Guitar Shape Spotlight: The Dreadnought

Friday, February 10, 2017
By: jay.parkin

Despite an imposing name that seems fit for a legendary monster in a fantasy novel, there’s no need to fear the Dreadnought. The most traditional of acoustic guitar body shapes, it features a large body with square shoulders and bottom, plus a wide waist that adds to the soundboard real estate. This is the shape people commonly picture when they think of an acoustic guitar. If you’re a flatpicker or strummer looking for an acoustic guitar with a strong attack and a classic style, then read on for an overview of our entire line of Dreads.

The girthy Dreadnought stands out as a guitar of substance. Heck, it was named after a battleship. Its iconic heritage boasts a century-plus timeline that’s tightly entwined with the history of the steel-string guitar itself. Its broad waist helps pump out a strong acoustic voice anchored by low-end sonic power, with a singing upper midrange. Early on, a Dreadnought gave guitarists a workhorse to compete with the tonal output of banjos, mandolins and fiddles, especially before acoustic pickups were prevalent. Over the years, it has continued to serve as a staple for bluegrassers, folkies, singer-songwriters, rockers and others looking for their musical voice to be heard.
 


Related: An Introduction To Taylor Acoustic Guitar Body Shapes
 


When Bob Taylor inherited the shape as a young luthier, almost immediately he applied his own instinctive design touches to make the guitar even more musically appealing. First came sleek, easy-playing necks that enabled fleet-fingeredflatpickers to glide up and down the fretboard. He tinkered with the bracing to bring more balance and definition across the tonal spectrum so the guitar wasn’t too muddy or bass-dominant. Aesthetically, he and longtime Taylor designer Larry Breedlove refined the body’s traditionally boxy contours into a more elegant form that fit harmoniously into the family of proprietary Taylor shapes. A cutaway option and onboard electronics brought other modern amenities to better serve the evolving needs of players.


Years later, the arrival of Andy Powers, Taylor’s master guitar designer, further catalyzed Taylor’s tone-enhancing design pursuits, including our Dreadnoughts, across the entire guitar line. As a result, Andy’s fine-tuned voicing refinements have managed to coaxa more unique musical personality from each model, redefining what a Dreadnought can do. Taylor’s Dreadnought family now showcases a more versatile mix of musical flavors and playing applications than ever before. Beyond the differences in tonewoods and bracing from series to series, variations on neck details like scale length, nut width and neck profile translate into other distinctive nuances of feel and sound. We’ve rounded up an assortment of great Taylor Dreadnought options, with highlights of what makes each unique.
 


 

510e

Back/Sides: Mahogany
Top: Lutz Spruce
Scale Length: 24-7/8”
Neck Profile: V-carve
Nut Width:1-3/4”

Peghead: Slotted


Playing Profile: An enticing flavor from our retooled 500 Series, the 510e boasts a musical mojo all its own, defying what players might expect from a Dreadnought. For starters, there’s the slinky handfeel that makes bending strings surprisingly easy. Some players love that they can also play fingerstyle on it. But there’s no shortage of dynamic output, thanks in part to the Lutz spruce top, whose tonal range resembles that of Adirondack spruce, and it’s voiced with our Performance bracing. The slotted headstock’s string break angle adds a bit of snappiness that complements the slinkiness and extra flexing that comes from the Dreadnought’s wider waist. If you’re a longtime bluegrasser, you’re in for a surprise — the 510e has a different feel, but it might be just what you’ve needed without knowing it, especially if you’ve been looking to ease the load on your hands. (If not, see the 810e.) This guitar will really resonate with singer-songwriters and casual strummers looking for an easy-playing Dreadnought with warmth, balance and definition.
 


 

710e

Back/Sides: Indian Rosewood
Top: Lutz Spruce
Scale Length: 24-7/8”
Neck Profile: V-carve
Nut Width:1-3/4”
Peghead: Slotted


Playing Profile: The 710e actually is offered in two different player packages. Our standard model parallels the 510e, sporting a Lutz spruce top, Performance bracing, and the same neck dimensions. Like the 510e, the appeal is the blend of low-register Dreadnought goodness (especially with the rosewood back and sides) with an easygoing handfeel. As one of our Sales reps remarked, “It’s a dreadnought that plays with you…no wrestling required.” Players who want a more traditional bluegrass feel can order the 710e with a 25-1/2-inch scale length, standard neck profile, 1-11/16-inch nut width, and solid peghead. With the extra string tension created by the longer string length, it uncorks a more robust projection that responds well to an aggressive attack, especially with the sonic headroom of the Lutz spruce top.
 


 

210e DLX

Back/Sides: Layered Rosewood
Top: Solid Sitka Spruce
Scale Length: 25-1/2”
Neck Profile: Standard
Nut Width:1-11/16”
Peghead: Solid


Playing Profile: Our layered-wood guitars feature a slightly narrower 1-11/16-inch nut width, which some players, especially beginners and others with smaller hands, will find more comfortable for forming barre chords and other fretwork. Other skilled flatpickers who learned on a guitar with a 1-11/16-inch neck and crave that same string spacing will love the fast, sleek feel of the Taylor neck profile and low action up the neck for picking runs. The acoustic/electric 210e-DLX delivers a Dreadnought that locates a sweet spot for budget-minded players looking for a performance-caliber instrument with aesthetic appeal. The solid spruce soundboard produces full-voiced tone that will improve with age, while the fit and finish are top-notch, with handsome rosewood veneer used with the layered wood back and sides, a full-gloss body, Diamond inlays, and crisp white binding. Our Expression System® 2 pickup outfits this Dreadnought with natural-sounding amplified tone for all kinds of gigging adventures.
 


 

320e

Back/Sides: Tasmanian Blackwood
Top: Mahogany
Scale Length: 24-7/8”
Neck Profile: Standard
Nut Width:1-3/4”
Peghead: Solid


Playing Profile: Here’s another slinky Dreadnought option. Like the 510e, the 320e sports a 24-7/8-inch scale length, but with a solid headstock and standard-carve neck profile. The blackwood/mahogany tonewood pairing, together with the Dreadnought body, yield a response that’s clear and loud, with lots of woody midrange warmth. Between the softer handfeel and the way the mahogany top smoothes out a lively attack, this guitar will be kind to beginners and allow the nuances of more advanced players to come through loud and clear. Other 300 Series Dreadnought options include the spruce-top 310e and the blackwood/mahogany 12-string 360e (the latter featuring a longer 25-1/2-inch scale length and 1-7/8-inch nut width), which blends husky low-end power with thick octave shimmer.
 


 

810e

Back/Sides: Indian Rosewood
Top: Sitka Spruce
Scale Length: 25-1/2”
Neck Profile: Standard
Nut Width:1-3/4”
Peghead: Solid


Playing Profile: Our current 810e updates what became the flagship model of Taylor’s early years. As a rosewood/spruce Dreadnought, it also embodies the classic bluegrass guitar. An unprecedented suite of voicing enhancements — including customized bracing and wood thicknesses for each shape, ultra-thin finish, protein glues and more — was deployed in 2014, revealing a stronger, richer all-around sound. Specific attention was given to punching up the top end for more potent, well-defined lead work. It lets players who like to solo cut through with other acoustic instruments. If you’re looking for a turbo-charged Dreadnought with a mix of power and high-fidelity sound, try this acoustic cannon. For a more embellished version, check out the 810e DLX from our 800 Deluxe Series, which features a radius armrest, Adirondack spruce bracing, and Gotoh 510 tuners. If you crave even richer aesthetic details, don’t miss the 910e, featuring a hand-crafted ebony armrest and paua abalone top trim.
 


 

150e

Back/Sides: Layered Walnut
Top: Solid Sitka Spruce
Scale Length: 25-1/2”
Neck Profile: Standard
Nut Width: 1-7/8”
Peghead: Solid


Playing Profile: The best budget 12-string you’ll find for the money, the fun-to-play 150e continues to be the best-selling 12-string in the acoustic industry (source: MI SalesTrak). That’s because it packs all the fundamental musical goodness a player could want from a 12-string guitar — playability, impeccable intonation, lush double-course voicing — into an accessible price point that makes it easy to justify as a secondary, role-playing instrument. It’s also not too precious to take out into the world (“Wish You Were Here” never sounded so good around the campfire). The guitar features our Expression System 2 pickup, which makes it a great stage accomplice for bringing that rich 12-string acoustic texture to a few songs during a gig, or for adding some acoustic shimmer to a recording.
 


 

410e-R

Back/Sides: Indian Rosewood
Top: Sitka Spruce
Scale Length: 25-1/2”
Neck Profile: Standard
Nut Width: 1-11/16”
Peghead: Solid


Playing Profile: Indian rosewood has joined our 400 Series as a second tonewood option for back and sides in addition to African ovangkol. Another new wrinkle exclusive to the Dreadnoughts in this series is a shift to the slightly narrower 1-11/16-inch nut width as a standard spec. Rosewood’s naturally broad frequency range and complexity of tone, together with our Performance bracing, reward players here with an expansive musical palette to explore. We’re happy to bring a solid-wood rosewood guitar within reach of more players. Our ovangkol Dreadnought is a kindred spirit, with a comparable voice. Try comparing the two to see which you prefer.
 


 

Academy 10

Back/Sides: Layered Sapele
Top: Solid Sitka Spruce
Scale Length: 24-7/8”
Neck Profile: Standard
Nut Width: 1-11/16”
Peghead: Solid


Playing Profile: Our Academy Series was designed with entry-level and developing players in mind. The result is a playing experience that’s as inviting as possible to make a rewarding first impression and accelerate one’s skills. This Dreadnought boasts a buttery handfeel that’s optimized for comfort, thanks to the 24-7/8-inch scale length, 1-11/16-inch nut width, and light-gauge strings. Together they make fretting and bending strings easier and the guitar more responsive. Another player-friendly feature that’s unique at this price point is a built-in armrest to enhance the picking/strumming comfort. Tonally, the full-voiced sound yields plenty of warmth and depth with Taylor’s signature clarity and balance across the spectrum. Dollar for dollar, it’s one of the best-performing Dreads you’ll find anywhere. It also comes with Taylor’s onboard ES-B acoustic electronics, which incorporate a built-in tuner for extra convenience.

To play and compare these and other Taylor Dreadnoughts, visit your local Taylor dealer.