Many new guitarists have to make a tough decision between questionable entry-level guitars and expensive proper ones. With this Taylor Academy 12 review, I’ll help you determine whether you’ve found the guitar to bridge that gap.

You see, Taylor designed the Academy series with beginners in mind. The idea is to offer the utmost comfort and ease of play that a beginner needs for fast growth without sacrificing the sound. And it’s one of few Taylor guitars under $500.

Playing a proper brand-name guitar is certainly more inspiring than playing a cheap cash grab, and it won’t hold you back or teach you bad form. The idea of an especially forgiving design with these qualities sounds like a dream.

Well, let’s find out if it’s as good as it seems.

Taylor Academy 12 Physical Features

  • Top: Solid Sitka spruce
  • Back and Sides: Layered sapele
  • Neck: Maple Taylor joint neck
  • Nut Width: 1 11/16”
  • Nut & Saddle: Nubone nut, Micarta saddle
  • Body Shape: Grand Concert
  • Electronics: Optional

What’s really cool about this 24.87-scale acoustic guitar is that there’s an armrest on the upper side of the belly. Together with the Grand Concert body shape, this makes it a very comfortable and ergonomic guitar to play both seated and standing.

Regarding materials, it features the classic solid Sitka soundboard and genuine West-African ebony 20-fret fingerboard. All components are of high quality, and so is the craftsmanship.

Although the Taylor Academy 12 is an entry-level guitar by Taylor standards, it’s a fine piece of craft suitable for its price range.

On the headstock, you get a set of die-cast chrome tuners that hold tunings well. Next to them, you’ll find a convenient truss rod for adjusting the neck tension. The standard Taylor Academy 12 has no electronics, but their Academy 12e version offers a built-in preamp system and tuner. Last but not least, the Taylor Academy 12 comes with a padded Taylor gig bag.

Finish

A semi-gloss varnish gives the guitar that extra shine and strength without impeding functionality. All visual features are minimal and sleek like they should on a Taylor.

How the Taylor Academy 12 Plays

What stands out first is how light the guitar feels due to its smaller-than-average design. The neck has a smooth, fast feel to it. The balanced thickness and string spacing means you neither have to stretch too far nor worry about depressing the wrong string. Also, the low string action further improves both comfort and playing speed. And with the truss rod, you can adjust it to your liking. Whether you’re a straight strummer or an avid fingerstyle or flat picker, the Taylor Academy 12 should fit you like a glove. It’s beginner-friendly without punishing experienced players.

Tone Quality

Sound analysis is the core of a good Taylor Academy 12 review, and it’s a joy to listen to this beautiful guitar. The modern combo of solid spruce and layered sapele provide a dynamic, warm, and very musical tone. It shimmers without being harsh, and the bass range is smooth. Tones ring out slowly without losing their sheen. That’s what I’d expect from any guitar with an ebony fretboard and artificial bone nut, but the Taylor Academy 12 really nails it.

What People Say

Players seem to love the Taylor Academy 12, as it has a 5-star rating on Amazon. Comments highlight the playability, sound quality, and how well it stays in tune.

Pricing

While $500 may seem steep for a simple beginner’s guitar, it’s worth it. Learning and advancing on a real guitar is easier and means you won’t have to unlearn bad workarounds developed from years with a cheapo guitar.

Taylor Academy 12 VS Taylor Big Baby

You may wonder about the difference between these two sister guitars, so let’s look into that.

The Big Baby Taylor (BBT) is slightly larger and has a dreadnought body shape, although it’s still a reduced-size guitar. Other than that, the two are very similar and feature the same general components. If you’re interested in hearing more, read my in-depth Big Baby Taylor review.

Pros & Cons

It’s time to start tying this Taylor Academy 12 review together. These are the key takeaways.

Pros

  • Rich, beautiful sound
  • High build quality
  • Smooth, fast playability
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Reliable brand

When it comes to high-quality entry-level guitars, a Taylor Academy 12 is a top choice. It’s well-rounded and doesn’t sacrifice one quality for another.

Cons

  • May be expensive for beginners
  • Somewhat specialized tone

If you expect the bass response and sheer volume of a dreadnought, this isn’t the guitar for you. It’s a more high-frequency-biased instrument, although the difference isn’t huge.

Taylor Academy 12 Review Conclusion

A Taylor A12 is an excellent choice for those who need a simple, beginner-friendly guitar that sounds and feels just right. While it costs a bit more than many entry-level guitars, there are many valid reasons, like comfort and sound quality. You won’t regret the investment. Are you looking for alternatives? Have a look here.