REVIEW: Taylor Builder’s Edition 517e Grand Pacific

by | Aug 14, 2019 | Best Acoustic Guitars

Taylor’ using some amazing ingredients on the new 517e Builder’s Edition Grand Pacific dreadnaught; a sitka spruce top that’s been torrefied, which means the top wood has been really dried out to maximize its overall stability. Ever wonder why old acoustics sound so good? It’s because they’ve dried out over the years.

The back and the sides are tropical mahogany, as is the internal bracing. The V Class bracing design allows for the top to vibrate where it needs to, and maintain rigidity where it’s needed. The result is a top that’s calibrated for both needs of resonance and structure. The body’s front and rear binding and rosette is sapele, and was very subtle in appearance. Our test version’s body was finished in a satin “Wild Honey Burst” finish, which gives it a blend of the vintage and modern all at once.

The neck is made from tropical mahogany, with a nice comfortable shape, along with a satin finish that didn’t get sticky or gross after long playing sessions. With 20 frets installed in the West African ebony fingerboard, the 25.5” scale length and 1.75” nut width was very familiar, while the arrowhead fret markers were very nicely applied in Ivoroid. West African ebony binds the neck and fingerboard and even more West African ebony can be found on the headstock overlay, again with the Arrowhead inlay that ties it all together.

It’s equipped with Taylor’s Expression System 2, that has a simple control layout of Volume, Bass & Treble. It’s not the typical Piezo – like the other model we’ve reviewed this month, Taylor locates their pickup behind the bridge saddles, not under it. It makes for less direct pressure on the pickup, and doesn’t require any extreme EQ to minimize any harshness. Overall, it’s very flexible and easy to use, with a natural and open sound. Kudos.

Sound-wise, the Grand Pacific brings a bigger, almost D-style sound in a much smaller body type. That first chord really rang out amazingly well, with massive sustain. Our test guitar got played quite a bit, going through practices and a couple of gigs for our reviewer’s acoustic cover band. The neck shape was very comfortable (no surprise there), and the smaller rounded shoulder body style made playing in a seated position easy with no twinge of a picking forearm pinch.


Each chord was vibrant and balanced. There’s a bigness to the overall sound that usually doesn’t come from smaller bodied guitars. Overall it’s a more complex tone, with an added richness to the top end that doesn’t get curtailed, while the bottom and mids retain their definition. No issues playing across the entire fingerboard, with excellent note attack, volume and sustain that didn’t fight itself and remained tonally balanced.

So, what’s it gonna cost me? Well, at $2999 it’s not cheap, but this is one of their Builder Editions, which means you’re getting all the bells and whistles. However, those little extra touches do add up, and the result is a big and rich sounding guitar that’s comfortable to play and will last you a lifetime. If you’re looking to invest in an instrument you can play on stage and in the studio for decades to come, why would you cheap out?


Classy look, big, rich and warm sound, very comfortable playability.


Slightly pricey, but worth the investment.