REVIEW: Taylor Academy Series Acoustic Guitars

Learn what the new Taylor Academy Series brings to the mid-range acoustic market.

Taylor Guitars are known for making well-designed, and well-built instruments with premium materials. All of this usually comes with a premium price tag. With Taylor’s Academy Series, all of that acoustic goodness is now available in a reasonable price range.

We received the Academy 10e and 12e models, with the 10e following the shape of a traditional Dreadnought, and the 12e a Grand Concert. The basic materials, features, and costs are the same though; Sitka spruce top, layered sapele sides and back, ebony fingerboards with a 24.87” scale and Taylor’s EB-Pickup and tuner electronics package. A great feature that’s here in the design is the lower bout, where a player’s picking arm usually rests on the edge of the guitar body, a nicely beveled edge is introduced to reduce stress on the picking hand’s forearm. This really helps relieve any undue stress, especially during long sessions, regardless of standing or sitting positions. As with their higher-end guitars, the overall fit, finish, and feel is amazingly consistent. Both guitars are also presented in a nice satin finish.

Taylor Academy 10e review

Taylor Academy 10e

A lot of players who’d normally prefer a cutaway guitar for higher fret access might skip over these, thinking it’s not meant for soloing or lead parts, and perhaps would be better suited for songwriter/strummer/non-lead players. However, the neck joint is quite smooth, and access to most of the upper-register frets is quite easy with little adjustment required. After using these for a live gig, re-working some lead/solo parts to accommodate the non-cutaway design wasn’t that difficult, and playing more in the lower registers brought an added fullness to the arrangements. The byproduct is not sounding like an electric guitarist taking the same approach to an acoustic. The neck has a modern feel, like a lot of Taylors, with a slim profile and matching satin finish.

Both have plenty of depth in their own individual ways. There is excellent top end and punch as well. Each one does it in their own style – so, the big differences? The Dreadnought is a bit deeper, and more traditional sounding, while the Grand Concert is a bit tighter and has a bit more projection. There’s plenty of crossover between the two in a sense, but it will come down to individual tastes, sound-wise. That said, the consistent feel and nice blend of warmth and projection will make this a tough decision to make. It might come down to which feels more comfortable against your body and in your hands, because acoustically, both are beautiful-sounding.

The electronics are Taylor’s own system, which also sports an on-board tuner, with the endpin doubling as a 1⁄4” input jack. While only having a volume and tone control, it’s still quite flexible, and simple enough to keep things from getting boomy or brittle through a PA system.

Taylor Academy 12e review

Taylor Academy 12e

The only downside, and it’s quite small, is the battery situation; it uses two small watch batteries to power the pickup and tuner. It makes for a small and neat package, but imagining a touring situation, and having to find a pair of these batteries at a local 7-11 in an unfamiliar town might be more problematic, than say finding a more common battery like a 9-volt. Thankfully both guitars come with Taylor gig bags, and stocking up on a few of these small, disk-like batteries won’t take up too much space in the front pocket.

PROS:

well built, well designed, excellent price, sound and feel.

CONS:

slightly uncommon battery situation for the electronics.

PRICE:

$599 (10e) and $649 (12e)

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