Taylor has a made a name for themselves in the acoustic guitar industry based off of innovative craftsmanship, impeccable quality control, and signature sound. The Taylor SolidBody didn't earn the highest marks, but the innovation and possibility of the guitar is to be appreciated.
UG Team, on december 02, 2011 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Price paid: $ 1399
Purchased from: SGCNation.com
Taylor has a made a name for themselves in the acoustic guitar industry based off of innovative craftsmanship, impeccable quality control, and signature sound. They've recently thrown their hat into the ring of the solid body electric guitar world and have taken aim at Fender, Gibson, and PRS by setting out to make a versatile, highly customizable, and player-friendly alternative. Keep in mind, this review is geared towards the high-gain pickup version of the Taylor SB2-S, and not necessarily the SolidBody lineup as a whole. Let's see how it stacks up.
The most interesting feature here is the ability to swap out loaded pickguards. Loaded pickguards are nothing new, but they've simplified the process by using solder-less connections. All you need is a screwdriver and you can swap the high-gain pickup out for single coils, mini-humbuckers or a few different configurations. You can see a video of how it's done here. This is a bit of a bold move here because it handcuffs the instrument into using proprietary pickups only. It's a really great feature, as long as you're into what they have to offer. A lot of players will see this as a turnoff because it effectively eliminates the use of traditional high-end or boutique options. This would surely put a frown on Jason Lollar's face, that is, if it were possible to see through his crazy hill-person beard.
Another innovative feature is the aluminum bridge. Each string has it's own saddle and can be locked into place. It's also been ergonomically designed to rest your pick-hand on and I've found it to feel pretty natural. The controls are also versatile. Check out the video for a breakdown of the 5-way selector switch. The tone knob is more than meets the eye as well. The first two-thirds act as a traditional tone knob, but the last third adds a mid-range frequency peak. Unfortunately, the knobs are unmarked so you kind of have to guess where the two-thirds top out before activating the mid peak.
Strangely, it doesn't come with a hardshell case, unlike almost every other guitar from any manufacturer in this price range. That's only true for this specific, double cutaway body-style, however, the single cuts all come with a really nice case, but the double-cutaway isn't any less expensive to reflect this. The only word I can think of for this is "injustice". // 7
Sound: Make sure to check out the video to get some actual audio examples of the sound. It should also be noted that it ships with stock Elixir nanoweb electric .10's, which have a pretty distinct sound themselves. Personally, I was a little disappointed in the variety of sound. To me, every position shares a common tonality, and they all seemed a little too bright (spanky maybe?) for a high-gain humbucker. Position 3 ended up sounding the best to my taste, and what cannot be argued is the articulation exhibited. I realize they're high-gain pickups, but even with the volume rolled back and the tone down a bit, it was hard to get a good, clean tone. // 7
Action, Fit & Finish: Another thing Taylor is known for is the quality and playability of their setup from the factory. The neck feels really great and it's easy to get around. If you've never played a set of electric Elixir strings, you'll probably notice they're very slick. I thought the action was a bit low and there was a surprising amount of buzzing throughout the low E-string. It can be easily adjusted, and with the aluminum bridge, you can lock in your intonation once you get it right, definitely one of the big selling points.
Out of all the manufacturers, Taylor probably stands above them all with the quality and consistency of their finish, acoustic or otherwise, and this guitar is no different.
My biggest concern with the playability of the instrument is the high E-string. Between the outward slop of the shaved frets and the groove's position dangerously close to the outside edge of the bone nut, it's way too easy to slide the high E-string of off the fretboard anytime you try to add vibrato. // 7
Reliability & Durability: Putting this guitar through the motions, you really do get a sense of the quality of the components. The chrome hardware is top-notch and the tuners especially leave a good impression. I have no doubt that this would be a reliable and durable instrument for years to come BUT IT DOESN'T COME WITH A HARDSHELL CASE! I've never even heard of a guitar that lists for over $2500 that comes with a gig bag. Granted, it's the nicest gigbag this side of the Mayer inCase, but come on. // 7
Overall Impression: The Taylor SolidBody didn't earn the highest marks, but the innovation and possibility of the guitar is to be appreciated. You have quite a few options when it comes to sound with the variety of loaded pickguards Taylor offers, but we're grading it on what it is and not what it has the chance to be. The locking aluminum bridge alone is a worthy innovation that will be around for awhile. While Fender and Gibson may not be too worried right now, the quality and forward-thinking of a great American company is a welcome addition to the world of electric guitars. // 7