This latest addition to Taylor’s American Dream line builds on its Grand Theater (GT) series of small-body guitars, the goal being to offer an American-made acoustic that balances subtle ornamentation with quality construction and above-average tone – essentially, luxury feel and sound without the luxury price. The AD11e acoustic/electric offers portability much like a travel guitar, or if you simply prefer a smaller body.
The AD11e-SB version has walnut back and sides with a solid spruce top. Rather than the company’s V-Class bracing, this one uses C-Class, and a 24.125″ scale adds to the compactness. The Expression System 2 pickup and preamp give plug-and-play options, with controls for Volume, Bass, and Treble on the upper bout. Adding poshness are a matte sunburst finish, tasty peghead overlay, elegantly small inlay dots, and black-satin tuners.
On the job, the AD11e-SB feels great out of the case. Befitting its size, there isn’t the low-end boom of a dreadnought, but you might be surprised by the bark of this diminutive box, which speaks to good materials and construction. As one expects from a Taylor, the neck is nicely carved and effortless to play – above-average for everything from gentle fingerpicking to Pete Townshend-style acoustic power chords. The unamplified output is surprisingly balanced, with a pleasing midrange and sweet high-end. When plugged in, you can dial-in as much low-end response as you want – you can certainly can make up for the smaller body dimension with bass from your amp, pre, or PA.
While there are other portable Taylors that cost less (and full-sized American Dream models are not much more), the AD11e-SB sits at the higher end of its small-body acoustics. With top-end features like its vintage finish, matte-walnut back and sides, and the Expression System 2 electronics, this box is a small gem.
This article originally appeared in VG’s May 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.