Player’s Guide to Taylor 100 Series Acoustic Guitars

Taylor 100 Series Guitar review

So you’ve probably heard of Taylor Guitars before. Either that or you’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere for the past few decades! With a firm reputation of producing high-quality, high-priced guitars, it’s no wonder that Taylor took a PR beating when they first introduced the Taylor 100 series “budget” acoustic guitars to the market.

The truth is that Taylor needed something to bridge the difference between their Baby Taylor acoustic guitars, a 3/4 size travel guitar, and their Taylor 300 series, the first series in their solid-body guitars.

Over time this entry-level line of guitars has gained traction among some players and continues to arouse curiosity among others. Unfortunately, most people just don’t know what makes the 100 Series unique in the very crowded guitar market.

A detailed view of the Taylor 100 Series acoustic guitarsIn this player’s guide to the Taylor 100 Series of acoustic guitars, I want to divide the discussion about the new 100 Series into three parts that will answer three very common questions:

  1. What makes the 100 Series different than other guitars/other Taylors?
  2. What are the different models available in the Taylor 100 Series?
  3. Is the Taylor 100 Series really worth the “not-so-budget” pricetag?

By the end of this review you should be equipped to make an informed decision on the Taylor 100 Series. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to convince you to buy it. This guitar isn’t for everybody, so I’ll cap this guide off with some alternative guitar options should you decide against Taylor.

So with that said, let’s begin. I would like to share my review of the Taylor 100 Series…

Taylor 100 Series | The Differences

The primary draw of the Taylor 100 Series to the average guitar player is an acoustic guitar produced by a top-of-the-line manufacturer using some of the most advanced luthier technologies and quality materials.

Here’s a quick look at how the 100 Series stacks up against other manufacturers, against the 200 series and against other Taylor Guitars.

Taylor 100 Series vs Other Entry-Level Guitars

While it’s true that you’re going to be paying a lot for the Taylor name on the headstock, it’s also true that the quality of this guitar compared to the ones made in Japan, China or anywhere else in Asia is night and day different. You will get the signature “Taylor sound” thanks to the solid Sitka Spruce top and the unbelievable action thanks to their precision manufacturing technology.

To be fair, the term “Layered Sapele” is Taylor’s nice way of saying that this guitar uses laminate wood. You’ll find this to be true on a lot of entry-level guitars, although many of them don’t boast the solid top that Taylor always does.

The Taylor 100 Series is a high price to swallow and frankly there are other very good alternatives that will sound just as good and cost you hundreds less. What Taylor offers that these guitars often don’t is a top-of-the-line electronics system, a brand name that will retain its value and last but not least the signature Taylor sound.

–> See pricing and additional reviews of the Taylor 110ce <–

Taylor 100 Series vs 200 Series

The Taylor 100 Series vs 200 Series acoustic guitars. What's the difference?

A lot of people get confused between the Taylor 100 Series of acoustic guitar and their 200 Series (they look a bit alike, don’t they?). To make it simple, I’ll just list out the three primary differences between the two series. They are:

  1. Wood Choices: While the 100 series is strictly Layered Sapele for the back/sides, the 200 series offers the additional options of Layered Rosewood or Layered Koa.
  2. The Back/Sides Finish: there is a visible difference between the two that is chalked up to the wood finish. The 100 Series has thin Varnish that can be described as “shiny.” While the 200 Series is completed using a Satin finish, which doesn’t shine as much. The finish on the Sitka Spruce top is the same between the two.
  3. The Gig Bag: while the 100 Series comes with the soft Taylor gig bag, the 200 Series provides a sturdier hard gig bag. They’re both great bags, but the hard gig bag is useful if you travel more.

Other than these three characteristics (and the price, of course) everything else between the 100 and 200 Series, including sizes, electronics, hardware, etc is the same.

*For more on the Taylor 200 Series, see the Taylor info page.

Taylor 100 Series Compared to the 300 Series

For those that are familiar with the the Taylor Guitar brand, honestly the best way to describe the 100 series is like calling it the “baby brother of the 300 series” (a guitar that I personally own and love). While the 300 Series is a larger guitar, it shares most of the same specs including a Sitka Spruce top, Sapele back/sides and the ES pickup system.

The difference is that the 300 series uses solid Sapele for the back and sides, not layered, and utilizes the full ES pickup system as opposed to the ES-T, producing a more accurate and full-tone sound. In addition, Taylor offers many other body type and other options on all of its series except the 100 and 200.

However, because of the similarities between the 100 and the 300 series it’s worth considering whether you want to spend the extra money to upgrade to the “full version”. This is something I’ll discuss further in the final section below, but keep this in the back of your mind as you continue your research.

*For more on the Taylor 300 Series, see the Taylor info page.

Taylor 100 Series | Model Breakdown

The Taylor 100 Series is currently broken down into 5 different models, although the differences between some of them are negligible. The numbering system follows the same pattern that you’ll find with any Taylor guitar, which means that a “10” is a Dreadnought body while a “14” is a Grand Auditorium style. The “e” stands for “electronics” while the “c” stands for “cutaway”.

The 5 available models are the 110ce, the 110e, the 114ce, the 114e and the 150e, all of which are detailed below:

 Taylor 110ceTaylor 110eTaylor 114ceTaylor 114eTaylor 150e

Taylor-110ce

Taylor-110e

Taylor-114ce

Taylor-114e

Taylor-150e

Price$799$599$799$599$699
Category6-string6-string6-string6-string12-string
Body StyleDreadnoughtDreadnoughtGrand AuditoriumGrand AuditoriumDreadnought
CutawayYesNoYesNoNo
ElectronicsYes (ES-T)Yes (ES-T)Yes (ES-T)Yes (ES-T)Yes (ES-T)

Buy-from-Amazon

Buy-from-Amazon

Buy-from-Amazon

Buy-from-Amazon

Buy-from-Amazon

It’s interesting to note that the only difference between the Taylor 110ce and the Taylor 110e models is the presence or absence of a cutaway. That one feature alone will cost you an extra $200! You can see the same difference between the Taylor 114ce and the Taylor 114e.

Is having a cutaway an absolute must? Personally I have a hard time justifying $200 for the cutaway, especially since I know that my preference for cutaways is more for the visual appeal than for my use of this portion of the fretboard. The choice, however, is yours to make.

Taylor 100 Series | Price Tag & Alternatives

Taylor 100 Series is how much?So you’ve seen the numbers above and there’s a possibility that you’re experiencing sticker shock right now. That’s not a bad thing.

The reality is that the 100 Series was never mean to be categorized as a “budget guitar”. If you’re looking for a cheap guitar to learn on, this isn’t it. The 100 Series was originally envisioned to be a bridge between Taylor’s line of travel-sized guitars, namely the Taylor Big Baby or the Taylor GS Mini, and their established lines of full-sized professional guitars.

–> See pricing and additional reviews of the Taylor 110ce <–

For many guitarists the Taylor 100 Series is a backup guitar – one that they either travel with, keep in a different tuning or consider more of a “utility guitar” that doesn’t sacrifice sound for the sake of savings.

With that in mind, if you plan for the 100 Series to be your primary guitar, reconsider. If that’s you, listen closely – you’ve got two options.

#1 If you have the budget, UPGRADE

I touched on this in my comparison between the 100 and 300 Taylor series of acoustic guitars above. If you plan to make this your primary guitar, it is worth it to upgrade to at least the 300 series, if not higher.

Why?

The rich sound of an all-solid wood guitar can’t be measured or reviewed with words. The natural reproduction of a full ES pickup system running through a sound system will make people stop and listen. It’s what makes a Taylor a Taylor. If you purchase the 100 Series you’ll be happy, but you’ll always be looking at other Taylors with a hint of envy.

The Taylor 310ce acoustic guitar–>Check pricing on the Taylor 310ce acoustic guitar<–

I’ve had my Taylor 310ce for over a decade now.  And, it sounds better now than when I first bought it.   I invested in that guitar and I’ve never regretted it.

#2 If your budget is tight, consider alternatives

For most, dropping over $1,000 on a guitar could be bad for your bank and for your marriage! If that’s the case for you, don’t fret (ha…get it?! “fret”?).

There are some excellent guitars very similar to the Taylor 100 Series.  These won’t cost as much but will work as an interim guitar until you save for a solid-wood Taylor. They might not carry the same brand recognition as a Taylor would but you’ll still have a beautiful-sounding guitar.

One particular alternative is the Seagull S6, one of my favorite entry-level acoustics. This will run you a little over $400.  Which is still pricey for some but still cheaper than the Taylor 100’s. It has a solid Cedar top and Canadian Wild Cherry back/sides, all solid. Unfortunately, the original doesn’t come with a pickup system.

The Seagull S6 solid-wood acoustic guitar

For those with an even tighter budget, consider the Takamine G Series of guitars. There are plenty of options ranging from $150-$350.  But I suggest the G30 with a solid spruce top and laminate mahogany back/sides. Takamine produces a very nice-sounding guitar that even includes a good pickup system.

The Takamine G30 Acoustic Guitar

Concluding Thoughts

The Taylor 110ce and 110e dreadnoughts are excellent sounding guitars, as are the grand auditorium-style 114ce and 114e. For use as a secondary or utility guitar, the Taylor 100 Series shines. It provides that beautiful Taylor sound and the ability to plug the guitar into any sound system.

If you are shopping around for your primary guitar, however, it’s worth looking either to upgrade to a better Taylor.  Or consider a different alternative. As an avid Taylor fan (and owner) it’s hard for me to say that, but it’s true!

Figure out what fits for you and best of luck purchasing your next guitar – Taylor or not.

 

20 Responses to Player’s Guide to Taylor 100 Series Acoustic Guitars

  1. Wayne Pecinich says:

    Hello Josh,
    Awesome Site! I’m still searching for that ultimate 12. Used to have a vintage Martin 12 back in the late 60’s. Got married and ended up trading it for a piano for the new wife. (boy I regret that one, not the wife but parting with my Martin). LOL. What’s your thoughts on this new “Taylor 150e Spruce/Sapele Dreadnought 12-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar”? Looks pretty decent and all wood. I’ve been looking at the Martins again but they are using HPL on back and sides. What? Have a tight budget and $699.00 for this Taylor seems sweet. Lowest I’ve ever seen. Any suggestions?

    Cheers,
    Thanks,
    Wayne

    • Larry says:

      Wayne, I have both a Taylor 114e and a Martin DX1RAE – the MPL back/sides guitar. I have several other acoustics, including a Taylor 528e, a GS-Mini, a Seagull, plus I’ve owned all sorts of acoustics over the years. The one criteria I have for choosing a guitar is how it sounds to me. The Martin DX1RAE (the X-series) blows the Taylor 114e away, despite containing a lot of man-made material. The Taylor ES-T system is nowhere as good as the Fishman in the Martin, either. The Martin represents tremendous value, in my opinion. So much so that I am about to sell my 114e and get ANOTHER Martin X series!

      I use both guitars in a gigging band, and I use cheapo guitars as my main guitars because they get abused, beer spills, banged around, and played hard. Both the two cheapos I mentioned have stood up very well, and never let me down. I can afford a better guitar for stage work, but as long as the audience doesn’t care, neither do I.

    • DAVE says:

      I have a Taylor 816 as my primary guitar and was looking for a travel guitar. Once I picked up and played the 114 E, I just fell in love with it. I think this guitar plays and sounds as good as my 816. I couldn’t be happier! If you haven’t played one I strongly suggest you pick it up.

  2. Will Renker says:

    Larry…I must disagree with your comparison of the Taylor 110e vs the Martin Martin DX1RAE! I have been playing professionally for twice your years and the Taylor is far superior in tone and play ability to the Martin you suggest. I have a friend who has one for his young son who is learning. The HPL and Richlite fretboard/bridge are all man-made and not wood…they just do not resonate and the has the fastest note decay of any guitar I’ve played except maybe an Ovation. The Martin is unbalanced, boomy and has not a hint of presence. It sounds completely mushy, not much more than a subwoofer. The mortice and tenon joint will eventually need a reset and will cost more than the guitar. I have two solid wood Martins and the HPL is IMO strange stuff tonewise it has a decay faster than an Ovation.

    As for the Taylor, it uses all wood (albeit super high quality laminates). The neck,action and future maintenance of the Taylor is a cut above the Martin in every way. As for tone…the Taylor is bright, complex and “way” more resonate, with a huge presence. Something the Martin lacks. Taylor neck/action plays like a Strat and is 3 times louder and its intonation is perfectly. The stratabond neck is a dud of weird laminates. The Martin will never age as the Taylor does due to its plasticy materials. While tone is subjective…I’m sure every musician would agree that Taylor 100 series is a higher caliber music tool made of all wood, plays like a dream, sounds bigger and better, is far more balanced tone-wise acoustically than the Martin X Series.

    The Taylor EST pick up is certainly on par with the old Fishman Sonitone technology. The EST uses individual sensors where the Fishman uses a mono piezo strip and a somewhat noisier preamp. That being said they both can be eq’ed in various ways but the Fishman, tends to be somewhat shrill and less acoustic to my ears.

  3. Howard Forman says:

    Hi Josh,

    Now that the 114es has the es-2 pickup and is $150 more than the 114e, is it now wortwhile?

  4. Mark Connell says:

    Entry level is just that, for any maker. I have tried a number of acoustics over the years like everyone else. It all comes down to personal preference. Currently I’m using the S6, all wood, hand made, you can’t beat it in my opinion. I have had this guitar for years, it gets better with age. I needed a beater for a 12 string and actually use a Mitchel . Sure, low end guitar center, but it is chimey and does the trick. Budget and taste…..oh and talent.

  5. Steve Martin says:

    great article.. I am still trying to determine where my 110 was made.. It has an 11 digit serial number that does not indicate the factory.. It was built in 2005. February of that year. I have had some people say that it was made in Mexico and others in California, not a big deal unless you want to indicate the factory of origin when selling the guitar.. any ideas based on the date?

    • Haze says:

      In the sound hole…does the top of the tag say Made in El Cajon? My 2004 was made in US and says made in El Cajon.

      • Steve Martin says:

        I found out that it was made in San Diego.. El Cajon actually.. I since purchased a 320e for finger style.. Man what a nice instrument..

    • Ric says:

      All 100 and 200 are made in Tecate Mexico.

      • jERRY says:

        Wrong, the label on inside will tell you where it is made. My 110 2005 was made in El Cajon.

      • Ric says:

        Taylor needs to chime in on this issue then don’t they. My understanding is they are made there now. They may have been made in El Cajon before but not now. Correct me if I am wrong. Then…Maybe I will buy one…lol.

  6. Sans says:

    310 and a 110 are the same size

  7. Mike says:

    look inside the sound hole at the sticker on the bottom of the neck, do you see “made in mexico”?

  8. Haze says:

    I have a 310, 110 and a Baby Taylor. No one mentioned the 110 has a narrower neck. It is 1 11/16 vs 1 3/4. I bought it as a backup to have when family comes to town. To my ears it sounds better than the 310. My 310 is very bright and I like a mellowed tone. The 110 is also easier to play because if the thinner neck. Mine is made in the USA (2004) and I found it for $300 at GC…kind of worn in some areas, but I like that look. The Baby Taylor is cool but doesn’t sound good.

  9. Ric says:

    I have a Taylor 314ce that I bought brand new. Love it!
    My wife went to a local annual flee market and picked me up a Taylor 110, plain Jane here…no pickups, its all acoustic, which is fine with me at the time. Lately though, I have been wondering if I should do the upgrade from Taylor Factory for the renew and install of the ES2 System? $300. This was also the price my wife bought the Taylor 110 for. I use this as my go to guitar for practicing with my wife on upright acoustic piano, (loud) and drown me out…lol. For church service I will use my Taylor 314ce.
    If I did the install, my guitar out of pocket cost would be $600. (Not adding shipping or handling on top of that).
    What are your opinions.
    Have a blessed day!
    Ric

  10. Lee Simms says:

    I had an interesting experience in a shop while buying an upgrade guitar for my son as a birthday surprise. I targeted Taylor as the producer I wanted to purchase. There happened to be a guy from out of town buying a Seagull dulcimer for a camping trip, but could play some serious guitar. He mentioned that he has stuck with a his custom made Martin for the last 30 years, but likes to play around. His ear recognition was better than mine! We went through about 11 different models/styles ranging from $3400 to $800. Strangely enough the overwhelming best tonal and full sounding guitar was the particular 114ce off the rack. Is that odd or unusual that an $800 model sounded noticeably better than many levels higher crafted models? Could it be luck or should I be wary of the longevity of this model?
    Lee Simms

  11. Mark Connell says:

    Lee,
    Guys like that, it’s not the guitar. It’s all in their touch. You heard his talent, not the instrument

  12. Russ Seuffert says:

    First off – a great article !

    Secondly, on my experience with the 110e – I tested many guitars before buying my 110e and the choice was easy. Taylor impressed me as a very fine guitar in the under $1000 category.

    I bought the 110e, however, it is a prototype with a mahogany top instead of a sitka top.
    It’s a one-off which is cool, but the mellow sound is what sold me. It was made in Mexico which, BTW, I don’t see as a negative. It’s a quality build that I enjoy playing every day.

    I’m also a Martin fan having owned a Martin D12-20 (12 string) since 1970. It still plays and sounds like you would imagine any Martin would sound. To this day the neck is straight as an arrow.

  13. Alucient AX says:

    Awesome share it is actually. Friend on mine has been awaiting for this info.

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