Gear Review: Taylor AD22e Acoustic-Electric Guitar

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Videos by American Songwriter

I really love acoustic guitars, and I have a few of them. If you are like me, maybe you do, too. One of the features I find most interesting about acoustic instruments is how much variation there can be between makers and models. That is something that immediately struck me when I got a chance to play Taylor’s new AD22e American Dream acoustic-electric. There are lots of things to like about it, but how it fills the unique space for a versatile, compact instrument and its great resonant tone make it a guitar you should check out.  

Here are the basics: First, the AD22e was designed and is manufactured right here in the USA. It features an all-solid body construction with a visually striking mahogany top and Sapele body. This combination of tonewoods, along with a diminutive body style, and advanced design are responsible for the AD22e’s very clear sound and resonant tone. The body is Grand Concert style with a body length of 19 1/2″, a width of 15″, and depth of 4 3/8″, which you’ll find to be slightly smaller than a Taylor’s Grand Auditorium. While it is the smallest of Taylor’s full-size body shapes with a 24.875″ scale and tapered waist that makes it a comfortable instrument with easy fretting, its sound does not disappoint. In fact, the smaller footprint serves to keep the overtones in check when full strumming, contributing to a focused and articulate sound with a punchy midrange that records well. The AD22e’s solid midrange and playability make this guitar particularly well suited to fingerstyle playing. With its slightly smaller body, the sound is more intimate, but with clarity and balance that players will appreciate and can use to create a sound of their own.

Choice woods are what makes a guitar’s unique sound, but only to describe the AD22e by tonewood selection would do it a disservice–and only tell part of the story. Construction and design play a huge role in both the sound and playability of a guitar, but also in its stability. If you want your guitar to last and be reliable, look inside the soundhole.

Inside the AD22e you’ll find that it is reinforced with Taylor’s V-Class bracing. Properly designed and installed bracing boosts volume, enhances sustain, and balances tone for the best possible playing experience. Taylor has worked hard in recent years perfecting designs that blend the traditional sounds that guitarists are looking for with modern improvements that make the instruments even more valuable. The result can be seen in Taylor’s V-Class bracing system that offers benefits beyond more traditional X-bracing. The advanced designs can achieve not only great sounds but more stable and better-performing instruments. The AD22e is a great example. 

Taylor guitars have always been a favorite for live performances and the AD22e is responsibly equipped with the Taylor Expression System 2 (ES2) to give it the most realistic sound on stage or for direct recording. What you won’t find on guitars from other manufacturers is the ES2 behind-the-saddle pickup. A vast improvement over the traditional under-saddle pickups, the ES2 is really three uniquely positioned and individually calibrated pickup sensors that are designed and installed by the people at Taylor who know the guitar’s design the best. The three pickup sensors are installed behind the saddle, through the bridge, with three tiny Allen screws that calibrate the position of the sensors in relation to the saddle. The exacting location of the sensors provides for the most dynamic range of acoustic sound to be captured. Sound captured at the saddle flows through Taylor’s custom-designed professional-grade preamp putting out a clean sound ready to be recorded or amplified on stage. If you have been impressed with the sound of a Taylor guitar on stage recently, it’s likely you heard the ES2 in action.

Three inconspicuous, but easily accessible soft-touch tone control knobs allow for simple, accurate control of the AD22e’s electronics. After stressing with outboard EQ boxes and preamps, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the variation in tone you can get with the ES2 knobs to adjust bass, treble, and volume. All three controls have a detent (small bump) that marks the center position, so without looking down–and even in the dark–you can get set up quickly. For bass and treble, the center position indicates the “off” or “flat” mode. The center point of the volume knob indicates half of the highest volume output. Volume is conveniently located closest to the front of the guitar, with treble in the center position, and bass closest to the back.

Its size, body shape, and general understated good looks are, of course, appealing and so is the ability to plug it in and have great sound on stage. But what I like most about the AD22e is how it “speaks”. As I’ve said, this guitar offers players an overall great sound with a solid midrange that allows it to articulate a challenging melodic line, cut through in an acoustic ensemble, or flavor an audio mix.

Bottom line: The AD22e offers a great balance of playability, comfort, and tone that really makes it stand out.

A padded, tight-fitted Aero case with back straps, handle and convenient front pocket is included. You can find the Taylor AD22e American Dream at Guitar Center for $1599.00.

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