Premier Guitar – Review Demo – Taylor Academy 10e

A lot of big guitar companies use a simple strategy for building affordable flattops: take the blueprint for an existing model, find a factory overseas, and build the same guitar with less expensive labor and materials. Taylor, however, has always gone its own way. And many of the unique guitars that it builds for entry-level buyers—the Baby Taylor, GS Mini, and Big Baby—have become front-line instruments for superstars.

Given the success of those instruments, as well as Taylor’s mid-priced, Mexico-built 100 and 200 series guitars, the arrival of Taylor’s new entry-level Academy Series may come as a surprise. But the Academy series—which includes grand concerts, a nylon-string hybrid, and the dreadnought reviewed here—is the welcome product of Taylor’s emphasis (obsession, perhaps) with design refinement at the affordable end of the flattop market. And my time with the 10e suggests that the efforts are neither empty marketing gestures nor design half measures. This is a thoughtfully built, fine-playing flattop that consistently delivers sonic surprises and consistently feels more expensive than it is.

The Academy Series guitars are the first new offerings from Taylor’s new Tecate, Mexico, factory, and the build quality is solid and representative of Taylor’s knack for getting priorities right. The setup is excellent, and despite trips from Southern California to Iowa and back to California again in late winter, the intonation is nearly perfect. While I personally might like the action on the slightly lower side, the Academy is exceptionally playable, feeling like a guitar from much further upmarket. The few construction shortcomings I could find—primarily stray glue around the wood band that stands in for traditional notched kerfing—has no bearing on the guitar’s performance.

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