Utilising Taylor's beloved Grand Pacific body shape, the American Dream series is a modern take on the classic round-shoulder dreadnought that retains the powerful yet warm sound of a dreadnought but with more clarity and note-definition, particularly in the low-end. The American Dream series is Taylor's entry-point for those looking for an American-made, all-solid wood acoustic guitar. Nick Jennison reviews the Taylor American Dream AD17.
I've had the pleasure of looking at a number of Taylor's V-Class guitars since they were introduced in 2018, and I'm yet to play one that I haven't been impressed by. This innovative bracing pattern improves sustain, projection and even intonation, and it seems to enhance every guitar Taylor use it on - regardless of body style or wood selection. This labour intensive process is reserved for Taylor's more expensive solid wood American-made guitars found in the 300 series and up.
Named after the guitar shop where Taylor was founded in the '70s, the American Dream line of guitars puts solid woods, USA constriction and V-Class bracing within reach for players that want a bonafide pro-level instrument, but perhaps can't quite stretch their budget to a 314ce.
Right out of the box, the blacktop-finished AD17 had my heart racing. It's elegant, simple and very chic, with more than a little Johnny Cash cool. While I'm normally not a fan of finishes on acoustic guitar (being of the opinion that more paint tends to dampen the resonance of the timbers), the matte finish here is thin enough to get a pass from me - which is good news, since I'm so taken by how it looks.
The construction here is all solid woods, with no layered or laminate timbers insight. The AD17 sports a Sitka spruce and a mahogany neck. Taylor has selected ovangkol for the back and sides and eucalyptus for the fingerboard - two kinds of wood that are very similar in tone to rosewood, but more ecologically friendly and cost-effective. These bright and crisp wood choices are offset by what has become my favourite Taylor body shape: the Grand Pacific. This round-shouldered dreadnought design has a warm, seasoned tone and balances beautifully on either leg.
Tonally, the AD17 is warm and authoritative, with a lot of volume and a top-end that's more silky than snappy. The lows are deep and three dimensional, but without the bloat that larger dreads sometimes exhibit. If you lay in with aggressive strumming, it's right there with you. By contrast, more delicate fingerstyle work has enough oomph and projection to carry without sacrificing sustain, detail or harmonic complexity. It's just a really well-balanced instrument.
The playability is as good as I've ever felt on a Taylor guitar. The action is low right up to the 14th fret neck join, and the neck is extremely comfortable with both thumb-around and thumb-behind playing positions. Most notably, however, the superb balance and chamfered body edges made sitting with this guitar very comfortable. Often with acoustics, I'm faced with either "supporting" the guitar with my left hand (which impedes dexterity) or "holding" the body with my right arm (which dampens the tone). With this guitar, I didn't have to do either, which meant I could play a lot more freely than I usually can on larger-bodied acoustics.
Out of all the Taylor guitars I've played, I like the AD17 the best. It looks fantastic, plays effortlessly and the tone is superb, but it's also relatively affordable. If I were to buy a Taylor guitar, this would be the one - you should check it out too!
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