Equipment Review: Taylor 510e Acoustic Guitar

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Songwriters demand a lot from their instruments. Guitars have to sound good, fit the style of the song, record well in unpredictable conditions, and have a great feel. We even expect our guitars to work well on stage; to be a ‘workhorse’ with both good electronics and an acoustic design that will sound great with other instruments, as well as stand up to a full band. That’s a tall order. The better guitars hit on some points, but few present all of these important features. Every now and then, a guitar comes along that has it all. Taylor’s redesigned 510e dreadnought electric-acoustic seems to have it all.

Put head-to-head with another popular dreadnought, you’ll see that Taylor’s 510e has some vintage-inspired features, including a slightly shorter 24-7/8-inch scale length and a V-carve neck. This allows it to play with outstanding feel at lower string tension. A Lutz spruce top and mahogany back and sides, along with Taylor’s performance bracing, produce beautifully balanced tone that boasts (as the Taylor website promises) “crisp highs and soft lows”. Manufacturers tend to say a lot of things about their instruments and are often prone to hyperbole, but I found Taylor’s description of the 510e’s tone to be pretty accurate— crisp highs and soft lows. Most importantly, for guitarists who appreciate the beauty of versatile, well-balanced tone, this guitar is easy to make music with and fun to play.

Adding to the 510e’s good looks and great acoustic sound are a Tusq nut and Micarta saddle, a slotted headstock adorned with decorative tuners, and an ebony truss rod cover with matching tortoise pickguard and binding. The 1-3/4″ fretboard is made of ebony with ebony binding and modest inlay and a satin finish.

This guitar is perfectly at home unplugged in a circle of acoustic instruments or amplified via Taylor’s Expression System (ES) 2 electronics which feature three uniquely positioned and individually calibrated pickup sensors. The location of the sensors helps to create a more dynamic range of acoustic sound. Like Taylor’s previous version of the Expression System, the ES2 features the same inconspicuous (but easy-to-see) volume and tone control knobs, but the new 510e sports a custom-designed, high-grade preamp that delivers a signal that’s about 25 percent hotter – an important feature for those of us who frequently perform on stage.

The Taylor 510e delivers understated good looks with a non-cutaway body design, ebony fretboard, binding and slotted headstock, but serious players will appreciate the great woody tone, dynamic range and outstanding presence of this instrument. This is an all-round great guitar with a lot of character that can satisfy the most demanding singer-songwriters and professional guitarists. Fingerstyle or flat picked, the 510e is a solid guitar that’s easy to play and a great instrument on all counts.

The 510e ships with a tight-fitting, brown, deluxe hardshell case and Elixir’s Phosphor Bronze strings.

MSRP: $2998.         Street Price: $2299.