Review: Taylor Grand Pacific 717 and 517E

(Image credit: Taylor Guitars)

Many guitarists consider the square-shouldered dreadnought the ultimate acoustic flattop steel-string guitar. It’s certainly remained the most popular acoustic since its introduction in the Thirties. But while the model has more than its fair share of fans, its popularity seems to be based on its sound being more familiar than flawless. Players with discriminating ears who have played dreadnoughts on stage or in the studio know what I’m talking about. The booming bass that partially defines a dreadnought’s distinctive voice can sound glorious in some instances, but too often it dominates at the expense of treble and midrange frequencies that struggle to be heard, particularly when chords are strummed.

With the introduction of their new Grand Pacific models, Taylor offers a completely new flattop guitar design that tames the dreadnought’s bass boom while still retaining the warm tonal character, sustain, projection and power that players desire. The Grand Pacific is not a refinement of previous designs, but rather an entirely new guitar designed from the ground up with a unique body shape coupled with the V-Class bracing pattern innovated by Taylor master guitar designer Andy Powers. We took a look at two of Taylor’s top-end Grand Pacific models — the Builder’s Edition 717 with a torrefied spruce top and rosewood back and sides and the Builder’s Edition 517e with a torrefied spruce top and mahogany back and sides. Taylor also offers the Grand Pacific 317e in spruce and sapele for players seeking a more affordable model.

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.