Semi-hollowbody guitars seem to be making a comeback, especially with younger artists today. We can remember The Beatles and other classic bands from the Fifties and Sixties sporting these large, chambered guitars. Not only are they seen in pop and jazz settings, but now they’ve made their way back into the realm of rock n’ roll.
Not all semi-hollowbody guitars have what it takes to stand in front of a Marshall or other high gain amplifier without squealing like a pig and sounding as muddy as that pig in a mud bath, but The Taylor T3/B isn’t like those other semi-hollowbodies. The T3/B would make Wilbur do back flips while Charlotte weaved messages into her web saying “Rockin’” and “Oh Yeah!”
The Taylor T3/B provides everything we’ve come to expect from a Taylor electric-acoustic guitar, and all the standard behavior we’d expect to get from a semi-hollowbody. But… don’t be afraid to plug this one into your rock rig, as it just may surprise you. This is one bad chameleon, able to sip tea with the jazz and pop crowd and then down shots of Jaeger with the rock gods. And we haven’t even talked about the dreamy Bigsby tremolo, either!
The Taylor T3/B is, in essence, an offspring of the Taylor T5 acoustic-electric and the Taylor SolidBody electric. In keeping with some very key design points that inspired its predecessors, the T3/B contains the same body design and neck as the T5 mated to the electronics (pickups) from the Taylor SolidBody collection. Our review model (the /B) also sported a cool Bigsby tailpiece.
Specifications are as follows:
- Semi-Hollowbody: a solid block of wood runs the entire length of the center body of the guitar.
- Quilted Maple Top
- Single-bolt T-Lock Sapele neck.
- 21 jumbo frets providing electric guitar feel/playability.
- Taylor Style 2 high-definition humbucker pickups.
- Three-way pickup selector.
- Push/Pull knobs: 1 Master Volume control and 1 Master Tone control. Pulling the Volume knob activates coil splitting and pulling the Tone knob activates a second capacitor to provide an additional range of tones.
- Bigsby Vibrato Tailpiece
Taylor loves to create their own electric guitar hardware, and in the case of the T3/B, they took a classic Bigsby tremolo and improved upon the design. Rather than attaching the Bigsby to a fixed bridge (traditional approach), they created a roller bridge so that the strings bend over a rotating end piece instead of the hard edge of a fixed bridge. The end result is designed to provide for better tuning stability and less wear on the strings at the point of contact.
Like all of the Taylor guitars we’ve reviewed, the T3/B provided excellent playability. There’s just something special about a Taylor neck and string action that is rarely matched straight from the factory (especially on acoustic instruments).
If you’re an accomplished player looking for one guitar that provides versatility and is able to adapt to almost any playing situation, look no further (it’s not the right instrument for metal guys). The T3/B provides a multitude of tones that include acoustic, electric, single coil, double coil, full-bodied jazz tones, and any combination thereof. For the weekend warrior playing a variety of styles, this is one guitar that can cover just about anything, all with an exceptional tone as well. You won’t feel like you sacrificed anything by leaving your prized collection at home.
The Bigsby vibrato tailpiece is a favorite of many jazz players. The only problem is that they usually have tuning issues and performance tends to be inconsistent. Not so with the Bigsby on the T3/B. Equipped with Taylor’s custom Roller Bridge, we found that this Bigsby provided smooth vibrato without any tuning issues.
The single Master Volume control and Master Tone control provided some limitation only when blending the neck and bridge pickup together. However, there were so many other options due to the push/pull operations of the controls that we didn’t miss the other two knobs at all. And with the capability to split the coils and engage a second tone stage, we had more tone options at our fingertips than we could possibly make use of.
Taylor’s control knobs for volume and tone include optional rubberized O-rings that fit around the knobs to provide extra grip for non-slip pinky control moves. The lip on the top of the knob also provides extra grip for push/pull action.
We test-drove our Taylor T3/B through a Bogner Ecstasy, which provided an excellent clean tone without robbing the guitar of its true colors. The T3/B delivered everything you would expect from a Taylor.
The humbucking pickups provided excellent attack and clarity in the clean channel of the amp. In the bridge pick-up, the sound was crisp and clear but slightly mellow due to the semi-hollowbody configuration. You can definitely hear the slight hint of an acoustic guitar in the tone. Switching to the neck pickup provided a deep, rich open tone. And with the second tone stage engaged via the Tone knob, we were able to achieve an excellent mellow jazz tone that would make any jazz artist proud.
Engaging the coil splitter via the volume control knob really expanded our options, giving us a multitude of tonal colors. Not only did it provide a single coil strat-like sound, but also provided an additional acoustic guitar characteristic. Combining the coil split and second tone stage along with the various three way pickup selector options, the tonal spectrum of this guitar seemed endless.
Enough of the pretty stuff, though. If you’re keeping up with music videos and what guitarists are playing today, you’ll notice a lot of young artists using semi-hollowbody guitars. They looks cool, but still need to have a great rock edge and tone. The Taylor T3 didn’t let us down there, either. Positioned on the bridge pickup and with everything wide open, this guitar had a voice to be heard. The sound was cutting edge and still remained smooth and sustaining, unlike some semi-hollowbodys that just turn into mud or feedback squeal with the addition of overdrive.
The coil tap added an additional crunchy tone for a vintage vibe. And if you love playing fusion, it’s all in there. The T3 provided everything from a subtle bite to a mellow singing voice for the jazz-fusion enthusiast.
Documentation and Product Support
The Taylor T3/B includes a tech specs sheet, info about the Elixer strings, warranty information, etc. The Taylor website provides excellent information regarding the guitar’s Push/Pull knob operation and other components of the guitar.
The Taylor T3/B (MSRP $3,398.00) we reviewed sells for approximately $2,500. The guitar isn’t cheap, but you’re getting a beautiful custom top and Taylor engineering on an instrument whose fit and finish are superb, not to mention a cool guitar case covered in faux alligator skin! If you don’t need a Bigsby Tailpiece, the T3 with traditional stop tailpiece starts at approximately $2,400.00 street.
Taylor offers a number of color options including Tobacco Sunburst, Honey Sunburst, Natural or Red Edgeburst along with a Stop Tailpiece or optional Bigsby/Roller Bridge.