The Taylor T3
Some guitar players never touch a tone knob, while others view it as the Holy Grail of guitar controls. If that sounds like you, put up your antenna and tune to the Taylor T3, a semi-hollowbody electric that provokes many tonal questions. Is it a rock axe? Jazz or blues box? A country plank? Maybe it’s all of them. Let’s take a twang to find out.
The T3 is a made of sapele back and sides with a maple top. Its sapele neck has a scale of 247/8″ (slightly longer than a Les Paul), and sports a 21-fret ebony fingerboard with dot inlays. It has a single-cutaway design with a Venetian cut and white binding on its body and fingerboard. The nut and saddle are from Tusq, while the stop tailpiece, bridge, tophat knobs, and other hardware are chrome. Part of the guitar’s subtle Art Deco aesthetic are reflected in its very “moderne” sound holes.
The heart of the T3’s sound are its Taylor HD humbuckers with coil-splitting functions. This is where things get intriguing. On the surface, these are excellent – capable of delivering meaty tones from clean to crunch, and all controlled by a three-way switch. Yet for you tone hounds, pull up the Volume knob and you suddenly have a full range of single-coil tones to choose from (neck, neck/bridge, and bridge). In this mode, the Tone controls act a bit differently, too: instead of a simple passive tone roll-off, it can accentuate the midrange with an extra boost. Next comes the kicker – pull up the Tone knob and you have yet another range of frequencies to explore. Taylor put another capacitor in the circuit, which is triggered by the push/pull pot. Some of the tones this circuit generates can sound like a Strat, while others resemble an acoustic guitar. More startling is the overall power and reactiveness of the T3’s Tone and Volume knobs. You might think it’s a battery-powered active circuit, but incredibly, the circuit is all-passive. It’s just done really well, providing a dramatic range of tonal colors.
Plugged in, the T3 feels comfortable in the hand. The neck is slim yet wide, speaking to Taylor’s acoustic-guitar lineage. The body is nicely balanced and didn’t slip off the lap. Though the T3 can rock hard, you probably wouldn’t put it in the hands of a metal player; for any other genre, however, you can clearly see a niche; country guys will dig the spank of the single-coil sounds and its sparkling tonal range. It also sounds great for any manner of Travis-style, banjo roll, or claw fingerpicking. Jazzers will love noodling with the darker tone textures and experimenting between humbucker and single-coil tones of the post-war archtop era. Blues rippers will dig the attitude of the humbuckers and single-coils, as well as how the guitar sounds when you pull and pop the strings. Rock/pop players will love all of the above, plus its ability to handle overdrive. You can even simulate the clean DI sounds of an electric guitar plugged straight into a mixer, like those heard on the vaunted Chester & Lester album from Chet Atkins and Les Paul. After a while, you may lose count of the sound and tone possibilities.
The T3 is an immaculately built semi-hollowbody that will appeal to a variety of gigging pros, studio cats, and home-based pickers, particularly to those for whom a mere quarter-turn of the Tone knob is the difference between night and day, between success and failure.
This article originally appeared in VG January 2013 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.