Maple makes the dread grow mellower.
Exceptional playability and intonation. Sweet midrange focus. Records well in dense mixes.
Some will find the maple voice quirky. Not a lot of low-end resonance for a dread. Satin finish doesn’t suit a $2K-plus instrument.
Taylor AD27e Flametop
One of the nice things about designing guitars for a company like Taylor is that you’re less burdened by tradition. Even though the builder is now nearly a 50-year-old institution—not to mention one of the biggest guitar makers in the world—to many acoustic traditionalists they are still very much the new kid on the block. While such fresh-faced “newness” may mean flattop classicists look askance at your every move, it also means you can introduce a design departure like the company’s V-Class bracing without risk of rebellion from your consumer constituency—or, for that matter, build a dreadnought with a top fashioned from big leaf maple.
A maple top is one of those things that, according to traditional acoustic design think, shouldn’t work very well. Yet the AD27e Flametop proudly makes its maple top both a centerpiece of its sound signature and its visual identity. The results, in both respects, are unique and, in typical Taylor style, prove that acoustic guitar design still has room for imaginative deviations from the norm.
V Lets Maple Be
In spite of the simplicity and musical purity it projects, an acoustic guitar is a complex organism. Small changes in design or materials can be transformative. V-Class bracing is no small change, however. Certainly not when compared to the X-bracing that has been the standard for flattops for generations. Fundamentally speaking, V-Class bracing situates the most substantial braces in a V shape that tapers gently along the body’s center from a point just forward of the endpin. While it can be hard to say definitively what V-Class bracing does and doesn’t do to a flattop’s sound, an increasing sample size suggests that it tends to improve sustain, and even intonation, by leaving larger sections of the top to vibrate freely and aligning the biggest braces with the strings. In the case of the AD27e, V-Class bracing didn’t just improve the sound. According to designer Andy Powers, V-Class bracing is, in fact, what made the use of a big maple top feasible.
If we assume that V-Class bracing definitively improves sustain (and certainly our colleague Joe Gore heard as much in his review of the K14ce), then Powers’ assertion makes sense. Maple is generally less lively and works better as a reflective surface for backs and sides. Few if any large-scale production flattops have used maple as a top wood, and those that have, like Gibson’s acoustic/electric Starburst, employed a maple top because its less resonant properties reduced feedback in amplified situations. But the maple top on the AD27e resonates beautifully. And though the appeal of its sound won’t be universal, it occupies a very cool niche.
Unlike a lot of dreadnoughts, the AD27e also responds dynamically to a gentle touch.
Big Body Makes the Maple Go Boom
Taylor’s American Dream dreadnought is a beautiful shape. Its curvaceous lines project hints of J-45 influence and big Taylors like the 855. It’s a lovely reconfiguration of the classic dreadnought profile. But it also likely serves a very practical purpose in the AD27e, in the sense that the big body does much to compensate for the maple top’s less lively characteristics. The tones that result have a beautiful and interesting sense of balance. You won’t find the thumping grand-piano-like low-end resonance of a D-28 in the AD27e, yet it projects volume as a dreadnought should and gets loud without sounding brash or overdriven—probably because there is less low-end woof to obscure the pretty midrange and clear, chiming top end. Unlike a lot of dreadnoughts, the AD27e also responds dynamically to a gentle touch. And I found its sensitivity in these settings more reminiscent of a 00- or 000-sized instrument.
Shaped To Cradle
The AD dreadnought shape isn’t just pretty to look at. It’s also an ergonomic delight. The aft end of the body is considerably slimmer than a Martin D. That, and its slightly more pinched waist and sloped shoulder, make the whole body feel more compact and easier to hold for extended periods. But, as with so many higher-end Taylors, the foundation of its inviting personality is its playability up and down the neck. The action feels exceptionally low and fast, yet there isn’t a trace of string buzz or a dead spot anywhere—even when you strum vigorously. The low action also has the effect of making fingerstyle chord melodies feel extra fluid and lyrical—a quality well suited to the AD27e’s more subdued but ringing tonality. And while our review Taylors have almost always shown up with impeccable intonation, the AD27e’s spot-on intonation—even after two-cross country journeys in the dead of winter—makes us wonder if there isn’t something to Taylor’s claim of V-Class bracing improving intonation.
Yes, $2,199 is a lot of money for a guitar that, by design, presents a player with many unknown variables. The AD27e sounds different enough from a spruce-topped dread that many players will need to spend time to understand how it works within their style and relates to their musical objectives. Others will find its concise tonality immediately appealing. Given that, one should take our value score with a grain of salt and adjust according to personal experience.
But just because the AD27e’s design, materials, and tonality are unusual and specific doesn’t mean its appeal or musical potential is limited. It’s easy to hear how the AD27e would be a recording superstar. It rings sweetly without overpowering a mix and provides beautiful counterpoint in arrangements and mixes where the low-end is occupied by other instruments—no small consideration in modern effects-laden mix styles. But while its voice is focused, the AD27e can still sound big, and it most certainly sounds sweet. Any curious flattop aficionado should check out the AD27e to hear what it does differently. Just don’t be surprised if its sweet tonality and ace playability put their hooks in you.
Taylor AD27e Demo | First Look
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Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters are designed to offer a fat midrange and a smooth top end.
Billy Corgan was looking for something for heavier Smashing Pumpkins songs, so Joe Naylor designed the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One pickup. Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters have a fat midrange and a smooth top end. This pickup combines the drive and sustain of a humbucker with the percussive attack and string clarity of a P90. Get beefy P90 tone plus amp-pummeling output with the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One.
Patented Railhammer Pickups take passive guitar pickups to a new level with rails under the wound strings lead to tighter lows, and poles under the plain strings offer fatter heights. With increased clarity, the passive pickup’s tone is never sterile.
Railhammer Billy Corgan Signature Z-One Pickup Demo
For more information, please visit railhammer.com.
Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.
Complete with a range of game-changing design features, such as the patent-pending attachable FREERIDE Wheel System, premium water-resistant and reflective materials, shockproof shell structure and improved ergonomic features, the Vertigo Ultra Bass takes gear protection to the next level.
The Vertigo Ultra Bass features:
- Patent-pending FREERIDE Wheel System that allows for wheels to be attached on the case in no time, giving you the option to travel with it seamlessly
- Upgraded materials, including a water-resistant 1680D Ballistic Nylon outer shell, plush inner lining and new reflective trim for maximum backstage and night visibility
- Enhanced protection with a shockproof shell structure and heavy-duty water-resistant YKK zippers for protection from the elements
- Improved ergonomics and functionality including added back support and load-lifting detachable shoulder straps with side release buckles
- Flexible storage options with added space for touring essentials
The Generation Collection of acoustic guitars features the exclusive Gibson Player Port designed to offer a unique and immersive sonic experience.
The G-Bird, the newest addition to the Generation Collection--represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird colliding with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port to add a new dimension to the G-Bird sound. The Gibson Player Port allows players to hear more of themselves as the audience hears it. With a tone that is crisp and resonant, all of the Gibson Generation Collection acoustics are designed to be comfortable to hold and play for long periods of time. All Generation Collection guitars feature the Gibson Player Port, slim, lightweight bodies, a flatter fingerboard radius, Walnut back and sides, Sitka spruce tops, and a stunning Natural finish. Additionally, the new G-Bird, and the G-200 and G-Writer are equipped with LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup systems which amplify deep bass and crystal-clear highs.
The G-Bird represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port adding a new dimension to the G-Bird’s sound. The G-Bird features a stunning solid Sitka spruce top and solid walnut back and sides for the ultimate in crisp, resonant tone. This square-shoulder dreadnought delivers all the rich low end and well-balanced mids and highs the original Hummingbird is famous for. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with chrome Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning. The utile neck, with its easy-playing Advanced Response neck profile, is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Modeled after Gibson’s pioneering small-body parlor acoustic guitars from the 1930’s, the G-00 is a top choice for blues and fingerstyle guitar performances. Despite its more compact size, the G-00 achieves a full, balanced sound. The G-00 fills any room with rich tones-which players can hear like never before, with the exclusive Gibson Player Port. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-00 is handcrafted in Bozeman, Montana, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustic guitars. The G-00 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-00 parlor-sized body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-00 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
The G-45, a round-shouldered jumbo, adds the Gibson Player Port to its famous “Workhorse” J-45 style body, which is Gibson’s best-selling acoustic guitar of all time. On the G-45, players can now hear more clearly than ever how this beloved guitar responds to every style and technique of playing. Powerful one moment and soft the next, the G-45 delivers all sounds with incredible dynamic range in an elegant, medium body size. The G-45 is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-45 features a slightly thinner round shoulder body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-45 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Gibson’s impressive range of square-shouldered guitars have become an expressive standard for rock, pop, folk, and country artists. The G-Writer is known for its wide range of sounds, from gutsy and loud, to soft and sweet; they are superb for all styles and shine, whether strumming chords or fingering intricate solos. The G-Writer comes ready for the stage or studio with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system and the ear-opening Gibson Player Port. The G-Writer is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-Writer features a slightly thinner cutaway body, is more comfortable to play and provides effortless access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Writer is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
Gibson built its first “Super Jumbo” SJ-200 as a custom order for country and western singer and film star Ray Whitley, who desired a big, loud, and deep flat-top over which to croon. The SJ-200 quickly became a staple of cowboy singers and horseback troubadours, and then country music, 60’s folk stars, and onto every acoustic guitar genre that has followed. Ray would be proud to hear the booming sound from the Gibson Player Port on the new G-200, which comes ready for the stage or studio with a LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-200 is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. The G-200 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-200 cutaway jumbo body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and provides excellent access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-200 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
G-Bird | Generation Collection
For more information, please visit gibson.com.