|Body And Neck:|
Hefty price tag? Electronics? ‘It doesn’t sound like an acoustic guitar for beginners’, you may cry. And, while we don’t usually recommend beginners bother with electro-acoustics, the Taylor Academy A12e is one of those guitars we just couldn’t leave out. Part of the iconic brand’s Academy series – designed to offer beginners a more affordable way to enjoy a Taylor – the A12e is a mouthwatering prospect. Let’s check it out.
In short, the A12e is an uber-stylish 24.87” scale length Grand Concert acoustic. The body sticks to Taylor’s design brief for this guitar to be easy to hold, as well as durable and ‘not too precious’ as it’s made from a quality sturdy sapele laminate on the back and sides, and a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top. A touch of mahogany features on the top too, as the A12e sports an ergonomic arm rest, making it an exceedingly comfortable guitar to hold.
With a beginner’s guitar exceeding $500, we expected a flawless playing experience and the matte-finished sapele neck provides that. This neck sports a genuine African ebony fretboard, with 20 frets. Genuinely, as much as this guitar costs, it provides beginners with a seriously good playing experience – smooth, comfortable, lightweight, sturdy, and fast. As for craftsmanship, there’s no faulting it. Even though it’s one of Taylor’s entry-level models, it’s superior compared to most other beginner-friendly guitars.
Along with awesome looks and feel, comes a selection of all-round impressive hardware. While we aren’t always keen on electronics on beginners’ guitars, the Taylor pickup and preamp impress and certainly give beginners a reason to improve – imagine performances on this baby! In fairness, the preamp keeps things very simple for newbies, with just volume and tone control knobs, instead of complicated EQ controls. There’s also an essential built-in digital tuner, keeping you reliably in tune.
However, the set of chrome tuning machines on the headstock are pretty decent at this too, so you probably won’t have to use the tuner too much. Elsewhere the A12e comes with a good ebony bridge, a micarta nut and saddle, a set of light Elixir strings, and a Taylor padded gig bag, which is functional and protective. It looks pretty cool too.
Once again, the tone is typical Taylor quality and sounds amazing. The solid spruce and the sapele combine for a vibrant and balanced tone that really sings, with great warmth and sparkle in equal measure. Acoustically, it shows a robust projection, but through an amp you’re not limited with volume and – while the pickup isn’t high-end – it’s certainly worth plugging in and playing when you’ve learned your first songs. What the preamp lacks in versatility, it makes up for in simplicity, and will be appreciated by first-timers.
The A12e is an entry-level guitar for Taylor, but it’s head and shoulders above even some higher-end models for other brands. The hefty price tag confirms this. Of course, you are paying a little extra for the name in some senses, but you never feel ripped off – the playability, comfort, tone and overall experience of learning on a Taylor is incredibly valuable.