Mass St. Music’s Behind the Scenes Look at Taylor Guitars

Our own Eric Mardis recently had the opportunity to visit the Taylor Guitars factory in El Cajon, CA.  We thought he’d just be hanging out on the beach, but apparently he really checked out the factory and hobnobbed with Bob Taylor. Check it out:

Just a portion of the factory

Just a portion of the factory

Taylor Guitars brings together a handful of dealers from across the US every 6 weeks or so to talk about Taylor innovations, to get a first hand view of the facility, and to get to know the excellent people at Taylor Guitars.  Just recently I was invited to visit them in El Cajon.

The first day we all went to the factory for a tour led by Bob Taylor himself.  It was extensive!

Bob Taylor and a whole lot of great wood

Bob Taylor and a whole lot of great wood

The factory tour lasted about four hours with Bob giving us in-depth insight into Taylor’s wood sourcing,  manufacturing techniques, research and development (a mind blowing creative think tank!), electronics, NT neck technology, materials, spray rooms, finish, the layout of the company – everything, including the Tecate Mexico factory…  whew!  It was a lot of information!  It was all very well presented and was really enlightening.  I was very impressed by the way they do things and by the people and machines that make it all work.  Truly a stunning marvel of modern guitar manufacturing.

Bob shows off the totally innovative NT neck

Bob shows off the totally innovative NT neck

The 'Laser Room' with wood ready to be turned into amazing guitars

The 'Laser Room' with wood ready to be turned into amazing guitars

Later, we had a great Q&A session with Bob and his VP of Marketing, Brian Swerdfeger.   We discussed all things guitar… the depletion and state of tone woods today, the history of Taylor, how Bob’s Hummer has been modified and more.   It was great to pick the brain of one of the world’s  leading guitar innovators, and to find that he (and the whole crew at Taylor) is a super down to earth guy.

The next day we looked at the Build to Order program and the R. Taylor shop.   Build to Order is an extremely cool way to achieve a one of a kind custom guitar, built to your specs… I ‘built’ two of them for Mass Street – we’re looking forward to receiving these soon (a Custom GS Striped Maccassar Ebony/Bearclaw Spruce & a Custom GA Cocobolo/Adirondack Spruce).

The striped Maccassar handpicked by Eric and Bob for a Mass St. guitar!

The striped Maccassar handpicked by Eric and Bob for a Mass St. guitar!

They are seriously the sweetest sets of wood I have ever seen.  Have you seen the Cocobolo set on the cover of Taylor’s recent BTO issue of WOOD AND STEEL (note: you can pick up a free copy at Mass Street)?  My set of Coco blows it away!   Bob Taylor and I went through massive stacks of beautiful wood to hand pick these sets!  It was super fun and I learned a lot about wood and how a true custom guitar is made.   The Built to Order guitars get special attention from Taylor VP of Production Chris Wellons and Laser Room manager Joe Bina;  I think it would be nearly impossible to come up with anything less than a 10 when building a guitar with these guys.  I’m seriously building myself a custom GC this fall.

The Cocobolo wood picked by Eric and Bob for another Mass St. guitar. Nice!

The Cocobolo wood picked by Eric and Bob for another Mass St. guitar. Nice!

R. Taylor was another amazing feature of the plant.  Very small shop for these amazing guitars!  Basically five master luthiers building guitars the old way.  Gorgeous and tone-ful.   These instruments hold their own against some of the finest boutique makers out there. (Check out our R. Taylor Style 2 here)

The Taylor Trip was awesome.  I learned so much, ate massive amounts of great Mexican food, played guitar, and made some great new friends at Taylor.   My already high opinion of Taylor was launched into the stratosphere.  What a great company and simply incredible guitars. – Eric

The infamous 'Pallet Guitar' crafted by Bob from a shipping pallet. Check out the forklift inlay. That's forking amazing!

The infamous 'Pallet Guitar' crafted by Bob from a shipping pallet. Check out the forklift inlay. That's forking amazing!

Bout of the Pallet Guitar - check out the former nail holes.

Bout of the Pallet Guitar - check out the former nail holes. Bob built this to show how essential the talent of the builder is, even more so than the quality of the wood.

Insane! The Robot Buffer - total precision followed by hand buffing by a real person

Insane! The Robot Buffer - total precision followed by hand buffing by a real person

Various wood destined to be necks

Various wood destined to be necks

A rare one-off double neck crafted at Taylor

A rare one-off double neck crafted at Taylor

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