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.
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).