The Taylor 520 Mahogany Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar delivers a punchy sound that is ideal for strummers and pickers who like to dig in. The all-mahogany construction of the 520 yields a balanced and punchy tone, especially the upper mids. Taylor gives the 520 dreadnought acoustic simple visual appointments including a black pickguard, ivoroid binding and rosette, and a neo-vintage Century fretboard inlay which really gives it an old-school vibe.
All-Mahogany Tone: Fundamentally Strong
The solid mahogany top of the 520 produces a natural compression, so it won’t yield as quick a response as a spruce-top guitar will. As Andy Powers explained with the recent introduction of the all-koa Grand Orchestra K28e, there tends to be more of a subtle ‘roll-in’ effect to a note.
‘To put that into a more practical context for the player, it sounds like it’s a really long, sustaining, very controlled attack,’ Andy says. Compared to a spruce-top mahogany guitar in Taylor’s 500 Series, an all-mahogany produces a distincte flavor. ‘It still has the fundamental, strong, direct sound you can expect out of a mahogany guitar with a spruce top - that dry, woody quality,’ he explains. ‘But the mahogany top will make it even more controlled, to where it starts to accentuate its unique sustain a little more.’
That focused midrange character highlights some of the tonal differences between mahogany and rosewood, which tends to feature a more scooped midrange and ringing overtones. Bob Taylor spoke to the sonic contrast in an interview, describing a hardwood-top guitar like the 520 as ‘typically lo-fi, great for strumming and blues, but no church bell tones.’ In ensemble playing, those differences actually work together nicely, as mahogany’s strong midrange and rosewood’s scooped mids fit together well without competing.
Considering mahogany’s strong fundamental focus, the Taylor 520 dreadnought acoustic will fit a number of playing scenarios.
‘Like koa, it’s a fantastic wood for recording or stage use,’ Andy notes. ‘Because of its unique response, an all-mahogany guitar really flatters its pickups. And since its sonic imprint isn’t a mile wide, it’s a guitar that plays well with others. On a track with other guitar parts you don’t want interference between players.’
‘After we re-designed the 700 Series with all-ivoroid appointments, players really flocked to it,’ he says. ‘The sentiment was like, ‘This isn’t my dad’s guitar, this is more like my granddad’s guitar,’ but with all the refinements of modern guitar-making techniques. So we brought more of that aesthetic to the 500s.’
A black pickguard adds a bold visual counterpoint to the mahogany tops. Other new appointments include ivoroid binding, an ivoroid rosette, and an ivoroid Century fretboard inlay design that comes from the same family as the 700 Series Heritage Diamonds inlay motif.