DN3e: Wow. Just....WOW.
I must first preface this review with two statements:
#1: I am a rank beginner. A plinker, if you will. I know most chords, but barre chords still take a few seconds to process and make my left hand do various impressions of a geriatric suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. This review is by a beginner, for beginners like me who are extremely motivated to learn and improve but want to do it on a quality instrument.
#2: I'm providing this review because I have not yet seen a full review of the DN3e here, but again, I am a rank beginner. I first picked up a guitar with the earnest desire to learn just over a year ago. However, I've owned two guitars before this one (a generic Ibanez and a 1993 Fender San Miguel) and played both daily since my musical epiphany last year, so owning the Taylor DN3e has made me appreciate what a guitar of real quality sounds like. Once you play this guitar you will understand how and why even a novice can appreciate the vast difference.
Now that you know what to expect...back to business.
I got my 2012 Taylor DN3e as an early birthday gift from my wife. We had visited her brother in Fort Wayne, Indiana earlier in the year and I just HAD to stop by Sweetwater while we were there. I checked out the various 200-series (my sister-in-law owns a 210ce) and they were really nice, but I fell in love with the DN3. It was exceptionally balanced, the action perfect, and the tone exceedingly crisp. The only “flaws” I could see (if you even could call them that) was that it didn’t have a pick guard (but that was hardly worth even mentioning) and it was just acoustic, no electronics. When she asked why I wouldn't want a guitar with electronics installed, I simply explained that electronics boost the price about $300, so since I'll never play in front of a crowd that will require an amp I’d rather get more bang for my buck and get a better instrument sans the bells and whistles.
Two months later she surprised with a DN3e, which I didn't even know Taylor made. After playing the boxy Ibanez and Fender, the DN3e's 4 5/8" depth made positioning my left hand (which has an IQ of about 9) much easier when groping for the right strings. I replaced the Elixir Medium strings with Elixir Nano Web Lights (.012) to make fingerpicking easier, and this change, coupled with the great action of the guitar, has made it almost as easy to play as an electric guitar. The ES controls are a model of simplicity; no complicated tone simulators or bulky tuners, just three elegant knobs to control volume, bass and treble. Perfect for a n00b like me.
Not only is it comfortable, easy to play, and have a gorgeous sound, this guitar is gorgeous. A beautiful dreadnought sporting a sitka spruce top, Indian rosewood headstock overlay and ebony fretboard make the DN3e a masterpiece of instrumental engineering, something that players have come to expect from Taylor.
Sweetwater came at my wife with a great deal too, from what I’m told. (Since it was a gift she wouldn’t give me an exact price, but she indicated that she spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $1500.00.) Sweetwater even throwing in a hard shell case that keeps my new gut-fiddle snug. With a retail price on Taylor’s website approaching $1900.00, I would’ve been mad if she HADN’T bought it at Sweetwater.
The only amp I have is the ghetto-fied plastic thing I got in a gig bag with my Fender Starcaster as a birthday present to myself last year. I’ve plugged it in and played a little, but I’m no authority on what an amp should sound like so I won’t elaborate. At this stage no one wants my playing amplified anyway.
I won’t pretend that I’ve found a “style” yet, but I enjoy fingerpicking Alice In Chains, Ted Nugent, and Sting, and strumming to Matchbox 20, Four Non Blonds, Jimmy Buffet and Zac Brown. The ease with which I’m able to find the strings and play the chords makes the DN3e ideal for me. Even with me fumbling for the right strings or chords the action makes each note ring through with motivating clarity with no buzzing, unless I really screw it up. And that’s not because of the guitar, it’s because my left hand has a touch of Down’s.
It’s not a “noisy” guitar at all. The low E provides a wonderful bass note and the high E offers a bright, cheerful arpeggio, complimenting each other with idyllic harmony. Someone with even a little bit of knowledge can make the DN3e sing. Quite literally, if you know three chords and have a little bit of rhythm you can truly keep a group of friends around a campfire entertained without embarrassment. The unassailable resonance from the DN3e really can make up for marginal talent.
The action, fit & finish are just what you'd expect from a quality company like Taylor. The DN3e is like Mary Poppins: perfect in every way. Go to your local music store and hold one and see if you don't agree.
I've only had my DN3e for a couple of weeks, but it's as solid as they come. I imagine I will have this guitar for years to come. Wonderfully made, I have no doubt that (in the off-chance) I ever improve enough to play in front of anyone, my gut-fiddle will hold it's own against any instrument on stage. The only thing I might do if I decided to jam would be to add a pick-guard to make sure I don't scuff the fine finish, but that's small potatoes and a long way down the road.
Overall, this guitar is a perfect match for me. If I ever lost it I would almost assuredly buy it again. I love how sleek and solid it is and how easy it is to play. I know it's a little pricy for beginners who aren't sure if the guitar is for them, but if you have "the bug" -- that fire in your belly to really learn how to make the guitar walk and talk -- or even if you just want something to pick on while you're on the front porch with your best girl and a cold beer, the Taylor DN3e is an investment you won't soon regret.