Gear Review: Taylor AD17

Taylor’s new American Dream series, developed by master guitar designer Andy Powers, is the manufacturer’s lowest-priced, solid wood, USA-made guitar in their lineup. A Grand Pacific round-shoulder dreadnought with a few unique features, the AD17 brings a dramatically different tonal personality. After just a few minutes playing this guitar, I understand their thought process.

Taylor’s AD17 takes full advantage of the dreadnought shape and size, and through a creative combination of wood selection and architecture (the line uses the company’s V-Class bracing) creates a clear and tight low end that will be an immediate hit with any acoustic player who loves the sound of wood. The AD17 has a big sound, rich tone and pleasant definition that requires little effort to play, but it’s also very responsive up the neck and articulates well for both picking and finger-style playing. The warm low end can fill the room with strumming sounds.

This specific Grand Pacific model is their first round-shoulder dreadnought to feature back and sides of solid ovangkol, an African tonewood similar to rosewood in its warmth and brilliance that also flatters the midrange. The top is solid spruce and the assembly is enhanced by Taylor’s V-Class bracing. As a result, the guitar has great volume and dynamic characteristics, and a long beautiful sustain. I really appreciate guitars that can play well at low volumes, but also ‘sing’ when you dig into them.

Befitting its ‘woody’ sound, the AD17 is good looking, but minimally decorated with closely chamfered body edges, stained spruce edge trim, and a three-ring rosette in Hawaiian koa. The model I tried featured a black top with a subtle faux tortoiseshell pickguard. A deep Urban Sienna color treatment for the ovangkol back and sides adds to the guitar’s understated good looks. A 2.0 mil-thick matte body finish was chosen to minimize damping for better resonance. The fretboard wood is Eucalyptus without binding and the neck has simple matte finish.

After spending just a few sessions exploring the AD17 I can say unequivocally that this Grand Pacific line–and this new guitar in particular– adds a strong new dimension to Taylor guitars. I know that I’m going to try out some other guitars in this line to see how they compare, but I think it’s going to be hard to beat the AD17.

Street price (AD17 without electronics): $1399, (AD17e with electronics): $1599

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