Posts Tagged ‘gear review’

Summary: Let’s get this out of the way first: The T5z is an electric guitar that has acoustic capabilities. But its acoustic sound is killer! Unlike in the past where I felt that Taylor couldn’t decide whether the T5 was an electric-acoustic or acoustic-electric, now, I feel the dichotomy between the two is much more clear now.

Pros: You get the best of both worlds with the T5z: A great acoustic sound and lots of tone-shaping capabilities in both electric and acoustic modes. It’s also super-light and incredibly playable with the Les Paul-like scale length. The separate bass and treble knobs give the guitar lots of tonal range.

Cons: Now this really isn’t necessarily bad thing, but it takes a while to dial in the right sound and especially EQ balance. The very thing that’s a pro with the separate bass and treble knobs also can get you in a bit of trouble during a performance if you haven’t done your homework; and yes, that’s from personal experience.


  • Body – Hollow body, mahogany with a mahogany burst stain and satin finish
  • Back – Mahogany, two-piece, no wedge
  • Neck/Heel – Sapele
  • Fretboard – Ebony, black binding, small diamond inlays
  • Fretboard Radius – 12″
  • Frets – 21
  • Scale length – 24 7/8″
  • Nut – Tusq
  • Saddle – Micarta
  • Tuners – Taylor Nickel
  • Controls – 5-way switch system, Volume, independent Bass and Treble
  • Pickups – 3 pickups: Concealed neck humbucker, Stacked bridge humbucker, Body sensor behind the saddle.

Street Price: $1899 ~ But you can get a deal. I got mine for $1600 at Guitar Center. Granted it was their floor model, but they had just pulled it out and set it up a couple of days before. Chances are, no one played it. 🙂

Tone Bone Score:

Hands-down, by its very nature, this is the most versatile guitar in my arsenal. I’ve been playing it daily since I got it and have performed with it three times. I couldn’t be happier with the T5z.

Can Two Wrongs Make a Right?

It’s a funny thing where two things that individually aren’t very appealing can be combined to create something beautiful. That’s the T5z for me. I was really meh about the T5 when it first came out, and I have never liked Elixir strings. But here I am now with a T5z, strung with Elixir Nanoweb 11s and they feel perfect together!

In demo videos I’ve seen, pretty much every demonstrator I saw mentioned the guitar being strung with Elixirs. That had me raising my eyebrows a bit. It’s not that I didn’t like the feel of Elixirs. I just never liked their sound on any guitar I strung them on. But with the T5z, they’re perfect, and it seems as if Taylor tuned the guitar to work with these strings.

Since I’ve purchased the guitar, I’ve been playing it almost daily and the more I play it, the more I’m loving it for what it brings to the table. Especially for leading praise and worship, where I play a wide range of styles, being able to seamlessly switch between acoustic and electric is pretty freakin’ cool.

Combine that with my BOSS Katana Artist, and it’s simply the flick of a switch on the guitar and a press of a button on my foot controller to go between acoustic and electric and vice-versa. This is the promise of the T5 since its inception that kind of fell flat with me twelve years ago. But today, that promise has been fulfilled.

Fit and Finish

True to Taylor’s reputation for building high-quality instruments, the T5z is no exception. There’s nary an uneven joint nor uneven finish on the guitar. My particular guitar has this wonderful variegation in the grain, that even with the flat, satin finish gives it a 3-D quality.

There are three knobs: Volume, Bass and Treble. For the volume, there’s a detent notch which sets the volume at line level, making it very easy to set the gain going into an amp or PA.

The ebony fretboard is smooth as silk and feels oiled despite being completely dry. The jumbo fret wire really makes the guitar so much more electric in feel and combined with the shallow-C neck profile, yeah, this is an electric guitar.

The ONLY thing I wish the guitar had was a clear pickguard to add a bit of protection to the top. Though my strumming technique is pretty good, I use very thick, beveled picks, plus I keep the fingernails of my right hand long for fingerstyle playing.

I damaged the top of my Simon & Patrick with just my fingernails, but that was exacerbated by my thick pick occasionally striking the soundboard. The T5z top is mahogany so it’s much harder than spruce, but I can see rub and smudge marks on the guitar (not gouges, mind you) and for something this pretty, I want to protect it as best I can.

You can find a clear plastic guard on EBay here. It’s static cling, so you don’t have to worry about adhesives. Nice. I ordered a set today. EDIT 1/2/2020: I just found out from the seller that the static cling pickguard will not work with the satin finish. He was very gracious and refunded my money.


Yowza! This guitar is incredibly approachable whether I’m playing acoustic or electric. The smooth fretboard allows my fingers to just glide up and down the neck. Because it’s an electric guitar, the action is low, but not so low that it causes string buzz.

The jumbo fret wire took me a little while to get used to as I only have to use a light touch to fret a note or play barre chords. I actually had to make the most adjustments playing barre chords, ensuring that my index finger was flat. If I roll my finger too much to the side, my knuckle would bend the string. This actually forced me to lighten up my grip, which was a good thing.

From a soloing perspective, the jumbo frets make playing similar to playing scalloped frets; not quite, but they’re big, so a light touch is necessary. But digging in with jumbo frets provides for so much expression.

The most incredible thing with the T5z’s playability is that without a neck heel, reaching the upper bout of the neck is SO easy. My mate and I were doing some jamming before Mass the other day and I worked my way up the neck. I started chuckling at how easy it was to get to those high notes and not have to stretch!

A note on the string gauge. The guitar comes standard with Elixir Nanoweb 11s. The thicker gauge gives a slightly acoustic feel to the strings. But the Les Paul-like scale length makes bending super easy. It really feels like playing an electric guitar with thicker gauge strings. Also, the thicker gauge prevents too much bending while just fretting notes. Going any lighter on the gauge, at least to me, would make the guitar very difficult to play.

How It Sounds

I have yet to record demo clips for the guitar. With my kids home for the holidays, that was relatively impossible. I’ll post some in the next few weeks. Despite that, I’ll do my best to describe the T5z tone.

Tone Controls: Complicating Things

This is NOT a bad thing. But the independent bass and treble knobs kind of complicate things because not only do you get a wide range of tones just from the various switch positions but the EQ controls give you lots more range within a single position. Because of this, it takes a bit of time to dial in the guitar. Though I like pretty much every sound I’ve discovered thus far, I don’t know if I’ve found my personal sweet spot for each position. That said, let’s continue, shall we?

There are 5 switch positions. When describing the sound, it’s best to do it per pickup position as each engages the pickups in different ways, thus providing different tonal possibilities.

Position 1: Neck HB and Body Sensor

This is the only position that engages the body sensor and is considered the “Acoustic” mode. The body sensor is what gives the T5z that natural sound while the guitar’s plugged in. I really don’t know how it works, but it sounds way better than a standard, under-saddle transducer. When I saw Eric Rachmany playing his T5z, I was amazed at how gorgeous his acoustic tone was.

And having played the guitar myself, up close and personal, I know I’m playing an electric guitar, but the acoustic tone is incredibly rich. With more bass, I can get a dreadnought tone; backing it off and turning up the treble will give me more of a concert body tone. Mind you, it’s important to keep in mind that this a plugged-in acoustic sound, not an exact reproduction of an acoustic guitar.

Position 2: Neck HB

I have to admit that I haven’t really played with this position that much. Without the body sensor, which provides treble much like the way the Seymour Duncan Mag Mic’s microphone works, the neck pickup is warm and a little dark. Even cranking up the treble in this position, the tone is still very warm. It would be perfect as a rhythm, playing-in-the-pocket setting.

Position 3: Bridge HB

This is definitely the rock position, and I love it. It’s bright and a little filthy when played with overdrive. I have been using this setting almost exclusively for solos. But clean, I love the Tele-like tones I can get out of this position.

At Christmas Eve Mass last week, we closed out with a country/bluegrass-style arrangement of Joy to the World. I set my amp to clean with a little slapback delay, boosted the Treble on the guitar, and I got this great, twangy tone that was perfect for the song!

Position 4: Neck and Bridge HBs in Parallel

So far, this has been my favorite setting. Taylor implies that this is more of a Jazz setting. I can see that, but I love how versatile this particular setting is. Pump up the bass and back off the treble and you get a tone that’s reminiscent of an ES-335. Do the opposite and you get that jangly tone of a Gretsch Country Gentleman.

Throw some overdrive in this setting, and for me, this is the perfect position for classic rock. For doing solos, I crank the gain on the guitar past the detente (line level), and the overdrive is smooth and creamy.

Position 5: Neck and Bridge HBs in Series

Running the ‘buckers in series creates a FAT tone, as the gains of each pickup stack. I actually prefer using this position clean. It’s almost like Position 1 but simply lacks that natural, woody tone that the body sensor provides.

Last Sunday at Mass, I used it as my soloing position and pumped up the treble. It was quite pleasing.

Like I mentioned above, I’m still discovering the different tones that the T5z can produce and I really haven’t found my sweet spot for each switch position. But that’s part of the fun in playing this guitar!

Overall Impression

As with anything I give 5 Tone Bones, it’s obvious I love this guitar. And playing it through my BOSS Katana Artist is like the perfect marriage. I now have flexibility in both guitar and amp to get any sound I need!

Read Full Post »

5 Tone Bones - Gear has stellar performance, value, and quality. This is definitely top of the class, best of breed, and it's a no-brainer to add this to your gear lineup!

Wegen "The Fatone"

Click to enlarge

Wegen’s Picks – The Fatone (Fat Tone)

Summary: This is now my new favorite pick! I had misplaced my Wegen GP 250 and wanted to get another GP 250. The store that I bought the last one at was out of GP 250’s so I dug in the Wegen pick box and found this beauty! The grip is awesome!

Pros: Beefy (5mm) pick that is amazingly accurate despite its thickness. Despite its thickness, this is tonally versatile pick!

Cons: Though it doesn’t take anything away from the rating, my only nit about my pick is that it’s black. Black gets lost easily on a dark stage. But Wegen makes them in white, so I’ll probably order a few of the white ones.

Price: $15.00 ea


  • 5 millimeters thick
  • Hand-made
  • Perfect bevel that makes your strings really ring!
  • Don’t know the material, but it’s a VERY hard plastic that does not scratch. You will never need to buff or resharpen Wegen picks!

Tone Bone Rating: 5.0 ~ Though I still love my V-Picks Snake (pointed), this pick is now my primary. It’s the perfect pick!

I’ve been searching for the perfect fat pick for a long time; or perhaps I should say that I’ve been looking for a pick that I could use for both acoustic and electric, but I never could. So I used a V-Picks Snake for electric and a Wegen GP 250 and a Red Bear Gypsy Jazz for acoustic. But all that changed when I got the Wegen “The Fatone.”

Admittedly, I discovered this pick not because I was looking to add to my collection of picks, but because I lost my GP 250, which had served me well for the last couple of years. I simply wanted to replace it. Unfortunately – or fortunately – the shop that I bought my GP 250 at was all out of them. So I looked through the case to see if I could find an alternate. That alternate was the Fatone. I knew from the first moment I held it that I was onto something with that pick. Then when I strummed it on a guitar in the shop, I was completely sold! Playing it at my solo acoustic gig an hour after that sealed the deal for me. I’ll be hard-pressed to use another pick.

This is a FAT pick at 5mm. But the inset, thumb-side grip, combined with the beveled tip make this pick feel so much thinner. It’s truly a joy to play.

What is it about fat picks for me? Well, having used them for a few years now, the most significant effect they’ve had on my playing besides tone is how they make my right hand relax. The way that works is that in order to make the pick glide over the strings effectively you have to hold the pick a lot looser in your fingers. That looser grip affects the whole hand. Granted, it took a little while to get used to, but once I was comfortable with a fat pick, going back to my old nylon picks seemed absolutely foreign to me. But relaxation made my playing much more fluid, and I was actually able to play a lot faster because my hand was so relaxed. In any case, I’m hooked on fat picks, and I’ll never go back to conventional picks.

Now I know that I normally do a “How It Sounds” section, but I’m actually on the road right now, writing while my son is driving the car (I’m taking him to college). But also, I don’t know how useful that section would be in this case. All I can say is that the fat pick produces a big sound, but in the case of the Fatone, because of the nice pointy bevel, it produces a nice, bright ring in addition to the deeper tone. It’s a bit hard to describe. It “feels” so much more full than other picks. For instance, though I love the sound my V-Picks Snake makes, it’s definitely a lot more mid-rangy than the Fatone.

One thing that is significant about the Wegen pick material is that it has a texture that feels softer than tortoise, but it’s actually a VERY hard material. The cool thing is that it’s a lot more damp on the strings than either acrylic or tortoise (or natural material). But it doesn’t produce a damper sound. It’s a feel thing. 🙂 In any case, I’m hooked on this pick. Also, tonally, this is a VERY versatile pick. By simply changing the angle and depth of attack, I can get thick, warm tones to nice bright tones. That’s extremely cool!

Overall Impression

As I mentioned above, I now have a new favorite pick. Not sure what else I can say about it. I won’t be getting rid of this one any time soon!

Read Full Post »