Taylor is widely regarded as one of the biggest innovators in the world of acoustic guitar technology. Ever since their humble beginnings in El Cajon, California back in 1974, Bob Taylor has been pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in acoustic guitar tech, and the Taylor T5Z Classic is a glowing example of that devotion to revolutionizing the industry.
The T5Z classic isn’t the only electric – acoustic hybrid on the market, and nor was it the first, but in the eyes of many, it’s one of the very best. In fact, it impressed us so much, we named it as our Editor’s Choice in our round up of the best hollow body electric guitars and best thinline acoustics.
In this KillerGuitarRigs Review, we went into greater depth on this premium Taylor after performing a more thorough test. This really is the definitive review of the Taylor T5Z Classic, so if you’ve been on the fence about buying your own, this is a piece you won’t want to miss.
Taylor T5Z Classic: Who Is This For?
As far as playability is concerned, The Taylor T5Z Classic is ideal for all players from beginner to pro, although the premium price tag shows that it’s mainly been marketed towards intermediate to advanced level players.
The huge versatility afforded by its unique pickup and electronics arrangements makes it a great guitar for recording artists as well as those who perform live, too.
Appearance / Features / Controls
Depending on the angle you catch the T5Z from, you’d be forgiven for being a little confused about exactly what type of guitar it is. From the front view, it looks very much like a regular acoustic, albeit one with unusual sound holes. However, when you turn it sideways and see just how slim the body is, it has much more of an electric guitar look.
It’s available in a range of different woods, but our test guitar had a mahogany top, with sapele on the back and sides. Of course, being a primarily electric guitar, the choice of tone woods wasn’t quite as impactful as it would be on a pure acoustic mode, but it performed well unplugged.
As briefly mentioned, the body was extremely slim and in terms of size and shape was actually reminiscent of a Les Paul, so it’s a guitar that’s likely to appeal to those transitioning from solid body electric guitars.
Like the back and sides, the neck was made with sapele. The T5 profile is unique to this series of guitars, and we found it to be both comfortable and fast playing – much like most Taylor models.
The neck was topped with a lovely ebony fretboard – we’d expect nothing less at this price point, but as we’ve been let down by other premium models in this area, it was a relief to see that Taylor did things right with an ebony board. We loved the fretwork, too. Everything was perfectly level, the edges were smooth, and the crowns were polished to a mirror finish.
The electronics are probably the most interesting element of the T5Z Classic. It has a total of three pickups, with a hidden samarium cobalt humbucker in the neck, and another in the bridge position. In the middle, there’s a dynamic body sensor, which is there to provide organic acoustic tones that can be used as a standalone option, or blended in with the electromagnetic pickups.
It had an ebony bridge, complete with a bone saddle, plus a bone nut. The tuners were Taylor branded sealed gear units, and they performed as well as expected.
The Taylor T5Z Classic served up some frankly amazing tones. Starting acoustically, it was still punchy and relatively full bodied, despite being so thin. This really came across in the overall resonance, even when plugged in, which added tons of depth to the tone.
After plugging in we started at the neck position to check out the electric tones. We found it to be rich and warm, sounding a lot like a typical jazzbox hollowbody – great news for anybody who loves these tones, but prefers a more contemporary looking guitar.
In the bridge position we got some pretty crunchy lead tones – to look at a guitar like this, you really wouldn’t think it could manage to stay so composed with a ton of overdrive, but it’s worth noting that although the bridge pup looks like a single coil lipstick, it’s actually a stacked humbucker.
With the body sensor engaged in the middle position, we were massively impressed with just how acoustic it sounded. We’d put it up against pretty much any piezo equipped acoustic in terms of amplified acoustic tone, which is amazing when you consider the construction method of the body. It performed well across a range of styles, including fingerpicking and even heavy strumming. As we alluded to in the intro, this guitar really is a technical marvel.
As far as feedback control was concerned, we had no issues. Being a true hollowbody, it is more susceptible to feedback than something like a semi hollow or a solid body, but during our testing we didn’t find it to be an issue whatsoever.
Other Guitars to Consider
If you’re undecided and want to think about some alternative options for your next hollowbody electric guitar before committing to something like the Taylor T5Z Classic, we’ve hand picked a couple of other great options sitting around this price range that offer some similarities, as well as some unique features that you might find more appealing.
The Godin A6 Ultra follows the same formula as the Taylor, that is, slimline acoustic style body with an electromagnetic pickup, as well as a transducer style pickup. In the case of the Godin, however, it’s an undersaddle unit, giving it an entirely different flavor to the T5Z. It offers an incredible amount of control over sound shaping from the on board graphic EQ, and the solid cedar top adds some really unique elements to the tone.
The Fender American Acoustasonic Stratocaster is a really interesting looking guitar – part acoustic, part Strat, fully awesome. It uses a Stringed Instrument Resonance System (SIRS) to sound like an acoustic guitar when unplugged, despite having very little in the way of body depth, and because it’s fitted with an N4 Noiseless single coil strat pickup in the bridge position, it can still dish out some super rock tones. It’s an American made beauty that;s sure to be a conversation starter anywhere you take it.
Final Thoughts on the Taylor T5Z Classic
The Taylor T5Z Classic is such a versatile guitar. Far from being just another hollowbody electric, it can perform as a true acoustic, too, making it effectively like having 2 guitars in 1. This was just one of the many reasons we loved it so very much.
The build quality was sensational, and the factory setup was right on point. Perfect action height, and an arrow straight neck. Both absolute musts, and Taylor knocked it out of the park.
Overall it sounded great, it was extremely comfortable, and was overall, an absolute joy to play. It’s not cheap, but if you’ve got the money, and you’re looking for an amazing hollowbody electric guitar, we’d be hard pushed to find anything better to recommend!