Taylor’s AD (American Dream) line aims to put affordable U.S.-made acoustics in the hands of most any player. The new AD17e employs what Taylor dubs “woods with character,” meaning cosmetic appearance is secondary to sonic properties.
The 17e’s essential specs include a slope-shouldered body with solid spruce top, African ovangkol back and sides, and mahogany neck (25.5″ scale), with a 20-fret eucalyptus fretboard. While visually striking, look closely and you’ll see an open-pore grain pattern and mellower satin finish. Taylor offers plenty of guitars with fancy finishes and inlays, but this isn’t one of them.
The Grand Pacific design also incorporates Taylor’s V-Class bracing in a way that produces a warmer tone, vs. that classic “bright” Taylor tone. For live performance, it offers Expression System 2 (ES2) electronics with controls for Treble, Bass, and Volume, and three piezo sensors behind the bridge (rather than under it), which Taylor feels is superior to achieve a natural acoustic tone. To deal with any feedback issues, there’s a Phase switch on the preamp, accessed by reaching into the sound hole.
The American Dream plays exceptionally well, with a fast, easy-to-play neck and setup. Tonally, look for a warm, midrange-nuanced tone, and if you turn the Treble and Bass controls past middle, you get a midrange cut, which can be useful in live and recording situations.
In all, the AD17e truly feels and sounds like a far pricier acoustic, thanks to its pleasing tone, neck carve, and that rich African ovangkol wood. If you’ve always wanted a dreamy Taylor without the wallet dent, take a look at this one. At the end of the day, pretty much every pro player will tell you a good guitar is more about tone than looks.
This article originally appeared in VG’s March 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.