Taylor guitars are relatively new kids on the block in terms of guitar manufacture. They were established in 1974 when Bob Taylor and two other employees bought the guitar manufacturing shop they were working in. Humble beginnings but decent quality instruments began to roll off the production line, and people began to take notice.
They now have two centers for manufacture — one in California and the other not far over the border in Mexico. The latter handles the manufacture of the cheaper models and the guitar cases. They also have a warehouse for distribution to Europe in Holland, which was opened in 2011.
The guitar featured in this Taylor 110e review is made at the Taylor factory in Tecate, Mexico.
They have been honored for their environmentally-friendly efforts to sustain the wood they use in the manufacture of their guitars. Well done to them.
The Taylor 110e is just one of an extensive range of guitars they produce. As a manufacturer, they now form part of a hextuple of great major acoustic guitar manufacturers, which also includes Martin, Gibson, Guild, Takamine, and Yamaha. Martin is probably considered top of the list, but some would argue Taylor is only just behind.
Quite a result for a company that gave the others quite a few years of a head start. Martin tends to make guitars with a more traditional sound whilst Taylor has a modern edge to them. Some prefer that, some don’t.
So, let’s learn a little about the 110e…
Taylor 110e – Overview
This is not one of the top of the range Taylor guitars by any means. And has been designed to make a Taylor Dreadnought that is within reach of the large number of people who are unwilling to pay for the more expensive models.
It gives a great guitar playing experience. Not only to experienced musicians but also to those just beginning their musical journey. I would confidently argue there are not many better places to start than with this instrument.
Practical and versatile…
The Dreadnought design is one of the most common and traditional guitar shapes. Taylor has tweaked the shape and the tonewoods to produce a very powerful bottom end and a crisp mid-range. It carries the now well-known Taylor neck profile.
It is also suitable for a range of styles, from strumming to picking or someone that likes to pound out a full rhythm.
So, let’s take a closer look…
As mentioned, this is a traditional Dreadnought design with no cutaway. It has a solid Sitka Spruce top with layered, or in other words laminated, Walnut back and sides. Many might raise an eyebrow at a guitar like this having laminated wood. For the back and sides, it is acceptable and certainly makes it a little more ‘roadworthy’.
Layered or laminated woods are less likely to react to changes in temperature or the humidity of changing conditions. This makes them less likely to react badly if you travel with them. As long as it assists in delivering a delicious sound, then all is well. The Walnut layers used in the manufacture of this guitar certainly do that.
A fuller voice…
It is the top though, that is the focal point. That is the primary source of the end product, the Sound. And Sitka Spruce is possibly the most used top wood today. There are reasons for this. It is quite stiff but still provides some flexibility to allow for the necessary vibrations. And when you use a solid piece of Spruce, you are going to get a very broad, dynamic range.
Internally there is a Taylor Forward shift pattern bracing system. This bracing is a Taylor design and affects the way the top wood vibrates, giving it a much fuller voice. It is an X-bracing scalloped system adding a warmth to the depth and crispness to the highs.
The beauty of real wood…
The body is finished with a Satin 2.0 varnish that allows the natural wood to shine through. It has a nice gentle edging all around the body and a decorative design for the soundhole. There is a black pickguard to complete what is an impressive look.
The body is a good size, measuring 20 inches in length and just under five inches in depth. It is 16 inches wide. This may mean it might not suit a very young or small size player.
The neck is made from Maple and the fingerboard from African Ebony, both good quality materials. It has a scale length of 25.5 inches and 20 frets. Only 14 frets are easily playable because of the lack of a cutaway.
It has a bolt-on neck, which is unusual for acoustic guitars, as usually, they are glued.
Setting the standard…
The Taylor Standard profile neck was introduced in 1999 and has been a standard feature on all Taylor guitars since 2001. The idea behind its construction was to build a more stable and straighter neck than was currently in operation. One advantage of it is that you can easily unbolt the neck and take it off if you have to.
It has simple and unobtrusive inlay dot markers, and the polished Maple finish provides a very attractive contrast in natural wood colors to the Walnut backed body.
We all know the quality of the Taylor neck, and this is a good example. Certainly an asset to this guitar.
Up at the top, we have a well-crafted and attractive headstock that has an Indian Rosewood overlay — again matching the natural color of the Maple to form a nice design. The Taylor logo is, of course, prominent.
There are die-cast chrome plated machine heads that are of a decent quality with a good ratio that keeps the guitar in tune. They are set in a three by two pattern and have chrome plated buttons.
The nut is made from Tusq. Tusq has become a recognized and accepted alternative to a bone nut at some levels. It is a polymer but is treated at high pressure. This helps it to transfer the string vibrations accurately because it is naturally a very hard material. The nut width is 1.69 inches, which is a nice width for both starters and experienced musicians alike.
Down the body, there is a bridge made from African Ebony with a Micarta saddle. Micarta itself is a substance created from a variety of other materials that are known to be hard and long-lasting. It, therefore, eliminates any potential ‘string buzz’ at the bridge position.
No cutting of corners…
The hardware, often an area where cutbacks are made, is very good. But then you wouldn’t expect Taylor guitars to focus on money-saving cutbacks for the sake of it.
Taylor has installed their own Expression 2 pick and preamp system within this guitar. Its design means that the pickup is placed behind the saddle. It has three piezoelectric sensors that have individual calibrations. These are designed to respond to the natural energy of the string vibrations that are being transferred through the saddle.
This operates with the specially designed Taylor preamp to produce a natural sound. But it also provides exceptional dynamic range, whether you are strumming or finger-picking. It is an impressive sound plugged in, which is not always the case with acoustic-electric guitars, as we all know. There is a basic single band EQ control, but unfortunately no built-in tuner.
Sorry, but I don’t get that…
That, for me, is quite surprising. I am not sure of the thinking behind that as they are a near necessity these days. There is also no filter for any potential feedback.
How does it Play and Sound?
This is a guitar that you are only going to really appreciate when you actually play it. It has that feeling of good design that is hard to describe. It just feels right when you pick it up.
Comfortable and playable…
The body, of course, being Dreadnought, will take some getting used to, especially if you are not familiar with them because of the size. They are quite bulky, and for complete beginners of a young age, maybe it is not ideal. But once a starter or experienced player gets to grips with it, they are going to be convinced.
The neck also adds to that feeling of ease. It is a nice comfortable contour and not too deep. But it is also not slimline enough to make it feel like an electric solid-body as some acoustics these days do. The nut is a good width, so barre chords are made easier. And the strength of the design of the neck and associated hardware means there is a lack of any string buzz.
Allowing the guitar to breathe…
Whilst it plays very nicely, it is the sound you expect to hear from a Taylor guitar, and it doesn’t let you down. For a long time, manufacturers thought placing their pickups under the saddle was the ideal place. But the strength of the strings holding the bridge down is going to restrict any movement and vibration. This is why some acoustic-electric guitars sound very thin.
This was especially the case, the harder you hit the strings. The bridge is inhibited in its movement, which affects the vibration of the top and hence the sound. On this guitar, the pickup is placed behind the saddle allowing it to ‘breathe’ a little. It gives off its motions through the vibrations. The result is a much warmer sound.
A little more gain…
The new ES2 pickup and preamp system has its volume and tone control, but it has a different gain structure. It will, therefore, be a little louder than previous Taylor versions. It was often mentioned by experienced musicians that it was a little quiet. Problem solved.
But while we are singing the praises of its electrical systems, let’s not forget that this is a Taylor guitar. Therefore the sound unplugged is going to be very good. And so it is. Warm and rich, with attractive mids and a bright top, it has outstanding sound and projection.
Taylor 110e Review – Pros and Cons
- >Solid Sitka spruce top.
- >Bright sound with impressive sustain.
- Narrow nut width makes barring chords easier.
- Unique pickup design captures every nuance of your playing.
- Solid top, but the back and sides are laminate.
- Tone isn’t as rich or complex as more expensive Taylors.
Also see: Washburn WCG25CE Acoustic Guitar Review
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You may well also need a set of the Best Acoustic Guitar Strings currently available as well.
Taylor 110e Review – What We Think
There are some people that prefer Taylor to Martin. I know someone personally who thinks the Taylor they use is better than a D-35. It is all personal opinion, of course.
It is very hard to make a comparison, and that isn’t the purpose of this review. But comparisons are bound to be made by potential buyers. If I am honest, it doesn’t carry quite as much bottom end as a Martin equivalent. But the top and mids seem to be more pronounced. The sound system seems to be better, probably courtesy of where the pickup is placed, and it plays beautifully.
At its price point, it is an excellent guitar…
So let’s forget comparison and just ask, is it good? The answer to that is extremely good. Lovely rich sound, great look, and sounds nice amplified. It is not hard to say this is a great guitar. Anyone looking for a classy, affordable Dreadnought should take a look. And the best thing of all is the price. A brilliant price point, as I said for such a quality instrument.
But if you do go and try one out take your credit card or checkbook with you. It saves going back to buy it and finding that someone else has already bought it.
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