Mass St Music’s Josh Visits Taylor Guitars!

Mass Street Music luthier Josh Baldridge recently was invited to attend the ‘Taylor University’ at Taylor Guitars in El Cajon, California near San Diego to learn more about one of our favorite lines and get a behind the scenes look at how these wonderful and uniquely designed guitars are made. John Petrucci, Taylor Swift, Jason Mraz, Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, Dave Matthews and Tom DeLonge are all Taylor fans – and so is Josh. Here’s his Taylor report:

We’ve been selling Taylor Guitars at Mass Street Music for over 20 years now, so  it was a real treat to be able to see the factory first hand. It was wonderful to see how smoothly everything is run at Taylor. They’re a great company, and all work together really well. Though they are always expanding and developing, they are also very careful in the choices they make. They are also into doing things themselves – more so than many other companies. I was impressed that they make their own pickup parts at the factory in El Cajon. They make many of their own jigs, tools and machinery too.

Taylor guitars original guitar side bender

Taylor’s intercom system. Not really. It’s the original ‘side bender’ Bob Taylor made in high school to help shape the wood for sides of guitars. It’s on display at the factory though newer machinery is in use today. Jim Kirlin, the editor of Taylor’s Wood & Steel magazine is pictured here giving the tour.

Something I already knew, having worked with Taylor at Mass Street Music over the years, is that Taylor’s customer service is second to none – they are there for the customer all the way. If I were a touring musician, I’d have a Taylor for the road, absolutely. Not only are they great guitars, but they’re easy to work on. The construction and design, particularly the NT neck joint, make it one of the most serviceable guitars around. It’s really ideal for a performer in so many ways. (Ed note: All acoustic guitars generally require neck adjustments over the years, or a neck reset. Taylor’s patented NT neck allows for much easier and less invasive adjustments than traditionally built guitars.)

The factory itself was immense with an astounding amount of wood everywhere you look (go figure).

Taylor Guitar Factory - mahogany wood curing

Palettes of Mahogany stacked up. The palettes in the back are curing and have small red spacers between the layers.


Taylor Guitar Factory - Ebony wood curing

Beautiful Ebony wood curing on racks


Taylor Guitar factory - guitar tops stacked

Freshly made guitar tops!

They create an average of 500 guitars per day and have really customized their systems. From curing the wood to setting the inlays, it’s all very hands on, though they have a lot of impressive machinery that helps keep a consistent quality to the guitars. It also allows the human hands to focus on some of the most important work.

Taylor guitar factory - necks in machinery

Machinery carousel loaded with necks


Taylor Guitar factory - machinery with guitar tops

A machine loaded with guitar tops

The sound hole and fretboard inlays are laser cut, but each is inlaid by hand.

Taylor guitar factory - inlay with epoxy on it

Freshly hand laid inlay covered in epoxy, which will be sanded down when dry.


Taylor Guitar factory - frets being installed by hand

Frets being installed by hand.


While visiting Taylor Guitars, I chose the wood for a special Build To Order Taylor for Mass Street Music. I was able to hand select some incredible Master Grade Koa wood for the top, and A grade Koa for the back and sides. The single A grade Koa for the back and sides will save on the overall cost, and it’s just phenomenal looking wood – gorgeous with nice contrast that really highlights the grain.

Mass St Music raw Koa for Taylor BTO guitar

This is the Master Grade Koa (in its raw form) for the top of the Build to Order Taylor we’re having made. The darker spots are water to show the shade it will be if finished naturally. We’re thinking about a Mahogany burst finish.


Taylor BTO Koa Mass St Music

The A Grade Koa for the back and sides – stunning!

We’re thinking about putting a trans Mahogany burst finish on it, which will really show off the grain, but it’s still under construction – if you’re interested, there is still time to pick your own appointments on this one!

Taylor Koa guitar with Mahogany burst trans finish

Here is a finished Koa acoustic with the trans ‘Mahogany Burst’ finish we’re contemplating for the Taylor BTO. What do you think?

I also got a look at some of the Spring Limited Edition guitars while there, and I can’t wait for those to arrive at Mass Street. The Asian Ebony one was beautiful,  unique, and sounded great!

Aaron Dablow with Taylor 2013 Spring Ltd Asian Ebony guitar

Taylor’s US Sales Manager, Aaron Dablow, showing one of the new 2013 Taylor Spring Limited guitars, this one made from Asian Ebony

Interested in learning more about Taylor Guitars? Don’t miss the famous Taylor Road Show when it stops at Mass Street Music in Lawrence, Kansas on Monday, April 22, at 7pm. You’ll get to try out some very special one-off Taylors, play some of the new models including the Grand Orchestra acoustics and enjoy the antics and insight of Taylor’s own Eric Sakimoto and Marc Seal. It’s always a great time, it’s totally free and we’ll be handing out some goodies like Elixir strings, Taylor Ware gear and more while supplies last. You can even register to win a Taylor guitar! More info on the Taylor Road Show at our Events Page and on our Facebook page.

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