The 10 Best Taylor Guitars: Review & Buyer’s Guide
When it comes to acoustic guitars, it doesn’t get much better than Taylor. Along with Martin and Gibson, Taylor is one of the biggest acoustic guitar brands around today.
Taylor was founded in 1974 by Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug. The company eventually grew from a small boutique brand to one of the largest acoustic guitar manufacturers in the United States. Taylor now has over 700 employees and factories in El Cajon, CA, and nearby Tecate, Mexico.
Taylor guitars are renowned for their unique tonewoods and innovative manufacturing techniques. Many feel they are among the best sounding and easiest to play acoustic guitars on the market today. But which one is the best Taylor guitar for you? Which one should you buy?
In this comprehensive Taylor Guitars Review and Buyer’s Guide, we’ll take a look at 10 of the best Taylor guitars available right now. We’ll explore options for every budget and style, and take a look at other important factors like playability and build quality.
Let’s get started!
The Best Taylor Guitars Reviewed
- Taylor GS Mini-e Koa – Best Rated Taylor Guitar
- Taylor Baby Mahogany BT2 – Best for Beginners
- Taylor Academy 10 – Best for Intermediate Players
- Taylor Academy 12 – Best Under $500
- Taylor 214ce – Best Under $1,000
- Taylor 614ce Builder’s Edition – Premium Pick
- Taylor 314CE – Best for Strumming
- Taylor 814ce-N – Best for Fingerstyle
- Taylor T5z Classic Hollowbody – Best Electric Guitar
Taylor GS Mini-e Koa – Best Rated Taylor Guitar
If there was a “People’s Choice” award for Taylor guitars, the GS Mini-e Koa may take the prize.
The GS Mini-e Koa has several things going for it. It’s smaller than your average acoustic, it sounds and plays great, comes with quality electronics, and it sells at a reasonable price. That’s a lot of bang for your buck.
As the name indicates, the GS Mini-e Koa is made of Hawaiian Koa. This tonewood has become popular in recent years due to its warm tone and beautiful look. Think of the richness of mahogany combined with the brightness of maple. It’s also highly resistant to humidity changes.
The GS Mini-e Koa is a smaller version of Taylor’s Grand Symphony (GS) body shape. This shape is somewhere between a concert body and a dreadnought and offers a fuller sound than a typical parlor-style guitar. It’s smaller than a full-size acoustic but larger than most mini acoustic guitars, making it a nice “in-between” choice.
Taylor guitars are known for their easy playability, and the GS Mini-e Koa is no exception. Its sapele neck and ebony fingerboard make for a highly comfortable playing experience. Having played one of these guitars recently, I can attest that it’s a breeze to play.
Another great feature of the GS Mini-e Koa is its built-in Taylor electronics. Taylor’s Expression System-B is different from most under-saddle pickups, using three piezo-electric sensors to pick up the natural resonance of the instrument. Taylor’s high-output preamp is featured on the side of the guitar with volume and tone controls. There’s also an on-board tuner.
The Taylor GS Mini-e Koa would make a great choice for singer/songwriters looking for an easy acoustic/electric to play live. At just under $800, it’s a great value for the money. The smaller body shape is perfect for those with smaller frames, or just someone who wants a guitar to take up less space. It plays like a dream and sounds great due to the Koa tonewood and Taylor’s Expression electronics. With so much going for it at a great price, there’s a reason it’s the highest-rated Taylor guitar online.
- Koa tonewoods, smaller body
- Taylor electronics
- Reasonable price
- Some feedback issues reported if playing with loud band
- On-board tuner not perfect
Taylor Baby Mahogany BT2 – Best Taylor Guitar for Beginners
The Taylor Baby Mahogany BT2 is Taylor's ultra-portable travel mate belies its size with a sweet, full voice and great tone.
Read our full Taylor Baby BT2 Review
If you’re looking for Taylor quality in a small package that’s perfect for young beginners, check out the Taylor Baby Mahogany BT2.
The BT2 is a ¾ size acoustic guitar in a traditional dreadnought shape. The small size of this guitar makes it a great first guitar for a younger student just starting out. It’s also great for those with small hands, or as a travel guitar. As the name indicates, the top of the BT2 is made of Tropical American Mahogany, a warm tonewood that balances out the smaller body. The back and sides are made of layered sapele.
Though it’s much more affordable than many of Taylor’s guitars, the BT2 still plays like a Taylor should, thanks to its mahogany neck and ebony fingerboard.
Other cool features of the BT2 include a TUSQ nut and Micarta saddle. An ebony bridge is also a classy touch.
The Taylor Baby Mahogany BT2 would make a great buy for someone looking to buy a first acoustic for their child. It’s small size and easy playability make it perfect for a beginner, especially smaller kids who can’t get their hands around a full size dreadnought. It’s also a great guitar for adults, however. These are great guitars to just have around the house or take on trips. For under $400, you’re getting a real Taylor at a really nice price.
- Small size
- Very affordable
- Great tone, playability
- No electronics
- Visible screws on fretboard kinda unattractive
Taylor Academy 10 – Best Taylor Guitar for Intermediate Players
If you’re an intermediate-level player on a budget who still wants a quality Taylor guitar, take a look at the Academy 10.
The Academy 10 is part of Taylor’s Academy Series, which strives to offer quality, player guitars in a more affordable package. It boasts many of the same features and quality components of more expensive Taylor guitars.
For tonewoods, the Academy 10 starts with a Solid Sitka spruce top. This is the standard choice for dreadnought-style guitars for a reason – it’s well-balanced with superior resonance and projection. Layered sapele back and sides make for a nice combination, while the hard rock maple neck and ebony fingerboard deliver classic Taylor playability.
Taylor took care to make sure this was a solid player’s guitar. One nice touch is a built-in armrest for a comfortable playing experience. The neck is also a bit shorter than standard acoustic necks, which softens the action. The Academy 10 also ships with light-gauge strings for easy playability.
The Academy 10 would make a great choice for players who just want a quality acoustic guitar at an affordable price. Cosmetically, there’s not a ton of beautiful features, but that’s because most of the effort went into ensuring these guitars sound and play great. For most of us, that’s a fair trade-off. For under $600, it’s a great value.
- Comfortable playability
- Basic look
- No electronics
Taylor Academy 12 – Best Taylor Guitar Under $500
For another take on Taylor’s Academy Series, check out the Academy 12.
The most notable difference between the Academy 10 and this guitar is the body shape. Instead of a dreadnought, the Academy 12 uses a Grand Concert body style for a slimmer look. This body style is great for finger-picking and single-note lines, as well as deep chords.
Like the Academy 10, the 12 features layered sapele back and sides with a genuine Sitka spruce top. It also comes with a hard rock maple neck and ebony fingerboard, because why mess with a good thing?
Some other cool appointments on the Academy 12 include a TUSQ nut and Micarta saddle, a fatigue-reducing armrest, and a thin varnish finish.
Like the Academy 10, the 12 is a nice “player’s guitar” at an affordable price. By saving on flashy cosmetic appointments, Taylor was able to produce a quality acoustic guitar that would normally go for twice the price. With the Grand Concert body style, it would make a great choice for those into fingerstyle guitar, as well as jazz and blues styles. For around $500, that’s a great deal.
- Grand Concert style
- Player guitar, affordable price
- No electronics
- Less volume, sustain
Taylor 214ce – Best Taylor Guitar Under $1,000
If you’re looking for an acoustic/electric that’s made for the stage, check out the Taylor 214ce.
The 214ce features Taylor’s Grand Auditorium body style, which offers the width and depth of a dreadnought with a narrower waist. This gives the guitar a bit of a sleeker feel, which helps sharpen the definition of notes and chords. It also includes a soft cutaway for access to higher frets.
Taylor guitars are known for their tonewoods, and the 214ce is no exception. The sides and back are composed of Indian rosewood, while the top is Sitka spruce. This combination offers a huge dynamic range that can cover everything from delicate fingerpicking to harder strumming. A slight scoop in the midrange also makes it perfect for accompanying vocals, making this a favorite of singer/songwriters.
The 214ce plays as well as any Taylor guitar, thanks to its Tropical mahogany neck and ebony fretboard. It’s a slender, fast neck that offers impeccable playability.
For electronics, the 214ce comes with Taylor’s renowned ES2 system. Preamp controls are delicately placed on the side close to the neck for easy access and an unobtrusive look. You see these guitars on a lot of stages for a reason.
The Taylor 214ce would make a great choice for gigging singer/songwriters or frontmen/women. For under $1,000, it’s a high quality Taylor with great electronics. The cutaway and Grand Auditorium style makes it easier to stand up and play, while the slight mid-cut carves out a nice space for vocals. Out of all of Taylor’s guitars, I’ve probably seen this one played the most at live shows over the years.
- High quality gigging axe
- Ergonomic body style
- Laminated back and sides
Taylor 614ce Builder’s Edition – Best Premium Taylor Guitar
If you’re looking for an amazing, top-of-the-line Taylor guitar – and you can afford it – feast your eyes on the Taylor 614ce Builder’s Edition.
The Builder’s Edition series represents the peak of Taylor’s always stellar craftsmanship. No expense is spared, from premium cosmetics to fine tonewoods and ergonomic enhancements.
Starting with the tonewoods, the 614ce BE uses figured bigleaf maple for its sides and bookmatched back. In addition to expanding the tonal range of the instrument, this makes for an incredibly beautiful look. Meanwhile, the torrefied Sitka spruce top offers superior strength and articulation. Taylor’s proprietary roasting process helps deliver a more “played in” feel.
Like the 214ce, the 614ce BE features a Grand Auditorium body style. But one major difference in addition to the tonewoods is that the 614ce BE uses V-class bracing for enhanced volume and sustain. Acoustic guitars generally use X-bracing, where trade-offs have to be made between sustain and projection. But V-bracing allows for the guitar to be both stiff and flexible, giving you the best of both worlds!
The 614ce BE also includes Taylor’s ES2 pickup system to give you a clear and articulate sound when amplified. A phase switch onboard allows you to control potential feedback.
Other premium appointments on the 614ce BE include a beveled ebony armrest, gold Gotoh 510 tuners, and Scepter mother-of-pearl fingerboard inlays. For tone, look and feel, it’s tough to find a nicer acoustic guitar than the Taylor 614ce Builder’s Edition. For around 4 grand, that’s what you would expect!
- Impeccable build quality, materials
- Beautiful look & tone
- Very high price
Taylor 314CE – Best Taylor Guitar for Strumming
If you’re a percussive rhythm player and want an acoustic guitar that excels at strumming, take a look at the Taylor 314ce.
The 314ce is another Taylor guitar with the Grand Auditorium body style. This style gives you the depth and projection that dreadnought guitars are known for, with a sleeker waist. It’s also got V-bracing, which offers superior volume and sustain than traditional X-bracing designs.
For tonewoods, the 314ce features sapele back and sides for a warm, full sound, while the Sitka spruce top provides strength and top-end sparkle. A tropical mahogany neck with a West African ebony fingerboard makes it a joy to play. The Venetian cutaway makes reaching higher frets a breeze, as well.
Like some other guitars on this list, the 314ce comes equipped with Taylor’s ES2 pickup system. This system is great for picking up the natural acoustic sound of the instrument, which is perfect for more aggressive strumming styles. Other cool appointments include Italian Acrylic Gemstone inlays, and a satin finish with gloss top.
The Taylor 314ce would make a great guitar for gigging guitarists playing solo or in a band who want a high quality acoustic/electric. Its Grand Auditorium style makes it perfect for percussive strumming, and the ES2 electronics highlight the natural resonance of the guitar. For around $2,000, it’s not cheap, but the build quality and components make it worth it.
- High quality woods and appointments
- More expensive
- Basic look for price
Taylor 814ce-N – Best Taylor Guitar for Fingerstyle
If you’re searching for a nylon string guitar made with Taylor’s impeccable build quality and style, take a look at the Taylor 814ce-N.
The 814ce-N employs Taylor’s classic Grand Auditorium body style to the world of nylon string guitars. The result is pretty stunning. Customized bracing makes the guitar resonate in a richer and more vibrant way than ever before. And all of the tonewoods and electronics are of premium quality.
The body of the 814ce-N is made of Indian Rosewood for its back and sides with pale maple binding. The warmth of the rosewood is balanced by a Sitka spruce top for a lighter and expressive sound. Taylor also customized the thickness of these tonewoods for optimal tone, weight and strength. They even used real animal protein glue instead of synthetic glue!
The 814ce-N also offers an incredibly comfortable playing experience thanks in part to its Tropical Mahogany neck with an ebony fingerboard. It’s a more slender neck than your typical classical guitar, and a Venetian cutaway makes it easier to access higher frets. The slimmer 1 ⅞ width nut also makes for a sleeker playing experience.
For electronics, the 814ce-N features Taylor’s ES-N system using Dynamic Sensors that have been optimized for nylon strings. With a guitar as nice as this, you’ll want to show it off live, and the ES-N system should be perfect for capturing the true sound of the instrument.
Other nice appointments on the 814ce-N include mother-of-pearl Element inlays, a TUSQ nut and Taylor slot head tuners.
The Taylor 814ce-N would make a great choice for someone wanting a very nice nylon string guitar in the Taylor style. The slimmer neck and nut make for an easier playing experience for steel string players, and the Grand Auditorium body style is perfect both for playability and sound. At around $3,500, it’s definitely a top-end guitar, but not crazy considering how much classical-stye guitars can run generally. The ES-N electronics are also a nice addition, especially for playing in a group setting.
- Premium Taylor quality
- Slimmer neck & nut
- ES-N electronics
- TUSQ nut could be upgraded to bone
- Expensive, but typical for these guitars
Taylor T5z Classic Hollowbody – Best Taylor Electric Guitar
Most players don’t typically think of Taylor when shopping for electric guitars, but the T5z Classic Hollowbody is the exception.
If you’re coming from the electric guitar world and are looking to add an acoustic/electric to your arsenal, the T5z Classic Hollowbody might be the perfect transition. Its body and neck are closer to an electric guitar than a typical acoustic, and it can achieve both acoustic and electric tones.
Part of how Taylor pulled off this hybrid guitar starts with its hollow body made of sapele with a tropical mahogany top. The thinline shape of the body looks closer to a Les Paul than a dreadnought. Stylized f-holes let the T5z Classic Hollowbody “breathe” and the top resonate freely.
Another great feature for playability of the T5z Classic Hollowbody is its sapele neck and ebony fingerboard with a 24.875” scale length. This fast neck, shorter scale length and jumbo frets make it much easier to bend strings and fly up the fretboard than your average acoustic guitar.
A major factor in the sound of the T5z Classic Hollowbody is its electronics. Taylor’s Expression system really is next gen. It’s actually a combination of three pickups – one visible bridge humbucker and a concealed neck humbucker, along with internal body sensors that are overwound to produce sparkling highs and resonance. A Strat-style 5-way switch lets you access the full array of tones this guitar has to offer, from deep acoustic tones to overdriven electric sweetness.
The T5z Classic Hollowbody would make a great guitar for someone looking for the best of both worlds. It looks and plays like an electric, while giving you access to both acoustic and electric tones. There have been a few other options like this in recent years (The Fender Acoustasonic series springs to mind) but Taylor may have nailed it. At around 2 grand, it’s basically two guitars in one. Not a bad deal.
- Hybrid Acoustic/Electric
- Expression Electronics
- Plays and feels like electric
- Electric tones not as versatile as a standard electric
- Possible feedback issues with hollowbody style
How to Choose The Taylor Acoustic Guitar (Buyer’s Guide)
We’ve looked at ten of the best Taylor guitars on the market today. Here are some other factors to consider when buying a new guitar.
Body shape will affect the overall feel of a guitar, and is usually dependent on the player’s body type, as well.
One of Taylor’s most popular designs is the Grand Auditorium style. Several guitars on this list share this style, including the 214ce, the 314ce, the 614ce Builder’s Edition, and the 814ce-N. This shape has the bottom-end and resonance of a dreadnought, but with a smaller waist and a soft cutaway. That makes for a slightly more ergonomic design that is great for standing as well as sitting.
If the guitar is for a younger person, or smaller adults, something like the GS Mini-e Koa or Baby Mahogany may work well. The Baby Mahogany is a much smaller scale, while the Mini-e Koa is somewhere in-between the Baby and a full size Taylor. Either would make great choices for those with smaller hands, or as a nice travel guitar.
If you’re normally an electric guitar player, something like the T5z may be ideal for its slimmer shape, similar to a Les Paul.
Steel String Vs Nylon
Whether you want a steel string or nylon guitar probably depends on your style. Or maybe you already have a steel string acoustic and want to add a nylon guitar to your collection. In that case, the 814ce-N would make a great choice because its neck and nut width are similar to that of a normal steel string acoustic.
For most players, though, the steel string will probably be the best choice. You can cover more styles of music with it, and those guitars are great for strumming as well as fingerpicking. If you’re strictly a fingerstyle player and want a softer sound, go with a nylon.
One of the big selling points to Taylor guitars are their build quality. The company has been a pioneer in many innovative techniques like lasers, computer mills and other high tech machinery.
Taylor currently has factories in southern California and northern Mexico. While some of their more affordable guitars are manufactured in Mexico, they are still high quality instruments. That being said, there will be a difference between the Baby Mahogany and the 614ce Builder’s Edition.
One cool design Taylor has used on some of its high-end guitars is V-class bracing. This offers a greater balance between volume and sustain than traditional X-bracing. The 614ce Builder’s Edition and 314ce both feature this design.
When it comes to build quality overall, though, I wouldn’t worry too much about it with Taylor. Every Taylor I’ve played has been a high quality, well made instrument, whether it retails for $400 or $4,000.
Taylor guitars are generally known for their easy playability. Often, acoustic guitars can be hampered by high action or dry fretboards. That’s not the case with Taylor. These are some of the smoothest playing acoustics you’ll find.
Playability is also something that I find doesn’t change much across price points in Taylor guitars, either. The GS Mini Koa-e can play just as well as the 214ce and other higher-priced guitars. The Academy series is also designed to cater to player’s who don’t need any cosmetic frills. The main differences will be the sound and look.
If you’re an electric player, you’ll love the T5z Hollowbody, which can sound like an acoustic and play like an electric. Whichever way you go, you’ll get a great-playing guitar with Taylor.
Taylor’s are also renowned for their great sound. In my experience, there’s a pronounced brightness to their instruments that is distinct from a Martin or Gibson. That’s not to say they can’t be warm or deep sounding instruments, either, but the midrange and top-end is what jumps out in most Taylors I’ve played.
Smaller body guitars like the Baby Mahogany and GS Mini Koa-e will necessarily have a thinner, brighter sound than full-size guitars. The choice of warmer woods like mahogany and koa will counter some of this, however.
Guitars with the Grand Auditorium body style will have the full projection and resonance of a traditional dreadnought. Combining this style with nylon strings like the 814ce-N makes for an incredibly rich-sounding instrument.
The T5z Classic Hollowbody will have its own sound, of course, thanks to its multi-pickup system and slim hollowbody design. Being able to access both acoustic and electric tones is definitely a nice option to have in your toolbox.
While Taylor makes many impeccably crafted high-end guitars, they also have plenty of great affordable options.
The GS Mini Koa-e is very highly rated because it’s a really great guitar for the money. The Academy Series is also loved for its great value. What those guitars lack in fancy looks they make up for in sound and playability.
Of course, if you can afford it, you’ll know you are getting an incredibly well-made instrument when you buy a premium Taylor guitar. The 614ce Builder’s Edition, for instance, is the kind of guitar that can last a lifetime and then be passed down to the next generation.
For many players, especially gigging guitarists, the best bet will probably be a mid-priced option like the 214ce. For around a grand, it’s near the quality of the top-end Taylors without some more premium embellishments. Another vote in its favor is that you may not be as precious about taking it out to bars or on the road. Whatever Taylor you can afford, though, will be a nice, pro-level guitar.
Recap of the Best Taylor Guitars
|Best Taylor Guitar||Award|
|Taylor GS Mini-e Koa||Best Rated Taylor Guitar|
|Taylor Baby Mahogany BT2||Best for Beginners|
|Taylor Academy 10||Best for Intermediate Players|
|Taylor Academy 12||Best Under $500|
|Taylor 214ce||Best Under $1,000|
|Taylor 614ce Builder’s Edition||Premium Pick|
|Taylor 314CE||Best for Strumming|
|Taylor 814ce-N||Best for Fingerstyle|
|Taylor T5z Classic Hollowbody||Best Electric Guitar|
Are Taylor Guitars good quality?
Yep. The high-end Taylors are among some of the finest acoustic guitars in the world. The more affordable options are also well-crafted, quality instruments.
Are Taylor Guitars worth the money?
Judging the worth of anything is subjective, but as far as guitars go, I believe Taylor’s are fairly priced. The premium guitars are of the quality you’d expect in a high-end acoustic, while the more affordable options seem pretty accurately priced, if not underpriced.
Do Taylor Guitars hold their value?
While all new guitars depreciate a certain amount once they leave the store, Taylor’s don’t drop in value any more than any other major brand. Taylor is a well respected brand that should hold most of its value provided the guitar is well cared for. This is especially true of higher-end guitars.