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Hands-On Review: Taylor T3 Semi-Hollowbody Electric Guitars

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Another evolutionary step in Taylor electric guitar design

By Dan Day
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer

The T3 Semi-Hollowbody, the newest electric guitar from Taylor, offers supreme resonance and attention to design down to the smallest details, making it both a joy to play and behold. The Taylor T3 and the Bigsby-equipped T3/B are visual stunners with highly figured quilted maple tops and chrome appointments that elicit the kind of oohs and aahs you hear at a 4th of July fireworks show. The semi-hollowbody design, woods, and construction make the T3 one of the most resonant electric guitars I’ve ever played. Unplugged, I found it a joy just to sit on the sofa and play the afternoon away. The large lower bout contributes to that wonderful resonance while creating tonal balance and the feel of an acoustic guitar, rather than a smaller, solid-bodied electric.

Taylor-design DNA

The DNA passed on to the T3 includes Taylor’s single-bolt T-Lock neck joint. Its jigsaw puzzle-like shape guarantees a tight fit and dead-on intonation with the look and feel of a set neck. The Taylor control knobs have a lip edge that allow super-smooth volume swells. The Style 2 HD (high definition) humbuckers reflect two Taylor design developments. They’ve altered the focus and direction of the magnetic flux with a new type of magnet and brewed up a secret recipe for the windings. This results in pickups that produce the sweet sound of vintage humbuckers with increased dynamic range and output.

Taylor T3 Semi Hollowbody Electric Guitar Black

The T3 incorporates enhanced electronics that include coil-splitting activated by pulling up the volume control. In a conversation I had with Taylor designer David Hosler, he talked about the thinking that went into the tone control circuit. "Many guitarists have learned not to expect much from a tone control. We decided to do something to make it useful. When pulled up, the T3’s tone control adds a second capacitor to the circuit creating a quasi-parametric sweep throughout the range of the control. Players can use the boosted mids to add a little warmth to the single-coil or mellow out the humbuckers for an even jazzier tone without squashing it into a muddy sound." My audition of the T3 confirmed Taylor’s design objective was met in every respect.

Adding the Bigsby to create the T3/B version marks the first time Taylor has put someone else’s component on one of its guitars. Hosler revealed that it was Fred Gretsch who urged Taylor to use the Bigsby vibrato—a feature made popular on Gretsch models. Taylor though, went the extra step in its integration. For ultra-smooth functionality, the company added a roller bridge that keeps the strings from getting caught in the bridge saddles after being pulled by the vibrato.

Taylor T3 Bigsby Semi Hollowbody Electric Guitar Honey Sunburst

Sweet ride

Fellow staffer Martin Race and I put both T3 guitars through their paces during a recent Musician’s Friend Jam Night, a musical get-together of our staff at a local watering hole. After giving both models a workout on a wide range of tunes from ’60s jangle rockers to mellow jazz tunes and getting a lot of thumbs up from other Friend staffers, we arrived at a consensus: The Taylor T3 is one highly versatile axe with its very tweakable electronics, highly playable smooth-action neck, fretboard-access-friendly cutaway, and custom-shaped frets. Similar to 6105s, the frets are tall, fat, and built for rigorous note-bending.

The T3 sounds best run clean with no effects—very sweet and sparkly—making it perfect for rhythm work. Its versatility was borne out on the proto-punk classic "You’re Gonna Miss Me." From its slashing opening chords to propulsive, chiming verses, the T3 delivered the sonic goods. It also did a fine job on leads, pumping out singing blues-rock tones on "Journey to the Center of the Mind" and crisp, tight chords and bright, articulate tones with the single-coils during the pulse-pounding opening riffs to "Friday on My Mind." The T3 sounds especially sweet on jazz tunes when the neck pickup is used with the push/pull tone control activated, smoothly giving voice to all the notes of extended and altered chords.

Diverse appeal

Players ranging from hardcore young rockers to old-school semi-hollowbody players will find lots to like in the T3. As a case in point, Bette Midler’s Grammy-winning guitarist Wayne Johnson recently replaced his D’Angelico semi-hollowbody with the T3. Its appeal to diverse players results from Taylor’s philosophy as voiced by designer Hosler: "We don’t do focus groups and conduct surveys. We want to create a great instrument with new things that inspire players. Simply put, we want to create cool guitars. Bottom line, the T3 has stunning looks and great sound with playability that’s the key goal of all Taylor guitars."

The T3 and T3/B meet those objectives admirably with lush visual appeal and a highly resonant body that offers great projection, bright punch, and tight lows, coupled with the versatility of humbucker and single-coil tone.

Features & Specs


  • Semi-hollowbody
  • Sapele back and neck
  • Quilted maple top
  • Gloss veneer finish
  • Venetian cutaway
  • 21 tall, fat frets
  • 24-7/8"-scale length
  • Single-bolt T-Lock joint
  • Ebony peghead
  • Ebony fretboard
  • Mother-of-pearl dot inlays
  • TUSQ nut with Teflon coating
  • 1-11/16" nut width
  • 2 full-sized Taylor Style-2 HD (high definition) humbuckers
  • Master volume control with single-coil push/pull
  • Master tone control with parametric mid-boost push/pull
  • Roller-style bridge with stop tailpiece (T3) or Bigsby Vibrato tailpiece (T3/B)
  • Chrome hardware
  • Taylor tuners
  • Deluxe hardshell case

Tags: Electric Guitars Taylor

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