TNAG Visits Taylor Guitars HQ For Factory Tour
After what can only be described as a whirlwind five days at the winter NAMM show, I was glad to get a day off to decompress and prepare myself for a very special invitation to the Taylor Guitars factory in El Cajon - San Diego.
It is not everyday you get asked to visit one of the world's leading guitar companies headquarters for a special one on one tour with the company's Editorial Director Jim Kirlin. It is fair to say that in the short period of six months or so that we have been working with Taylor, they have made incredible efforts to make us feel a priority in their dealer family, and for that we are very grateful.
Having just come off the back of the launch of their V-Class bracing system (click here to read our blog on the V Class bracing system) at the NAMM show and all the press surrounding it, I was a little unsure of what to expect when driving over to the factory for my tour.
Welcome to Taylor Guitars...
On arrival I was greeted by the very friendly face of Jim at the gates. We didn't waste any time and headed straight on into the showroom and started talked NAMM and the impact of their new bracing design and the history of this incredible company.
The New V Class Bracing
One of Bob Taylor's first Taylor Guitars
Looks a bit like one of the TNAG walls...
The new V Class Players' Edition and 900 Series..
Whether you're a fan of Taylor or not, you can't not respect them! In a staggering 43 years this company, started by two men (Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug) back in 1974, has gone on to become what some might say the market leader in the mainstream acoustic guitar world and they have very cleverly done it all themselves with no outside investment or selling any part of their company. And that is incredible. Taylor Guitars now produces over 600 guitars a day between El Cajon & Tecate and is now the No.1 guitar manufacturer in the USA.
The thing that has always attracted us to Taylor Guitars is that they are innovators and prepared to invest heavily in the sustainability of woods, especially exotic woods.
Bob has always tried to pursue innovation for his company and in his guitars, whether that has been from his GA (Grand Auditorium) model introduced back in 1994, to his bolt-on neck they called the NT (New Technology) neck, their own pickup system, the 'Expression System' designed by Rupert Neve, their pursuit of sustainable and exotic woods and now the V-Class bracing system. All have heavily impacted the mainstream guitar market.
The first thing you see when you enter the factory is a wall display explaining Taylor Guitars' commitment to the sustainability of woods, which is an inspiring thing to see. Taylor Guitars and Bob Taylor especially are now heavily focused on creating opportunities for people in 3rd world countries by farming and planting woods all over the world.
It is fair to say that it is not just innovation, design or marketing that has enabled Taylor Guitars to reach the heights they have reached but Bobs ability to design tooling that can produce the same results every time over and over again. This operation is not one many hand crafting an instrument for day and hours on end this is a juganought of guitar production.
When you see a factory like this in action you immediately get a sense of the scale of this company. The woods selection and cutting and storing is vast...walls upon walls of wood stacked 40 feet high.
According to Jim, lasers were introduced not that long ago and now are used to cut pretty much all wood for accuracy.
Meet buffy! Yes this machine is called buffy and can buff 4 guitars at one time and in around 45 minutes.
For all buffing that cant be handled by good old buffy, then the taylor team step in and finish off.
The spraying process was fascinating to see. Jim told me that in order to cut waste (and cost) they now used a electro static finish that when sprayed is almost drawn to the body of the guitar.
With over 150 guitars being produced here at El Cajon everyday you can imagine how many necks get cut and prepared.
The field of side benders that over the years have been perfected to know exactly when and where to bend the wood with out breaking. I got to meet several of their team who used to do the wood bending by hand and now all use these machines.
The tour lasted about an hour and I have to say I was blown away by the sheer size and scale of the place, a big thank you to Jim and all the Taylor team that made me feel so welcome that day.