Taylor is without a doubt one of the most popular acoustic guitar brands in the US, if not the world. They make quality guitars to suit all budgets, including high end models to suit pro players and those looking for heirloom quality instruments. The Taylor American Dream AD17 is one such pro level guitar.
It is almost by definition, the perfect workhorse guitar. It’s made with tone in mind over aesthetics (although we still thought it looked amazing), and is truly designed to be the kind of guitar a working musician can take to any gig without worrying too much about beer spillage and rowdy audience members.
In this KillerGuitarRigs Review we got to spend some time with this fantastic Taylor. We were keen to learn all about its tones, feel, and of course its build quality. So, if you’ve been wondering about whether to go all in on a high end Mexican made Taylor, or go with an entry level US model like this, you’re in the right place!
Who Is This For?
The Taylor American Dream AD17 is the type of comfortable guitar that is forgiving enough for players of all ability levels, although the price point may be prohibitive for those just getting started.
Ultimately, this means that Taylor has aimed it squarely at the intermediate to advanced market, as well as working musicians. It’s not a cheap guitar by any stretch, but it’s attainably priced for a US made Taylor, and offers some really nice aesthetics considering the price point, too.
Tonally, it’s balanced enough to work as a studio guitar, and it performs exceptionally well when mic’d up on stage.
Appearance / Features / Controls
It was great to see that the AD17 arrived with a high quality hybrid travel bag, in this instance it was the Taylor Aerocase. It was sturdy, but, while we’d feel confident traveling locally with the guitar in this bag, for long distance or international travel, we’d love to see a guitar at this price point come with a hard case.
The American Dream AD17 was built with a solid spruce top, and featured solid ovangkol back and sides. Obviously ovangkol is a cheaper wood compared to say, mahogany, but as previously mentioned, Taylor intentionally decided to keep costs low, while still using the best materials possible. In this case, they ensured that the entire guitar could still be made with solid wood, while keeping the price in check
Even though Taylor makes specific mention about putting less emphasis on the appearance of the woods, we found that our test guitar still had a nice grain pattern, which was a pleasant surprise having read the information before receiving it
In a similar measure to keep costs down, it featured a eucalyptus fretboard, which looked and felt extremely similar to ebony. The use of eucalyptus was an interesting move in this case, especially as even Taylor’s cheapest Mexican made models are made with real ebony.
We found the mahogany neck to be extremely comfortable. Like most Taylor guitars, it was thin, and felt much like that of an electric guitar, and the satin finish on the rear really added to the feel.
The fretwork was also extremely impressive, with beautifully smooth crowns, and edges that were just about perfect. No sharps, burrs, or sprout anywhere at all.
Hardware was another strong point for the American Dream, too. The nut was black Tusq XL, and it had Taylor branded sealed gear tuners, which we found to be strong performers both in terms of stability and fine tuning.
Being a Grand Pacific, which is effectively Taylor’s slope shoulder dreadnought shape, we found the AD17 to be extremely punchy, with tons of projection and volume. It had the big bottom end that any good dreadnought should have, but it still retained a lot of the trademark Taylor brightness.
It performed exceptionally as a rhythm guitar strummer, with enough dynamic range to blend into a mix, or slice right through it depending on the type of attack applied at any given moment.
We found ourselves impressed with the sustain, too. Open chords rang out in a beautifully airy way, and held for as long as we needed them to.
It had a phenomenal low action, which certainly increased the comfort factor, and helped somewhat with lead playing – although, we did find that bends were a little difficult to play comfortably, and there was no cutaway for upper fret access, so we’d definitely recommend looking elsewhere if it’s a lead guitarist’s acoustic you’re after.
Despite the lack of lead guitar chops, we have to give credit for the out of the box setup. As mentioned, the action was low, but we found no fret buzz or any kind of dead spots anywhere on the fretboard. Intonation was just about perfect, and the neck relief was spot on.
Other Guitars to Consider
The Taylor American Dream AD17 is a wonderful guitar, but there’s still a lot of other great options on the market. If you’d like to see some comparable alternatives, check out our recommendations below.
The Taylor 214ce K SB is one of the brand’s top tier Mexican made models, and comes in just a little cheaper than the AD17 American Dream. It’s made with a spruce top, and koa back and sides, which gives a bit more of an exotic sound. On top of that, it features a venetian cutaway for easy access to the upper frets for effortless lead playing.
If you’re considering a Taylor, it’s almost a certainty that a Martin has to be in the mix for consideration, too. The Martin D-15M is the most affordable US made Martin dreadnought, from the brand that literally invented the style. It’s made with all solid mahogany, but has a much plainer aesthetic than the Taylor. It’s an extremely warm sounding guitar, so if you’re looking for something a bit more mellow, this is a great option.
Final Thoughts on the Taylor American Dream AD17
The Taylor American Dream AD17 is a gorgeous guitar with fantastic tones, great playability, and all the pedigree that comes with being an American made Taylor. It’s an exceptionally balanced instrument, tonally speaking, and we really do think you’ll feel the benefit of the upgrade to this guitar over a similarly priced Mexican model.
As we alluded to in the beginning, if you’re a working musician looking for a dependable guitar with great tone and good looks, we really think that the AD17 checks all the boxes.