When my niece was looking to acquire a first guitar for her teenage son, she contacted me about recommendations for guitars. As he is quite a tall guy and had long fingers, I immediately was considering a full-size starter dreadnought or 000 concert sized guitar.
As it turns out, the budget for a guitar was set at no more than $ 500. So after trying out several acoustics that met this criteria, I finally decided on the Taylor Big Baby dreadnought offered by Taylor Guitars. It is just a tad bit smaller in size than a full-sized dread, but that would be perfect. Some of the fantastic aspects of this guitar is if he took good care of it, he could easily tote it to college in a few years and it would serve him very well there.
Big Baby Features: 6.5 Stars
This is a very basic dreadnought guitar, that is just a bit smaller in stature from full sized Taylor or Martin Acoustic Guitars. The size is very close to the size of a 000 concert sized guitar I would judge, which is the reason it is very comfortable for guitarists to play. Although it does sport a solid Sitka spruce top, there is no protective binding trim that is typically present to protect the outside edge from damage. Also, this guitar features a bolt on neck that is easily removable for travel and packing, and a solid ebony fretboard.
The back and sides are constructed of Sapele High Pressure Laminate, and the tuners are Grover-like, cast chrome plated, and seem to work rather well. Although there were some workmanship issues, I did not find anything that could compromise performance or longevity of this guitar.
Guitar Sound Production: 6.0 Stars
I selected similarly priced guitar manufactured by Martin, Fender, Yamaha and Takamine, and the Taylor was in my estimation, a better deal for the money.
I have found that because this guitar his a thinner profile body and additionally aided by the high pressure laminate back and sides, this guitar tends to be a little thin on the bass side and there is more treble than I would like. Even so, this will make for a fine fingerstyle or flatpick guitar. Even though this guitar is a bit heavy on the treble end, it does possess a very good sustain and it projects very well.
A very positive point that this guitar makes is the use of a solid Sitka Spruce top. I am confident that the tone of this guitar will mellow somewhat due to the solid Spruce top.
Guitar Action: 7.0 Stars
Right out of the box this guitar did require a bit of help with setup, and string height, but this is not uncommon with guitars in this price range. By adjusting the action of the strings of this guitar, you will more easily be able to play difficult fingerstyle or flatpicking passages.
Durability: 8.5 Stars
You will find that this is a rugged and dependable guitar, that can take some abuse. That being said, a good rap against the delicate end grain of the Spruce top could result in the start of a crack. A protective binding around this top edge would have been appreciated.
One outstanding point in the favor of this guitar is that the HPL sides and back are very crack resistive.
Customer Service: 10.0 Stars
Taylor offers a lifetime warranty to the original owner of this guitar. Experience has shown that the tech support of Taylor is very capable and willing to work with their clients on warranty issues. They state in their warranty that each customer and instrument is unique, and thus are very significant to them. Even if you find it necessary to deal with them of what you view a very minor or trivial issue, you will find that they are willing to help you out at any level. You can conveniently have technical support either by phone with their toll-free tech support line, or if you prefer you can contact them on-line.
Taylor Big Baby Overall Score: 7.6 Stars
This is the perfect guitar for gig playing, taking to the beach, to college or to used as a outstanding starter guitar, but don’t anticipate much more than that.
I have read where some guitar players have used the Taylor Big Baby guitar as a recording guitar or used it for performances. It still does not approach the sound and quality of a good solid wood guitar – or the price of one for that matter. I think that the people at Taylor have done a notable job with a guitar that is in this price range, and this is about as good as it can gt. Just a couple of things that I would do. I would get a better case and put a warmer sounding set of strings on the guitar when the Elixirs are worn out.
In this price range, I felt the Taylor Big Baby guitar blew away much of the competition in tone, volume, and action, and this is a guitar that deserves by rating of 7.6 stars.