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Taylor 517e
 
A new slope-shoulder dreadnought Grand Pacific with urban ironbark back and sides.
August 10, 2023
 

Taylor’s Grand Pacific body style is the company’s version of the classic slope-shoulder dreadnought. But while the guitars offer the most vintage-like appearance of any Taylor model, they’re actually examples of well-disguised innovation. Not only were the original Grand Pacific models (introduced in 2019) the first Taylors to be developed from the ground up with the company’s V-Class bracing, they also include all the construction details (such as bolt-on NT neck, grafted peghead, modern finishes, etc.) that have long separated Taylors from guitars built in the vintage-guitar tradition. Taylor included a Builder’s Edition 517 in the initial Grand Pacific launch, and now, a version of the 517e is available as part of the relaunch of the 500 series, which is now built with urban ironbark back and sides. I had a chance to take the guitar for a spin in the Peghead Nation studio, and in this video, San Francisco Bay Area flatpicker Jim Nunally and I demo the instrument. 

Not only does the new 517e mean that players now have another Taylor Grand Pacific to choose from, it also expands the company’s use of urban ironbark wood, which is part of its Urban Wood Initiative (check out our exclusive interview with Taylor’s Andy Powers to learn more about the company’s use of urban woods). Sustainably sourced from trees that grow in Southern California, urban ironbark has tonal qualities comparable to Indian rosewood. As with the other current 500-series models, the 517e includes a shaded edgeburst finish and a torrefied Sitka spruce top. The guitar’s appointments are mostly identical to other 500 series models, with tortoise-style binding, a single ring abalone rosette, and nickel tuners, but instead of the “Aerial” fingerboard inlay found on the rest of the line, the 517e has Taylor’s “Marquise” inlay position markers in its ebony fingerboard. In another nod to the instrument’s contemporary nature, it includes Taylor’s own ES2 pickup and electronics.

Every Grand Pacific we’ve played has had a great flatpicking voice, and the 517e is no exception. The guitar’s torrefied top may have helped it handle an aggressive attack, and Jim and I agreed that it yielded excellent tones when strummed or flatpicked. While it may not have the opulent overtones of a 70-year old dreadnought, it has a clarity and balance that is often absent from a large guitar. Naturally, its playability was finger-friendly, and it has enough versatility to be a satisfying fingerstyle guitar. 

Overall, the 517e is a great addition to Taylor’s line, and players who have been looking at the rosewood options for Grand Pacific models (the 417e and 717e) would do well to check this one out, as the urban ironbark offers similar tonal qualities, but with its own character and appearance. 

SPECS 

Grand Pacific body. Torrefied Sitka spruce with V-Class bracing. Urban ironbark back and sides. Non-tropical mahogany neck. West African crelicam ebony fingerboard and bridge 25.5-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Nickel Taylor tuning machines. Taylor ES2 electronics. Made in USA. $3,299 street. 

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Peghead Partners
 
DSS Biosphere II | Martin Guitar
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    ● Courses
    ● Live Workshops
    ● Instructors
    ● Sample Lessons
    ● Notation Guide
    ● For Beginners
 
 
    ● Vintage Vault
    ● New Gear
    ● Fine Lutherie
 
 
    ● Workshops
    ● Advice
    ● Repertoire
 
 
    ● Recordings
    ● Events
    ● Breaking News
 
 
    ● In The Studio
    ● Live Onstage
    ● Backroom
 
 
    ● New Products
    ● Inside Look
    ● Performances
    ● Partner Pages
 
 
© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com