Despite the title of Taylor's SolidBody series, their first ever line of electric guitars, the Standard and Custom models both have substantial body cavities, imparting them with a certain 'hollow' tone. It's the Standard we're looking at here, the middle-priced model in the line.
Design and construction
The Standard's body contouring is complex, like the other guitars in the series. The body is three-piece sapele, topped with a flame-maple veneered laminate. The back is curved subtly in both planes and there's a rib-cage contour. The edges have a slight chamfer all the way around, being most pronounced at the pointed (Florentine style) cutaway, which, to our eyes at least, would look better if it was rounded (as on the SolidBody Custom). The top is also slightly curved in both planes, though it is far from having a traditional arched top.
In playing position the guitar looks much thinner than it is. Maximum depth is approximately 46mm in the body centre, although the rim on the bass side is nearer 30mm. But it's also tapered from bottom to top: 45mm by the bass strap button, around 35mm by the neck joint.
The neck is sapele again, with an unbound ebony-faced headstock. Dimensions are quite mainstream (42.8mm at the nut, 53mm at the 12th; in depth we have 20.7mm at the first fret, 22.3mm at the 12th), and the neck- to-body joint, Taylor's T-Lock, is not only tight-fitting but very stable and all achieved with just a single Allen key bolt.
The fingerboard is rosewood adorned with small, mother-of-pearl dot inlays, and the edges are bound. Fretting is immaculate from a medium wire. The radius, for an electric, is quite flat at Taylor's standard 15inches (381mm); more classic brands use a smaller radius like Fender's 7.25 or 9.5inches, PRS's 10inches and Gibson's 12inches. More contemporary brands do use a flatter radius, so it certainly gives the guitar a more modern, less vintage feel. Speaking of feel, the scale length is 632mm (24.9inch), the same as the T5, close to PRS's 635mm (25inch) and a little longer than Gibson's nominal 628mm (24.75inch). The neck profile is again typically mainstream and very Taylor: a medium 'C' profile.
The back-angled headstock also sticks with safe Taylor territory. Only the standard, and rather generic-looking, big button tuners let it down. They feel a little spongy in use although we rarely used them; this is one very stable guitar.
Hardware and electrics
At the other end of the string is a fantastic new Taylor bridge design, machined from acoustically resonant aluminium and all curved and contoured, giving a very sleek feel. The strings 'top mount' into the back of the individual 'shuttles' and emerge over a precise looking lip-like break point. Individual intonation can be set via a small Allen key bolt just by the string anchor point, and the important thing is that the whole saddle moves, ensuring the same distance from anchor to break point wherever it's set. There is no individual height adjustment and the curve of the saddles is set at 12inches - the same geometry as on all Taylor guitars.
There are no visible screws. The bridge is actually inset into the top and held in place by a rear mounted metal plate which you can see, along with the height adjustment bolts, when you remove the back plate. This fixing firmly clamps the bridge to the body wood for, Taylor believes, maximum vibrational transfer.
The pickups are conventional looking Taylor-designed 'Style 2' open-coiled humbuckers, unlike the chrome covered 'Style 1' humbuckers that feature on the other guitars in the line. They pass to a five-way lever switch that gives us, according to Taylor's David Hosler: "Position one, full neck pickup; position two is the inside coils of both pickups in parallel - we have a north and a south polarity so we're still humbucking. Position three is the full neck pickup and one coil of the bridge pickup. Position four is the two inside coils again but now in series and position five is the bridge humbucker. The least humbucking is position three."
The chrome control knobs mirror the vibe of the bridge design and even the side-mounted output jack is placed on an American football-shaped chromed metal plate. Removing the second back reveals some very tidy electronics; the five-way switch is mounted on a metal plate and connects to a small PCB, which also holds the plug-in connectors for the pickups. There's a small five-milliamp fuse clearly visible too, which Taylor say "will fry instead of you" if you fall foul of dodgy or unearthed wiring. If the fuse goes, the guitar will still play, but may be a little noisy.
When played, the Standard feels slight light, with a very slight neck pull due to the chambered body. The Style 2 humbuckers deliver a big, wide and slightly hot sound - conventionally humbucking if you like, matching their appearance. But mixed in with that is a definite 'hollow body' ingredient that adds a different flavour and feel to the sound - the response isn't as fast and it's a little harder work too compared to the model below it in the series, the Classic, as if the body is taking away some of the singing, stinging, solidbody sustain of it's little brother. Here the single-coil mixes sound less bell-like, perhaps, but compared to a standard dual humbucking guitar they add easy-to-use versatility.
The Standard's bigger voice will have its fans, perhaps from the more traditional single-cut camp and those looking for a lighter, cleaner sounding and versatile guitar.