Pros: Great form factor, not intimidating to kids, fantastic second guitar. Very well built/appointed.
Cons: Not a great chorded sound, less than fabulous appearance, requires light guage strings.
The Baby Taylor is a great little travel guitar. There are other manufacturers who hope to aspire to the travel guitar market. For example, Martin's Backpacker, Ovation's Travel guitar and a myriad of others.
At first I was underwhelmed by the appearance of the Baby. The edges lack the purfling one normally sees, and there is no pickguard to protect the area around the sound hole. I also am unconvinced that the satin finish is my favourite finish for any guitar. In addition, I dislike the black headstock as I believe it lends a plastic look.
The edges of the guitar do tend to dent easily, primarily because there is no protection against dents. But, hey, it is a TRAVEL guitar - designed to be carried/packed around and to take a few dings. It does that very well.
The tuning keys are high quality, not requiring continual adjustment as long as you choose a light guage string. Taylor ships this guitar with Elixir lights, and I gotta admit they do sound good for a long time, however they are pricey!
The guitar also came with a cordura nylon gig bag similar in composition to hockey bags or backpacks. One thing that I don't like about the bag is the large single pocket. Things like capos and picks tend to fall out at the most inopportune times.
While the neck is narrow, it doesn't feel real small to me. I do often even after a year of ownership still fall off the neck on the high E especially when bending a note. If you are gonna play lead - be aware of this.
The neck is heavy, and is uncompensated for by the body of the guitar unlike a conventional parlour or dreadnought guitar. Therefore it tends to slip downward at the headstock end if you aren't hanging on to it. I regularly play a very old Ovation, so this action is not that unusual as it behaves the same way.
The short fret board can occasionally cause problems especially at higher notes because you will over-reach certain notes.
My kids are not intimidated to pick up the Baby and I am WAYYYY less stressed than when they pick up my old (very old) Ovation. Its a nice guitar for kidlets, and much better than the poorly made chinese guitars that you find for 200 dollars in clearance stores.
Ah, the sound. This is where it all comes together. The holy grail of guitars, and one that Taylor and Martin among others, excel at. Finger picking the Baby is a joy but best with new strings. The bass is deep, not particularly resonant as it is in a dreadnought, but still deep enough to underscore the melody without overriding it. The mid range to my ear, is a tad on the weak side. Not as loud as the bass, and this can cause problems. The upper strings are a joy. Fingerpicking brings a clear high end with a nice bass line although that is part and parcel of the light guage strings necessary.
Chords are a less complete sound. The weakness of the middle range results in a muddied type of sound that is less thrilling by itself but completely acceptable when being used as accompaniment to vocals. If you want to chord alone then I suggest you bring your Larivee or Martin to the campfire. (No way you say?)
Love the Baby. There are some areas of dissatisfaction, but overall I find it a great little guitar. I lent it to my son when he went travelling through Europe and everywhere he played people flocked to see a ukelele sized guitar sound like a real guitar. Would it be an acceptable single guitar for an accomplished musician? No. Because it is a travel guitar, there are too many compromises in the sound and the weighting and the size. But it is precisely because it is a travel guitar and meets so many needs so well that I recommend it as a great practice or kids guitar.
I have garnered significantly more respect for the Taylor organization. Their clinicians presentations, mailings and web site, and the support line ensure that I know what they are doing and know about their products. Yeah, I know it is just marketting, but this type of support is normally reserved for higher end BMW's than a 300 dollar guitar.