Ever thought about picking up one of the unique creatures that are 12 strings guitars? These guitars sound special and will open new roads for you in your guitar journeys, so today we'll have a look at one of the more successful models in this range, the Taylor 150e 12 string review. If you never heard about how 12 strings actually work and are tuned, you can read here for a brief intro about 12 strings.
Six months ago, in June '15, I walked into a guitar store in Austin, Texas. On the wall in the acoustic area, I noticed a very nice Taylor 12 string, so I immediately took it and put it on my lap. I started doodling around and what struck me first was how much easier to play it was as compared to all of the 12 strings I have played in the past. The sound also catched my ears right then and there.
I actually never thought about getting a twelver before because I remembered these guitars as instruments you have to fight – high action, aggressive string tension – not my kind of fun, even the Martins, Breedloves and other quality 12 strings that I've tried.
My jaw dropped when I noticed how easy the 150e was to play and how damn beautiful it sounded. The sales dude, who noticed how much I was into that guitar, came in and sneakily plugged it in a nice acoustic amp, which made it sound like maybe the best guitar I have ever heard. A few minutes later he elegantly walks in again and asks “shall I get you the case…?” I think for a moment and then answer, “You know what… Yeah, why not!” (:
And that's my story of how I got into the world of 12 strings. After 6 months together with this babe, I present to you the long term Taylor 150e review. As you can see, this is not one of the websites where the Taylor 150e review would be written by a guy who just tested it for a couple of hours. This is all written from my experience of living with it and playing it for more than 6 months, almost daily. Hope you'll enjoy!
Taylor 150e 12 String Review – Features:
So what do we have here?
Just last year, in 2014, Taylor thrown a monster player into the affordable 12 string market. Up until then, the premium Californian manufacturer only had 12 strings that started at the 2000$ range price tag and well above. The 150e came into the market for 750$, a price tag you wouldn't expect from a Taylor twelver, and since then have been doing remarkebly well, sold like hotcakes and gotten impressive feedbacks. How and why? We'll see in a minute.
Features include a solid sitka spruce top, layered (laminated) sapele back & sides, a relatively skinny neck, and an excellent amplification system (Taylor Expression™) which we'll talk about soon.
So let's cut all the woods names and other fancy terms and let's get down to it – how does it actually sound and perform in real life, after 6 month of playing it almost every day?
A video I made with the Taylor: 50 Famous Riffs on a 12-String Guitar. Enjoy!
Pros of The Taylor 150e:
- Whether you are new to 12 strings or not – the sound is just something else. The 150e with it's twin strings will give a beautiful twist to all the songs you know and like to play – whether we are talking about full cowboy chords, arpeggiated songs like R.E.M's Everybody Hurts (great fit for 12 strings!), or more folky Dont Think Twice It's Alright kind of songs, and on into beautiful solos, riffs and doodles that sound special because they now they consist of two strings instead of one, and even fingerpicking is possible and will surprise you with the crystal clear sounds. The 150e sounds sparkly, very accurate, very bright, and overall is just a joy to listen to.
- Like I mentioned first – the playability on the 150e is by far the smoothest I have felt on any 12 string. This is the first and foremost reason that I got it – the option to get the 12 string sound with such a butter smooth playability was a dealmaker for me. The action is low, the neck is relatively skinny and is very easy to work fast on, and the guitar just feels so inviting to pick up and play which unfortunately is something pretty rare in other 12 strings due to the playability flaws these guitars are usually affected by. A 6 string would of course be easier to handle, especially when it comes to barre chords, but as far as twelvers go, this one is a winner, and even more so after you take it in for a setup which will lower the strings' action.
- The natural volume and projection on this beast is amazing. The sound fills a room like no 6 string can even dream of. Get ready to have people blown away, even if they're not into guitars – you will see how people wow and easily tell something special is around when this thing is playing.
- The fit and the finish are top notch, just like you'd expect from a Taylor. The body woods are lookin' fancy, the frets are finished perfectly, all the wood connections are very clean, the tuning pegs feel even and precise, the binding is painted in impressive accuracy, etc. This is no Chinese cheap trick, this is the best build quality you can get on a guitar.
- Amplification system – the Taylor Expression™ system – the same system that comes with the more expensive Taylors is making an appearance here, and I can tell you for sure that this is something else and not just a marketing BS. Usually, when acoustic guitars are plugged in they lose all the beautiful natural woody sound, and instead, they get a metallic and artificial sound. Well, I don't know how Taylor managed to pull it, but when the 150e is plugged in to a good acoustic amp it sound just like itself , crystal clear, but with a big volume and power boost which makes the experience seriously eargasmic. It's hard to put the guitar down. The volume, high and low frequencies are controlled from 3 discrete knobs that are located at the side of the guitar.
- along with the guitar you get a nice beige colored high-quality gig bag, that is surprisingly light, lookin' nice and shiny and does a good job of protecting the guitar. I wish it had another pocket at the top though for putting more stuff in.
- This guitar WILL inspire you and immensely expand your guitar vocabulary! There's nothing like a 12 string to reinvigorate your guitar motivation, and combined with the ease of playability and sound quality you get here, you will find yourself reaching new peaks quickly. Getting a twelver was strategically one of the best decisions I have made in my guitar life.
- Price tag – 750$ are indeed a lot of money, but for such a high quality, pre-amped, 12 string Taylor guitar, I can confidently say you get a tremendous bang for your buck here.
Cons of The Taylor 150e:
- A delicate and thin finish that is prone to small dings and hits. My other acoustic is a 6 string Washburn WD10SCE with a gloss finish that took dozens of hits and almost never showed any scar. The 150e has a matte finish, that while it does makes for a great sound (according to a big Austin guitar tech that I had a chat with – usually the thinner the finish, the better the sound is), it will accumulate scars easily, even if you just accidently knock the side of it into a table's edge not too hard. So you gotta be careful with it! It's defiantly not the guitar I'd take out to messy campfire jams.
- No built in tuner – there is no built-in tuner like there is in many other acoustics, and here the loss is doubled because 12 strings are a lot of strings to tune so a built in tuner would defiantly make life easier. Instead, I use the Guitar Toolkit very fast tuner, and I also always carry a Snark clip on tuner that I can tune with if I am on stage or in a noisy place since it works on vibration directly from the guitar.
- Lack of bling and plain looks. While it does look like a high quality guitar, as you can notice when looking on the woods and the rest of small details, the 150e does not have the bling that higher end guitars have – like fretboard inlays and such. So personally, I like having a beautiful and shiny guitar and it makes me want to pick it up more, so what I did to address this was – I spent an extra 30$ on getting new inlay stickers, abalone bridge pins and a headstock decal. Now it not only feels, but also looks like a 3 grand guitar. If you're interested in doing that too, check out my post about 9 Different Ways To CUSTOMIZE Your Guitar Almost For Free.
- Lack of a cutaway, which means you are restricted when it comes to playing above the 14 fret. These are not the usual go-to fretboard areas of a 12 string, but it can still be limiting sometimes.
That's it, I hoped I helped you reach a good decision if you are in the market for a 12 string. Even if you were not looking into spending so much, I believe you should save up some more and get this great piece of music instead of a cheaper one that you'll barely end up playing. These were 750$ that were invested once and will give me thousands of hours of fun over the next years. Highly recommended!