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.
In 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:
- What makes the 100 Series different than other guitars/other Taylors?
- What are the different models available in the Taylor 100 Series?
- 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.
Taylor 100 Series vs 200 Series
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 110ce||Taylor 110e||Taylor 114ce||Taylor 114e||Taylor 150e|
|Body Style||Dreadnought||Dreadnought||Grand Auditorium||Grand Auditorium||Dreadnought|
|Electronics||Yes (ES-T)||Yes (ES-T)||Yes (ES-T)||Yes (ES-T)||Yes (ES-T)|
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.