitars are rich and responsive. A cedar top produces warmth that really shines with fingerstyle playing. If you don’t really know what you want, that’s OK. Just sample some different wood options and pay attention to what connects with you.
6. Will you be playing more often by yourself or with other players/instruments?
If you’ll be playing by yourself, you might want a guitar that provides a broader sonic palette to give yourself a wider range of tonal colors to explore. If you’ll be playing with others, you might want a guitar with a smaller sonic footprint in order to be heard more clearly in the instrument mix.
7. Will you be singing with your guitar?
If so, you’ll want your guitar’s tonal personality to complement your voice. You might consider visiting a Moore Music 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 you’re more of an instrumental player, does the guitar offer a pleasing tonal palette for you to express yourself?
8. Do you plan to play chords or solos higher up the neck (toward the body)?
If so, a cutaway model is probably a good option.
9. Do you plan to do any live performing or recording?
If you want to plug in, you should choose a guitar with an onboard pickup. If you plan to record, think about the instrument mix that might be involved. If there will be multiple tracks, you might lean toward a smaller body guitar, since it will tend to take up less sonic space in the mix. If you plan to play solo acoustic guitar, maybe you want a bigger, more luxurious voice to explore.
Choosing a body shape
Step 2: Body Shape
Taylor offers five full-size body shapes that range from small and intimate to big and powerful. Each body’s unique dimensions help define its fundamental voice. In general, a smaller-size guitar will yield a more controlled voice, often with a bit more upper-end chime, while a bigger size translates into a louder voice, often with more low-end depth. As you sample different body styles, consider how each guitar’s physical dimensions feel against your body when you hold it. If you play sitting down, how does the guitar feel with your picking arm draped over the lower bout? Consider how the curves, the waist, and the body depth fit you when you play. Chances are, the more comfortable you feel, the more naturally you’ll play
Grand Concert (GC)
(Models end in a 2; e.g., 812)
• Articulate voice with top-end chime
and controlled overtones
• Intimate size is lap/couch friendly
• 24-7/8-inch scale length neck reduces
string tension for a slinkier feel
• Fits well in a mix with other instruments
Good Fit For:
• Fingerstyle players and light strummers
• Players who find small bodies more
• People with small hands, hand ailments,
and others looking to reduce stress on
their fretting hand
• Recording applications
Grand Auditorium (GA)
(Models end in a 4; e.g., 814)
• Taylor’s most popular and versatile
• Balanced blend of warmth, clarity
• Well-defined midrange
• Responds well to many music styles
Good Fit For:
• Novices and generalists who want a
• Recording and live performance
• Singer-songwriters and musicians
fronting a band
• Almost anyone other than aggressive
Grand Symphony (GS)
(Models end in a 6; e.g., 816)
• Slightly bigger than the Grand
Auditorium with more tonal output
• Very dynamic: rich, powerful voice
that also responds to a light touch
• Piano-like bass, meaty midrange,
strong treble shimmer
Good Fit For:
• Dynamic strummers and pickers
• People who crave more tonal horse-
power than the Grand Auditorium
• Gigging singer-songwriters looking
for a deep and rich tonal palette
• 12-string players (many Taylor 12-string
models feature the GS shape)
(Models end in a 0; e.g., 810)
• Taylor’s refined take on a traditional
shape and sound
• Wider waist causes the body to sit
higher in the player’s lap
• A robust “modern vintage” voice
• Low-end power, snappy mids
Good Fit For:
• Traditional flatpickers and
strummers with a strong attack
• People who crave the traditional
look and feel of a wider-waist guitar
• Pickers and strummers who want a
strong low end and throaty midrange
• Bluegrass music
Grand Orchestra (GO)
(Models end in an 8; e.g., 818)
• Taylor’s biggest, deepest body shape
• Taylor’s richest, most complex voice
• Incredibly balanced for a big-bodied
• Specially braced to also respond to a
Good Fit For:
• Players who want the richest, most
powerful acoustic voice
• Players who like a voluptuous, Jumbo-
• Solo performers looking for an
expansive palette of sonic colors
Body Shapes Relative to the Grand Auditorium (GA)
Step 3: Tonewoods
A guitar’s tonewoods supply the core ingredients that help flavor its sound. But other nuanced techniques of a guitar maker (like internal bracing) also help season it. That’s one reason why trying to describe the tonal properties of woods can be limiting. Another reason is you the player. Your playing style, the type of pick you use, and the brand and gauge of strings you choose are among the other factors that influence the sound of a guitar. Try this: Find the Taylor body shape that you like best, and then play different models with that same shape but different woods. Pay attention to whichever one inspires you the most, whether you can explain why or you just feel it. And if the visual aesthetic of the wood is part of the inspiration, embrace it.
These claim a rich heritage in the guitar world
Models: 400, 700, 800, 800 DLX, 900 Series
• Sweeping frequency range has made
it one of the most popular tonewoods
• Deep lows assert a throaty growl,
sparkling highs ring out with bell-like,
• Slightly scooped midrange
• Full-range acoustic voice with
complex overtones and extended
• Yields the strongest bass response
among the tonewoods commonly
used for guitars
Models: 600 Series
• Revered in the bowed instrument
world for centuries for its linear,
transparent response; very reflective
of the player
• Traditionally known in the guitar world
for having a bright, focused tone,
quick attack, and fast note decay
• Revoiced for the 600 Series in 2015
to yield greater warmth, complexity,
volume, sustain and responsiveness,
while retaining maple’s naturally clear,
Models: 500 Series
• Known for a meaty midrange featuring
a strong fundamental focus without
adding a lot of ringing overtones
• Responds well to players with a
strong attack who like dry, earthy,
low-fi sounds; natural compression
creates a volume ceiling that
smoothes out loose right hand
• Clear and direct tonal character
makes it a great option for
playing with other instruments
Admired for striking looks and their musical properties
Models: Koa Series
• Fairly dense tropical hardwood with a strong
midrange focus similar to mahogany, with a bit of
extra top-end brightness and chime
• The more a koa guitar is played and has a chance
to open up — especially an all-koa guitar — the more
its midrange overtones add a sense of warmth and
sweetness to its voice
Models: Presentation Series
• Dense hardwood produces a clear, focused sound with
good projection and volume
• Strong bass and lower mids, clear highs, and a scooped
midrange like rosewood
• Rich overtones complement slower, softer playing
• Also responds well to aggressive playing
• It can sound bright or dark, depending on the technique
of the player or pick choice
THE MODERN ALTERNATIVES
Lesser known tonewoods but with familiar tone profiles
Models: 400 Series
• An African relative of rosewood
that shares many of rosewood’s
tonal properties, including a wide
spectrum from lows to highs
• Slightly fuller midrange than rose-
wood and a bright treble response
• Bass response adds a pleasing
depth to the overall tone
Models: 300 Series (with spruce tops)
• Comparable to mahogany but with
a slightly brighter sound featuring
more top-end shimmer
• Consistent and balanced output
across the tonal spectrum
• Responds well to a variety of
playing styles and fits nicely into
an instrument mix
Models: 300 Series (with mahogany tops)
• Strong volume and midrange focus —
dry and clear yet warm, like mahogany
• Top-end shimmer and richness similar
• Its all-around musicality suits a variety
of body sizes and playing styles
Layered Wood Options
All-wood laminates blend affordability and durability
Models: 100/200/200 Deluxe Series, Academy Series, GS Mini, Baby Taylor
Crafting guitars with backs and sides of layered, or laminated, woods allows Taylor to conserve tonewood resources (a veneer log will produce eight times the yield of a log that’s sawn for solidwood guitar sets) and offer players a resilient, affordable and great-sounding instrument.
Their construction features three layers of wood: a middle core of poplar with a veneer on each side. The process allows Taylor 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. Taylor’s layered wood options include layered sapele, rosewood, koa and walnut. All layered wood Taylor guitars feature a solid-wood soundboard, which means the sound of the guitar will improve as it ages.
Taylor electronics serve up reliable amplified acoustic tone
Years ago, Taylor's passion for great acoustic tone led them into the realm of pickup design. With more players wanting the option to plug in, quality amplified acoustic tone became an important extension of a guitar’s voice, so they pushed the envelope to develop their own onboard pickup system to capture the natural tonal nuances of both Taylor guitars and players. For working musicians especially, having a reliable pickup is an essential part of their livelihood, and they wanted to offer something that was worthy of the highest caliber working pros around.
The Expression System® 2
Taylor's latest pickup design, the patented Expression System 2
(ES2), brings a major advancement in piezo pickup technology
by capturing more of a guitar’s dynamic properties thanks to an
innovative behind-the-saddle design. The ES2 is now a standard
feature on most of their steel-string acoustic/electric models.
Whenever you’re ready to plug in, you can count on your Taylor
pickup to help you sound your best.
Now, find your Taylor.
Once you’ve chosen a shape and tonewood pairing that interests you, you’re ready for a test-drive! The chart below offers a good starting point for identifying specific Taylor models featuring an all-solid-wood construction within the Taylor line. Wood pairings are organized by series, with each series featuring a unique package of appointments such as inlays, binding, and other aesthetic details. Models that have a cutaway will include a “c” in the name, and those that come with acoustic electronics will have an “e” on the end (e.g., 814ce). You’ll find a comprehensive list of Taylor models at taylorguitars.com.
Taylor Guitars was founded in 1974 in Lemon Grove, California, by Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug. Thanks to Taylor’s pioneering use of modern tools and technology to refine the guitar-making process, the company has set new quality standards for playability and tone and established Taylor as the industry’s leading acoustic guitar manufacturer. They’re headquartered in El Cajon, California (in San Diego’s East County). They offer a guided factory tour weekdays at 1 p.m. and invite you to come experience our operation firsthand. For directions and other details, visit taylorguitars.com.