Mass St Music Visits Taylor Guitars!

Tim Nelson holding Bob Taylor's first guitar

Tim checks out the 1st guitar Bob Taylor built as a teenager (actually 3rd, but they weren't up to his standards, so Bob ran over the 1st with a motorcycle, and the blew up the 2nd with fireworks!)

Mass St Music’s own Boss Flynn and Tim Nelson recently toured the Taylor Guitar factory in El Cajon, California and it just reaffirmed our pride in carrying these instruments that are not only exceptional players and beautifully made, but are also backed by real innovation and sustainability. Here’s their road report from Taylor Guitars.

Pile of sawn Koa Wood

A corner of the $750,000 pile of Koa wood at the Taylor factory

Tim Nelson:
It was obvious after visiting their factory how Taylor is able to make some of the most consistent and well-playing guitars on the planet. The amount of thought that goes into research and design at Taylor is truly astounding.

The neck construction area of the Taylor Guitar Factory

A birds-eye view of the neck department of the Taylor Guitar factory

Bob Taylor demonstrating Taylor Guitar neck angle

Bob Taylor describing details of the Taylor neck angle

To build things well – every single time – requires well designed tools, fixtures, and jigs – many of which Taylor designed and built themselves after extensive research. They use these tools to build precise instruments without sacrificing the personality of the guitar. Wood is unforgiving when it comes to shaping and controlling it, not only in form, but also tone. Taylor blends style and artistic design with exacting workmanship, giving the player a great instrument with tons of personality.

Tops of Taylor Guitars clamped in a machine at the factory

This machine is clamping many Taylor guitar tops at one time

Bob Taylor by fret area in Taylor Guitar Factory

Fretting the necks - loaded by hand then pressed with a machine. Because of Bob's perfectly straight NT neck design, the necks do not require any fret dressing! Crazy but true.

I was really impressed with Bob’s drive for building perfectly straight necks – obviously a huge plus if you want low action. Taylor’s three-piece NT neck design is super smart. (Read more about the NT “new technology” design here) . There’s an incredible level of workmanship at Taylor, but also they have a real vision for our industry’s future and environmental stewardship.

Bob Taylor carrying a block of wood that will become a guitar neck

Machines are part of the process, but it all starts with picking the right woods. This block is headed to the neck department.

Bob Taylor with a Taylor Guitar neck

Bob demonstrates how the bodies and necks go together while his #1 fan tries to get a closer look

Man and machine bending wood for sides of a Taylor guitar

Bending the wood for the sides of a Taylor acoustic

Bob has been a forerunner in our industry, ensuring the materials that we love as guitar players have a better chance of being around for future generations. I was also impressed by his awareness that just legally importing woods sometimes is not enough, that you can do more. (Read more about Taylor’s sustainability initiatives here).  He’s committed to doing it right by paying a fair price for materials, and takes it even further by actually creating jobs in impoverished areas, where a lot of valued woods grow.

guitar bracing for a Taylor Nylon string guitar

Bob shows off the different bracing for Taylor nylon string guitars

Taylor Guitars drying after the electrostatic finishing process

Tim was really impressed with Taylor's innovative & environmentally friendly electrostatic finish process

Even Taylor’s finish process is really remarkable, reducing waste and pollution. They use an electrostatic process where almost all of the finish ends up on the product. This means far less pollution to the environment in the form of vapors escaping. They also create less solid waste from spray booth filters – once clogged with finish these were trash.  Today, the guy working in the spray area does not even need a mask, as it’s a very safe and clean application. Very cool! Employee safety in the finish department really struck a chord with me, having been around solvent based spray applications for years of my life. It’s great to see Taylor’s inroads in this area too.

Installing soundhole rosettes by hand at the Taylor Guitar Factory

There is still a great deal of hands-on workmanship at Taylor - here the soundhole rosettes are placed by hand.

Taylor guitar bridges clamped on at the factory

Taylor guitars with their bridges recently clamped on the bodies

Taylor guitar getting final touches including strings and a thorough set up

What's a guitar without strings? Here they put on the Elixir strings and give the new instrument a thorough set up and final check

John Flynn:
Although I expected to be impressed by the whole Taylor ‘campus’, the actual experience was far greater than I could have anticipated. I came away with a new respect for Taylor as a whole. Bob’s vision for guitar building is pretty ingenious, but I was also taken by a truly sincere commitment to do what is right and not just what is convenient. He is doing things I do not think anyone else in our industry is doing at this point, for the environment and for people. He and co-founder Kurt Listug have assembled an impressive team and they definitely convey the attitude of ‘let’s have some fun with this’ while remaining totally professional.

Andy Powers playing guitar with Bob Taylor

Bob plays guitar after the factory tour with his right-hand-man Andy Powers

Cocobolo wood reserved for a Mass St Music GC 12 fret Build to Order guitar

Hey look! Gorgeous Cocobolo wood with Mass St's name on it! We've got a custom Build to Order GC 12 fret they're building for us with this exact Cocobolo. It'll be topped with Sinker Redwood for the ultimate Taylor fingerstyle guitar.

In words it would be impossible to describe everything that makes Taylor Guitars all that they really are. That is why they brought us to the campus. Fortunately, they do tours daily and it is open to everyone. It takes about 3.5 hours, so be ready, but it will definitely be worth your time. (Read more about how to take a Taylor Factory Tour here.)  We spent two solid days with them and there was not a wasted moment!

Check out Mass St Music’s full selection of Taylor Guitars here and be sure to mark your calendars for Monday, June 18, 2012 when the Taylor Road Show visits Mass Street Music! Click the Taylor poster below for more info.

Poster for Taylor Guitar Road Show at Mass St Music June 18 2012

 

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