The Taylor Guitar Factory

If you read this past Sunday’s post, you already know that my wife and I just returned from a wonderful vacation in San Diego. And that two of our many interesting activities involved music. I told you about the Museum of Making Music on Sunday, and today I’ll share about the visit to the Taylor Guitar Factory.

Dsc_8877I have a Taylor. A GS Mini, which is a 3/4 size guitar with amazing sound quality for something so miniaturized.

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Taylor has only been making guitars for forty years, compared to Martin, which has been in business since 1833. But their guitars have become widely popular and widely used among both professional and amateur musicians. They’ve been quite innovative in such things as creating a bolt-on neck and in their use of machinery, including lasers.

Upon passing the reception desk, we came to a room full of guitars I was free to take off the walls or out of the stands and play to my heart’s desire. Doing that make clear that the the $2500-2700 guitars sounded appreciably better than the $1900-2000 ones.

Dsc_8887Not that I would object to one of the lesser ones, but–drat it!–they weren’t giving any away, and about all we could afford was $20 for a T-shirt. But it’s a really nice one…commemorating Taylor’s fortieth anniversary. I would’ve loved to have one of their beautifully tooled, thick leather straps, but–alas–$80 for that will have to wait for another time.

In a room on the other side of the reception desk were more guitars. Acoustic and acoustic/electric guitars without price tags. I’m assuming they were more than the others. Also in that room were samples of their hollow body electric guitars–and a bit further in–guitars with their backs out, showing the various exotic woods one can have his choice of guitars made from. If I recall correctly, Taylors run as high as $5,000.

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The tour, starting at 2:00 p.m., was led by a young lady who used a wireless headphone system to guide us through the factory.

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Don’t let Taylor’s use of machines fool you. There’s still a lot of hand work done on each guitar. Nonetheless, machines like the ones that bend the sides of the guitar into shape–interestedly, the machine operator sprays the wood with a little bit of water before running it through the machine–and the robotic machine that buffs the guitars after they receive their finish are of special interest. Not to mention the one that dries the glue in minutes, not days.

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The wood glue they use contains an element that glows. So if any glue gets on the outside of a guitar, it can be detected easily and sanded off.

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Taylor is big on reusing as many materials as possible. A large box contains wood scraps which are either used for other parts of a guitar or donated to a local toy maker.

Dsc_8932And what can I say about the huge room full of exotic woods? Incidentally, Taylor is very environmentally friendly when it comes to protecting the forests their woods come from.

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I could say a lot more, but I’m about all talked out. Except to say they let us take some of the wooden holes cut out to make the sound holes. Great souvenirs!

These pictures are just a sample of all the ones I took. If you want to see more, I’ll be posting an album on my Facebook page soon.

Are you a guitarist? Do you have a Taylor? What do you play? All comments gladly welcome.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

Be on the lookout for my next novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, which releases on November 25. It’s available for pre-order HERE.

Best regards,
Roger

In Love with the Guitar

threeGuitars

I’ve been in love with guitars since I was a small child. I still recall visiting my best friend and fooling around with the stringless guitar–it was a real one–his family kept around the house. I didn’t have any image of myself up on stage using it, but I did pretend to play it. The funny thing is I’m not sure I even knew what a guitar sounded like. I just knew I’d like playing one.

I finally got my first toy guitar. I was heart-broken when I stepped on it. That plastic wasn’t durable enough to survive. My second toy guitar was an inexpensive replacement. Neither of those guitars could have been used to play real music, but they maintained my interest over the years.

When I was a junior in high school–yes, I’d long since given up the toy guitar, but not my dream–I was saving for a class ring. But the $18 Silvertone guitar I found at Sears appealed to me more at the time than the prospect of a class ring. That was during what I refer to as “the folk fad of the 1960s and 1970s.” So it was only natural that I would develop a finger-picking style.

That was tough on a cheap steel-stringed guitar, but I kept at it. Believe it or not, I made my first real progress in finger-picking during the days immediately following President Kennedy’s assassination. There was nothing else to watch on TV, so my guitar stayed on my lap and my fingers finally started to catch on.

I took seven lessons one summer. They taught me a little about reading music, but nothing about the kind of playing I wanted to do. Besides that, I realized I couldn’t afford lessons and dating. As it turned out, I couldn’t afford dating either.

I got together with two friends from church to form a trio–The Flatlanders. Very appropriate name for people living in country as flat as Tidewater Virginia. We had a lot of fun and actually got to perform some for other people.

I wanted–I desperately needed–a better guitar. At first my parents didn’t want me to save for one because they’d seen how many projects I’d started over the years without ever finishing. But I kept saving anyhow, and by the time I had close to enough, they had to admit I was really doing something with my playing. My first good guitar was a $151 Gibson. (I don’t think you can buy a Gibson now for less than $2000.)

When we moved away after high school graduation, I became a soloist. I stuck with folk music for a while, but when the fad died out, I realized I would have to do something else if I wanted people to listen to me. I had written my first song as the Flatlanders’ theme song, and I discovered that I really enjoyed writing songs.

So I ended up doing only my own songs. I’ve written over two hundred during the last fifty years.

Like most guitarists, I was always on the lookout for a better guitar–the perfect one. Probably the best one I ever had was an Ovation Anniversary model. But I sold it for two reasons. The volume control was not well placed. (Its location made me accidentally hit it and change volume when I didn’t want to.) And this guitar was one of the deep bowl models; a very convex guitar body against an equally convex tummy was difficult to hold.

I currently have a Martin acoustic-electric, a Taylor GS-mini, and an Ovation Celebrity. The Martin has the best sound, the Taylor is the most portable, and the Ovation has the fastest neck. I also have a Fender Precision bass.

My interest in guitars has led me to some interesting places. Like Connecticut for a tour of the Ovation factory and Pennsylvania for a Martin factory tour. Both of those were wonderful.

While visiting the in-laws in Memphis, I also toured the electric guitar Gibson factory. The acoustic guitar factory is in another state. But those doggoned people didn’t permit photography. Oh, well.

This October my wife and I are going to vacation in the San Diego area–close enough for a tour of the Taylor factory.

I keep saying I’ll never trade or sell the Martin or the Taylor. But–doggone it!–I don’t have the perfect guitar yet and couldn’t afford it if I found it. But I could find closer-to-perfect if was in the budget. I would probably need to publish a novel with a publisher that paid advances for that to happen, though.

What about you? Do you have a special musical interest? Or maybe another hobby that keeps you looking for better and better tools and accessories? Please drop a comment and share.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out here. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list here.

Best regards,
Roger