In this article we're rounding up the best Taylor guitars for the money that we've used and tested first-hand. We're also recommending Taylor guitars for a variety of different price ranges and situations. If you've settled on the Taylor brand, this guide will help you figure out which particular Taylor acoustic is going to be your best option.
How We Chose the Best Taylors Guitars for the Money
We try to make sure that we've either had first or second-hand experience with all the guitars we recommend. This means we recommend a more limited range of guitars, but those recommendations are more grounded in real life experience.
Of the Taylor acoustics we've played, these are the acoustics that we liked best and found to be the highest quality for what you pay.
We also base our selection on consumer consensus (other real customer reviews), our knowledge of the musical instrument market, common quality markers, and several important acoustic guitar features.
These are Taylor acoustic guitars that we've actually played and used. - Bobby
Which features are we paying close attention to?
Taylor makes exceptionally nice acoustic guitars, but we still pay attention to a similar list of features as we would for other brands. This set of features includes - but is not limited to - the following:
- Top tonewood (solid is preferable)
- Electronics and pickup system
- X-bracing construction and route relief
- Tonewood quality on back and sides
In an acoustic guitar it is good to see a solid top wood piece and interior electronics, which most Taylor guitars have. Otherwise we can look at the sides and back, as well as the bracing system details.
But often it's less about features or specs and more about how a guitar feels in your hands. Certainly with acoustic guitars it's important to have a first-hand perspective to hear how it sounds naturally in open air.
We'll try to convey as much of that from our own experience as possible, and avoid just rehashing feature lists.
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Best Taylor Guitars for the Money (comparison section)
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Taylor GS Mini (multiple versions)
Taylor 224ce Koa
1. Taylor GS Mini
The Taylor GS Mini comes in several different tonewood versions, including the following:
In all three versions, the top is a solid piece of tonewood and most include the Taylor ES-B system. Since it's a small guitar it's easier to hold and play, with a great value point at $700 retail.
The Ideal Fit
We like the GS Mini for nearly any situation requiring an acoustic guitar, including recording, couch strumming, and everything in between. It's one of the rare acoustic models that we can recommend for beginners and more advanced players alike.
Those who prefer melodic, fingerpicking styles will also appreciate the brighter tone profile.
Read the full review: Taylor GS Mini
IDEAL FOR: Everything, but especially melodic, right-hand focused playing styles.
2. Taylor BT2
While the BT2 is one of the few Taylor acoustics that doesn't always give you a solid wood top (laminate substituted in some Mahogany BT2 models), it still sounds great and even presents a decently warm tone profile, despite being so small. It's smaller than the GS Mini, and perhaps more firmly in the beginner acoustic guitar camp, but still has some relevance to more advanced players.
Who is it ideal for?
We recommend the BT2 for beginners and intermediate acoustics players who want the smaller body design or who need something that's easy to transport.
Read the full review on Medium: Taylor BT2
IDEAL FOR: Those prioritizing the small guitar body design and beginners looking for a more permanent acoustic
3. Taylor 114e or ce
The 114e and ce are two of the more popular mid-range Taylor acoustics, settling near $800 in most markets. It has a higher and brighter tone quality, especially if you compare it to something like Martin, which tends to produce acoustics with a warmer tone profile.
Both the 114e and ce will accentuate your picking hand and scraping sounds, giving you a brighter tone that's good for fingerpicking and melodic playing styles.
We like the 114e and ce for any playing style that emphasizes melody and lead acoustic styles. However, it's also extremely functional in the traditional strumming role as well.
Read the full review: Taylor 114ce
IDEAL FOR: Lead styles, fans of brighter tone, and intermediate to advanced players
4. Taylor 224ce (multiple versions)
Taylor's 224ce gets you into the upper-regions of Taylor quality, with an entirely Koa-built guitar that includes a solid top, ES-2 electronics, and all the trimmings.
Retailing at $1600 keeps it at a manageable price while still giving you the quality and feel of the high-end Taylors that can easily hit $3000 or more. Like the 114, you have the concert-style body shape and the cutaway, which produces a slightly higher tone response, though is more balanced by the warmth of the Koa tonewood.
It's not a beginner acoustic, but we like it for performers and those who are looking for a solid recording acoustic guitar.
The crispness and strong midrange of the 224 also gives it some of the same appeal we get from the 114 for melodic playing and lead acoustic styles.
Even at the higher price range, you can't really go wrong here.
IDEAL FOR: Recording, gigging, lead acoustic, and more advanced playing styles.
5. Taylor 814ce
Solid spruce top with spruce bracing and relief route get the feature-rich list started for the 814ce. Though the appeal is found in the sound and feel of this guitar. In the 800 level Taylors you get truly supreme instruments that are some of the nicest in the world, which we'd expect given the price tag, around $3500 in most markets.
The tone profile is lively and still brisk, though there's some additional clarity and presence that isn't there in the cheaper Taylors.
We'd recommend checking out this Musician's Friend demo to get a feel for the tone profile:
It also just glides and plays smoother in your hands, which is hard to explain outside of actually testing the guitar yourself.
We were only able to spend a little bit of time with this one, but it's clearly a favorite for all pro-level performance and recording situations, assuming you don't mind putting up with the massive expense.
IDEAL FOR: All pro-level performances, gigging, and recording.
Best for Small Hands
For those interested in a Taylor acoustic specifically for smaller hands, we'd recommend the Taylor BT2, just because of the smaller body size and thin nut width. It's much easier to hold and maneuver, even better than the smaller concert style bodies that many Taylors come in.
Best for Fingerstyle
Taylor is generally strong when it comes to producing guitars for this playing style. However, our specific recommendation would be either the GS Mini or the 114ce if you're going to be primarily fingerpicking and playing more melodic, acoustic-driven music.
Best for Beginners
For beginners, we recommend the Taylor BT2 because it's easy to play and can have plenty of use and relevance long-past the beginner stages of learning guitar. For those wanting a higher-quality beginner acoustic, the GS Mini deserves a look as well.
Best for Strumming
For strumming, we like the 224ce best with the dark Koa body and the warmer tone profile.
Best under $2000?
If you're trying to stay under $2000, the Taylor 224ce is your best bet, settling around the $1600 price point.
Best under $1000?
For those carrying a $1000 salary cap, we'd recommend the Taylor 114ce or the Taylor GS Mini, both in the $700 to $800 price range.
Cost and Value
Taylor's midrange acoustics tend to give you a lot for what you pay, while the higher-end models are so expensive that their value score has to come down. But if you've decided on Taylor as a brand, you can set your budget pretty much wherever and still have plenty of options to choose from.
Here are a few budget guidelines we'd recommend for Taylor acoustics:
- Plan on easily spending over $300, even if you're targeting lower-cost options
- $600 to $900 is where you'll get the most value
- Only go into the upper-tier Taylors (the 200-800 series models) if you're confident about your purchase and plan to use in a professional or semi-professional capacity.
Once you set your budget, you can get a better feel for what kind of Taylor acoustic guitars are available to you. As much as Taylor tends to have an "expensive reputation," I've found that they offer a lot of great, high-value acoustics that don't breach the $1000 mark.
I'd recommend looking just below that number, in the $600 to $900 range to find a good fit.
Are Taylor acoustics better than Martins?
Which would we recommend: Taylors or Martins?
It depends on what you're looking for.
Martin acoustics tend to be warmer and more full bodied in their sound. They also make more dreadnought models, which promote a thicker, more bass-heavy EQ response.
Taylors on the other hand are brighter and promote a more melodic sound, as we've seen with a lot of models in our suggestion list.
Thus, it's not that one is better than the other, but it just depends on what you're looking for:
- Martins: Warmer tone, more bass in the EQ
- Taylors: Brighter tone, more treble in the EQ
Keep in mind, these are very broad generalizations. You can find warm Taylors and you can find bright Martins. However, the two brands definitely have their distinctive trends and leans.
Where is the Taylor acoustic guitar company based?
Robert Taylor's company is based in El Cajon, California and got its start in 1974.
Are Taylor acoustic guitars good for blues?
Yes. In most cases, styles like blues and jazz are going to be good fits for Taylor acoustics because of their lean towards brighter, more lead-focused playing styles.
Are Taylor acoustics good for strumming?
Again, yes. Despite being melodic and brighter in most cases, Taylor acoustics still have one of the strongest strumming profiles of any acoustic guitar on the market. Excelling on the lead side of the guitar playing spectrum doesn't exclude them from the rhythm side.
Keep in mind, the recommendations we've made are based on personal experience. These are Taylor acoustic guitars that we've actually played and used, which means there are other good options out there that we might not have had the chance to test.
We'd rather recommend less guitars that we have more experience with.
In the long run, we believe that'll be more helpful to you.
You can take what you've learned about our experience with the best Taylor guitars and apply it to other situations.
If you have lingering questions, feel free to reach out via the comments section below and we'll chat.