Taylor T3/B Semi-Hollowbody Electric Guitar
Taylor Guitars, taylorguitars.com
Originally published in Guitar World, September 2009
Producing a broad palette of tones that bridge the gap between traditional semi-hollow and solidbody guitars, the T3/B offers guitarists a bold new voice.
It can be a risky proposition when a company famous for its acoustic guitar–building prowess ventures into the wild-and-woolly territory of electric guitar manufacturing. Several large and well-known companies have made admirable attempts in the past and failed miserably, despite offering decent instruments. Taylor entered the electric guitar market in 2005 and has already enjoyed more success than previous contenders by offering a diverse lineup of electric models that provide guitarists with useful features, outstanding playability and competitive prices.
The T3 semi-hollow electric is the latest addition to the Taylor electric line, which also includes the acclaimed T5 electric/acoustic and the SolidBody models. While an abundance of Gibson ES-335-style semihollow models are on the market, the T3 distinguishes itself from the pack with a unique personality and a semihollow voice that’s likely to appeal to a wide variety of players. I looked at the T3/B model, which features a Bigsby vibrato tailpiece.
With the telltale exception of its f-holes, the T3/B looks like an oversized solidbody. Its flat, quilted maple top is layered on a hollowedout slab of sapele (a tropical African wood similar to mahogany) that features a solid block down the middle. Externally, the design is more like a chambered solidbody than a traditional semi-hollow guitar with an arched back and top and bent sides. As a result the sound of T3/B leans more toward the solidbody end of the tonal spectrum.
The sapele neck attaches to the body with a single bolt, using Taylor’s T-Lock design, which makes it easy to adjust the neck angle and eliminates the heel. The neck also features an ebony fingerboard, dot inlays, 21 electric-style frets (instead of the acoustic-style frets found on the Taylor T5) and a 24 7/8–inch scale. Chrome hardware includes the aforementioned Bigsby vibrato tailpiece, a roller bridge with adjustable intonation, Taylor-designed tuning machines and a pair of Taylor Style 2 HD (for high-definition) full-size humbucking pickups. The pickups are positioned closer together than they are on a 335, with the upper edge of the neck pickup placed one inch closer to the bridge and the gap between both pickups just two inches instead of 2 3/4 inches.
Although the T3/B features only a master volume and a master tone control, it produces a surprisingly versatile rainbow of tones thanks to functions provided by push/pull circuits. When the volume control is pulled up, the coils on both humbucking pickups are split to provide single-coil tones.
Pulling up on the tone control engages an additional capacitor that makes the T3/B’s overall sound more warm and mellow. The tone control also features a unique midboost circuit that allows the control to function normally over the first two-thirds of its rotation; over the last third it kicks in a midrange peak that sounds similar to a “half-cocked” wah pedal. The pickup selector is a traditional three-position toggle switch with bridge/both/neck pickup settings.
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