Amped Review: Taylor Custom Shop Solidbody + Loaded Pickguard

Two guitars for the price of one      03/07/12

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It’s not every day you get propositioned to dream up your own custom guitar, so when the opportunity comes a knockin’ you got to grab it with both hands.
 
Back in January, the guys at Taylor asked the guys at Sonic Amped if we wanted a guitar for reviews, guitar shows, and lessons. All we had to do was go online and choose the body shape, pickup configuration, colour, and bridge type we wanted, and they’d do the rest.
 
Well we did go online, and they went ahead and did the rest. The result is our very own Sonic Amped Taylor Solid Body electric guitar; it’s a beauty. Taylor were also kind enough to offer us different two ‘loaded pickguards’ so that I could have a different configuration to Rob (see the video to find out more).

So let’s have a look at what we got:

Body: Swamp Ash
Body shape: Classic double cutaway
Neck: Maple
Fretboard: Indian Rosewood
Bridge: Tremolo
Pickup config (a): 3xHD mini humbuckers
Pickup config (b): 3x single coils

If you’d have done things differently, you can go and build your own virtual guitar here, by the way:

http://www.taylorguitars.com/guitars/electric/solidbody/configurator

So what are my observations? Well you’ll have to watch the video for a more detailed analysis (and to judge the sound for yourself) but here’s my main thoughts:

  • Loaded pickguard option is pure genius, and very well priced. Make your Taylor sound like a strat, and then without any soldering, make it sound like a Tele Deluxe within five minutes.
  • The quality of the pickups is fantastic, they sound beautiful, but make sure you play with the tone knob because you can definitely find a sweet spot.
  • The neck has a fairly flat profile, if you are used to playing a Les Paul then it might feel a bit odd to you, but it reminded me most of the Ibanez Jem and Jackson Dinky neck profiles.
  • It’s tiny! The neck is quite deep set into the body and the horns extend quite a way, when you’re used to playing a Gretsch G5120 it really does feel quite small. If you’re looking to get up and down the neck quickly then you will be very pleased.
  • The colour finishes of the guitar can’t be conveyed that brilliantly through still photographs, so always try and find a video of the colour option you are looking for (if possible). I had no idea that my guitar was going to have a metallic finish (clue was in the name though) until I got it out of the box!
  • The guitar has an air of class about it, as soon as we put a new set of strings on it we were blown away. The reason for the new strings was the multiple temperature changes endured during shipping by the original set. When you play it, you can feel the love put into it by the guys at Taylor, for me that’s a really important attribute. It sounds great, plays well. I think it’s common practise at Taylor for the action to be set as low as possible without getting fret buzz, and they got this spot on. I’m a heavy fretter though, so just keep that in mind if you are like me and play guitar like an angry ape.

 


The one thing to take away from the experience is the fact that even though you can make the custom solidbodies sound like a tele, or an SG, or a strat, they always have this unique Taylor flavouring to the sound. You also know, right away, that you are playing a Taylor.

I liked the guitar as soon as it started to feel natural in my hands, and from then on it has really grown on me. It’s always the one I pick up and play when I’ve got a spare few minutes before going to work in the morning.

But it feels plain wrong not to warm up before playing it, you cringe when you pick it off the hanger and play a sloppy blues riff. Really, it’s a crime to be at anything other than your best when you play a Taylor, the guitar was built specifically for you, it deserves the best in life!

 


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