A well-made acoustic guitar can motivate your child to keep playing. When a guitar both sounds great and is comfortable to play, it makes practice seem inviting. In our Taylor TSBTe Taylor Swift Baby Taylor acoustic-electric guitar review, we’ll introduce you to a promising option for a first guitar, which also stakes a strong claim to be the best acoustic guitar for kids.
Introducing the Taylor Swift Baby Taylor (TSBTe) Signature Edition from Taylor Guitars
The TSBTe is a new edition in a long line of Baby Taylor guitars. Though specific Baby Taylor models differ in terms of tonewoods used, all are 3/4-size guitars.
The TSBTe has a solid Sitka spruce top and layered Sapele back and sides, giving it a well-balanced tone. It’s also equipped with excellent electronics. Taylor Swift fans will appreciate its distinctive rosette featuring Taylor’s signature.
Compared to Yamaha, the arguable market leader in children’s acoustic guitars, Taylor models tend to be higher in quality. However, Yamaha does offer more affordable options than Taylor.
Is this Baby Taylor Best Left to fans?
Neck and Body – how it affects the Sound
The Taylor TSBTe Taylor Swift Baby Taylor acoustic-electric guitar is a well-built instrument. The top is solid Sitka spruce, which creates a richer sound that improves with age. The back and sides are layered Sapele — this wood sounds a lot like mahogany, but it’s less costly. The TSBTe is made with X bracing, which adds stability to the top while encouraging balanced sound quality.
The neck is a slimmer profile than that found on most acoustic guitars, making it ideal for children with smaller hands. It’s made of tropical American mahogany, a dense wood that’s very durable. The neck is capped with an ebony fretboard, which has a slick feel and is comfortable to play, even for beginners.
The Score: The neck and body of the TSBTe are thoughtfully made. We give it five out of five in this category.
Like most Taylors, the TSBTe is also made with quality components. The nut is made of Tusq, a composite mimicking the tonal properties of ivory. The saddle is micarta, a dense composite that resists developing string notches.
The tuners are die-cast, and they’re chrome plated for extra shine and durability. They also hold tune much better than the tuners found on cheaper guitars.
Lastly, the TSBTe comes equipped with Taylor’s Expression System Baby pickup. The system is based on the Expression System, a behind-the-saddle pickup that produces incredibly natural, authentic sound when plugged in.
The Expression System Baby also has another important feature — an onboard preamp. The preamp includes volume and tone controls, and there’s also a chromatic tuner included. The tuner has an LED display, making it easy to tune up in any kind of lighting.
The Score: The TSBTe is made with high-quality components. We give it four out of five.
Sound and Tone
The sound of the TSBTe is best described as balanced. The spruce top is somewhat bright, and it has both clarity and excellent sustain. The darker warmth of the Sapele back and sides rounds out the tone. You get a great balance between treble, mids, and highs. Like other Baby Taylor acoustic guitar models, its smaller size means it has an impressive projection.
The balanced sound of the TSBTe makes it an excellent all-around guitar. This is ideal for kids just starting since they can use this guitar to explore a variety of genres.
The Score: The sound and tone of the TSBTe are excellent, especially for a kids’ guitar. We give it five out of five in this category.
Action, Fit, and Finish
The TSBTe has comfortably low action, which is vital for kids just starting out. Pressing the strings to the fretboard takes some getting used to, and high action can lead to finger strain and hand fatigue.
Taylor is known for their workmanship and attention to detail, and it shows on the TSBTe — the frets are level and have no sharp edges, which is especially important for new players.
Finish-wise, the TSBTe is also a standout. The varnish finish is essentially a semi-gloss, which strikes a nice balance between matte and gloss. It also has a touch that sets it apart from other Baby Taylors — there’s a stylized black rosette with Taylor Swift’s signature. Notably, the TSBTe has no binding. While this is uncommon, it gives it a refreshingly clean-cut look.
The Score: The action, fit, and finish of the TSBTe are remarkable. We give it 4.5 out of five.
Reliability and Durability
While the TSBTe is fairly durable, it does have a key weakness — the solid top, like most solid woods, is more vulnerable to cracking and damage than laminated woods. However, the layered Sapele back and sides are more durable, and they can stand up to a decent amount of abuse. This is ideal, especially for children who may tend to drop their guitars or otherwise knock them around.
The TSBTe is designed to stay playable for a long time. It stays in tune exceptionally well, and its tone only improves over time. The ebony fingerboard does not wear out or pit easily, so it will last for years.
The Score: The TSBTe is fairly reliable, and it can stand up to some abuse. We give it 3.5 out of five.
Although the TSBTe is more expensive than many beginner guitars, it’s nonetheless an excellent value. You get excellent tone and superior playability — both key things that will motivate a child to keep playing.
The only questionable value point is the presence of electronics. If your child does not intend to perform, you may prefer to purchase another high-quality acoustic guitar that does not have electronics.
The Score: We think the TSBTe is a great value, and we give it 3.5 out of five.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Quality Kids Guitar
Before you set out to purchase a kids’ acoustic guitar, make sure you know which size is best for your child. There’s some overlap in terms of which sizes work for which ages, but the following is a good general guide:
- 1/4-size guitars for 4-6 year old children
- 1/2-size guitars for 5- year old children
- 3/4-size guitars for 8-11 year old children
- Full-size guitars for children 12 and up
The TSBTe is a 3/4 size guitar. This size is even played by some adults, especially if they are shorter and have small hands.
Often, guitars for children aren’t made to be heirloom-quality instruments — they’re designed to help children begin learning. That said, you’ll want to make sure you invest in a guitar that’s comfortable to play and sounds decent. This will help keep your child motivated to play.
Solid tops greatly increase volume and improve tone. If you spend a little extra on a solid-top guitar, you won’t need to upgrade as quickly. Most guitars designed for kids are made of all-laminated wood, so it may take some searching to find one with a solid top like the TSBTe.
Since children have smaller hands, a traditional acoustic neck profile may prove too difficult for them to wrap their hands around. The TSBTe has a slim neck that makes fingering individual notes and chords easier. Plus, it has a highly comfortable ebony fingerboard that also looks great.
If you want a guitar that your child can grow into, it may be worth considering getting a model with electronics. The TSBTe is equipped with Taylor’s renowned Expression System electronics. This is a system that’s good enough for even professionals to use. However, if budget is a concern, it’s wise to go with an all-acoustic model — you can always install a pickup later.