Taylor vs Martin Guitars [2021]: Which Brand Is The Best?

By Jodie Chiffey | Acoustic Guitars

The acoustic guitar market is dominated by a handful of brands, so your standard options will vary from Gibson and Fender to Yamaha or Ibanez. Hence it is inevitable that as a guitar player you will reach a point where you will have to compare Taylor vs Martin guitars.

Both brands offer a broad range of acoustic and acoustic/electric models, so in this article, we are going to use the Taylor 110e and Martin D-18 to compare guitars made by these two manufacturers.

Both Martin and Taylor have a long history of producing great-sounding instruments that were used by some of the most influential guitar players of our time.

Our Taylor vs Martin comparison is going to take you through the most important features of these guitars and help you determine which one is a better choice for you. So, let’s get started.

Main Differences Between Taylor vs Martin Guitars

The main differences between Taylor vs Martin guitars are:

  • Taylor Guitars are often described as crisp and modern, whereas Martin guitars have a classic sound
  • Taylor Guitars has a 15-inch fretboard radius as a standard, whereas Martin guitars usually have a 16-inch fretboard radius
  • Taylor Guitars are constructed in such a manner that their neck angle can adjust to changes that occur over time, whereas Marting guitars don’t have adjustable necks.
  • Taylor Guitars can have V-bracing, whereas Marin guitars utilize conventional X-bracing
  • Taylor Guitars company was founded in 1974, whereas Martin has been producing acoustic guitars since 1833

Martin and Taylor guitars whether acoustic or electric/acoustic share many of the core features, as their bodies, necks and fretboards are often made of the same materials.

Both companies produce guitars that enable studio musicians and live performers to create the sound that best matches their music.

Key specifications

Taylor 110e Martin D-18
Body shape Conventional dreadnaught non-cutaway body shape Classic non-cutaway body shape
Body material Layered walnut and Sitka spruce top Mahogany and Sitka spruce top
Neck Hard rock maple with ebony fretboard Select hardwood with ebony fretboard
Frets 20 20
Tuning machines Chrome (100/200) Nickel Open Gear
Warranty Limited lifetime warranty Limited lifetime warranty
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Evaluating the features of Taylor and Martin guitars

Let’s go through the features of Tylor and Martin guitars.

Taylor 110e

Taylor 110e

An innovative approach towards the creation of acoustic guitars has made Tylor company famous. Despite being a relatively young company when compared to Gibson or Martin, their products are widely accepted as some of the best on the market.

Taylor produces acoustic and electric guitars, as well as acoustic models that can be plugged into an amp, like the T5Z model.

Besides the Taylor 110e that comes from the 100 series, the company offers models from a broad range of series including the V-Class, Koa, or 900 series among others.

The design, sound, or playability of these guitars varies greatly from what a model like Taylor 110e is capable of. You can read our full review of the 110e model if you want to find out more about this acoustic/electric guitar.

Key features

  • Dreadnaught guitar with a layered walnut body and Sitka spruce top
  • X bracing system
  • 25-1.2-inch scale length
  • Hard rock maple neck with a varnish finish
  • 20 frets and 4mm dot Italian Acrylic fretboard inlays
  • Expression 2 electronic system
  • Black plastic truss rod cover

Shape and size

At first glance, the Taylor 110e isn’t different than other dreadnaught guitars. A symmetrical non-cutaway 20-inch body and a 20 fret neck don’t seem drastically different than any other dreadnaught model.

However, the combination of layered walnut and Sitka spruce make this Taylor’s model unique. It is worth noting that each of Taylor’s guitars is slightly different, and you need to go through their list of features in order to know exactly what they can offer.

Like most Taylor guitars, the 110e has a 15-inch fingerboard radius, while the 25-1/2-inch scale length is also standard for acoustic guitars. Even though the V-bracing has often been praised as one of the best features on Taylor guitars, the 110e has a conventional X-bracing.

The 110e’s overall length is 41 inches while the body width is 16 inches, which make this guitar standard full size guitar that may be a bit bulky for young guitar players.

Taylor 110e Features

Sound

The sound of a guitar depends on a wide range of factors, such as the materials from which the instrument is built, the scale length, or string gauges. Taylor guitars usually produce what is referred to as a modern sound, as the instruments create bright and crispy sound.

Generally speaking, the 110e and similar Taylor’s models accentuate upper mid-tones while keeping the basses relatively low, but you should keep in mind that you can adjust how your guitar sounds as you see fit.

Like numerous other Taylor’s models, the 110e is equipped with an Expression 2 electronics system that enables you to plug the guitar into an amp and modulate its sound.

The manufacturer recommends medium Elixir Phosphor Bronze strings that have a nanoweb coating, but you can also try out heavier and lighter string gauges in order to get the sound you want.

A Taylor guitar is always going to sound great whether you opt for one of their entry-level models or models that cost several thousands of dollars.

Other noteworthy features

The headstock angle in relation to the neck allows the guitar to adjust to the changes that occur over time. This makes dreadnaught guitars like Taylor 110e a great long term investment as you won’t have to spend huge sums of money on their restoration.

The Taylor 110e guitar comes with a chrome tuning mechanism, but this feature is not the same on all models this manufacturer offers. However, the standard headstock with a varnish finish doesn’t offer anything you can’t find on similar dreadnaught guitars.

This Taylor’s model 1-11/16 nut width makes playing bare chords easier for players that don’t have big hands.

Taylor Guitars 110e Dreadnough
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Reliability

Even the least expensive Taylor’s guitars are famous for their ability to maintain great sound over the years. Durable construction, however, doesn’t make these guitars resistant to physical damage, which is the reason why you must take proper care of your instrument.

A guitar like the 110e may not be the first choice for a professional musician, but Taylor produces guitars in a wide price range, so you can opt for one of the more expensive models if you want an instrument that is going to sound great in the studio.

Martin D-18

Arguably one of the oldest guitar manufacturing companies today, Martin has a 170-year long history of producing acoustic guitars.

Although the company produced electric guitars in the past, none of their purely electric models that were relatively famous in the 1960s and 1970s is still in production.

However, numerous of Martin’s models are acoustic/electric guitars that can be used with or without amps. For instance, the Martin D-18 is available with an optional electronic system, which enables you to choose if you want to use it as an acoustic or both electric and acoustic guitar.

Martin D-18

There are hundreds of models to choose from, and the D-18 is one of Martin’s more affordable guitars, as the company offers instruments that can cost thousands of dollars. Check out our Martin D-18 vs D-28 to find out more about the differences between these models.

Key features

  • The classic acoustic guitar sound
  • D-14 Fret body size
  • Forward-shifted X-Brace
  • Ebony fingerboard with 20 frets
  • Solid headstock shape with square taper
  • 25.4-inch scale radius and 16-inch fingerboard radius
  • Versions of the D-18 model for left and right-handed players are available

Shape and size

The shape and size of a Martin guitar depending on the model, as the manufacturer produced thousands of different guitars throughout its long history. The D-18 model exemplifies the supreme craftsmanship that has made Martin guitars famous.

The instrument’s top is made of Sitka spruce while mahogany was used for the back and sides. Scalloped Forward-Shifted X-brace is one of the guitar’s trademark features, provides support for the soundboard and the back.

Martin D-18 has a 25.4-inch scale radius that ensures a high tension of the strings, while the 20-fret neck is made of select hardwood which improves its durability.

This guitar is longer than the Taylor 110e, as it measures 40-1/2 inches, and it may be difficult to handle for players that are shorter than 5 feet tall.

Models from the Little Martin series like the LXK2 are not as bulky which makes them better suited for players that don’t want to use a large guitar.

martin d-18 features

Sound

The sound of Martin guitars is described as classic acoustic guitar sound. Musicians claim that Martin’s models highlight the lower tones and create a rich and balanced sound that isn’t overshadowed by the basses.

The Nickel Open Gear tuning mechanism you can find on the Martin D-18 grants you control over the guitar’s sound. Besides guitar tuning, your choice of strings can also affect the guitar’s sound.

The manufacturer doesn’t recommend any particular set of guitar strings, which leaves you plenty of room to experiment with different guitar string types and gauges. Electronics on the Martin D-18 guitar are optional.

If you decide to add electronics to this guitar you will be able to choose between the following options.

  • Fishman Gold Plus Natural I
  • Fishman Infinity Matrix
  • LR Baggs Anthem
  • Fishman Ellipse Matrix Blend
  • Fishman Presys Plus

Either of these options will have an impact on the guitar’s sound, so studying their features is the best way to determine if they are a good match for your Martin D-18 guitar.

Other noteworthy features

The body shape, scale length, or even the color of a Martin guitar vary from one model to another. For instance, the bridge on the Martin D-18 is made of ebony, but on a guitar from another series, the bridge is built from recycled wood.

Moreover, the shape of D-18’s neck is low oval, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that other Martin guitars are going to have the same shape of the neck.

Each of these features can improve the instrument’s playability, and you must check if the model you are interested in has the features that match your playing style.

Reliability

If you would like to get an instrument you can rely on throughout your career, a Martin guitar is arguably one of the best choices you can make. However, these guitars are by no means cheap, and you may have to spend a substantial amount of money to get a model like the D-18.

Investing in a Martin acoustic guitar will get you an instrument that is famous for its sound. It is worth pointing out that restoring a Martin guitar that is more than ten years old can be difficult and expensive.

Our Pick
Martin D-18 Modern Deluxe Acoustic Guitar
$3,399.00
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We may receive compensation from the companies whose products we review. We only recommend products that we believe in and test.
01/20/2021 03:24 am GMT

Taylor 110e vs Martin D-18 – Pros and Cons

Taylor 110e Pros

  • The contemporary sound that accentuates upper mid-tones
  • 15-inch fretboard radius makes it easier to play chords
  • Equipped with an excellent electronic system
  • Built from high-quality materials

Taylor 110e Cons

  • Average tuning mechanism
  • All accessories must be purchased separately

Martin D-18 Pros

  • Recognizable, rich sound
  • Great tuning mechanism
  • The body is built from mahogany
  • Vintage-looking headstock

Martin D-18 Cons

  • The Martin D-18 can be too large for some players
  • Martin guitars are expensive

The best alternatives to Taylor and Martin guitars

Numerous brands offer acoustic/electric guitars that are capable of the same or better performances than Taylor or Martin guitars.

Ultimately, which guitar you are going to choose depends on your style, as brands like Fender, Ibanez, Gibson, or Yamaha produce guitars that are as good as those offered by Taylor and Martin brands.

We’ve shortlisted a few acoustic guitars that can serve as an alternative for a Taylor or a Martin guitar.

Fender CD-60S

Fender is a well-established brand that has produced some of the most iconic electric guitars in history, but models like the CD-60s prove that the company’s acoustic guitars are equally good.

Fender CD-60S

Dreadnought body style, quartersawn scalloped X-bracing, or the dual-action truss rod are among the features that make this guitar look and sound great.

This Fender’s model utilizes the Chrome Die-Cast tuning mechanism that allows the user to tune the guitar quickly.

The guitar features standard-sized nuts and a Fender® Easy-to-Play neck shape with rolled fretboard edges. Like the Martin D-18 or Taylor 110e, the Fender CD-60s has 20 frets, but the guitar’ fretboard is made out of walnut wood.

Fender CD-60S Acoustic Guitar
$299.99
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We may receive compensation from the companies whose products we review. We only recommend products that we believe in and test.
01/20/2021 03:24 am GMT

Yamaha A5R

If you are searching for an acoustic guitar that sounds equally good when it is plugged and unplugged, then you should take a closer look at Yamaha A5R. This cutaway acoustic/electric guitar is made of rosewood, and it has a Sitka spruce top.

Yamaha A5R

Its scale length is 25-9/16 inches, while its African mahogany neck features 20 frets and an ebony rounded fretboard. The guitar is equipped with an SRT2 system that produces natural and dynamic sound.

This instrument uses the Gotoh Open-Gear tuning system and it has a Tusq saddle and nut that are characteristic for all Yamaha’s guitars from the A-series.

The only downside is the A5R is more expensive than similar dreadnaught guitars.

Yamaha A-Series A5R Acoustic-Electric Guitar
$1,399.99
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We may receive compensation from the companies whose products we review. We only recommend products that we believe in and test.
01/20/2021 03:24 am GMT

Jasmine S35

Jasmine S35 can be a good and affordable option for novice guitar players who are searching for an instrument on which they can practice.

You shouldn’t expect any of the advanced features Martin and Taylor’s guitars offer, as this is not a guitar that can be used during professional recording sessions.

Jasmine S35

The back and the sides of this guitar are made of Nato wood, while the top is made of Sitka spruce.

The guitar’s sound is not as rich as the sound of a Taylor or Martin guitar, but the 25-1/2 scale length ensures that you can play different genres of music on this instrument.

This is a great guitar for someone who is just starting to learn how to play the guitar, but you will have to transition to a better model once you develop your guitar playing skills.

Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar
$98.49
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We may receive compensation from the companies whose products we review. We only recommend products that we believe in and test.
01/20/2021 03:24 am GMT

FAQs

Question: What genre of music can I play on a Taylor guitar?

Answer: Taylor guitars can be used to play a broad range of music genres, although they are most commonly used by rock n’ roll musicians.

Question: Do Taylor guitars have high maintenance requirements?

Answer: Upkeep of a Taylor guitar doesn’t include more effort than the maintenance of any other guitar, but you still have to clean your instrument and protect it from physical damage.

Question: Which strings should I use on a Martin guitar?

Answer: The manufacturer doesn’t recommend any particular type of guitar strings, but choosing different gauges of phosphor bronze strings will ensure that you don’t have to change strings often.

Question: Are Martin guitars durable?

Answer: Yes, they are. All models the brand offers are built from high-quality materials that can withstand frequent usage.

The Verdict: Should you choose a Taylor over a Martin guitar?

The choice between a Taylor and a Martin guitar is the choice between a classic and contemporary sound. Both brands produce great-sounding guitars that are built with the aid of industry-leading design techniques but accentuate different parts of the chromatic range.

So, whether you are going to choose a Martin D-18 or a Taylor 110e depends on your preference and your budget, as Martin’s model is slightly more expensive than the 110e.

Besides, both brands offer a broad spectrum of guitars and some of their models can cost a few thousand dollars or more. Hopefully, our Taylor vs Martin comparison has helped you decide which of these brands is better.

Our Pick
Martin D-18 Modern Deluxe Acoustic Guitar
$3,399.00
Buy Now Learn More
We may receive compensation from the companies whose products we review. We only recommend products that we believe in and test.
01/20/2021 03:24 am GMT

Leave a comment and share your opinions with us or check out our Baby Tailor vs Little Martin comparison.

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