Instruments & Gear: New Gear

Taylor Builder’s Edition 517e WHB

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The mahogany version of Taylor’s new round-shoulder dreadnought Grand Pacific series.

by Teja Gerken
February 11, 2019

Brand-new for 2019, Taylor’s new Grand Pacific line of round-shoulder dreadnoughts made a lot of waves at the recent NAMM show in Anaheim, California. Not only do the guitars introduce a new body style, they also offer a new tonality for Taylor. Voiced with more of a traditional sound than the contemporary, bright, and almost hi-fi-like tone that Taylor has become famous for, the Grand Pacific is aimed at flatpickers, Americana strummers, and anyone looking for a guitar that combines modern and vintage characteristics. I already sat down with Taylor designer Andy Powers at Nashville’s Southern Ground studio to discuss the virtues of the new guitar (check out our video of that session), and now we’ve had a chance to check out the Builder’s Edition 517e in the Peghead Nation video studio (stay tuned for demos of the Builder’s Edition 717 and 317e models in the coming weeks).

The Builder’s Edition 517e is built with tropical mahogany back and sides and a torrefied Sitka spruce top. On our demo guitar, the woods were of exceptional quality, the mahogany exhibiting a rich depth in color, and the top featuring even grain and Taylor’s Wild Honey Burst finish, which is an option for the model. Inside, the guitar’s architecture includes Taylor’s V-Class bracing. Based on two longitudinal braces that start at both sides of the soundhole and almost meet at the guitar’s end block, the V-Class bracing was introduced on Taylor’s Grand Auditorium models last year, but was actually developed within early prototypes of what would become the Grand Pacifics, making them the first models to be built from the ground up with V-Class bracing in mind.

The Builder’s Edition 517e also includes two other new elements: a new bridge design that is a modification of Taylor’s classic bridge with more rounded curves, and a new neck shape that Taylor calls “compound carve,” which has a slight V-shaped profile near the nut, moving to a contemporary profile in the higher positions. The guitar also has the rounded body edges and “silent satin” finish that Taylor introduced in earlier Builder’s Edition models. Electronics are optional on the Builder’s Edition Grand Pacific, but our demo guitar included the ES2 pickup.

Picking up the Builder’s Edition 517e to play, it was immediately apparent that it lives up to Taylor’s promises. The guitar has the warm low-end punch you’d expect of a fine dreadnought, but it delivers it in a highly refined way that makes no secret of its heritage. Great clarity and even response make it fun to play in different styles, and while it would be totally at home for strumming chords or flatpicking G-runs, it also sounds great for playing fingerstyle in alternate tunings.

Without question, the addition of the Grand Pacific line results in a great expansion of the tonal options that the company has available. Players looking to combine dreadnought tones with Taylor’s famous precision would do well to check out this new guitar.

SPECS: Grand Pacific body. Torrefied Sitka spruce top with V-Class bracing. Tropical mahogany back and sides. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.5-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Nickel tuning machines. Expression System 2 electronics. Made in USA. $2,999 street ($2,899 with natural finish).


Category: Instruments & Gear

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