Taylor Guitars has been building and acoustic guitars for the last 30 years. In all that time there has not been a single electric guitar offering from Bob Taylor and company – until the T5 Thinline Five-way was introduced in 2005
The T5 started out as a just an experiment – taking a prototype bass body, adding the Expression acoustic pickup system, as well as a couple of humbucker pickups. Mr. Taylor was fired up enough to go ahead and develop a full- fledged electric guitar.
Available in a variety of woods and finishes, I reviewed the T5 Custom with a Koa wood top, priced at $3,718. The electronics include an acoustic body sensor, a hidden neck humbucker, and a neck humbucker pickup.
The back and sides are made from Sapele, also known as African mahogany, and the neck is Tropical American mahogany. It sports a 21-fret, ebony fingerboard with the Taylor “Artist” inlay. The acoustic bridge contains a bone saddle. For me, this puts it in the acoustic/electric category, instead of it being a true electric guitar of the traditional mold.
The T5 is a short-scaled instrument (24 7/8-inch) that allows for easy bending on the .011 thru .049 Electric Elixir strings that it ships with. The unwound G string might be foreign feeling to players that mainly play acoustic. Taylor does offer an optional saddle that can allow the user to string up a heavier set of acoustic strings with a wound G.
Neck width at the neck is 1 11/16 inches, which is the most common nut width for electrics. The neck joint is interesting. The T-lock Neck System is comprised of a single bolt that holds the neck and body together, instead of a traditional electric four-bolt neck system.
The body measures 16-inches wide, 20-inches long and has an overall length of 40.75-inches. The Thinline designation is the result of the 2.35-inch thickness of the body. This thin body, along with a comfortable neck shape, makes for an easy and inspiring playing experience.
The volume, bass and treble knobs are mounted on the top of the guitar along with a visible electric pickup near the bridge. There is a five-way switch located on the upper shoulder that lets you choose between various combinations of the body sensor and two humbucker pickups. Some of the pickup combinations are best suited for plugging into a guitar rig or amplifier, while other positions are optimized for going directly into a console or PA system.
I tried out the T5 using a ’94 Matchless DC-30. Position 1 is a blend of the neck humbucker and the body sensor. Position 2 gives you the neck humbucker pickup only with a warm, but detailed jazz tone. Position 3 is the bridge pickup only, and Position 4 is the neck and bridge pickups in parallel wiring,. Position 5 is the neck and bridge pickups in series wiring.
In Position 1, you get a nice, natural acoustic sound that doe not suffer from the typical piezo harshness when taken direct. Works great for finger picking or full out strumming. This is due to the blending of the humbucker pickup.
Unplugged, even with the thin profile, the premium-Koa topped T5 projects a surprising amount of volume and tone. Good for singer-songwriters who may want a nice mid, present-treble sound strumming along or fingerpicking while song-writing. It is not loud enough to gig solo, but it does project enough to mic up in the studio to blend in with the pickup system.
While none of the T5’s sounds came across as a surprise (it mostly sounds like an acoustic with electric pickups), I realized that even though I own 40 or so guitars, no one guitar has all these tones. This is versatile guitar, especially for giggers who need a palette of different analog (no digital here) sounds from one guitar
If you are looking for a guitar for your professional gigs or sessions that includes a really good acoustic DI sound and a wide palette of electric tones, the T5 is definitely recommended. It probably will not replace your favorite electric, but it could very well replace your favorite live/direct acoustic – especially for stage work.
For more information, go to www.taylorguitars.com.