Hands-On Review:Taylor Solidbody Classic SC Single-Coil Electric Guitar

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Noiseless single-coil sound with a difference

By Dan Day
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer


That sound you just heard is the other shoe dropping at Taylor  Guitars. The first shoe was the introduction in late 2007 of their first  three solidbody guitars with humbuckers: the Standard, the Classic, and  the Custom. The new Taylor Solidbody Classic SC—as  in single-coil—will be a real eye-opener for players who prefer the  humbucker sound and think they know what a noiseless single-coil guitar  will sound like.


Discovery-driven pickups


Taylor designers David Hosler and Brian Swerdfeger told me they had  been working on the single-coil pickup design throughout the development  of the Solidbody series. The challenge: come up with a new single-coil  pickup design with a great sound that inspires great playing. Like the  design of their acoustic guitars, the fundamental process wasn't  calendar- or market-driven; it was discovery-driven—the pickups were  done when they were done. That meant lots of experimentation with basic  pickup components—magnets, coils, pole pieces—looking at them in new  ways, taking nothing for granted. Lots of "What if we did this?" and  "Hey, that was cool."


Brian says it was important to maintain the vintage single-coil sound  that players love, while improving on it. Other pickup manufacturers  would experiment with a heavier wire gauge or a different number of  windings on the coil. To Taylor, that's the same as trying to improve a  car engine by changing the tires. Instead it's important to work on the  engine. The key was understanding how the magnetic energy—or flux—of the  pickups could be focused and shaped by the positioning and composition  of the magnets. Most pickup magnets are alnico, ceramic, or in some  cases, samarium cobalt. Taylor chose sintered neodymium magnets which  can be molded to create a flux pattern achieving the desired power  output.


The more they experimented, the more they learned. As David recounts,  a breakthrough in creating  an original design occurred when an  assistant came to him and explained how he "bent this and twisted that."  He contrasts this tweaking of a component in different ways to the  ancient Mayans who apparently didn't think to turn their round grinding  stones on their edges to make them into wheels.


Strictly speaking, these aren't single-coil pickups. To make their  pickups noiseless, Taylor uses two coils to produce what is technically  called "common mode rejection." But, as David and Brian are careful to  point out, these are neither humbucking pickups nor a stacked design.  Brian says as soon as you say "stack" everyone thinks of the stacked  pickups from the early '80s. Although those pickups were humbucking and  produced a fatter sound, they gave up the sweet top end tone that  players love in single-coils. The Taylor pickups are noiseless without  compromising the single-coil sound.




When I ran the Solidbody Classic SC through a well-known tube amp, I could immediately hear the distinctive  single-coil tone. Their higher output more easily pushed the amp into  overdrive. Backing off the gain produced a breathy top end with lots of  airiness, yet not as dense as the 3/4-size Style 1 humbuckers on the  Classic. The low end was full, tight, and articulate with plenty of  percussive punch when needed. The five-way selector offered the neck,  middle, and bridge pickups solo (1, 3, and 5), while settings 2 and 4  provided the quacky "in-between sound" of either neck/middle or  middle/bridge combinations.




Other than noiseless single-coil pickups, the Classic SC has the same features as the Solidbody Classic.  The Classic SC has a single cutaway with beveled back and sides for  more comfort and easy access to higher frets. The body wood is swamp ash  topped with a retro trans white, trans red, black, or natural finish  along with a crushed pearl pickguard. The distinctive Taylor neck is  joined to the body with a single bolt T-lock™ neck joint. The single  bolt pulls the neck down into the body and back toward the bridge  guaranteeing accuracy and intonation with the look and feel of a set  neck. The unique Taylor-designed bridge has an elegant smooth aluminum  surface with a clean, futuristic look. The saddles are locked down so  they won't move when the guitar is transported. The knobs have a lip  edge for easy volume swells and come with a set of O-ring rubber grips  that can be slipped on over the knobs for extra-sweaty fingers.


Strangely familiar yet totally new


With its own unique tonal flavor, the Classic SC will serve well as a  genre-hopping instrument for anything from jazz, pop, and country to  all shades of rock including 'billy, classic, punk, alternative, shred,  and any style combination you can come up with. Now with noiseless  single-coils, the Taylor solidbody electrics are fun to play and will  inspire you to new levels of performance and creativity.


Features & Specs

  • Body style: beveled single cutaway with contoured back
  • Body wood: solid swamp ash
  • Scale length: 24-7/8" Taylor short scale
  • Neck joint: single bolt T-lock neck joint
  • Neck wood: maple
  • Fretboard: rosewood
  • Neck shape: traditional Taylor neck
  • Frets: 22
  • Fretboard radius: 15"
  • Bridge: aluminum Taylor-designed
  • Pickups: 3 Taylor-designed noiseless single-coils
  • Pickup control: 5-way selector
  • Controls: master volume, master tone
  • Tuners: Taylor
  • Inlays: dot
  • Headstock overlays: ebony
  • Pickguard: crushed pearl
  • Finish: trans white (shown), trans red, black or natural
  • Case: Taylor rectangular hardshell