Over the last week, I've left my Martin 00028 VS in the case and have been playing a Taylor Big Baby. Why? I wanted to provide you with an honest, in depth review of this guitar. Too often I come across guitar reviews by people who have not spent any time playing the actual guitar. Playing a guitar for 5 minutes is not enough time to get a good opinion of how good the guitar is.
What is the Big Baby Taylor?
So you've heard of the Baby Taylor, and it's nice, but it sounds like a kiddy guitar. The Big Baby Taylor sounds much better. Before I bought this guitar, and yes I actually bought this guitar, I played the Baby Taylor. It's a great guitar if you want a small guitar, but still want decent sound and playability.
The Big Baby Taylor is a 15/16th size guitar. The body is a little smaller than a full size guitar. Instead of it being 16 inches from bottom to top, it's 15 inches. It's a dreadnought that isn't as large.
The top on the BBT is solid sitka spruce. The back and sides are a layered sapele. This is the wood configuration for most guitars in the $200 to $500 price range. The spruce top is going to give you most of the sound. The back and sides don't vibrate as much as the top. This is why manufacturers decide to cut costs with layered wood.
Sitka spruce is going to give you a wide range with a bright sound. It's a popular tonewood frequently used for its well rounded sound qualities.
Here is an up close picture of the sitka spruce top.
Here is a shot of the back of the guitar.
I'll be honest, I didn't have high hopes for this guitar. I have changed my mind after having it about a week. It has a great sound. It has good bass, and a lot of punch. It can also have a soft sound should you play it that way. This guitar makes me want to write a song. It has that feel to it. It's a work horse. It plays amazingly well. When I pick it up, I am not disappointed.
Here is a short clip I recorded playing on the guitar. I used an SM57 microphone to get high quality audio. Listen to it with headphones or good speakers.
Speaking of playability, the necks on Taylor guitars are perfect. If you have baby hands like me, you are going to love the neck on this guitar. My other guitar has a wider neck, and the Big Baby Taylor's neck feels so playable in my hand. This neck combined with the Elixir strings makes a great combination.
Whoever decided to put elixir strings on all Taylor guitars needs a raise. Go to any guitar store and pick up a high end Martin. Notice those nasty strings? Pick up a high end Taylor and the coated Elixir strings are bright and shiny. This has to sway people over to Taylor guitars.
One odd thing I have never seen before is the two visible screws that secure the neck to the body. I am guessing this was necessary to reduce the cost of assembling the guitar. The heel of the neck is also non-existent. The neck goes right into the body, no messing around.
Here is a picture of the heel
And here is a picture of the screws in the neck.
If you are smaller in size, you may shy away from dreadnought guitars. A full size dreadnought can feel massive. I personally find them comfortable to play. My mother had a Martin D28 when I was growing up and this thing looked huge on her!
The BBT is a dreadnought body but it's an inch smaller. They call it a 15/16th size. This makes it easier to hold in your lap. It doesn't feel like a big guitar. It's comfortable to play. I've already been sitting on the couch every night playing it. It makes me want to try the GS mini, which is a bit smaller than the Big Baby Taylor.
Some people try to call this guitar a travel guitar. It's not that small. It's smaller than a dreadnought, but not by much. The Baby Taylor would be a good travel guitar. The Big Baby Taylor would be a good travel guitar in that if something happened to it, it's not a big deal. Well, not as big of a deal as something happening to a $2,000 guitar.
Big Baby Taylor vs Taylor GS Mini
Many people also consider the GS Mini. It's a smaller sized grand symphony model that is similarly priced. If you are stuck deciding between the two, consider what body shape you like more. Do you like the bolder sound of a dreadnought or the more articulate sound of a grand symphony? Consider the woods available for the GS mini. You can get a much different sounding guitar if you go with different tonewoods. The GS mini is smaller than the Big Baby Taylor, but not as small as the Baby Taylor. I could see how some players would love the smaller size of the GS mini. See my review on the GS Mini for more info.
Given that this guitar is a Taylor, I had high expectations for quality. I can say that the build quality for this guitar is fantastic. The edges of the frets are smooth. The neck is smooth. Everything is as it should be for a Taylor.
Just look at these smooth fret edges.
I love the label in this guitar. It gives it a high quality feel.
Have a look at the classic Taylor headstock.
The Gig Bag
As far as gig bags go, this thing is quality. Nice leather appointments on the handles. Back straps for carrying it on your back. Heavy duty zippers that look like they will last. This isn't your usual cheap gig bag. Kudos to Taylor for providing a nice gig bag for this guitar. I'm impressed with the quality of the gig bag. It's also cool that it's a light brown color. Almost reminds me of something military grade. Maybe they designed it like this for all the Marines at Camp Pendleton in San Diego?
Anything bad about this guitar?
I'm sure at this point you are wondering if this is another one of those overly positive reviews. It's not. There are a some cons to this guitar.
The first thing is the price. At $450, it's priced on the higher side of the "solid top laminate back and sides" level of guitar. I played a Yamaha FG830 that sounded great, and was $299. It had a little more bass too, due to the full size body and scalloped bracing.
It's not a full sized dreadnought. I guess if that is what you wanted, you could by the Academy 10 for $50 more. While playing this guitar it has a full sound. But I'm wondering how much fuller it could be if it was a full size dreadnought.
It does not have electronics. This isn't a deal breaker for me as I don't plan on playing any gigs with it, but some players might see this as a drawback. Though $650 will get you a GS Mini-e that has the ES-B electronics.
Taylor Big Baby Taylor John Holloway Rating: 4 out of 5