Taylor is one of the most revered acoustic guitar brands of the modern age. In a little under 50 years they’ve gone from boutique brand to household name, being held in the same regard as more established companies like Martin and Gibson. This rise to fame has also led to a rise in prices, but fortunately the brand’s most affordable model, the Taylor BT1 Baby Taylor still provides a realistic path to Taylor ownership for many players.
Being from the Baby Taylor family of models, it’s a reduced size guitar, but as we learned in our roundup of the Best Taylor Guitars (in which we named the BT1 our best budget pick), it has a surprisingly big character.
In this KillerGuitarRigs Review, we took a more in depth look at the BT1 to learn more about its playability, build quality, tones, and more. If you’ve been looking for an affordable Taylor guitar, you’ll definitely want to keep on reading.
Taylor BT1 Baby Taylor: Who is This For?
The Taylor BT1 Baby Taylor is a great choice for a wide range of players. First and foremost, it’s an amazing travel guitar option for players looking for a compact strummer that’s still built to the highest standards. Beyond that, it’s a beautiful instrument for younger players who might be too small for a full size guitar.
Even if you don’t plan to travel with your guitar, it’s a great couch player, with a similar feel to a parlor guitar.
It’s affordable enough for newer players to give it serious consideration, and at the same time, it has the requisite build quality and tones that more experienced guitarists demand.
Appearance / Features / Controls
The BT1 is a miniature dreadnought style guitar. It has a reduced ¾ size body, and is built with a solid spruce top. The back and slides are made with layered walnut, which looks great, and really adds to the overall durability of the guitar.
Aesthetically, it’s one of the simplest guitars Taylor has ever made. There’s no binding, and the only embellishment to speak of is a very plain rosette. If you like flashy guitars, this might not be for you, but if you’re more interested in tone and playability, keep on reading!
As we’ve found on other Baby Taylor models, it had an ebony fretboard, which as expected was phenomenally smooth, and felt wonderful under the fingers. The neck was made with maple, and in true Taylor style was slim, with more of an electric guitar feel.
Uniquely for an acoustic guitar, the neck wasn’t technically set, it was in fact a screw on neck. This is a big part of how Taylor has been able to reduce the production cost on these Baby Taylor models, and in reality, if you couldn’t see the screws, you wouldn’t even know.
It was fitted with Taylor branded tuners. These sealed gear units were strong performers, and paired well with the Graphtech nut and Elixir strings. To top things off, despite being the cheapest Taylor in the lineup, it still came with the fantastic Taylor gig bag, further boosting its chops as a serious travel guitar.
If we’d received this guitar with no branding and we’d been forced to test it blindfolded, we’d still have known it was a Taylor. Everything from the playability to the tone was just as it should be for a Taylor, which in our opinion really shows how much of a bargain the BT1 is.
Starting with the playability, the subtle features were actually some of the most noticeable of all. For example, the screw on neck might be a money saver, but the design also means that there’s no real heel required, so, while other reduced size guitars might end up being uncomfortable for larger players to use, especially around the upper frets, the BT1 provides unimpeded access to the entire neck, no matter how big your hands are.
We loved the feel of the neck, too. The maple had a nice satin finish, which kept it slick and fast playing. Players of all ages will find it to be comfortable and very forgiving, and overall a lot of fun to play. We didn’t find ourselves having to work too hard to reach chords, and even after extended play, there was no hand fatigue whatsoever.
Despite being a reduced size guitar, the projection and overall character didn’t suffer at all. It had a distinctly dreadnought style voice, and while it wasn’t as loud as a full size model, it still had a huge depth to its tone, and plenty of punch – most likely helped along by the curved back.
In the bass register it was surprisingly full, and the mids were tight, with great articulation and note separation. When strummed it was dynamic and responsive with the archetypal Taylor brightness. When picked we found that it was sweet with tons of top end shimmer.
Other Guitars to Consider
The Taylor Baby Taylor BT1 really is the guitar to beat when it comes to reduced size dreadnought acoustics, but if you’d like to take a look at some other brands before jumping into a purchase, there are a couple of great alternative options for you to consider. Check out our favorites below.
Martin LX1 Little Martin
Just as the BT1 is the most affordable Taylor, the Martin LX1 Little Martin is the entry level model in the Martin line up (besides the Backpacker, of course). It’s the natural competitor to the Taylor, and for good reason. It’s also a ¾ size, guitar, but comes in a modified O shape. As far as build quality goes, it’s definitely comparable to the Taylor, but doesn’t quite offer the same punch with hard strumming. The big advantage of the Martin, however, is a much more potent voice for delicate fingerstyle playing.
Fender Joe Strummer Campfire
The Fender Joe Strummer Campfire is an homage to the legendary Clash guitarist, and is named after his now iconic campfire sessions at Glastonbury. This is a compact parlor guitar with sensational tones, handsome good looks, and even Fishman electronics should you ever want to plug in. Like the Taylor and the Martin, it features a solid spruce top for exceptional brightness and responsiveness, and a relatively compact 24.1” scale, making it comfortable both as a travel guitar and as a main instrument for smaller players.
Final Thoughts on the Taylor BT1 Baby Taylor
The Taylor BT1 Baby Taylor is one of those rare entry level models from high end brands that transcends its price point. Going far beyond simply being a cheap path to Taylor ownership, the BT1 serves its own unique place in the lineup, and offers superb tones and excellent build quality, as well as the kind of playability that keeps players of all ages and ability levels satisfied.
We think it’s a credit to the Taylor brand, and an absolute steal when you consider all you’re getting for the price.