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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Electric Guitar Review!
Taylor SolidBody 2 Standard
Dual-Humbucker Electric Guitar








Brevis...

Price: $2,699 ($1,999 - street)

Likes: variable sounds, lightweight

Dislikes: Only one volume/one tone

More info: Taylor SB2S Guitar





by John Gatski

  “Taylor makes solid body electric guitars"?, a surprised and inquisitive phrase I heard repeatedly when showing off a shiny new Taylor SolidBody 2 Standard (SB2S) to several of my musician friends. I politely responded: “Why yes, they do, and it is quite a good one.”
   In reviewing the Taylor $2,700 SB2S double cutaway, twin-humbucker model, I came away impressed. As with its highly regarded acoustic guitars, the USA-made Taylor solid bodies are excellent electric guitars — with high-end wood and hardware that rival high-end factory or custom shop electric axes on the market.

Features
  For the review, Taylor sent me an SB2S with two Taylor designed/manufactured alnico 5 magnet humbuckers with split coils. The SB2S sample came with a solid, chambered mahogany body, and quilted maple top. Hardware included Taylor tremolo bridge, five-way pickup selector switch, tone and volume controls, and locking tuners.
  Taylor also allows the customer to custom configure his or her guitar online, based on factory options, and then forward those requested features to a dealer who orders the guitar. Gives a bit more choice to the player who may want to mix and match features from different models. All Taylor solid-body electrics also feature solderless plug and play pickups in both direct mount and loaded pickup options.




  The 22-fret SB2S tropical mahogany neck width is a comfortable 1/11-16 inches, and the fret board radius is 12-inches. The fretboard is made from solid black ebony. The neck also sports black plastic binding, and it is attached via a scarf joint that is held in place by a very large bolt that threads through the bottom of heel. The test guitar had a tight neck pocket, and it felt very stable. The headstock is angled at 14 degrees, which enhances sustain.
   The top-loading Taylor tremolo bridge features a modern knife-edge, fulcrum design, which is nicely balanced, and allows the tremolo to better re-center after repeated use.  The test SB2S sported a Gas Lamp Black polyurethane body finish with a figured maple top and no plastic pick guard (a plastic pick guard in various colors also can be specified through the customized-order option). Elixir .010-.46 strings and a nice TKL hard case round out the included goody list.
The humbuckers are designed and manufactured by Taylor and are designated as “vintage” with alnico 5 magnets. Taylor says that these full vintage humbuckers have that essential vintage tone, plus a bit more gain to make it suitable for modern players.
  The humbuckers are designed and manufactured by Taylor and are designated as “vintage” with alnico 5 magnets. Taylor says that these full vintage humbuckers have that essential vintage tone, plus a bit more gain to make it suitable for modern players. The five-way switch allows full humbucker and parallel/series split coil sounds. From left to right, the P/U positions are:
•Position 1: Full neck pickup;
•Position 2: The inside coils of the neck and bridge pickups in parallel, which is said to relay a “skinny, funky neck tone”;
•Position 3: The full neck pickup with the inside coil of the bridge pickup, which is said to add “fatness and drives the amp a little harder for extra crunch”;
•Position 4: The inside coil of each pickup in series, which is said to create the “effect of a super-wide humbucker, producing a truly unique tone”;
•Position 5: The full bridge pickup.

The setup
  The SB2S came shipped via UPS, and though a little out of tune because of the cooler weather; once retuned, I found the intonation was dead on, and the height of pickups and strings were perfect. The Elixirs are a little bright for my taste, but I got use to them. (I eventually changed out to Di’Adarios for the string tone I am accustomed.
  The neck felt very comfortable and enough space for my larger fingers. Acoustically, the body really rings out with its chambers adding significant dimension to the sound. Many of today’s solid body guitars are kind of dull sounding acoustically, but the Taylor has more hollowbody-esque depth in its sound. That quality makes it versatile for such genres as jazz and funk, as well as the typical electric genres of the rock and pop world. Since I am mostly a rhythm player, I tried it out with several amps including a 1966 Fender Deluxe Reverb, 1974 Princeton Reverb, and 1998 Fender Twin Reverb Reissue. I recorded the tones with a TASCAM DVRA-1000 high-resolution recorder, True System P2 mic preamp and a pair of KSM141 Shure small condenser microphones.
  To test the SB2S’s prowess with distortion, I used several pedals including the Talos Instruments Assbite OD pedal, the Electro-Harmonix English Muffin tube distortion pedal and my trusty DOD FX-100 EHO overdrive.

The audition
  Even before I plugged in, I noticed two distinct characteristics of the Taylor SB2S: how light it feels and how much acoustic vibe there is. The chambering enables a pleasing, chorusy tone that is quite loud just sitting around and strumming unamplified. The 7.2 pound weight and double cut shape made it very comfortable to hold standing up or sitting down.
  The first amp pairing was with my original 66 Deluxe Reverb with a modern Jensen neodymium magnet speaker. In rhythm mode, I found the Taylor’s rich acoustic character, combined with the superb humbuckers, to offer a smooth sound, yet enough alnico bite to relay the vintage tones. I liked position 1 and 5 (the full neck or full bridge pickup) for warm jazz or lead tones.
  The in-between tones are good as well. The middle position does not give you the two full humbuckers together, but rather the full neck and the inside coil of the bridge pickup. This mode allows for fullness, but a little bit more edge than your typical two humbucker tandem. The S2B’s two pickup sound was similar to a Les Paul with P90s combined — without all the noise. Those who like the Strat tone will appreciate position 2’s combo of the two humbuckers inside coils for a funky, kind of out-of-phase character.
  The Taylor SB2S’s neck comfort cannot be overemphasized. It was never cramped and so easy to maneuver around on — with single notes, bar chords or complex finger extensions executed with precision. The neck is as comfortable as any PRS I have played.
  BTW, the pickups in any position were never noisy. I have a room in my house that can drive single coils crazy with noise, but the split coil modes were fairly quiet versus, say, my Telecaster. I should also mention that the volume and tone pots, as well as the selector switch, were also noise free over the review tenure.
  In plugging in several pedals, I found the overdriven tone to be strong with Les Paul-like sustain, yet a bit less thickness on the top end. The fuzzier tones sound really nice in the SB2S’s bridge humbucker mode.
  The Taylor SB2S’s neck comfort cannot be overemphasized. It was never cramped and so easy to maneuver around on — with single notes, bar chords or complex finger extensions executed with precision. The neck is as comfortable as any PRS I have played.
  Those players who desire the warm, full jazz tone need only roll the tone back a bit on the neck pickup, put on a set of .49-.011 flat wound strings, and you get a thick tone (yet with enough midrange) to make the SB2S sing. The chimey character from the body chambers gives the guitar just enough of hollow body tone to make it a cut above other solid bodies; yet, you are getting this nice jazz tone from a lightweight, solid body electric guitar.
  My only nitpick with the Taylor SB2S is the lack of separate volume and tone controls for each pickup. The one tone/one volume takes away a bit of the two-knob-per-pickup versatility that I am used to in my personal humbucker guitars (Les Paul Studio with Seymour Duncan Seth Lover HBs/bumblebee cap kit, vintage ‘80s Yamaha SA-2100 semi-hollow with Seth Lovers, and a Gibson L5CES with two Classic 57s). When playing with both pickups engaged with my guitars, I sometimes like to roll off the treble more in the bridge pickup, a chore that is not as easy with the Taylor.

The verdict
  The Taylor SB2S is a quality, USA-made solid body guitar that combines elements of vintage and modern electrics, yet provides its own design elements that make it a highly versatile instrument for numerous plugged in uses. The chambered body adds shimmer, and the split coil P/P modes give a palette of different tones. It is easy to play, the tremolo worked flawlessly, and the Taylor is lightweight, which makes it ideal for long, live gigs. What more can you ask for in a modern electric guitar?
  Based on its performance and design, we are awarding the Taylor SB2SS the Everything Guitar Grade A designation.

©All original articles on this site are the intellectual property of the Everything Guitar Network. Any unauthorized use, via print or Internet, without written permission is prohibited.

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