In the market for a Taylor guitar?
Searching for an acoustic guitar is frustrating. With so much choice, how do you recognize the good from the bad?
While Taylor acoustic guitars are market leaders, identifying the country of manufacture helps your search.
See, many experts believe the country of manufacture is key to identifying quality.
So, where are Taylor guitars made?
In short, Taylor guitars are made in America and Mexico. The GT, American Dream, and 300 – 900 Series are crafted in Taylors El Cajon, California, USA factory. Whereas the Academy, 100, and 200 Series are crafted in Taylors Tecate, Mexico factory.
In this article, you’ll discover what effect the country of manufacture has on a Taylor guitar and if it matters at all.
Let’s dive in.
Taylor Guitars: Some Background Information
Founded in 1974 by Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug, Taylor Guitars has become a force in the premium acoustic guitar market. Headquartered in El Cajon, California, USA, the brand grew from a struggling shop to where they are today.
Taylor co-owns an ebony sawmill in Cameroon, Africa. Since 2011, they’ve promoted the Ebony Project. The Ebony Project aims to educate guitarists on the sourcing of wood. Working in close contact with the sawmill, Taylor hopes to improve working conditions.
As a tonewood used throughout, Taylor hopes to develop a sustainable future in Cameroon and has a strict replanting program.
In 2021, the Employee Stock Ownership Plan made Taylor 100% employee-owned. The Taylor workforce is directly responsible for the growth and success of the company. It’s a business move to protect Taylor’s culture and long-term future.
Famous Taylor players include Taylor Swift, Dave Matthews, and Zac Brown.
Check out our guide on the Best Taylor Guitars
Where are Taylor Guitars Made: Models Explained
Taylor guitars focus on making top-end instruments so you won’t find any of these guitars built in countries where production costs are cheap.
Taylor manufactures products in El Cajon, California, USA, and Tecate, Baja California, Mexico.
Considered premium quality, Taylors from the American factory have excellence in line with the prestige of the brand.
But, American guitars are expensive. Although priced at the upper end of the spectrum, the PS14ce costs around $10,000! Still, for a cheaper US-build expect to pay upwards of $1,000.
The superior material costs and wage of a skilled workforce are two factors behind the price hike.
To ensure that Taylor guitars aren’t exclusive to the professional or the rich banker, they’ve branched out.
By using their factory in Mexico, Taylor produces guitars with cheaper overheads.
Let’s summarize some of Taylor’s most famous models and discover where they’re made.
Which Taylor Guitars are Made in the USA?
A Taylor built in the US is a top-of-the-range guitar. How do you identify the country of manufacture?
Look for the serial number. If Taylor built the guitar post-2009, it’ll have a 10-digit serial number. If this number begins with a “1”, it’s from El Cajon, California, USA. Similarly, if the prefix is “2”, then it’s from Tecate, Mexico.
So which Taylor models are a product of the innovative El Cajon factory in America? Let’s look.
Taylor GT Series Guitars
The GT Series is a collection of guitars grouped because of their size. An abbreviation of Grand Theater, GT guitars are the middle ground between the GS Mini and Grand Concert models.
With a smaller body shape and short 24.125″ scale length, the GTs have fluid playability. But the scaled-down size doesn’t compromise on sound.
Solid spruce top with urban ash back and sides, GT’s are all solid wood guitars. A recipe that delivers a precise natural tone.
The GT is home to Taylor’s innovative ‘C- Class Bracing’. More of an F-shape, the C is because of the cantilever running from top to bottom. The off-center design produces a loudness and boldness unexpected from a small body.
It’s an American-made guitar, the craftsmanship and woods highlight the quality you expect from the US build. Costing $1,400 and above, it has the US price tag too.
But with punch and bass from an unassuming package, a GT Series will suit a pro rhythm player.
Taylor American Dream Series
The American Dream Series consists of the AD17, AD17 Blacktop, and AD27 models.
First, an AD17 and AD17 Blacktop are the same instruments. Other than, you guessed it, an AD17 Blacktop has a blacktop. Along with a different pickguard and rosette, the disparity is cosmetic.
Taylor’s American Dream guitars all have the Grand Pacific shape. It’s larger than the GT. The body length is 20″ which is 1 ½” longer. Grand Pacific is also wider and deeper, with a 25 ½” scale length.
So how does the AD17 vary from the AD27?
Although identical dimensions, the disparity is the tonewoods. AD17 has a Spruce top with an ovangkol body. Whereas the AD27 has a mahogany top with a spruce body.
The difference between the two is largely cosmetic. But also in tone, the tonewoods create a punchy sound with the AD17. In contrast, the AD27 is mellower thanks to the mahogany top.
They’re priced the same at $1,400. So if you’re in the market for an American-made, all things considered, it’s an entry point to premium US craftsmanship.
Taylor 300 – 900 Series Guitars
As the model number increases, so does the price. The most affordable is the 317 in the 300 Series priced at $1,400. At the more expensive end of the spectrum is the 912e in the 900 Series, costing $5,499.
There are options throughout the 300 to 900 Series. Different adornments, wood combinations, and string types to suit your playing style and genre.
Grand Concert, Auditorium, Pacific, Symphony, and Big Baby are some examples of the guitar shapes available. Opt for a size and body shape that you’re comfortable with.
The commonality throughout the 300 to 900 Series is the classic Taylor California build quality. Regardless of price, the 300 to 900 Series models are all solid top back and sides.
There’s something for everyone and you’ll find something specific to your needs in the 300 to 900 series.
Check out our guide on the Best American Made Guitars
Which Taylor Guitars are Made in Mexico?
Tecate, Mexico, is close to the US border. In fact, it’s less than an hour’s drive to Taylors California factory.
The location is important because it helps employees to travel between the sites. But having a Mexican factory has helped Taylor keep production costs under control.
Affordable Taylor guitars on the market have opened the brand up to a new demographic of guitarists.
Let’s check out the Mexican-built Taylors.
Taylor Academy Series Guitars
Taylor Academy guitars start at $549. For a Taylor, that’s cheap. So is there cost-cutting in the making of the Academy Series?
The first notable cost-cutting is the use of layered woods on the back and sides. This is common with affordable guitars. But you won’t get an all-solid guitar for this price.
A solid top balances the sound well, and the notes ring out with impressive sustenance. These guitars are nice-sounding instruments.
Academy guitars are playable instruments making learning easy.
Low action is smooth on the fingertips while the neck feels thin and manageable.
There’s also another feature reserved for higher-priced models.
At the top ridge of the guitar, there’s an armrest carved into the body. This design feature makes for comfortable playing as there’s no hard edge digging into the arm.
The carving on the arm-rest shows that Mexican craftsmanship exceeds expectations.
If you’re searching for a full-size Taylor acoustic on a budget, an Academy is top of the list.
Taylor 100 Series Guitars
The 100 Series is a step up from Academy guitars. This series comprises three instruments, the 110e, 114e, and 150e. They are all made in Mexico.
An ‘e’ on the model number shows the guitar has electronic connectivity. The Expression System 2 has been a go-to for Taylor since 2014.
Taylor’s Expression System 2 uses a magnetic pickup.
The innovative design works like a microphone and results in a naturally amplified acoustic tone.
Once again, Taylor uses layered woods on the back and sides with a solid top. A standout difference between the Academy is the type of layered wood.
Walnut produces brightness in sound and a rich appearance. 100 guitars have a noticeable striped grain pattern on the body.
The improved electronics justify the price hike. A 100 Series Taylor is suitable for church, coffee shop, or small intimate venue gigging.
Whether it be the Dreadnought or Grand Auditorium, they have the build quality to do smaller shows.
Taylor 200 Series Guitars
Starting at $999, then reaching up to $1,699, Taylor 200 guitars are the most expensive Mexican-made.
Taylor’s 224ce-K DLX is the highest-priced guitar in the collection of fifteen. But, with its all Hawaiian Koa top and body, it could easily be mistaken for a USA Taylor.
The 200 Series has guitars made up of different wood combinations. Each combination offers a unique tone, so listen to examples before deciding.
Why go for Taylors 200 over the 100 Series?
The variation between the 214ce and the 114ce is minimal.
First, there’s a price difference of $200. And the more expensive 214ce has a gloss finish as opposed to the satin of the 114ce.
Both have a solid Sitka Spruce top, while the 214ce has a laminated rosewood body compared to laminated walnut on the 114ce.
Tonal differences are slight. At a push, the 214ce is a little more articulate. The 200 Series are great Mexican-made guitars, but in the upper price range, they are pricey for a non-US-built guitar.
Does it Matter Where Taylor Guitars are Made?
So Taylor makes guitars in both Mexico and the USA.
But does it matter where Taylor produces a guitar?
In short, yes. The country of manufacture is a sign of excellence. Guitars made in the USA are of premium quality. Nonetheless, Taylors are incredible guitars regardless of the country of manufacture.
The build quality of both American and Mexican Taylors is closer than the price suggests.
But where are the distinctions between a USA and Mexican build?
The American-made models feature all solid woods. Mexican guitars combine a solid top with layered back and sides. While still great guitars, a Mexican build doesn’t produce the same depth or characterful tone. Furthermore, all solid instruments age, causing the tone to develop.
US-made Taylor models offer pinnacle craftsmanship. The proof is in fine subtleties. The smooth edges, polished frets, and sanding are performed to the highest standards.
In many ways, we are in the golden age of guitars. Excellent guitars are available for cheap prices.
So is it important which country Taylor makes their guitar? Yes, but there’s less disparity than in the past.
Why Are Taylor Guitars So Expensive?
Taylor guitars are high-priced instruments. Some people claim they are too expensive compared to the competition.
Is there a reason behind the expense?
As a premium guitar brand, expect to pay big bucks. Like iconic names Gibson and Martin, Taylor are leaders in the acoustic realm.
Alan Jackson, Jade Bird, Shawn Mendes, Zac Brown Band, and many more, all play Taylor guitars.
While the star pull has some weight, there are also practical reasons for the expense.
Renowned for quality, a Taylor guitar will be in your collection for some time. The reliability of the build quality allows Taylor to charge a premium for their products.
High-quality tonewoods, hardware, finish, and a skilled workforce also increases the retail value.
Are Taylor Guitars Good?
When paying big bucks for a guitar, you need some guarantees.
Taylor has a reputation for creating great guitars.
There’s consistency in production thanks to the advanced machinery and innovative manufacturing techniques.
Combined with inventive designs, the result is a guitar with playability, craftsmanship, and tone.
The quality of a Taylor is not exclusive to an American build. Sure, a US-made Taylor will be an upgrade on a Mexican-build but both are top guitars.
To summarize, Taylor makes guitars in the USA and Mexico.
They make high-quality guitars in El Cajon, California, whereas more affordable guitars come from their Tecate, Mexico factory.
There is a disparity between the two, but it’s not as big as you’d think. Taylor has a reputation for creating great guitars, and this extends to wherever they’re made.
The distance between Taylor’s two factories is less than an hour. A short geographical distance allows Taylor to share the skilled workforce of 1,200 people.
If you’re considering a Taylor guitar, you’ll have to pay for it, there’s no budget option. But what you’ll get is a guitar to last that will stay playable as you progress through skill levels.
Hopefully, you know more about Taylor guitars and have all the information to make your decision easier.