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Taylor Big Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar Review – Good things come in a 15/16ths package!

I first wrote this post on April 16, 2008. I enjoyed that BB Taylor. Now I have a Baby Taylor – nice guitar with that “Ovation” sound, but built and plays like a little Taylor! Awesome!

Taylor Big Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar Review

Birthday presents are fun sometimes. Last year, a local fellow sold me his one-year-old Big Baby Taylor for a song. I was thrilled. I’ve always wanted a Taylor acoustic, American made, spruce top, and more. I got my wish last October.

I was looking for a moderately bright guitar sound, but one that was also warm enough for making recordings/serenading my family… I like the darker sound of my cedar-top dreadnaught, but I needed a complimentary, tenor-/alto-voiced sound. Clean, crisp, defined.

The Big Baby Taylor fits the bill, and then some… Here’s why I love mine…

Quick Opinion: The Big Baby Taylor is light, resonant, durable, and very simple. It’s comfortable to hold for hours and has a finish that is very easy on the skin. I love this guitar. Where else can you get American-made quality, solid spruce top, ebony fretboard, and nice voicing for so little? (NOTE: Since the time of this writing, Taylor has begun to make Big Baby Taylor guitars in Mexico – if you are purchasing a used one and desire a USA model, check with the seller first – not all Big Baby Taylors are the same.)

It only took me a couple of minutes to adjust to playing the BBT for the first time at my local guitar store. It was like playing an old favorite guitar, right from the start. I was surprised at its light weight, and more interestingly, its decent sound projection.

You can get more info and pricing information about Big Baby Taylor acoustics here at zZounds.com.

Buy a Big Baby Taylor. They’re great little instruments all around… Interestingly enough, they don’t “feel” like a smaller guitar when you play them for a while. They also make a great “lead” recording acoustic guitar.

Features: The Big Baby Taylor is fairly basic and simple (a good thing), yet has attributes that make it an outstanding choice for someone who wants nice sound on a moderate budget.

The neck is a nice mahogany wood, with a satin finish and a moderate profile. This one isn’t thin like a Strat or a Jackson, nor is the neck a log like the big-necked resonators or 50s electric guitars. The profile is comfortable for most sizes of hands. The neck is actually bolted on with screws going through the fretboard into the body. The screws are completely unobtrusive and do not come into mind when playing the BBT. The benefit of this type of neck is that it can be adjusted without popping the neck out of its glue in its pocket, as you would with a set-neck acoustic.

The ebony fretboard is a very nice touch. It is comfortable, doesn’t leave your fingers black with wood dye, and is durable. It looks good, too. The satin black headstock face blends down nicely into the fretboard’s color.

The body is non-bound, but has decent edge joints. The rosette is etched around the sound hole. The top is solid Sitka spruce, and the back and sides are laminate. Overall, for a sub-$500 guitar, the body is excellent. The satin finish is very nice and very evenly applied.

Quality: The quality of my Big Baby Taylor is great. All the edges where the top and back meet the sides are clean and smooth. Only once (where the edge was whacked against a corner of something in its previous life) have I found a place where the joint felt a little off… which is to say, no problems at all.

The neck and frets are extremely nicely done, the frets are end-crowned for comfort for your paws, The neck finish isn’t too slick or too grabby, it is nice and satin-y. My Taylor’s neck is two-piece. There is a joint at the end of the headstock/neck merge. The joint is exceptionally strong and smooth to the touch.

The tuning machines are fine quality and have a decent smoothness. I’ve not had any troubles keeping my Taylor in tune – even after hours of playing (and even in and out of the case a few times). I found some ebony tuning machine knobs and replaced the factory chrome ones – the look is truly awesome.

The back is a little grainy for my tastes… but it doesn’t effect sound or comfort in any way. The nut and saddle bridge appear to be either something like Tusq or some other not-cheap-plastic material. I don’t get “pings” when tuning the strings or bending strings while playing. The nut is a great thing. I’ve played $2200 Gibsons that “ping” when I tune them – had to dress the nut on those… Not digging on Gibsons – just something that happens on some G, B, and E nut cuts…

Playability: Plays like a charm. Lightweight, nice neck, comfortable body finish, medium-low action (maybe even low-action). I can pluck fairly hard before I get any buzzes. I don’t usually dig in to my guitars with a thick pick much (I’m a hybrid pick-and-fingers guy), but it took an effort to whack the sound.

The size of the guitar (15/16) is unnoticeable – it is a dreadnaught, and feels only slightly smaller than my big Tak dread after you’ve been playing the Taylor for a while…

The Big Baby Taylor is significantly easier to play than nearly every acoustic I’ve played in the sub $500 range. It’s a real treat – simple, no fuss – I can concentrate on my music. I have no negatives to say about this guitar in the playability department.

Sound: The Big Baby Taylor is surprisingly loud for a 1/5/16 guitar. It has a tone that is a nice mix between warm and bright – depending where you play on the neck/strings and how you play. You can coax very subtle sounds and great volume dynamics from this guitar.

I put phosphor-bronze strings on my Taylor (Ernie’s Hybrid Slinky Acoustics, to be exact). I found that the phosphor-bronze strings really brought out texture and character in this guitar. With straight 80/20 brass-wrapped strings, the low strings seemed a bit thin to my ears. My Ernies really made this guitar sing…

I also added brass string-pins to my BBT. I don’t know that they really made the sound too much different, but the combination of the phosphor-bronze strings and the brass pins makes the guitar a dream and a treat for the ears.

Value: The Big Baby Taylor is easily a better bargain than many $500-$600 guitars from a variety of manufacturers. It is sort of a “sleeper”, one of the best-kept secrets of the acoustic guitar world. It has big value in a medium price. Mine came with a very nicely padded gig bag (much better than most, much!). It’s hard to find an American-made guitar (acoustic or electric) in this price range at all, much less one that is a realy pleasure to play.

Wishes: My only wish? A one-piece neck, or at least one that is one-piece from the body to the end of the headstock (I like the adustability of the “bolt-on” neck).

10 thoughts on “Taylor Big Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar Review – Good things come in a 15/16ths package!

  1. Looking at buying my husband either a Big Baby or a Baby. The thing is, we want to be able to travel with it on airplanes and I’m not sure the Big Baby will fit in the overhead. Any thoughts on or experience with this? Also, how does the Baby sound versus the Big Baby. I can listen to recordings on YouTube but it’s just not he same. Thanks! I’ve got a line on a used USA-made Baby with original bag for a little over $200 — is that worth it?

    • Hi!

      The Big Baby and Baby Taylor guitars are wonderful instruments. They’ve got lovely ebony fretboards with a great screw-on neck and an excellent sound for guitars of their sizes.

      The sound difference between the Baby and the Big Baby is substantial. The Big Baby sounds like a small parlour guitar – something along the lines of a warm-sounding Ovation – lots of elegant mid-tones and high tones, with a moderate amount of bass tone. The Baby sounds almost like a big 4-string mandolin. It’s a beautiful sound that’s full of midtones and high tones, but with almost no bass tones. Between the two, the Big Baby is great for that “small guitar” sound. The Baby is a unique small-sized guitar that has a delightful bluegrass mandolin sound – but not a typical guitar sound. Note that both of these sound far better than actual travel guitars (like the Washburn Rover or the Martin Backpacker).

      Unfortunately, packing either the Baby or the Big Baby in the overhead is very problematic. It might be possible to fit the Baby in the overhead, but it would use almost the entire bin – and I’m not sure the bin would be deep enough for the Baby’s width. Most airlines can be very accommodating with guitars – where they can check them at the cabin or put them in the coat closet of first class. It’s best, however, to call them ahead of time to ask what they’ll do with a guitar.

      A Baby with the original bag (when the guitar is in great shape) is a good deal at $200. I love them… (I’ve had a Baby recently and sold it – I miss it, but it went to a good home :-).)

      If packing them in the overhead is a must, you could consider an actual travel guitar. I did a review on one here… Of course, there are many others as well…

      Hoping this helps!

      Jim

  2. Thanks for the info! I went ahead and got that Baby that I had found; on top of being minty and with it’s original bag, it’s recently been set up with new strings. At the price, I couldn’t really pass it up and I think if my husband hates it, I can offload it for what I put into it. I figured that the Big Baby would be better sounding since it’s bigger but they’re running a little more expensive (as are the GS Minis); we had started this plan by looking at travel guitars which my husband hates and when I asked him about Taylor Babies, he said that he liked them. I bought the one on a whim and hope he likes it — the surprise will be here shortly! If not, he can always upgrade, right? :o)

    One thing — I read something about using extra light strings on the Babies and the one that I bought has light strings… any advice in this realm? What I read said something about the lighter strings making it sound better and also putting less strain on the instrument. I don’t know how much sense that makes….

    • Hi!

      I’ve used Lights (11s) on a Baby and a Big Baby. It works well, but I do find that they sounded such that I wanted something more out of them. I switched to phosphor bronze strings (as opposed to 80/20 strings) and all the difference in the world was evident in the sound.

      As far as the strain on the instrument, I think they can handle 12s just as well.

      Opinions on the gauge of the strings for one’s acoustic (including smaller guitars such as the Baby and Big Baby) almost become a polarizing conversation most guitar circles.

      What’s the right thing? Put the kind on that you like to play and hear. Keep the guitar in a world with some moisture, keep the neck adjusted (gently) from time to time, and enjoy the music. I use 11s to 13s on my acoustics, depending on the guitar’s makeup and the desired sound.

      Glad you got it! It’s hard to go wrong with a Taylor.

      • Thanks for your input. I hate to polarize anyone but I wanted to make sure he doesn’t do something to hurt the guitar once he gets it. I’ll make sure to let him know that it can handle 12s and also your tip about the phospor bronze strings.

        Thanks again, I really hope he enjoys his little travel companion. And thanks also for your insights — for a violinist, your guitar expertise makes a lot of sense and has been very helpful.

  3. If your looking to buy a top notch box guitar for any type of music. This is it. they done there home work.At a great price.From the day you buy one.It tone gets better with age.

    • Thanks for the encouragement! I actually gave it to him yesterday and it sounds great. I got him a sitka spruce topped one (versus the mahogany) because I got a good price. The good news is he LOVES it! It really does sound like a regular-sized guitar except in the “volume” category but that’s exactly what I was hoping for. The mahogany may be a little more his style as far as sound goes, but he’s going to have this little guy set up and it’ll be perfect he says. I’m especially pleased with the fact that he says it PLAYS like a regular-sized guitar too.

      As always, thanks for your help on my decision. He was so pleasantly surprised (speechless, actually) and says it’ll be perfect.

  4. Hi guys, Excellent review, you summed the guitar up perfectly. I purchased a new Big Baby last week after a strum in the shop. I was hooked from the very first open E chord i hit on it, very surprised at the quality and sustain. Mine is made in Mexico though, yet it sounds so good, I doubt it could be bettered..but i may be biased! It came with Elixir nano strings, 10 or 11 guage, not sure which but they seem very well matched to the guitar, IMHO. I may well take your tip and change to phospor/bronze in a few months after the Elixirs lose their shine.
    cheers

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