Taylor Guitars is one of America’s premier guitar makers. Their guitars stand shoulder to shoulder with Martin, Gibson, Larrivee, and other great North American guitar manufacturers. They are known for their quality of build and playability. I have owned three Taylor guitars, but have sold all three. I bought them all for their playability. I sold them all due to tone. To me they all were “strident”, and this tone quality always put me off from them. They were set aside, all to be sold to a guitarist who loved that well known “modern Taylor tone.”
I follow the guitar industry. I strive to keep abreast of what is new, and who is doing what. What are the innovations? What are the new models? Of course, Taylor came out with its “V-Class” bracing in 2018. Bracing — you might as well try to discuss particle physics with me (and I’d probably appreciate particle physics more than bracing). “Big deal!” I thought of this innovation. Then, this year (2019) came the new Taylor news — a new type of dreadnought guitar with V-class bracing that offered a completely new Taylor tone. Okay, I might be interested, but I doubted it.
In mid-April I made another trip to Tacoma’s Ted Brown Music. In the store’s properly humidified acoustic guitar room, there is a wall of Taylor guitars. In a corner hung a Taylor Grand Pacific 317e. Okay, I’ll bite. I sought to compare it to a Yamaha A5R dreadnought, and my own Faith Legacy Mars dreadnought which I happened to have with me. I compared the Grand Pacific to a Grand Auditorium 414ce, then a Grand Orchestra model. Was there a difference in tone with the Grand Pacific? An emphatic “Yes,” was stated. I have become a fan of Yamaha’s A5 series guitars. They are very playable with great clear tone and fantastic electronics. The Grand Pacific was equally playable, and its electronics, when played through a Fishman Loud Box Mini Charge (by the way, a fantastic acoustic amp!), was equal to the Yamaha system. The 317e was then compared to my beloved Faith Legacy Mars drop shoulder dreadnought. The 317e’s blended tone with strummed and arpeggiated chords held up to the Faith dreadnought, and the quality of tone was equally pleasing. Contrasting the Faith Legacy Mars to the Grand Pacific, the Faith has a more muscular tone, while the Grand Pacific had an airier, but very pleasing tone.
My go-to songs of the Beatles, Kinks, and others were a pleasure to play. The playability is typically Taylor, and of equal ease to the Yamaha A5 and the Faith guitars’ own playability.
Like the Faith and Yamaha A5 dreads, the appearance of the 317e is simple, tasteful, and classy. The tested Grand Pacific model has a gorgeous bear claw spruce top which puts forth a lovely gloss finish. The sapele back and sides are of a satin finish, as is the mahogany neck. It has an ebony fretboard and bridge. The nut width is 1.75 inches. The lower bout is 16 inches in width. The rounded dreadnought body is not new, but follows Breedlove’s (and now Bedell’s) rounded dreadnought design — this shape is nothing innovative as Taylor may claim. By the way, the case is eye candy. I feel I should by a case to protect this case!
I was pleased and impressed with this 317e. It is truly a new Taylor sound with all the Taylor quality one is to expect. The Grand Pacific was purchased a week later. This Taylor dreadnought is a “keeper.” Finally, there is a Taylor guitar that rings true to me, and will do so for a new group — yet a more traditionally minded group — of guitarists. Well done Andy Powers and Taylor!
Keep on playing!