Instruments & Gear: New Gear

Taylor Builder’s Edition 717

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The flagship model of Taylor’s new Grand Pacific series.

by Teja Gerken
March 11, 2019

Taylor Guitars has built dreadnoughts since the company first opened its doors in 1974. The company’s original dreadnought design was inherited from San Diego’s American Dream instrument-making co-op, where founders Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug worked prior to purchasing the business and turning it into Taylor Guitars. Taylor modified its dreadnought design in 1997, giving it a slightly different shape, but while all other Taylor models have shed their American Dream roots, the company’s standard dreadnought retained some of the influence of its earliest days. This year’s introduction of Taylor’s Grand Pacific series is, however, a complete reboot of the company’s approach to dreadnoughts. With a round-shoulder body, the guitars are clearly different from the original square-shouldered design, and the Grand Pacifics are the first Taylor dreadnoughts to be built with the company’s new V-Class bracing. We recently checked out the Builder’s Edition 517e, and had a chance to sit down with Taylor designer Andy Powers for an exclusive discussion of the new design. In this video, Peghead Nation co-founder and flatpicking guitar instructor Scott Nygaard demonstrates the top-of-the-line Builder’s Edition 717.

The Builder’s Edition 717 is built with Indian rosewood back and sides and a torrefied Sitka spruce top. The back and sides of our demo instrument had a rich, deep reddish-brown color and beautiful grain, and the top had supertight grain and several areas with light bearclaw pattern. Like the Builder’s Edition 517, the guitar has a modified bridge design with more rounded corners than Taylor’s standard bridge. The guitar also has chamfered body edges for greater playing comfort, a “silent satin” finish, and a “compound carve” neck shape with a slight V-shape profile near the nut that morphs into a contemporary profile in the higher positions. The ebony fingerboard includes Taylor’s Arrowhead position markers, and the body has sapele wood binding. Taylor’s ES electronics are optional on all the Grand Pacific models, but our Builder’s Edition 717 was one of the purely acoustic models.

Andy Powers’s goal in designing the Grand Pacific series is to create a different sound in a Taylor dreadnought. With a more traditional flattop voice that still retains the exceptional clarity and balance of other V-Class Taylors, the Grand Pacifics seek to blend vintage and modern characteristics. We were already impressed with how well the mahogany Builder’s Edition 517e delivered on these promises, and the 717 reinforced that impression. The rosewood back and sides had a bit more bottom-end punch and perhaps a touch more sustain, and as Scott Nygaard’s demo (which includes strumming, single-note passages, and a flatpicked fiddle tune) shows, the guitar excels within traditional dreadnought territory. But with its great tonal balance, precise intonation, and quick response, the guitar is also at home playing jazz or fingerstyle, making it a great guitar for anyone looking for a versatile flattop with a big sound and great playability.

SPECS: Grand Pacific body. Torrefied Sitka spruce top with V-Class bracing. Indian rosewood back and sides. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.5-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Nickel tuning machines. Made in USA. $2,899 street. Taylorguitars.com

 


Category: Instruments & Gear

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