Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB Review & Prices

Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB Review
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  • From Taylor's 2019 500 series
  • Made in United States
  • 6 strings
  • 25.5"'' scale
  • 15" Fretboard Radius
  • Solid Sitka Spruce top
  • Solid Tropical Mahogany back
  • Solid Tropical Mahogany sides
  • Tropical Mahogany neck
  • West African Crelicam Ebony fretboard
  • Bridge pickup: (/)
  • West African Crelicam Ebony bridge
  • Acoustic Taylor Standard Set neck
  • 20 Medium frets
  • Taylor Nickel tuners
  • Weight between 4.25lbs (1.9kgs) and 4.4lbs (2kgs)
  • Compare Specs >

Our Scores and Tone Evaluation

Playability 73
Sound 84
Build quality 79
Value for money 64
Overall Score 79
Tone Evaluation
  • Heavy Metal
  • Hard Rock
  • Jazz
  • Blues
  • Funk
  • Country
Strengths & Weaknesses
Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB
  • Made in United States
  • Expensive Wood
  • Solid Top Wood
  • Solid Side Wood
  • Solid Back Wood
  • Cheap Fret Wire (NS)
  • No Locking Tuners
  • No High-Quality Nut
  • No Top Brand Pickups
  • No Electronics
  • Low-Quality Material Saddle
  • No Compound Radius Fretboard
  • No 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • No Strap Lock

Price Overview

Its average competitor's price is $3500, which means that the Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB is around 11% cheaper than the competition. This takes into account all instruments of the same category in our database with 6 strings and Fixed bridge that are made in United States.

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Videos

Taylor 517e VS 717e / Taylor Builder’s Edition WHB Model
Taylor Builder’s Edition 517e WHB Demo from Peghead Nation
Taylor Guitars | Builder's Edition 517e WHB | Playthrough Demo
Taylor Builder’s Edition 517e WHB (V-Class)
Taylor Guitars | Builder's Edition 517e WHB | Video Overview
More Videos

Your feedback

Not all instruments are created equally. That's why it's important to have different opinions. Here's what our users who have played this instrument say. If you've played it before, help others by voting below!

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Is it Easy to Play?

The Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB meets 3 out of our 8 criteria items for beginner friendliness, which means that it's not recommended for complete beginners. This takes into account the type of frets, scale length, nut width, bridge type, fretboard radius, and neck profile to determine the easiest combination for new players to get used to.

New Player Friendliness

Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB
  • Easy-to-use bridge
  • Tall frets
  • Comfortable neck
  • Comfortable shape
  • Comfortable fretboard
  • Narrow nut
  • Short scale
  • Soft Strings
  • Locking tuners

Hand Size Comfortability

After taking into account the neck profile, scale size, fretboard radius, and nut width, we can conclude that the Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB's construction favors people with relatively small hands.

Nevertheless, this comes down in the end to personal preference. Make sure you test this guitar—or another one with similar characteristics—before buying.

Big Hands
Small Hands

How Lightweight is it?

We found that the Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB weighs between 4.25lbs (1.9kgs) and 4.4lbs (2kgs). This was recorded from some online retailers that publish the weight of the instruments they sell.

Scale Length

Scale length is the distance the strings will span between the bridge and the nut. It can tell you a lot about the overall playability and tone of the instrument. A longer scale length means longer distance between frets, brighter tone and more string tension—which means lower action, but more difficult bending of the strings.

Here's the Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB's 25.5" scale length compared to other common sizes:

Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB Scale Length Comparison
Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB's scale length (at the top) compared to other popular sizes

This is the same scale length used in Stratocaster guitars, and it's one of the main reasons they have such a bright sound. It's considered a long scale when compared to most non-baritone guitars.

Since the distance between bridge and nut is relatively long, you'll need to give the strings more tension to get them in tune. This higher tension will allow for a couple of things. First, you can get a lower action (get the strings closer to the fretboard) because the strings won't 'wiggle' too much when pluck and won't cause fret buzz. This can allow you to use lower tunings without increasing your string gauge, and it will make it easier to press down the strings fast.

However, the frets will also have a wider separation between each other, which can make it harder to play, especially if you got small hands. The higher tension will also make the strings feel stiffer, so bending will require more strength.

More with the same scale length:

Neck Profile

Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB Neck Profile
Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB's neck profile

The neck profile tells you the thickness (neck depth) and shape in cross section. Every difference will completely change the feeling and comfortability of the neck. This is a highly subjective thing, but most players indeed prefer certain types of necks (like Cs and Ds) because they feel nice in most hands.

It has a C type neck. C-shaped necks like this have been the most popular for the last years. The reason is that they feel good in most hands. It's generally a thin neck that doesn't get in your way when playing fast, but that also has enough mass to give your hands a comfortable grip for chords if they aren't too big.

Thin necks like this make it easier to move your hand across the neck and it helps when playing fast solos, especially if you like to leave your thumb free while playing high on the fretboard. However, thinner necks are also weaker and will need adjustment more often than a thicker neck.

More for different hand sizes

Fretboard Radius

When it comes to fingerboard radius, personal preference will dictate which one is better for you. However, most people seem to agree that a more curved (lower) radius will make it easier to play chords while a less curved (higher) radius is better for soloing and bending.

The Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB has a 15" fingerboard radius.

Here's an image comparing this fretboard radius to other popular choices:

Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB Fretboard Radius Comparison with Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul
Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB's fretboard radius compared to others

This makes it more similar to Gibson guitars (12'') than Fender (9.5''). It's slightly flatter than most modern Gibson fretboards though, which makes it more comfortable for single notes, bendings and vibratos, but less comfortable for chords.. If you like the playability of a Gibson, which can be described as ''balanced for chords and solos'', and don't care about having slightly less curve for more comfortable solos, you'll like this radius.

Compound radius fingerboards give the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, the Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB has the same radius across the board.

More with the same fretboard radius:

Playability compared to main competitors

25.5'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.75'' Nut Width
15'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.725'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.725'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.725'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.725'' Nut Width
16'' Fretboard Radius

Nut Width

Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB Nut Width
Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB Nut Width

The Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB has a nut width of 44.5mm (1.75''). This is within the most common range of nut widths for a 6-string guitar. It offers a good balance of string separation at the nut. It's the size that most guitarists prefer as it gives them just enough space to play open chords without muting the strings, but without spreading the strings too wide and making bar chords difficult to perform.

Frets

It comes with nickel silver frets, so they won't last as long as stainless steel frets. If you use your instrument a lot, you might need to replace the frets after a few years. But this is unlikely as most people change instruments before this happens.

More with the same amount of frets:

Fret Size

Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB Fret Size Comparison
Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB's fret size (in orange) compared to other popular sizes

Finally, let's talk about fret size. Some people prefer tall frets because it's easier to press the strings and perform bends since there's less friction against the fretboard. On the other hand, some people like shorter frets because they like to touch the fretboard when playing, or because they got heavy hands and tend to press too much on the string and alter the of the note pitch accidently.

The Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB's frets are Medium size. With medium frets, you can feel the fretboard more than with jumbo frets, but it's still easier to press the strings cleanly than with small frets; notes might change their pitch just slightly if you press hard on the fret. Also, if you need to do some fret leveling after years of playing, you'll have some room to sand them down without having to replace them.

Playability Score

Bending & Vibrato Ease 75
Chord Playability 65
Solo Playability 80
Playability 73

Tone Analysis

The type of wood and even the shape of the body will have a lot of influence in the final tone of an acoustic guitar. Here's we'll talk about what kind of tone you can expect from its specs.

Wood

Spruce wood pattern used for guitar building
Spruce Top
Mahogany wood pattern used for guitar building
Mahogany Back, Sides, Neck
Ebony wood pattern used for guitar building
Ebony Fretboard

Spruce Top: This wood has a light color with tight grain patterns. It's very stiff but relatively light. It's known for producing a well-rounded tone with a broad dynamic range.

Mahogany Back, Sides and Neck: This is the type of wood found in many top-of-the-line guitars, so that's a positive point for the build quality. This red-looking wood Mahogany is found in Africa and Central America and has great sustain and a warm tone due to its high density. The downside about this type of wood is that it's relatively heavy.

Ebony Fretboard: This is one of the most expensive woods there is, which is why it's mostly used for fretboards. It is dense, heavy, highly resistant and comes in a really dark color that gives any guitar a classy touch. Tone wise, it helps the high side of the spectrum and provides good sustain.

Pickups

This acoustic guitar doesn't come with preamp pickups, so you won't be able to connect it directly to an amplifier. Instead, you'll need to use an external microphone.

Sound Score

Sustain 85
Versatility 80
Tuning Stability 70
Sound 84

Build Quality Analysis

Country of Origin

Knowing where the instrument is produced is a good way to know how well it's built. Some manufacturing countries are known for having higher quality standards. For example, most expensive instruments are made in the US or Japan, but there are some exceptionally great countries—like South Korea—that are building a good reputation.

The Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB is made in United States. Guitars made in the USA have the reputation of being the best instruments you can get. This statement isn't as accurate as a few years ago, but you should still expect top-quality from a guitar made in this country.

Bridge

West African Crelicam Ebony: The advantage of fixed bridges is that they don't require any kind of set-up. This makes it extremely easy when changing strings because you don't need to adjust anything besides tuning the guitar. Also, the fact that the bridge is directly attached to the body will help to increase sustain. The disadvantage is the lack of versatility since you can't create the same vibrato effects as with tremolo bridges.

Nut Material

Another important thing to analyze is the nut material, as it's one of the most important aspects that can affect the sound and playability of your guitar. A well-cut nut will make sure it stays in tune and will make it more comfortable to play.

In this case, the Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB has a Graphite nut. This material is self-lubricating, which allows the strings to slide over the nut without too much friction. This helps to keep the guitar in tune when bending and using the tremolo. It's not as resistant and it doesn't sound as good as bone, but it is much better than a plastic nut.

More with the same nut material:

Build Quality Score

Quality of materials 71
Features 65
Quality Control 100
Build Quality 79

All Specs

Taylor Builder's Edition 517 WHB
General
Brand: Taylor
Year: 2019
Configuration:
Strings: 6
Made in: United States
Series: 500
Colors: Natural
Left-Handed Version: Yes
Body
Type: Hollowbody
Body Material: Solid Sitka Spruce
Bridge: West African Crelicam Ebony
Neck
Neck Joint: Set
Tuners: Taylor Nickel
Fretboard: West African Crelicam Ebony
Neck Material: Tropical Mahogany
Decoration: Arrowheads, Grained Ivoroid
Scale Size: 25.5"
Shape: Acoustic Taylor Standard
Frets: 20 Medium
Fretboard Radius: 15"
Nut: Graphite
Nut Width: 44.5mm (1.75'')
Electronics
Switch: 0 Way
Knobs:
Volume Controls: 0
Tone Controls: 0
Bridge Pickup: ( / )

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