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The Taylor 710: A nice dreadnought guitar, but still not quite a bluegrass cannon
Sep 21, 2004
Review by Horswispr
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:excellent playability; crisp, clear sound
Cons:bass not as woody and full as that of a Martin or Santa Cruz
The Bottom Line: If you find the sound of Martin and Santa Cruz rosewood dreadnoughts to be too thick, check out the Taylor 710.
The Taylor 710 is Taylor's most basic rosewood dreadnought guitar. It competes directly with Martin's classic D-28 and HD-28, two workhorses in bluegrass circles.
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Taylor guitars are known for their excellent playability and for tone that is brighter and less woody than that of Martin guitars.
The 710 has Indian rosewood back and sides, and an Engelmann spruce top. Engelmann is a softer wood than the Sitka spruce of most blugrass dreadnoughts, and Engelmann tops tend to sound a bit smoother than Sitka. The fingerboard of the 710 is high quality ebony. I read somewhere (perhaps it was in a PR from Taylor) that they have slightly changed the voicing of their dreadnought guitars, so a modern 710 might sound slightly different from one that's more than a year or so old.
Taylor's dreadnoughts look a little different from the Martin, Santa Cruz and Collings dreadnoughts you usually see in bluegrass circles. The pickguard has a fancier shape, and the guitar itself may be shaped slightly differently. I prefer the classic Martin (or imitation of pre-war Martin, in the case of Santa Cruz and Collings guitars) look, but that's a matter of personal taste.
Aside from the fancy pickguard, the look of the Taylor 710 is fairly conservative and attractive. The rosette is Hawaiian Koa, and the binding is Indian rosewood. The fingerboard inlays are simple small dots, which I find quite attractive. The tuners are the gold plated Taylor tuners found on many of their guitars.
The 710, like most Taylors, is remarkably easy to play. The smooth ebony fingerboard and low action mean you'll be able to play faster than with many other rosewood dreadnoughts.
Intonation was also good on the three samples I played recently. Chords sounded true, and remained so when I played up the neck.
But the sound is still Taylor, which is to say smooth and a bit bright, with bass that doesn't quite have the "throng" of rosewood dreadnoughts from Martin, Santa Cruz and Collings.
Overall volume was comparable to a Martin HD-28 that was on hand for comparison, but the balance was notably different. The Martin HD-28 sounded thicker and woodier. The Taylor sounded lighter and more delicate. The sound was not quite as "churchy" as with the comparably priced Taylor 714 (the 714's notes seem to take time to build, like the sound of an organ in a large church), but it was less direct and woody than that of the Martin HD-28. For bluegrass chording and leads, I preferred the sound of the Martin (or my memory of a Santa Cruz D), but others might like the lighter sound of the Taylor.
When I fingerpicked a 710, the sound was quite pleasant and well-balanced. The bass had less of a tendency to drown out the treble than is often (but not always) the case with Martin dreadnoughts, and the dreadnought directness added a little bit of punch to fingerpicking tunes, relative to the Taylor 714, an excellent fingerpicking guitar.
An interesting comparison might be between the Taylor 710 and the Collings D-2H. The D-2H is a relatively smooth-sounding dreadnought guitar from Collings, based on early Martin designs. Like the Taylor, the Collings is not quite as "ballsy" as a Martin HD-28 (or a Santa Cruz D), but my impression is that the Taylor 710 and Collings D-2H are balanced differently (I didn't get to do a side-by-side comparison). The Taylor may actually be a bit louder than the Collings overall, but the Collings is "voiced" a bit more like a traditional bluegrass guitar, with the bass notes having a bit more "throng" than those of the Taylor. Both are amazingly easy to play, and both are unusually good fingerpicking guitars, given that dreadnoughts are usually thought of as flatpicking guitars. I personally prefer the Collings, but a new D-2H costs about $1000 more.
To conclude, the Taylor 710 is a good rosewood dreadnought guitar, but it doesn't quite have the balls of a Martin (or, to a lesser degree, of a Santa Cruz). Still, it's one of those solid "all purpose" guitars that sound good both flatpicked and fingerpicked, and it's easy to play as well.
If you're looking for a rosewood dreadnought in the $2000 to $3000 price range, play a Martin D-28, a Martin HD-28, a Santa Cruz D, a Collings D-2H, and a Taylor 710 or two, and see what you think.
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