In this KillerGuitarRigs Guide, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor, a model that has defined the travel guitar since its inception, and also one that has provided an affordable entry point to this premium brand for many thousands of guitarists.
Taylor have a long reputation of making some of the finest acoustic guitars on the market, spanning all sizes and price points. We got our hands on one with the aim of discovering whether or not it sounds, and feels, like a real Taylor.
Keep on reading to find out what we thought.
Who Is This For?
The real beauty of the Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor is that it makes a great guitar for almost every guitarist. It’s a wonderful instrument for kids and smaller players, due to its reduced size, it’s affordably priced for beginners, and even seasoned guitarists who are used to high end models will appreciate the Baby Taylor for its high quality fit and finish.
Its compact size also makes it a superb option for guitarists looking for a nice travel and camp guitar that doesn’t take up too much room, and can take some punishment on the road.
Appearance / Features / Controls
The Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor features a tropical American mahogany top with layered sapele back and sides. It really does look wonderful, and because it’s not a laminate top, each one features unique wood grain patterns. The entire length is just 33.75”, and it has a short 22.75” scale.
The rosette is a very understated black circle with white trim. It gives the BT2 a very contemporary look, and definitely appeals to younger players who aren’t so interested in ornate designs.
Considering the low price, some of the appointments are surprising. For example, while most guitars at this price will be using Indian Laurel or Pao Ferro on the fretboard, the BT2 gets a rich ebony board. The deep black wood looks excellent, and the feel is superb. The bridge is also made from high end African ebony.
Up at the headstock, we found that the Taylor sealed gear chrome plated tuners were smooth and provided great stability together with the Tusq nut. The headstock join was very noticeable, and sadly, a little ugly, but these are the types of compromise you expect on a low cost instrument from a high end brand.
We found that intonation was great right out of the box. Considering how difficult it is to properly intonate reduced scale guitars, this is a great achievement, and it’s likely down to the well positioned compensated saddle. The saddle itself is made from micarta, so an upgrade to a Tusq or Nubone saddle will only improve things further.
Interestingly, the neck of this guitar is screwed on to the body. This is pretty unusual, especially on an acoustic guitar. It does somewhat impact the look of the fretboard, but it doesn’t really impact performance. If anything, it helps to make this a more complete travel guitar, as the neck can technically be removed.
The BT2 also happens to come bundled with what we believe to be one of the nicest gig bags to come with any guitar at any price. It’s a hybrid bag that offers excellent protection, comfort, and convenience.
After spending some time with the Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor, we really ended up wanting to keep it, for a number of reasons. Tonally, this was far more complex than anything else we’ve encountered in the travel guitar segment.
Like everything else Taylor makes, innovation is at the forefront of design. We mentioned the screw on neck earlier, and while it doesn’t look as nice as some others, having a screw on neck also removes the need to make the BT2 with a pronounced heel. By avoiding the inclusion of a heel at the base of the neck, we found that access to the upper frets was incredibly easy, making this a highly playable guitar.
Overall, the neck feel was smooth, slim, and comfortable. The finish is satin, and it felt great, even with sweaty hands playing outdoors. The standard Exlir Nanoweb strings matched the Baby Taylor really well – they complemented the fast feel of the neck, and sounded great.
When testing the sound, we found that it projected fantastically, especially for a smaller guitar. This is undoubtedly helped by the pronounced curve on the back. With gentle articulate playing it was very sweet sounding, and gave us wonderful harmonics. When fingerpicking, we got excellent note separation, and a wonderful depth that you rarely find at this size or price point.
Loud, powerful strumming gave us punchy lows and mids, and a little bit of sparkle at the top end. Volume wise, of course it won’t compete with a full size dreadnought, but it still provided plenty to accompany a singer, or even a group of singers.
Other Guitars to Consider
Of course, the Taylor has been the gold standard when it comes to travel guitars for over 15 years, but that doesn’t mean that competitors haven’t caught up over the years. If you’d rather take a look at some other options (aside from other Taylors, such as the GS Mini Mahogony), there are a number of great alternatives to the Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor.
Martin might be the single most famous brand when it comes to acoustic guitars. They’ve been in business for almost 200 years, and have learned a lot about making guitars over that time. The Martin LX1 Little Martin was their answer to Taylor’s success with the Baby Taylor. It’s a similar size, measuring in at 34”, with a 23” scale length.
Ed Sheeran’s favorite guitar, the Little Martin, features a solid Sitka spruce top with a mahogany patterned high pressure laminate back and sides. It’s a little brighter than the Taylor thanks to the Spruce top, and features more traditional manufacturing techniques. This model also comes with a nice hybrid gig bag, and is ready to perform right out of the box.
If you’re looking for a high tech travel guitar made with the most advanced materials in use today, take a look at the Journey Instruments OF660M Overhead Carbon Fiber. As you can probably guess from its name, it was designed to fit into an overhead bin on an aircraft, and even though it’s a full size guitar, it manages to do so.
How? The neck can be entirely removed without the need for tools, and the whole thing fits neatly into the purpose made travel bag. Reassembly is just as straight forward. The carbon fiber body gives it an extremely bright tone, with tons of volume – it’s a very unique sound, but still very ear pleasing.
Final Thoughts on the Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor
It’s worth remembering that the Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor was never intended to just be a cheap Taylor. It was designed to be a backup guitar, a road guitar, a modern parlor guitar, a guitar for younger players, etc.
It just so happens that it does all of this and more so well, that it truly has universal appeal, at a price that suits almost all budgets.
We never thought for a second that it cheapened the Taylor brand, in fact, we thought it was a credit to the lineup, and definitely a guitar worth owning.