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Taylor AD27e Flametop
 
An all-maple slope-shoulder with a husky, vintage tonality.
January 19, 2022
 

Developed during the COVID-lockdown of 2020 and introduced in the summer of that year, Taylor’s American Dream line is the company’s latest success story. With their stripped-down design, the guitars aren’t only the most affordable models built in Taylor’s main El Cajon, California factory, they also offer design elements that aren’t available in any other Taylor instruments, regardless of cost. And now, the most unusual variation on the American Dream theme (Taylor designer Andy Powers calls it “unlike anything Taylor has ever offered”) has been introduced with the AD27e Flametop. Flametop? Isn’t that reserved for low-slung electric guitars played by heavy rockers? Maybe not, because the new guitar really does have a flamed maple top, which is an exceptionally rare choice for a quality acoustic flattop. I was able to get a preview of the new model prior to its official release, and in this video, I demo it in the Peghead Nation studio. 

The AD27e Flametop has a stunning appearance. The solid maple used for the guitar’s top, back, and sides is indeed highly flamed, and with its satin edgeburst finish (Taylor calls it “woodsmoke”), it creates an appearance that is out of the norm for a slope-shoulder dreadnought. The guitar’s neck is also made of maple (a choice that Taylor has used on its 600-series for years), and as with other American Dream models, the fingerboard and bridge are made from plantation-grown eucalyptus wood. The instrument’s appointments are simple, consisting of dot-position markers in the fingerboard, a simple multi-ring rosette, and an edge treatment of the unbound top that looks similar to maple binding. The AD27e Flametop is built with Taylor’s V-Class bracing architecture and includes the company’s proprietary ES2 electronics. And, of course, it displays the extremely high level of fit and finish and craftsmanship that Taylor is famous for. 

So, how does a maple-top acoustic sound? The only examples I remember playing were inexpensive acoustic-electrics with laminated maple tops, which, while feedback-resistant at high amplified volumes, left a lot to be desired when it came to pure acoustic tone. But the AD27e Flametop operates in a completely different sonic league. While Taylors are generally known for their exceptional clarity, balance, and “hifi”-like overall tonality, the AD27e Flametop delivers a huskier, unpolished tonality. This isn’t to say that the guitar lacks clarity or balance, but that it delivers its voice with a somewhat less refined quality, and I’d guess that players who have been missing the warmth and “roundness” of certain vintage guitars from the typical Taylor model will be intrigued by the AD27e Flametop’s combining of these qualities with the precise and easy-playing Taylor platform. Amplifying the guitar through a Fishman Loudbox amp delivered these characteristics in a louder form, and due to the maple top’s inherent stiffness, it can be assumed that it will help raise the guitar’s feedback threshold at high volumes. 

Overall, the AD27e Flametop is a cool and unique addition to the Taylor catalog. Yes, it’s affordable, yes, it looks great, but what counts is that it fulfills the promise of a completely different sound for a Taylor guitar. My usual recommendation to head to a Taylor dealer to check one out for yourself never rang more true—this one might surprise you!

SPECS: Grand Pacific body. Solid flamed maple top with V-Class-bracing. Solid flamed maple back and sides. Eucalyptus fingerboard and bridge. 25.5-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Nickel Taylor tuning machines. ES2 electronics Made in USA. $2,199 street. Taylorguitars.com

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Julian Lage, “Nothing Happens Here” | Collings Guitars
The jazz phenom performs live in San Francisco using his Collings OM1 JL signature model.
 
 
 
 
 
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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
 
 
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