The NT Neck
The NT
10 Years and
Holding Strong
35th Anniversary
Signature Models
Serj Tankian & Zach Myers
SolidBody Trem
Nylon 24s
In Praise of R&R
oval knots in the lower bout with
smaller knots in the upper...”). I went
on to describe many other details.
When I got the guitar, I was overwhelmed. It was like the staff was
able to read my mind. And sensing
a slight preference, they even gave
me a hint of sapwood on the sides.
It’s the best-sounding guitar I’ve ever
played: big, deep, warm and “exactly
the way I wanted it.” Many thanks to
Jim at Guitar Rodeo and the Taylor
David Fielding
Potomac, Maryland
I was really impressed by the way
Kurt Listug addressed the current
economic situation in his last column,
“Resilience and Reinvention.” His
strength and conviction were refreshing in these days of big-bank bailouts. Kurt has become a seasoned
CEO, and Taylor is very fortunate
to have him at the helm. Since Kurt
and I are roughly the same age, I,
too, have had to contend with the
cyclical folly of the economy over
the course of my adult life. It has
been a heck of a learning curve. I’m
sure that Taylor and the assembled
employees will continue to innovate
both on the musical and financial
fronts. And thanks for recognizing the
role of the customer. Well put, Kurt.
“Perseverance furthers.” (I Ching)
John McCarthy
In the Spring 2009 issue, Denn
Santoro wrote in [“Ask Bob”] to ask
about 12-string capos, and [Bob]
wondered whether some of the capo
makers were looking into a special
capo for the 12. Well, someone did,
namely Paige. They’ve been making a
12-string capo for quite a while, and
it’s a model of simplicity. They made
a wide capo and installed four clear
plastic bands on the top bar for the
octave strings. They stay in place well
but can be moved to accommodate
different string spacing. It works like a
charm, and it’s a bargain at less than
$25. I have one for my 355ce, and I
almost never have to adjust the tuning
before or after using it.
Chris Peterson
Orange, California
Rodeo Rave
Jumbo Surprise
This letter of gratitude is a little
overdue, but I was prompted by last
issue’s side panel story on [Taylor
dealer] Guitar Rodeo in the BTO
article (“Any Way You Want It”). From
the first time I played a Taylor, I knew
I had to have one. But if I was going
to spend that kind of money, it had to
be unique, not “off-the wall, out the
door.” I saw a Guitar Rodeo listing,
called Jim, and proceeded to barrage
him with about 40 questions on building a guitar to my liking. Amazingly,
he answered EVERY question with a
degree of knowledge, patience and
understanding I’ve never before experienced. This would seem ridiculous
to anyone who hasn’t done a BTO
Taylor, but I described in great detail
the pieces of cocobolo and cedar I
wanted for my 815c (“chocolate and
caramel grain variation, two broad
April 10, 2009 — a day I won’t
forget. I had the day off and was just
going to sit around and play guitar
after taking the kids to school. But
when I found out my husband, Ric,
had two people call in sick, I went in
to give him a hand. Ric’s employees
were kidding me about working on
my day off and asking what he was
going to owe me. “A Jumbo Taylor
guitar,” I jokingly said, since that had
been my desire for over a year. For lunch, Ric took me to a restaurant that seemed too far from work,
but I didn’t ask any questions. Before
we went in, he recommended that
we visit the music shop next door. I
agreed, though I knew we wouldn’t
see the guitar I was looking for
because we’d checked with the local
music shops several weeks earlier,
and no one had Jumbo Taylors in
stock. When we walked to the back of
the store where the acoustic guitars
were showcased, I saw a big, beautiful 815ce with a Florentine cutaway.
I couldn’t wait to hold it and strum it.
But to my disappointment, as I got
closer, I noticed the “sold” tag. Ric
encouraged me to take it down and
play it anyway. I refused — in my mind
that guitar already had an owner,
and I didn’t want to damage it. The
sales specialist, Kevin, assured me
it would be fine for me to play it.
Still, I refused. Kevin took it down
and played it for me. At that point,
the temptation was too great and I
gave in. I was amazed. I could feel
the sound resonate from its big body
and loved the deep sounds it produced. As I sat strumming a guitar
I knew I couldn’t have, Ric asked,
“Kevin, should we tell her that she’s
the owner of this beautiful guitar?” I
was stunned and without words. He
had ordered the 815ce for me as a
birthday gift and was going to hide it
until May 11, but when I showed up
to help him at work, he’d decided on
a surprise presentation instead. It’s
been hard to put down and is the
best birthday gift I’ve ever received.
Carolyn Pevey
Calera, Alabama
Born to be Wild — and in Tune
I play in a classic rock cover
band, the Powder Kegz, and have
played for over twenty years in the
Dallas/Fort Worth area. I wanted to
say how much I like playing my two
SolidBody Taylors. My lead player
has not converted yet, though I am
still working on him.
We play a lot of biker stuff here
in Texas. We play outside when hot,
inside when hot, early morning bike
runs when cold, and late night wild
riding club parties in the country, so
our equipment takes a beating and
is exposed to temperature extremes.
I had been going through guitars
like crazy or sending them to the
shop for repair. I hardly have to tune
my Taylors — they’ve held up very
well under those situations. So, for
whatever it’s worth, I think the Taylor
SolidBody rocks!
Charles Hemphill
I am the proud owner of three
Taylors (410e, T5 and a Liberty Tree),
and the only complaint I’ve ever had
is how heavy the cases are. Well, no
more. Last night, as I was walking
back to my car carrying my 410e
(in the dark and the rain), I tripped
and went flying like Superman.
Unfortunately, unlike Superman, my
flight was very short and the landing
quite violent. I fell full body on top of
my guitar case and skidded a few
inches on the pavement. The sturdy
case not only saved me some road
rash, but kept my Taylor totally safe
and sound. You don’t just make good
guitars, you make EVERYTHING
good. I now have the scrapes on the
case to prove it!
E Hiatt
Classic Coverage
I’ve believed in Taylor quality since
I bought my first 714. I just bought
a SolidBody Classic from my bud
Brad at Sims Music in Columbia,
South Carolina, and I just can’t
get over what an incredible guitar
you’ve designed. The thing is a tone
monster! I play every Sunday at a
contemporary service and usually
carry several electric guitars with
me, along with my trusty 714. For
service this morning I only took the
Classic. At the end of the service I
had bandmates, our sound guy, and
others commenting on what a greatsounding guitar it was. We cover
songs from sweet to rocking, and the
Classic has the widest range of tonal
possibilities of any guitar I’ve ever
played. Like a Maserati, it’s very comfortable but very capable of extremes.
To the design and production folks,
my hat is off to you all. To the folks at
Wood&Steel, thanks for stirring my
interest in the Classic. Your guitars
inspire me.
Mark McLane
Columbia, South Carolina
Rites of String
Thank you for your informative and
fun videos on guitar care, especially
stringing the guitar. I hated spending
the money on Elixir strings, mostly
because I am a novice at it and tended to break them during the restring.
Your videos have taken the fear away
and made it simple, fast and fun.
Kenneth Chenault
A Refreshing Trip
I am the proud owner of several
Taylors. My favorite is an 814ceL10. During a recent business trip
to Carlsbad [California], I decided
to drive the extra 30 minutes to El
Cajon to have it “refreshed.” When
I arrived at your facility, I was graciously met by [Taylor Customer
Service Manager] Glen Wolff, who
inspected my guitar and agreed the
“Refresh” package would be the
best option for me. Two weeks later,
I received my guitar via UPS in a
secured Taylor guitar box. When I
opened it, I was like a kid in a candy
store. The guitar looked and played
better than ever! I’d forgotten the true
tone it was capable of. Also, a few
minor dings had been spot-removed
from the face, giving it that new look
again. Even more than before, it’s my
favorite axe to play. I encourage all
Taylor guitar players to consider this
amazing program. In these difficult
economic times, it’s a way of getting
a new Taylor guitar without having to
pay the price of one.
During my next business trip to
the Carlsbad (El Cajon) area, I plan
on allowing for more free time to tour
your facility.
Bob Lumley
Westlake Village, California
Sorry, It Never Ends
Where does it all end? Just when
I think I have The Guitar, you come
up with something better. I’ve had
my 915 for three years now — it’s
awesome with the bluegrass licks.
Then along comes the T5, which is
so versatile that the 915 sits off to
the side looking pretty. Next comes
the SolidBody Custom. Didn’t need
it (according to my wife) but picked
one up anyway. Can’t have too many
Taylors! Then yesterday at my favorite
music store, I spotted a T5-C2, koa
top. Uh-oh. I played it for an hour —
well, a couple — then made a deal to
bring in the original T5 and trade up,
with a few dollars, to boot. I can’t put
this axe down. I’ve played it through
my Bose L1, my acoustic amp, as
well as a tube “keyboard” amp, with
a reverb pedal. My poor wife shudders when I get your magazine in the
mail. Someone should have warned
her about marrying a guitar picker!
Thanks for the great products that
you turn out.
C.W. McAloney
We’d like to
hear from you
Send your e-mails to:
Volume 60
Summer 2009
On the Cover
1810 Years of NT
Taylor’s most important
innovation ever guarantees
the longterm playability of
our guitars. A decade after
its debut, we revisit how the
NT neck changed everything.
The Neck’s Generation
This year marks Taylor Guitars’ 35th anniversary, and since many of you know I was nineteen when I started
the company, you can figure out how old I’m getting. Enough about that, except to say that I’m still feeling
great, and still I love making guitars. I’m working with some super-smart people here, and our guitars just keep
getting better.
It’s also the 10th anniversary of our NT neck design, which I consider to be our crowning guitar design
achievement over the past 35 years. Prior to its development, Taylors already played well. In fact, we set the
standard for how an acoustic guitar should and could play way back in the ’80s. Before Taylor was around,
I dare say acoustic players were used to guitars that played poorly due to a lot of things that were overlooked
in the guitar-building process. But the NT neck took our dreams of the first 25 years — the idea that an acoustic guitar could have a perfectly straight neck and the perfect neck angle each and every time, and be fully
adjustable for both the initial factory setup and the after-factory life of the guitar — and it made those dreams
come true.
I remember fretting guitars by hand, sanding fretboards with a block and sandpaper, and eyeballing the
neck. I was good at that. Then along came Terry Myers, who was better at it than me, by a hair, but better
nonetheless. It’s now 20 years later, and Terry is still here, looking down necks, making sure they’re fine. In fact,
today Terry called a meeting to talk about how straight the necks are and how we can firm up every last detail
of our operation to ensure perfection on every neck. He walks through the factory each day with gauges hanging from chains and checks up on stuff. Then he’ll get in his car and drive to Mexico to teach and mentor on
the same subject there. He’ll even fly to Germany and check out guitars, or follow a shipment to Japan to see
what the ocean climate and container environment may have done.
The difference between pre-NT and post-NT is that nowadays when Terry or I call a meeting to discuss the
quality of the fretboard surface, we talk about things that most people, even those in our factory, can’t even
perceive. In other words, the necks have gotten that good. But Terry and I still have the eyes and the interest to
shoot for theoretical perfection in the real world.
What I like about the NT is that, while it’s the hardest guitar building we’ve ever done, it’s also the most
accurate and the most rewarding. And since it’s a system that actually works, it’s more achievable than the old
system, which nearly all factories are still using today. Now, when I say “more achievable,” I don’t mean easier;
I just mean that if we follow the rules and procedures, it works. The rules and procedures are very strict and
don’t allow for much interpretation. That’s the hard part. The rewarding part is that the necks turn out wonderful, which makes for a great-playing guitar now and well into the future.
This last year we’ve had teams of people from the factory going out to stores all over the U.S. and the
world, with one objective in mind: to look at the condition of our guitars, adjust where necessary, and then
teach our dealers how to better care for guitars on the wall. Then they bring back their findings to the factory
so we can improve what we do on our end. One such team just made a trip to Europe. Six craftsmen (including Terry), three teams of two. They split up and for two weeks visited dealers, worked on guitars and saw
exactly how our guitars look in the field [see “WorldView”]. Even with our full confidence in the NT system, our
finish and our wood curing, we still want to go see for ourselves. We learn a lot from these trips.
Thirty-five years ago I wouldn’t have believed we’d ever be able to afford to send people all over the world
to bring back vital information and improve the guitar-building process back home. I guess that’s what 35 years
of experience, used properly, looks like in my world. I thought I’d share that with you because this is the kind of
stuff I do every day, and I still find it interesting. Enjoy the NT article in this issue. It’s packed with a lot of information about how radically different your Taylor guitar is than any of the other guitars you might own or wish to
own. There really is a difference.
­­— Bob Taylor, President
6 Artist Signature Models
It’s been a few years, but our Artist Series reloads with a nod to our
electric line, featuring models from System of a Down’s Serj Tankian
and Shinedown’s Zach Myers.
9 Don’t De-Tune
Decades ago, players had to de-tune their acoustics to keep them healthy,
but those days are history. Rob Magargal explains the balance of tension
and relief behind a guitar neck.
12Why We Practice
Who says practicing can’t be productive and fun? How to get the most
out of your practice sessions and turn those drills into thrills.
14Planning an Anniversary
With Taylor’s 35th anniversary on the way, we take you behind the scenes
for a preview of some very special LTDs that are unlike anything we’ve
ever done.
22New Products: Electric Trem and the NS24
We put the whammy on our SolidBody, while the Nylon Series welcomes
a pair of new value-packed models, including our first non-cutaway.
Kurt’s Corner
On the Web
Editor’s Note
Ask Bob
Mixed Media
Taylor Notes
28 WorldView
29 TaylorWare
Volume 60
Summer 2009
Publisher / Taylor-Listug, Inc.
Produced by the Taylor Guitars Marketing Department
Vice President of Sales & Marketing / Brian Swerdfeger
Director of Brand Marketing / Jonathan Forstot
Editor / Jim Kirlin
Senior Art Director / Cory Sheehan
Art Director / Rita Funk-Hoffman
Bob Borbonus / Jonathan Forstot / Dan Forte / David Hosler / David Kaye
Kurt Listug / Shane Roeschlein / Bob Taylor / Corey Witt / Glen Wolff
Chalise Zolezzi
Technical Advisors
Ed Granero / David Hosler / Gerry Kowalski / Tim Luranc / Rob Magargal
Mike Mosley / Brian Swerdfeger / Chris Wellons / Glen Wolff
Kurt’s Corner
Rita Funk-Hoffman / David Kaye / Steve Parr / Tim Whitehouse
Katrina Horstman
Keeping it Real
As you read through this issue,
which celebrates our 35th anniversary, I think our passion for what we
do comes through loud and clear.
What other guitar company puts out
a magazine like this to invite you into
their world!
We created Wood&Steel 15 years
ago because we wanted to include
you in the company. We wanted to
share what we were working on, what
we were excited about, what we were
concerned about, and what our plans
were. We wanted this to be a twoway relationship, and we wanted to
hear and share your stories, answer
your questions, and showcase the
pursuits of people who’d become
part of the Taylor family.
The same holds true today.
Wood&Steel is a vehicle for sharing
knowledge — about guitar design,
about craftsmanship, about guitar
care, and about musicianship. We
want to express our opinions about
things that are important to us
(although I’ve largely refrained from
talking about cars!). We want to tell
the stories of our employees and
dealers because we feel these are
stories worth telling, and because you
deserve to know these people.
If you look at the effort and care
we put into this magazine, you get a
sense of the effort and care we put
into our guitars and into every part of
this company.
You’ve no doubt heard about
branding and what branding means.
Branding to me means quality
communication of the company’s
products and ideals. This is about
so much more than simply running
a pretty ad; it has to be honest. If
you were to promote yourself or
your company in a way that was not
consistent with what’s actually real,
that would create a pretty major
disconnect. People know what’s real
and what isn’t.
Wood&Steel is real, and it remains
an accurate expression of who
we are, of our lives here within the
walls of Taylor Guitars and beyond
them, and of the lives of our beloved
customers. We’ve evolved a lot as
a company over the past 35 years,
but being real has been a consistent
value that has helped us connect in a
meaningful way with the world. As we
look forward to celebrating future anniversaries with you, you can be sure
that you’ll always have a direct line to
who we are.
­­— Kurt Listug, CEO
Printing & Distribution
Woods Lithographics - Phoenix
©2009 Taylor Guitars. 300 SERIES, 400 SERIES, 500 SERIES, 600 SERIES, 700 SERIES, 800 SERIES,
900 SERIES, Baby Taylor, Big Baby, Bridge Design, Doyle Dykes Signature Model, Dynamic Body Sensor,
Expression System, GALLERY Series, K4, Liberty Tree, Peghead Design, Pickguard Design, PRESENTATION
Series, Quality Taylor Guitars, Guitars and Cases & Design, T5, T5 (Stylized), Taylor, Taylor (Stylized), Taylor
ES, Taylor Expression System, TAYLOR GUITARS Taylor Guitars K4, Taylor K4, TAYLOR QUALITY GUITARS
and Design, TAYLORWARE, and WOOD&STEEL are registered trademarks of the company. Balanced
Breakout, Dynamic String Sensor, ES Blue, Grand Symphony, GS, GS SERIES, T5 Thinline Fiveway, Taylor
Acoustic Electronics, ES-T, Thinline (T5) Fiveway, T3, T3/B, and T-Lock are trademarks of the company.
Patents pending.
2009 Taylor Factory Tours & Vacation Dates
If you plan to tour the Taylor Guitars factory in 2009, please note that we’ve
revised our tour schedule. A free, guided tour is given every Monday through
Thursday at 1 p.m. (excluding holidays). No advance reservations are necessary. Simply check-in at our reception desk in the lobby of our main building by
1 p.m. We ask that large groups (more than 10) and school-supervised groups
schedule special tours in advance by calling (619) 258-1207 and asking for the
Factory Tour Manager. We kindly request at least two weeks’ notice for all group
While not physically demanding, the tour does include a fair amount of walking. Due to the technical nature, the tour may not be suitable for small children.
The tour lasts approximately one hour and 15 minutes and departs from the main
building at 1980 Gillespie Way in El Cajon, California.
Please take note of the weekday exceptions below. For more information, including directions to the factory, please visit
We look forward to seeing you!
Holiday closures:
Additional closures:
Monday, September 7
(Labor Day)
Please note that tours will not be
given during these weeks:
Friday, October 16
(Taylor anniversary)
August 3-7
Thursday-Friday, November 26-27
(Thanksgiving holiday)
Monday, December 21 through
Friday, January 1
(Christmas, company vacation)
August 31-September 4
On the Web
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Editor’s Note
The Post-NT Golden Years
A new home for our LTDs, contests aplenty, and fresh videos
We’ve been busy developing
a new online home for our limited
edition models, starting with the
new artist signature guitars we
designed with Serj Tankian from
System of a Down and Zach Myers
from Shinedown. Our new LTD section will include a gallery of beauty
shots, specs, a list of stores where
you can find available models, plus
videos. We’ll also be showcasing
our 35th anniversary models there
later this summer, followed by the
Fall Limiteds. Over time we plan to
add an archive of past LTDs, as well.
You’ll find everything at taylorguitars.
Are you an artist or band on the
rise and looking for a break? Taylor
Guitars and Elixir® Strings have
teamed up for Test Drive 2009, a
promotion with in support of emerging artists. Artists enter
the contest by uploading their profile,
and fans vote for their favorites. The
top 50 artists are then reviewed by
a music panel, which will select five
finalists and outfit them with Taylor
SolidBody Classic guitars, a supply
of Elixir Strings, and Elixir Cables.
These finalists will be challenged to
create a short video showing how
they put the gear to work on stage
and in the studio, with videos posted
on for a
second round of voting. The topvoted artist will receive time in a studio to record an EP with their gear
as an official Taylor Guitars and Elixir
Strings band. For more details, visit
We’ve got a pretty cool promotion
going with Dave Matthews that one
lucky fan will love. In cooperation with
Live Nation and Musictoday, we’re
offering the ultimate giveaway: a
chance to meet Dave Matthews and
have him sign your new Taylor 914ce.
Contestants can enter to win
by visiting and
clicking on the Dave Matthews
promo box before July 22. The prize
package includes two tickets to the
Dave Matthews Band concert at
the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
in Irvine, California on September
13, roundtrip airfare, hotel stay, and
a meet-and-greet with Dave. The
winner will also receive a custom
Taylor 914ce, Dave’s main acoustic
model, which he will sign in person.
The band, which is touring this
summer in support of their new
studio album, Big Whiskey and
the GrooGrux King, will also award
two runners-up the complete Dave
Matthews Band Live Trax catalog,
Vol. 1-15.
Taylor has partnered with Country
Music Television’s popular TV show,
“Crossroads,” for an awesome fan
giveaway: a custom Taylor DN5
signed by rocker Bryan Adams
and country music sensation Jason
Aldean. Enter to win at
Our “Videos” feature is freshly
stocked with live performances
recorded from the Taylor stage at
NAMM. You’ll find three new videos
each from Coheed and Cambria
and Alter Bridge, new tunes from
Sixwire and Doyle Dykes, plus a
sizzling jazz jam with guitarist Peter
Sprague on a Taylor nylon-string.
And if you haven’t seen our “Plug
and Play” videos demonstrating our
Loaded Pickguards for the SolidBody
Classic, be sure to check them out.
In guitar circles, much attention is given to the “golden age”
periods of guitar design. Collectors of vintage acoustics hail the preWorld War II era. Electric connoisseurs celebrate the late ’50s and
early ’60s. In a more contemporary vein, many enthusiasts cite the
’90s as the beginning of a modern golden era, which saw the rise
of many talented small-shop luthiers and the integration of precision
tools into the process of making guitars. While each golden period
has a unique identity that draws from the context of its times, they all
tend to share a common theme of design innovation.
It’s tempting to paint the postNT period as a golden era for
the company.
This issue, as we recognize a pair of milestones along Taylor’s
timeline — 10 years of the NT neck and the company’s 35th year in
business ­— it’s tempting (and admittedly self-serving) to paint the
post-NT period as a golden era for the company. But I think everyone
around here and many of you out there would agree that it is. As
you’ll glean from Bob Taylor’s comments in his column and our NT
and 35th anniversary stories, the arrival of the NT neck helped open
the doors to a period of prolific guitar development, and the results
speak for themselves. Acoustic and electric pickups. The Nylon
Series. The T5, GS, SolidBody and T3. The Build to Order custom
These days, we’re in constant development mode, and it’s not
unusual for us to introduce new guitars throughout the course of the
year. This issue alone, we bring you the SolidBody tremolo, a pair
of new nylons, new artist signature models, and a preview of some
first-of-a-kind guitars we have in the works to celebrate our 35th
Ultimately, whether or not you think of this as a golden era for us
isn’t that important. Just know that we’re more focused than ever on
making cool guitars, and that, thanks to the NT neck, they’ll play and
sound great for many years to come.
— Jim Kirlin
Read this and other back issues of Wood&Steel at under “Resources.”
Correction: In last issue’s story on our loaded pickguards, we committed an egregious faux pax and misspelled Stevie Ray Vaughan’s
name. We regret the error.
or a performing artist, a
great guitar is an indispensable
creative partner. A great guitar will
channel inspiration, deliver the goods
in the studio, and elevate one’s game
on stage. Whether inviting songs
or helping to convey them to an
audience, it’s no wonder that artists
develop a personal bond with their
guitars, or that Taylors make preferred
companions for many gigging musos.
With a reputation for great tone, playability, performance-readiness and
durability, there’s a lot for a working
artist — and front-of-house sound
guy, studio engineer and listeners —
to like.
Our reputation was built in the
’80s and ’90s by helping artists who
were in search of better tools, from
Nashville session cats and sidemen
looking for a balanced acoustic tone
that fit the mix, to singer-songwriters
who wanted a reliable acoustic that
was easy to play and stayed in tune.
Solving the problems of musicians
makes us happy, and our guitar
development over the years, from
acoustics to electrics, has pursued
an ongoing theme of enhancing the
musical pursuits of players.
In some cases, we’ve designed instruments to fit the signature playing
needs of artists, like Dan Crary, Leo
Kottke and Doyle Dykes (honorable
mention: Richie Sambora’s doubleneck 6/12-string). In others, we’ve
taken particular production models
that artists have grown to love and
collaborated with them to create custom appointments that reflect their
individual artistic identities.
With the recent increase in
customized building here, through
various LTDs and our Build to Order
program, the timing seemed right
to revive the Taylor Artist Signature
Series and have fun with some of our
artist friends who have been longtime Taylor players. We’re excited to
relaunch the series this summer with
a pair of models from our electric
line, designed for two rock artists,
Serj Tankian and Zach Myers, whose
albums and live performances have
helped them amass devoted followings, respectively, and whose talents
and passion for music deserve a
great guitar.
Meanwhile, we’re busy working
on more guitar collaborations with
other popular Taylor players, including
Taylor Swift, Steven Curtis Chapman,
Dave Matthews, Tommy Shaw and
Jason Mraz. Look for news on those
models in the coming months.
Serj Tankian
One of the most creative and
articulate frontmen in rock, singersongwriter/poet/humanitarian activist
Serj Tankian cultivated a huge world
fanbase with the Los Angelesbased alt-metal band System of a
Down from the late ’90s through
2006. The band’s shared ArmenianAmerican heritage brought exotic
musical influences that filtered into
their hardcore/thrash metal/avantprogressive rock affinities, distilling
their music into a fiercely original
sound. Dynamic shifts between
ethereal melodies and pummeling
speed riffs mixed tension and release
in a powerful way that, together with
Serj’s socially charged lyrics and
soaring vocals, connected viscerally
with listeners. The band’s eclectic,
uncompromising approach pushed
the parameters of rock into new
places. Music critics took note, while
the word-of-mouth buzz from devoted
fans quickly spread around the world,
turning System into a platinum-selling, must-see headline act at festivals
like Ozzfest. System’s five studio
records went on to sell more than 16
million copies, and their prodigious
artistic output peaked with the double studio releases Mesmerize and
later Hypnotize in 2005, distinguishing them as the first rock act in chart
history to debut two No.1 new studio
albums in a calendar year.
The band took an indefinite hiatus
in 2006 to allow members to pursue
other artistic projects, and Serj’s
diverse creative energies have been
widely dispersed. He and guitarist Tom Morello (Rage Against the
Machine, Audioslave) formed the
nonprofit grassroots political organization Axis of Justice to increase
awareness of human rights and
social justice issues; he started his
own record label, Serjical Strike
Records; and he released his first
solo album, Elect the Dead, in 2007.
He also continued to write poetry,
having published his first collection,
Cool Gardens, in 2002.
Serj’s relationship with Taylor
began during his System days, when
he started using our acoustics for
songwriting and performance. His
favorite is his 410.
“The sound of that is so heavy,”
he said backstage last year while
on tour. “Especially for picking and
recording, it’s still the heaviest, and
when I say heavy, I mean the tone of
the strings when you’re picking them
is so loud and big.”
He also has a 710ce-L9, a custom myrtle/Engelmann GA, and a
12-string 654ce. About two years
ago, he sampled a T5 and loved
what it allowed him to do on stage
as a rock frontman.
“It’s light and thin, so you can
just stand in front of the mic and
rock out,” he says. “For a stage environment, in order to play live, the
T5 works great.” When he plays it
live, he says he usually goes direct,
through a DI box.
Having owned both a black and
a red T5 Custom, when it came to
creating the specs for his signature
model, the STSM-T5, Serj chose black
with red binding, unbound f-holes, and
an inlay design for the fretboard and
headstock based on a necklace he
found in Europe years ago.
“It’s a perpetual energy wheel,” he
says. “I liked the design. We made
some designs for System merch
over the years, but I never ended up
using it.”
During a visit to the Taylor factory
in May, Serj talked about his recent
work, including the ability to expand
upon the orchestral ideas of Elect
the Dead.
“I had never made a rock record
as a composer without a band,” he
says. “I wrote everything on either
acoustic guitar or piano, but as I
started experimenting with different
instrumentation and arrangement
ideas, I realized that the whole
orchestral, rather grand vibe of what
I was doing lent itself well to drums
and guitars, and that I could totally
extend everything.”
Serj had an opportunity to extend
things further earlier this year, when
he expanded his arrangements from
Elect the Dead with the help of the
70-piece Auckland Philharmonic in
New Zealand, where he has a home.
“You can’t give up on a chance
to work with an orchestra if they’re
interested,” he says. “We recorded
the show and plan to release a DVD
and a live CD. It came out phenomenal. I was the most excited I’ve ever
been playing any show in my whole
life. When you have 70 people on
stage playing your music, it’s an indescribable feeling as a songwriter, as
a composer.”
As for upcoming projects, Serj
has plenty on his plate. He’s working
on another solo record. He’s been
developing a musical based on the
ancient Greek tragedy Prometheus
Bound with playwright Steven Sater
of Broadway’s Spring Awakening
fame and director Diane Paulus,
who recently earned an award for
her Broadway revival of Hair in New
York. He’s also looking forward to
collaborating on a film project with
his friend, Roger Kupelian, who was
the top digital painter on all three
Lord of the Rings films and who has
an effects company that does digital
designs for a lot of Hollywood films.
“He wrote his own script and has
this amazing vision that’s kind of like
Braveheart meets 300,” he says. “I’m
looking forward to working on that.”
Serj is also working on two
books, including Cool Gardens 2.
Jokingly accused of being a
slacker, he laughs.
“Believe me, this is a mellow year
for me,” he insists. “I’m usually doing
all of this stuff while I’m touring. So
at least I can do things at my own
pace. I get to get out of town and
enjoy the weekend, so it’s much
easier. It’s a year off, basically.”
Above: the STSM-T5 features a red energy wheel inlay in the
fretboard and headstock, with matching red purfling on the body,
fretboard and headstock. It comes with chrome Taylor tuners and
standard T5 electronics; Opposite page: Serj with his T5 at the
Taylor factory in May
Zach Myers
Conventional wisdom says that
a good approach in life is to figure
out what you do well and then do
it. Memphis-based guitarist Zach
Myers picked up the guitar at age
13, discovered he was a natural,
and by age 14 had a record deal
and was touring internationally as a
blues guitarist with his own band.
Drawing deeply from the wellspring
of his hometown’s musical heritage,
at 15 he was jamming on stage
with Buddy Guy at B.B. King’s on
Beale Street. Influenced heavily by
Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan,
Zach’s soulful chops could be both
expressively melodic and scorching,
and his talent opened many doors
as a musician. He formed a local
band called the Fairwell and also
spent time touring with Memphis
hard rock band Saliva, before being
asked to fill in on bass for two weeks
with the platinum-selling rock band
Shinedown. He’s been with them
ever since, mainly as a guitarist,
and his versatile playing has helped
inflate the band’s big, sweeping
sound with searing rhythmic texture
and soaring arena-rock choruses.
Even when playing thick, detuned
riffs from the band’s current hit
record, The Sound of Madness, the
soulful underpinnings of his fretwork
come through.
Zach was already a Taylor
acoustic player (he’s had a 314ce
for years; he now also has a custom GS), so when the SolidBody
debuted his interest was immediately piqued. Even with his
substantial collection of vintage
guitars, he heard something different in the SolidBody pickups, and
his Standard has been getting a lot
of stage time since May of 2008.
When the HG version of the humbuckers came out, he was the perfect guy to take them for a ride.
“The high gain pickups are not a
false advertisement,” he confirmed
during a recent break from a studio
session, where he was recording tracks for a tune slated for an
upcoming Sylvester Stallone film.
“The HGs are very hot.”
Zach says his Stevie Ray influences come through in the way he
works the pickups on the guitar.
“I like to work every position and
the tone knob,” he explains. “I utilize
everything — the split coil, splitting
the pickups from straight up using
the bridge to straight up using the
neck, and I split them a lot — and I’ll
switch in the middle of a solo.”
Having played the high definition
(HD) pickups, as well, he says he’s
interested in experimenting with the
HD for the neck and the HG for the
“For me, I like my clean to be
super-duper clean,” he says.
While Zach’s rhythmic interplay
Left: Zach Myers on
stage with his ZMSM-SB
Above: Shown in white
with a sparkleburst top
and Curse of Thorn fretboard inlays
Right: The blue sparkleburst top model
See more photos and full
specs at
on stage with Shinedown’s other
guitarist, Nick Perri, helped stack the
thick layers of guitar that replicate
the band’s huge sound from their
record, Zach found himself having
to adapt his playing when Perri left
the band at the end of 2008. The
band chose not to replace him, and
Zach’s versatility has allowed him to
perform double duty and cover a lot
of ground.
“I’m playing everything,” he says.
“I pretty much had to relearn how to
play the guitar because I’m playing
the rhythm with the lead accents
and lead with rhythmic accents.
So I really had to go back to the
basics and dive into the guitar again,
because there’s a lot of guitar stuff
on this record.”
Zach’s Signature SolidBody, the
ZMSM-SB, is based on a Standard
with Style 2 HG pickups. He has
two versions: one in white and
another in blue, each with a sparkle-
burst top. A fleur-de-lis headstock
inlay is a nod to his extended family
in Louisiana. His fretboard inlay is
based on a tattoo he has on his left
wrist, a “Curse of Thorn” — the same
tattoo that cinematic serial killer
Michael Myers has on his wrist in
the classic Halloween horror films.
The flick is one of Zach’s favorites
(he keeps a Michael Myers mask on
hand backstage during tours). By
the way, Zach’s first name is actually
Michael. But he swears he did not
kill Nick Perri.
Both the Serj Tankian Signature
T5 and the Zach Myers Signature
SolidBody models are scheduled for
a late July release. Each will include
a certificate of authenticity signed by
the artist. For more information, visit or contact your
local Taylor dealer.
D e -tu n e
The adj ustable tr uss rods of today’s acoustic g u itar s
eli m i nate the need to de-tu ne afte r playi ng. B ut old
hab its d i e har d. Ti me to deb u nk an obsolete techn iqu e.
By Rob Magargal
Production Training Manager
In my many years of playing and
servicing guitars, I’ve heard plenty
of theories about guitar care from
fellow players and repair technicians
around the world. Although I’ve probably forgotten more than I remember,
one particular notion keeps coming
up in conversation. It’s the idea of
slacking, or de-tuning, the strings
on guitars when they are not being
played or when they are being stored
for extended periods of time. Based
on the frequency with which this idea
still comes up, I’d like to shed some
light on the subject.
The guitars of our grandfathers’
era did not have adjustable truss
rods. Some guitars did have a steel
rod running the length of the neck
shaft, which provided much-needed
support to the neck. But there were
no true ways to adjust the neck relief
(forward curvature caused by the
string tension on the neck). All one
could do was hope it would hold up
over the course of the guitar’s life.
For many years, if you looked into
the body of an acoustic guitar you
would see these instructions stamped
inside: “Use light or med-light strings
only.” This was due to the fact that,
without a way to adjust the neck,
the excess tension from medium or
heavy gauge strings would cause the
necks to bow too far forward, resulting in high action (especially at the
upper frets) and poor playability.
string guitars made today have
adjustable truss rods installed into
the shaft of the neck. This allows
players to experiment with various
string tensions and tunings, and to
keep the neck in great playing shape
over the life of the guitar. This was
a huge step forward in the acoustic
are more defined. Overall, this complements the function of a guitar, and
it shows how far the industry has
progressed. Yet for some reason, I
still hear from a surprising number of
players who slack the strings on the
guitars they do not play. Maybe it’s
because collectors still have some of
With the truss rod, there is tension pulling the neck
backward as the string tension pulls the neck forward.
It is imperative that they work in harmony together.
If players did use a heavy set
of strings, they would typically detune the guitar after playing it or
completely slack the strings to keep
the tension off the neck and prevent
premature front-bowing, in the hope
of prolonging the life of the neck
and the guitar. With no other way
of adjusting the neck for different
tensions, it was a good idea for the
Let’s jump forward several
decades. The vast majority of steel-
guitar industry — arguably its biggest advancement. That said, there’s
more to a quality guitar than just
an adjustable truss rod: There are
plenty of guitars with truss rods that
play very poorly.
The guitar has evolved in other
ways over the years, and these days,
most manufacturers make a guitar
that can hold up reasonably well to
varying conditions. The neck angles
are set better, the body geometries
are truer, and the bracing patterns
those old vintage guitars that don’t
have adjustable truss rods.
In the case of Taylors, please
keep them tuned. With the adjustable truss rod, there is tension pulling the neck backward as the string
tension pulls the neck forward,
and it is imperative that they work
in harmony together. If you slack
the strings and only have the truss
rod tension on the neck, the same
damage can occur to the guitar as
the Old World neck that has string
tension without the adjustable
truss rod. Keep your Taylors tuned
even if you plan to store them for
an extended period of time (but be
sure to check them periodically). If
you play in an alternate tuning and
keep your guitar in that tuning when
you’re not playing, it should be fine:
A half or whole step down will not
hurt it because there is still some
real tension on the strings. Even
guitars traveling on airplanes should
not be de-tuned; cabin pressure
won’t pose a threat.
Most manufacturers tune their
guitars to concert pitch before casing them and boxing them for shipment. Here at Taylor, we ship tens
of thousands of guitars each year,
and every one of them leaves with
the strings stretched, tuned to pitch,
and the guitar properly humidified.
This keeps them in great playing
shape when they arrive at their destination.
With a guitar tuned to pitch and
stored in a properly humidified case
or room, it will be primed for playing
for many years to come.
Ask Bob
Maple vs. maple, CV bracing and the reverse
Midas touch
In the photo of Ray Davies in
the last issue of Wood&Steel
[“Soundings”], he seems to
be using ebony bridge pins on
strings 3 through 6, and bone/
ivory pins on 1 and 2. How would
the different pin materials affect
his guitar’s sound? Also, I’ve
been considering changing the
plastic pins on one of my less
expensive guitars (not a Taylor!)
for ebony pins. Would I notice an
improvement? Could I use the
ebony pins Taylor sells (some
online sources suggest they may
be a bit short), or should I go
with something generic if I’m not
using them on my Taylors?
John Cebula
John, what if I said that the bridge
pins won’t make a big difference
in the sound of your guitar? This
detail is way more cosmetic than
acoustic. Now, there are people
who swap those parts and become
more, or perhaps less, happy with
their guitar’s sound. It’s one of
those little details that you really
have to discover for yourself, and,
luckily, it’s not a big investment to
do so. As for our ebony pins being
long enough for your non-Taylor
guitar, they probably are; however,
the holes in your guitar might not
be reamed to the same diameter as
our pins, which could cause a tight
fit. If you have a Taylor already, just
try your pins. I think a little dose
of trial and error is the answer to
both of your questions; feel free to
I am the proud owner of a 2006
214. The guitar sounds beautiful,
full and balanced. It took me
thirteen years of playing to find
this guitar. On a recent trip to
my local Taylor dealer, I picked
up a 414ce. I immediately heard
a sound very similar to my 214.
The tone was just as full and
balanced, but with a little less low
end. I was wondering why Taylor
does not make a GS model,
acoustic or acoustic/electric,
with this beautiful tonewood. Is it
because ovangkol does not suit
what the body is trying to do? I
loved the sound of the 414ce but
was left wondering what a GS4 or
a 416 would sound like.
Shane Heieck
Pembroke, Ontario, Canada
Good question, Shane. Ovangkol is
an incredible-sounding wood. The
reason is both complex and simple.
We have a limited ability to actually
distribute every model that can be
conceived. Dealers simply cannot
stock, nor can consumers hold in
their mind, all the choices, so we
tend to focus on fewer models. Still,
we offer a hundred-plus standard
models. The reality is that you’ve
probably only seen upwards of
20 of our models in stores. So,
adding more variety just dilutes
our mission of getting guitars to
players. Not that this guitar you
suggest wouldn’t be awesome, but
the real world inhibits our ability
to get it to you. So, that’s the real
answer. Fortunately we have our
BTO program, where you can order
about anything you can dream up,
so, in effect, that guitar is actually
available to you.
My 614ce has a three-piece
back. I recently read about the
development of Martin’s D-35
rosewood and Sitka model with
a three-piece back. They felt the
need to lighten the top bracing
due to the increased stiffness of
the three-piece back when compared to the two-piece back of,
say, their D-28. Have you noticed
any difference in tone between
614s with two-piece and threepiece backs? Have you made
any compensation for the alleged
increase in back stiffness?
Mark Kantrowitz
Hillsdale, New Jersey
Mark, we’ve never noticed a difference between the stiffness
of a two- and three-piece back,
especially in maple. But to take the
discussion further, we’re not trying to equalize all guitars anyway.
It’s those super-micro differences
between one guitar and another
that make the game of finding the
one you like more interesting. By
the way, there are far greater differences in stiffness between individual pieces of wood than there
are between a three-piece and
two-piece back. I don’t know about
the accuracy of the development
story you read, but it doesn’t make
sense to me.
Is there a tonal difference
between flamed maple and
quilted maple? Also, what type
of spruce would you recommend
with a maple body?
Travis Morgan
Although flamed maple and quilted
maple are different patterns from
different trees, flamed maple is
usually cut with vertical grain,
while quilted maple is flatsawn.
This is to bring out each of their
most desirable cosmetic features.
Relating to Mark’s question about
back stiffness, you can be sure
that quilted maple is not as stiff as
flamed maple due to the difference
in the grain direction, or cut, and
therefore it makes a difference in
sound. The softer, more flexible quilt
will produce a bit warmer sound,
while the stiffer, quartersawn flame
will produce a bit snappier sound.
The difference is slight, and some
may not perceive it, including me
at times. As for the type of spruce,
take your pick — they all work well. If
you’re talking about a large-bodied
guitar, I’d go with Sitka, and if you’re
thinking of something smaller like a
GC, I’d recommend Engelmann.
Is there any reason why maple
is not widely used for acoustic
guitar necks? One of my favorite necks is the maple one on
Stratocasters (the one with no
bound fretboard, just maple). Are
there other concerns (i.e., tone)?
Michael Cozma
Oakville, Ontario
Michael, there are a couple of reasons. It takes big wood to make
acoustic guitar necks. Strat necks
I was intrigued by the sidebar in the Spring
Wood&Steel, “Modify an Existing Model,” and
wondered if the short scale would work well on the
GS model. I’m coming up on my 50th birthday and
am looking forward to celebrating with my next
Taylor. Would I find such a guitar at one of your
Road Shows?
RJ Maass
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Yes, a short scale would work well on a GS. The
sound would be loose and full because the strings
are shorter and have to be de-tuned a bit to get to
standard pitch. But the GS is responsive enough
to work with a bit of lower tension. Your hands
will love it, which is the main purpose of that scale
length. It’s easy on your hands because of the
smaller fret spacing and the lower tension. I can’t
tell if you’re asking a tone question or a playability
question, but I’ll say that the tone wouldn’t suffer,
and the playability would be easier. It’s anyone’s
guess if one will turn up at a Road Show, as it’s a
very random mix of guitars that get sent out. But at
least you can feel the short scale on any GC, T5, T3
or SolidBody.
are made from 1¼-inch-thick boards
of maple, which can come from
small trees. Acoustic necks require
a 4-inch-thick wood, which requires
big trees. Those days are mostly
gone. Another reason is that for most
guitars, we simply like the weight
and sound of mahogany better. We
now use sapele on some models
as a substitute for mahogany, now
that mahogany is less available. Of
course, we do use maple on all our
maple-bodied guitars, such as the
600 Series and any BTOs in which
maple is requested. That is mostly for
visual/cosmetic reasons.
Just in case you’re talking about
the fretboard and not the neck, we
simply prefer ebony to maple. It’s
harder, doesn’t get dirty, holds frets
better, and overall just does a better
job. I’m not a fan of maple fretboards
on acoustics.
I own a nylon-string NS62ce
and a steel-string Doyle Dykes
Anniversary Edition model. Both
are great guitars, and the Taylor
workmanship is superb. I’m getting on in years and prefer playing
nylon-string guitars. I would like to
see Taylor come out with a thinner
model guitar to play, something
along the lines of the Godin nylonstring guitars or the now defunct
Chet Atkins chambered body
guitar, the CEC Studio model. You
might not even need to start from
scratch — maybe a T5 nylon model
would do the trick.
Al Baggetta
Agawam, Massachusetts
I hear ya, Al, and since you have a
Doyle Dykes model I’ll tell you that
Doyle is pushing for a T5 nylon, too,
so you’re in good company. We’ll get
there someday.
When was it that you finally felt like
you had arrived as a guitar maker?
Joe Garcia
Berkeley, California
Wow, probably never. But there were
a few milestones along the way. The
first big one was year twenty with
the GA guitar. That was my first real,
100-percent Taylor guitar shape, and
eventually its aesthetic was designed
into all our shapes. It’s a good guitar
and has defined our company. At year
25 we introduced the NT neck, and I
have to say that is our biggest, most
important accomplishment. There is
so much to that neck that is incomparably better than traditional guitar
neck designs that it’s hard to condense into a sentence. And recently,
with the R. Taylor brand, where we
lavish attention on just a few guitars
a week, I realized that we can do as
fine a job as any one-off builder alive,
and also have the accuracy of the
high-tech features of a Taylor. Those
guitars blow me away. In the end, I’m
still striving, along with my family of
builders here who feel the same.
I’ve noticed that your Taylor gold
tuning machines appear to oxidize.
I’ve witnessed this not just with
your guitars but with all guitars.
At first when I see something
like that I immediately grab a soft
cloth, thinking it’s a smudge, but
it’s not. Can anything be done to
defeat this ghastly phenomenon?
I asked a local guitar tech this
question about an electric I brought
in to be serviced, and he said
there’s nothing you can do about
it — just change them every few
years. Really?
Steve Cochrane
New Jersey
The guitar tech is sort of right. If tuner
manufacturers would begin putting
thicker coats of higher purity gold
on guitar tuners, then they would
last. But the cost is prohibitive. Gold
plating on guitar parts is thin. The
pH on someone’s fingers also makes
a giant difference. One person will
kill tuners in a day, while another will
do no harm year after year. We had
an employee once with the reverse
Midas touch — he was forbidden
to touch a completed guitar or any
metal parts. We still like him, but
don’t let him get near your strings!
One thing you can do is wax the
tuners with Turtle Wax [Carnauba
Clean Wax]. It has carnauba wax in it,
and it will help protect the finish. And
of course, wipe down after each use.
I am the proud, original owner
of a 2007 DDSM, natural finish.
I’m an intermediate-level player
and typically flatpick, crosspick and
strum, with very little fingerstyle. As
the guitar comes from the Taylor
factory without a pickguard, I’m
concerned about scratching the
finish. What’s your opinion about
adding a pickguard in terms of
aesthetics, value, etc.? I have no
plans to sell the guitar, but I’m still
concerned that adding one might
reduce the value. Kyle S.
Kyle, I don’t think you have to worry
about reducing the value. A clear
pickguard would maintain the original
look of the guitar if you’re interested
in that. You can get one — either
the permanent type or the removable electrostatic kind — by calling
TaylorWare. I think that might be your
best choice. Also, you might inspect
to see if you’re really scratching your
finish, because you may not be. I can
seem to play for years on a guitar and
not make much progress on wearing
through. We make a lot of guitars
without pickguards because we feel
that they’re mostly unnecessary, and
it seems to be working out okay. A
bit of scratching on the finish won’t
really hurt the guitar too much. Give it
some thought.
Just curious if you’ve experimented
with alternative tonewoods for
the nylon-string guitars — maybe
one-offs or custom requests like
cocobolo back and sides with a
koa top, or all koa, or koa back and
sides with cedar top. If so, what
were the sonic results? It seems
like cocobolo/cedar would make a
fine combination.
Craig Held
Cocobolo/cedar would make a great
guitar. I would shy away from a koa
top: It’s just too heavy and hard
for nylon strings. Again, you could
BTO that guitar. Koa with cedar
would be good, too, as you suggest.
Anything with cedar is going to make
a nice nylon because the cedar is
so responsive. I’m going to put in
my plug for Indian rosewood again,
though, because I think it’s the most
underrated wood in lutherie today.
That’s because it’s common. But it’s
hard to beat, and it’s affordable. If
I were to move away from that, I’d
pick the koa over the coco because
I think it would perform better on a
I have a dilemma and need
your help. I own an old school
Dreadnought purchased about
15 years ago from Lauzon music
in Ottawa and have wanted
to purchase one of your LTD
guitars for the past few years.
The problem is you keep making
improvements/modifications to
your guitars: better electronics,
tops, necks, etc., so I keep waiting
for the next evolution. I am worried
that if I buy one today, I will also
want the one you come out
with tomorrow. Now I can have
whatever I want through your
BTO program and have had a
GA with figured mahogany and
Englemann spruce haunting my
dreams. Got any advice? Greg Goodfellow
Prince Edward Island, Canada
I’m thinking we should quit improving
the guitars. Really, though, I’m glad
you brought it up, because most
guitar companies are selling their
past. We’re selling our current
work and our future. We’re going
to keep improving guitars, and your
collection will probably grow. You’ve
just gotta go with the flow. But here’s
what I’d suggest. Order your guitar
with CV bracing, and that will get
you to the forefront of our acoustic
development. Any improvements that
we might make on the electronics
will always be upgradeable. I think
you’ll be safe, and by the time there’s
something that you like better, this
guitar will have age on it, which
always makes a guitar sound better
than new. I just picked up a new Taylor
GA8, an incredible piece of
work. The humidity in my place
is in the 30-40 percent range
(I live in Toronto). I currently
have a Planet Waves humidifier
that hangs between the middle
strings in the soundhole and has
a little sponge. Currently I fill it
up and leave it in until it is dry
every two weeks (based on the
Taylor instructions). Is this good
protocol? Is this humidification
device satisfactory?
Jimmy Yang
Jimmy, you’re doing the right thing.
If it takes two weeks to dry out, then
your guitar needs very little humidity,
and you’re giving it the right amount.
Just remember to never wet it while
it’s still wet. You could also let it
go a week or two longer with a dry
sponge. If, after letting it go a month,
you re-wet it and find that it goes dry
in less than two weeks, that’s a sign
that it’s thirstier, and you could go
back to your original schedule. Are
you keeping it in its case? Please
do that.
I am currently serving in The
United States Army (173rd
Airborne) in Vicenza, Italy. Recently
we returned from Afghanistan,
where I had a Baby Taylor.
Unfortunately, with the dry weather
the neck would shift and not stay
tight to the body, and when it
rained the body would feel like it
was going to explode in my hands.
What small-sized guitar would you
recommend for a climate such as
Afghanistan or Iraq? I enjoy playing
after a patrol and find that it eases
my stress. I just can’t afford a new
Baby Taylor every three or four
months while there.
Michael Volpe, SSG U.S.A.
Michael, you might consider a guitar
made mostly of synthetic materials
(high pressure laminates). It might
work better in your extremes than an
all-wood guitar. Another thought is
that you could humidify your Baby
and keep it in its gig bag when the
weather is dry. That way, the change
from wet to dry would be very little,
and your Baby would basically be
either normal or a bit wet and would
probably hold up just fine.
Got a
question for
Bob Taylor?
Shoot him an e-mail:
By the way,
if you have a
specific repair or
service concern,
please call our
Customer Service
department at
(800) 943-6782,
and we’ll take
care of you.
Woodshedding doesn’t have to be a drag. How to put more fun, purpose and progress into your practice time.
By Shawn Persinger
Originally I had intended to follow up last issue’s article on picking
a guitar camp with a piece on how
to make the most of your practice
time. But the more I considered it,
the more I thought about addressing
not just how but why we practice.
The obvious answer is to improve
our playing and to have fun, but I
find that most guitarists don’t consider practice to be fun at all. Fun is
playing the guitar; practice is work.
But does it really have to be? The
following are some ideas to help
you discover ways to practice more
efficiently, effectively and joyfully, and
to offer some insights into why you
might be intrigued by certain musical
concepts in the first place.
What Do You Like?
Figuring out exactly what you like
about music, particularly your favorite
songs, can be a lifelong pursuit. The
answers aren’t always so obvious, or
if they are, they’re vague: If you like
the beat, which beat is that: 4/4, 3/4,
7/8? If you like the melody, which
notes make up the melody, and from
what scale? For our purposes here,
I’ll keep this simple and offer two
examples of a search for a deeper
understanding of music that yields
a wellspring of inspirational practice
Perhaps you find yourself drawn
to melancholy music. Not depressing
music with lyrics of doom and gloom,
or soundtracks blatantly contrived to
pull at your heartstrings, but music
filled with longing and want — not
obvious minor key material but certainly not happy, predicable, major
chords. Recently I had a student who
kept bringing in songs from the singer-songwriter genre that he wanted
to learn. All of the tunes seemed to
lean in that melancholy direction,
and as it turned out, something quite
curious linked them all. To test my
theory of what he liked, I offered him
composer Erik Satie’s “Gymnopédie
No. 1,” even though it’s more of a
classical piece and performed on the
piano. Oh yes, he liked this! What
was the common characteristic? The
Major 7th IV chord moving to the
Major 7th I chord (Ex. 1). A progression shared, or at least emulated,
by such melancholic classics as
Simon and Garfunkel’s “Old Friends,”
“Jumper” by Third Eye Blind, “Here’s
Where the Story Ends” by The
Sundays, and many others.
Once we found a theoretical
source of his enjoyment, we were
able to use this idea to develop his
understanding of chord theory and
the importance of chord voicings.
Putting the Major 7 scale tone on top
(Ex. 2a) gives a much more wistful
sound than the typical jazzy voicing
(Ex. 2b). It’s important to realize this
when trying to develop your chord
vocabulary. Don’t dismiss the sound
of any specific chord until you’ve
tried voicing it a few different ways.
This is especially true of chords that
have more than three different notes.
My second example might help
you find a jump-off point to unexplored territory, and involves Yngwie
Malmsteen, Jewish traditional music
and bluegrass! I had a student
who enjoyed Yngwie’s playing, not
because it was fast, but because
he liked that “classical, European
sound.” “Do you mean this?” (Ex. 3)
I asked? “Yes!” he replied. The harmonic minor scale is a neo-classical
metal mainstay, but it was around
much earlier than the 1980s. Luckily,
my student also had an open mind,
and it wasn’t such a leap for him to
move from Yngwie to the Hebrew folk
song “Hava Nagila” (Ex. 4). Jewish
music is filled with minor key songs
with an emphasis on harmonic minor.
After that little trip to the Middle East,
we tried the Old Time/Irish/bluegrass
standard (all those genres stake a
claim to this tune) “Paddy on the
Turnpike,” (Ex. 5) which uses a combination of the harmonic and natural
minor scales. It was the tonal color of
the scale (the harmonic minor scale
is the same as the natural minor
scale with a raised, major 7th) that
intrigued the student and not just the
context of shred guitar.
Playing Faster
So, you want to get faster on the
guitar? Why? To impress other guitar
players, to win the fastest guitarist
race, or to serve the music? The
way I see it (and hear it), only one of
those answers is valid. I’m the first to
acknowledge that speed has a legitimate and valued purpose in music.
While we’ve heard the old cliché that
there are players who can say more
with just a few notes than most can
say with a hundred, I think those guitarists are only using half their potential to say anything. Why not be able
to make both statements, fast and
slow — and everywhere in between?
Otherwise, aren’t you just saying the
same thing over and over again, fast
or slow?
What is the purpose of speed in
music? I’ll offer a couple of different
answers. First, to add a sense of climax to a solo. Example 6 illustrates
a quick 16th note lick that can taste-
fully finish off any blues or
rock solo. Even at a slow
tempo, it adds excitement.
This short burst might be
all that you need. Second,
because a song happens
to be at a fast tempo. This
seems obvious, right? But
just because a song’s overall
tempo is fast doesn’t necessarily mean the melodies or
solos have to be fast. Examples
7a & b show the melody for
the traditional folk tune “Old Joe
Clark” in two different forms and
both at the same tempo, but 7b
uses twice as many notes. So,
serve the song: If you can’t
play up to tempo, then try
to figure out a way to play
half as many notes yet still
convey the melody. This
might take a little work on your part,
but the reward is worth it because,
while it’s good to play fast, sometimes it’s nice just to keep up.
Why Practice Scales?
Do you know your basic scales —
majors/minors and pentatonics
(Ex. 8) — in a couple of different
keys and a few different positions?
If so, then stop practicing them!
Certainly they provide the foundation
for your solos, melodies and even
Why We Practice Examples
your chords, but knowing the basics
is enough when it comes to scales.
Do you know what you get when you
keep practicing your scales? You get
better at playing scales! And we all
know how fun they are to listen to: I
can go up, I can go down, I can go
up, I can go down. If you wanted to
add new words or phrases to your
vocabulary, you wouldn’t continually
say the alphabet over and over again,
would you? Start putting your scales
to work. Example 9 uses all seven
notes from the G Major scale. More
melodies, fewer scales!
Set a Definite Goal
What are you practicing for?
Having an unambiguous goal can
push your practicing to new heights.
Until now I’ve encouraged you to
make your practice fun for yourself.
In many ways that is enough, but
why not share your labor of love with
others? Let’s face it: Many guitar
players have a split personality. We
can be introverted to a fault (you
have to be to a certain extent to
practice by yourself for several hours
a day), but our guitar ability makes
us want to be extroverts as well, so
we can show off a little, or at the
very least communicate on a different level, where words alone are
This doesn’t mean you have to try
to become a rock star or a professional, touring musician. It doesn’t
even mean you have to release a
CD (there are enough of us out
there already). The versatility of the
guitar lends itself to making public
music in an endless number of situations; here are just a few avenues
to pursue: 1. Consider playing an
open mic night. I guarantee there is
one near where you live. 2. Aim for
playing at a friend’s birthday party.
Perhaps you’ll simply play “Happy
Birthday” or learn the guest of
honor’s favorite tune, or better yet,
why not write a special song personalized for the occasion? 3. Perform
in your child’s school classroom. But
trust me, the younger the kid the
better. Do not attempt this at a high
school! 4. Make a three-song CD/
EP for your parents as a Christmas
gift. I did this last year for my dad
with a personalized, one-of-a-kind
CD sleeve. He said it was the best
present he’d received in years. 5.
Volunteer to play at a local home for
seniors. Remember, many of them
came of age during the apex of the
swing craze and/or at the birth of
rock and roll. You’d better be able to
hold your own!
There are many other performance vehicles available to you in
addition to these. Need I mention
the Internet? Find the one that works
best for your skill level and personality.
At its best, making music embodies the highest qualities of art, intellect, physical skill, personal expression and even the scientific method.
Whether you know it or not, whenever you pick up your instrument, in
performance or in practice, you have
in your hands the ability to engage all
of these noble characteristics of the
human spirit. What are you waiting
Shawn Persinger, a.k.a. Prester
John, is a self-proclaimed “Modern/
Primitive” guitarist who owns Taylor
410s and 310s.
As usual, Bob,
Kurt and their
crew break
new ground to
celebrate a Taylor
Parlor, baritone
and 9-string
guitars are
but a few of
the goodies
on the way as
the company
approaches 35.
By Jim Kirlin
For a company that spends most of its time looking forward, the idea of
anniversaries at Taylor somehow seems a little, well, backward. So it’s only
fitting that Bob, Kurt and the Taylor design team would choose to commemorate
special anniversaries (every five years) by dreaming up guitars that embody
the company’s latest thinking and reveal a glimpse of the road ahead. Over
the years that philosophy has crystallized into a Taylor tradition that aptly
honors the spirit of innovation hardwired into the culture of the company.
“A lot of companies seem to be
trying to recapture the past,” Bob
says. “I think we’re unique in that
we are really moving forward in what
we do.”
Consider the impact of previous
anniversary offerings. The 20th anniversary LTDs marked the debut of
the Grand Auditorium, which would
come to define an original Taylor look
and sound. The 25th introduced the
NT® neck (see that story on page
18). The 30th showcased a shortscale, deeper-dimensioned Grand
Concert that ignited a prolific period
guitars because we weren’t sword
fighting our way through the day
anymore to make a straight neck.
And then along came the Expression System, then the T5, then the
With a rock solid foundation
of straight necks and other ultraconsistent manufacturing methods
securely in place, the company’s
innovative pursuits only seemed
to accelerate, eventually spawning
creative initiatives like the R. Taylor
boutique brand and the Build to
Order program. Each new develop-
the worst economic downturn in the
history of our company and maybe
the last 75-80 years of the country,”
he says. “But we’re nimble. We
have a lot of engineering, product
design and manufacturing ability.
There are a lot of exciting things we
can do. I actually like times like this,
where you’re sort of forced into doing something different, and then
you embrace that. To me, it’s kind of
like Zen, where you just think, well,
what’s this year about, and how can
we change it up?”
concept is to craft a series of about
ten unique batches of as few as 35
limited edition guitars, some acoustic
and some electric, to be unveiled
in August and September. Some of
the “35s” will feature exotic and rare
woods, such as feathered koa (see
back cover), grafted walnut, and
flitch-sawn Brazilian rosewood, while
others will be a smattering of what
Bob playfully calls the “You Asked
for It” guitars: Taylor firsts that deliver
on customer requests from over
the years. Among them are a parlor
guitar, a baritone guitar and even a
to get something from conception
to production efficiently, and we’re
ready to really engage ourselves in
guitar design this year and make
some cool models to celebrate our
anniversary. Once we’re done, the
tooling will be there, so maybe it will
transition into our being able to offer
some other version of these through
the BTO program.
“This may be a year that defines all kinds of things,” he adds.
“Maybe it’ll mean more of a variety of
custom-built guitars. And next year
and the year after might be different
9-string. One series is slated to have
a Laskin-style armrest. Another may
include a redesigned Dreadnought.
Exotic top T3s and SolidBody models are also in the mix. All models will
feature a commemorative “35” inlaid
between the 11th and 12th frets.
As an added touch that celebrates the enduring heritage of a
first generation company, the 35s
will culminate with a final series that
will personally involve the remaining craftsmen from Taylor’s earliest
days from the Lemon Grove shop.
That includes Bob and Kurt, guitar
designers Larry Breedlove and Tim
Luranc, finish department manager
Steve Baldwin, purchasing manager
Bob Zink, and product quality manager Terry Myers.
“It should be fun,” Bob Taylor
says. “This whole 35th project is
a cool thing. Right now we have
the tooling capacity, we know how
options on guitars or different guitar
models. We’re open to the market.”
We’d love to show you more
of the guitars, but as of our print
deadline, most of them don’t exist.
In some cases, final specs were still
being decided upon, early prototypes were starting to be built, and
our design and tooling team was
busy writing programs and designing custom tools to gear up. But
we’ll pick up where this sneak preview leaves off at,
where we’ll bring you updates on our
progress throughout the summer.
Look for photos that track the development and production of these
models. The 35s are scheduled for
release starting in late summer.
Left: Taylor developer
David Hosler with a
cocobolo top T3/B, one of
the first 35th anniversary
models made
Right: Ed Granero, Taylor’s
project manager for new
development, with a neck
for a 9-string prototype
Opposite page: Longtime
Taylor guitar designer Larry
Breedlove with the body of
a parlor guitar prototype
Previous page: Bob Taylor
and Kurt Listug against a
backdrop of computer mills
at the Taylor factory
of tonal refinements, including bracing tweaks and other shape-shifting
acoustic experimentation, the fruits
of which included the bold-toned
GS and a pure acoustic line.
As Bob reflects on those developments, he pauses to note the special significance of the NT neck, not
just as an innovative design but as a
watershed in the company’s history.
“Back when we were first doing
the NT necks, I remember talking
with Eric Bacher here, who was in
charge of final inspections on guitars,” Bob says. “He was just like,
‘Another good one… another good
one… another good one,’ because
the necks were all so great. Here’s a
guy who had worked here ten years
at the time, and the difference was
obvious to him. I told him my wish
for the next 20 years was to become
a full-line company, where we could
actually focus on making really cool
ment in turn brought a fresh wave of
discoveries. “Discovery” is definitely
the operative word, Bob says, because many innovations around here
don’t necessarily begin as targeted
“Life sort of tells you what the
next frontier is,” he says. That’s sort
of how Kurt and I run this place. And
along the way we discover things.
I mean, when we invented NT, I
couldn’t have said the ES pickups
would be the next frontier. And when
we did that, I wouldn’t have said
that hybrid electrics were the next
frontier. So if people ask me what
the next frontier is for us, I’d say I’m
open to it. I’ve been open to those
frontiers all along.”
Part of that openness, Bob
stresses, involves using the company’s manufacturing sophistication
to respond to market conditions.
“Here we are in our 35th year, in
The 35s
As Bob and his product development group met to kick around ideas
for possible 35th anniversary models, if a theme emerged, it was variety. Between Taylor’s ongoing evolution as a successful full-line acoustic
and electric guitar company and its
ability to fulfill more and more custom guitar orders, really, the sky was
the limit. It reminded Bob of another
instrument maker in its heyday.
“I think of a company like Gibson,
where they’ve had times when they
were the best across the whole
spectrum,” Bob says. “They made
acoustics, electrics, bluegrass instruments and all that kind of stuff,
and a brand can mean all that.”
In the end, the development
group decided to use the company’s
35 years as an anchor for delivering its most eclectic collection of
limited edition guitars ever. The
Bob Taylor on the Art of Prototyping
A big part of Taylor’s guitar-making prowess stems from our
ability to move through the design and prototyping process
efficiently. Bob Taylor’s feeling is that a guitar needs two things:
a good design and a strong ability to produce that design. In
designing a new model, we apply our sophisticated aesthetic
principles and extensive guitar-making knowledge to establish
a strong foundation, then use 3D software programs like
SolidWorks to refine our ideas. Getting to the point where we
can produce the design is more involved, as it demands a major
commitment of resources on the tooling end to bring the design
into the manufacturing realm, where it can be executed with
precision craftsmanship.
In the case of a new model like a parlor guitar, we’ve
opted against making one in the past because of the tooling
commitment required to make a model that probably won’t
occupy more than a micro-niche in the market. But this year,
Bob says, the timing is right. Our tooling crew has already
fabricated custom sidebenders for our parlor body shape, and the
prototyping process should be fairly straightforward.
“We know what we want to do,” Bob explains. “The neck will
be easy. We’re going to pick a shape, and we’ll probably be pretty
committed to it, but we might do some handbuilt modeling to get
there. The key is to get the structure, the architecture, the basic
form and mass of it down on the first prototype. We can look at a
guitar and know if we’re at the line of whether it’ll be too weak or
too stiff. We can usually get where we want to be in three or four
prototypes, and we’ve got a lot of bracing options to work with.”
A big part of the prototyping process, Bob says, actually
involves refining the little aesthetic details that give the guitar a
cohesive identity.
“I had an uncle who was a rancher and raised horses,
Appaloosas,” Bob reflects. “He also was an incredible wood
carver who carved horses. But he didn’t like the horses from a lot
of other wood carvers. He used to say, ‘I just hate these carvings
where the horse has the rump of an Appaloosa, the front of an
Arabian, and the head of a quarterhorse. Horses don’t come that
way.’ You and me, we’d look at them and think they’d look OK, but
he’d go, ‘What horse is that?’
“Sometimes when we build a guitar prototype, if it hasn’t been
fully thought through, we might look at it and go, ‘What guitar is
that?’ So, a lot of our prototyping process is about trying to get
all the parts to where we look at everything together and think,
that’s a complete guitar. Most people don’t notice that that’s
been done; they just notice that it’s good. But it doesn’t get there
without prototyping.
“I think a lot of times people think the prototyping process is
where we make one that sounds bad, then make another one that
sounds bad, and then we make another one and ­— ahh — that’s it.
We can get the sound part pretty easily. The rest of it just has to
come together so this whole thing has some gestalt that’s right.
Cool guitars happen when it all comes together, where the wood
that you chose, the cosmetics, the binding, the shape of the
bridge and neck, all of these things converge and you think, OK,
now this thing is packaged as a really cool guitar.”
Ten years ago, the NT neck joint broke
with tradition to solve an age-old design
flaw. A few hundred thousand guitars later,
the industry’s most stable, adjustable guitar
neck remains the gold standard for playability.
By Jim Kirlin
ob Magargal
chuckles as he describes the
cartoonish looks of disbelief he’s
encountered out on the road. Over
the last couple of years, the affable
Taylor repair guru has manned the
repair bench at numerous re-string
events held at the stores of Taylor
dealers, where he would inspect the
pride and joy of many a Taylor owner.
Occasionally he would notice that
a guitar’s neck could use a slight
adjustment, so he’d begin an on-thespot neck reset. In about a minute,
he’d have the neck off.
“Owners would be watching me
remove the strings, and the next thing
they knew I’d pass them their neck
and say, ‘Would you mind holding
this?’” Rob says. “Their eyes would
get really big and their jaws would
drop as they realized I was handing
them half their guitar.”
The astonished reactions speak
to both the design prowess and
the air of mystery that surrounds
the revolutionary Taylor NT® (“New
Technology”) neck joint. While the
design radically improved the stability
and intonation of a guitar neck, it’s
a virtually invisible feature, since all
the NT magic happens literally below
the surface and is fully concealed
once the guitar neck is bolted to the
body. Besides, most guitar owners
don’t spend much time pondering
the mechanics of neck joints, so long
as the guitar plays well. Considering
Taylor’s tried-and-true playability,
you’re forgiven if you take our necks
for granted.
A decade after the NT neck’s
breakthrough debut, with many
thousands of guitars out in the
world bearing witness, it seems a
fitting occasion to revisit its enduring
benefits to players. While the design
may not be not as sexy as the elegant
contours of a body shape, a set of
hypnotically figured wood, or an array
of beautifully detailed appointments,
the NT neck is just as responsible
for people’s ongoing love affairs with
their Taylors, whether they realize it or
not. As Bob Taylor is fond of saying,
Taylor has a Ph.D. in neck design,
and he considers the NT one of
Taylor’s finest innovations. Given the
company’s track record for breaking
new ground, that’s saying something.
“Making a straight neck that’s
good every single time and is
serviceable was kind of a life quest,”
Bob says. “We basically spent 25
years building a foundation, and we
finally got there with the NT.”
Ten years on, the NT remains the
best neck/body attachment in the
acoustic guitar industry. The patented
design has been lauded by other
builders and repair technicians as
one of the most important innovations
in the modern era of guitar building,
and for good reason: It allows total
control over action and intonation.
It enables our original factory setup
to be dead-on every single time, and
if the neck ever needs adjustment,
it can be done easily, quickly and
affordably. It also helps a Taylor resist
the effects of humidity change in the
world. The design even manages to
preserve the aesthetic elegance of
the acoustic guitar, working stealthily
to maintain a balance of geometric
harmony between the neck and body
in order to give players an open lane
to a great playing experience.
If nothing else, think of the NT
neck as an insurance policy that
guarantees longterm playability for
your guitar. We all value performance
reliability and serviceability when we
shop for a car; why should it be any
different with a guitar? Especially
since you’ll probably own your guitar
Tension and Humidity
Above: A guitar body’s CNC-routed pocket, which will accommodate the NT neck. A pair of precision-milled
spacers will be inserted to set the correct neck angle, and then the NT neck will be bolted in place. The
Expression System’s neck pickup (positioned between the pocket and the soundhole) will be covered by the
fretboard extension; Opposite page: An NT neck with angle-adjusting spacers
Before the NT neck, the same
basic dovetail-style neck had been
the industry design standard for
acoustic steel-string guitars for
more than a century. For a while,
steel-string acoustics didn’t even
have adjustable truss rods (see Rob
Magargal’s piece, “Don’t Detune,”
on page 9), but even after they were
introduced, the traditional dovetail
design retained fundamental flaws,
namely the inability to easily maintain
the proper neck angle to the body
for intonation and playability. While
a major nemesis of a guitar is
humidity change, most guitars will
also experience a natural change in
their top geometry over time due to
the forces of tension on the wood
components — especially on a guitar
that sounds good.
“If a guitar has great tone, the
chances are close to 100 percent
that it’ll need a neck reset at some
point,” says Pat DiBurro, a New
Hampshire-based luthier and
repair technician who has restored
acoustic guitars to health for 20
years. “It’s because the quality
of the tone is the result of the
builder constructing an instrument
with light, responsive tonewoods and
bracing. Over time, string tension
will pull the guitar out of alignment,
essentially changing the original
shape. A neck reset is required
to restore the geometry between
the neck and the current body
shape. Guitars that are less likely
to require a neck reset are often
overbuilt with excessive structure,
which dampens the tone projection.”
Add to that the effects of relative
humidity fluctuation — especially low
humidity that dries guitars out — and
a guitar is acutely vulnerable to
movement, especially for traveling
musicians whose guitars may be
exposed to wild humidity swings.
Not only can fluctuating humidity
throw a guitar’s performance out
of whack and make for a sour
playing experience, it can lead to
Mahogany Conservation
As Bob Taylor was developing the NT neck, he faced another
significant challenge: the depletion of mahogany resources in the
world. Back when mahogany was abundantly available, guitar
makers could go to a lumber mill and select from a seemingly
endless supply of mahogany to suit their needs. But that supply had
rapidly tapered off — in fact, that supply really no longer exists at
all. The only long-term solution as Bob saw it would be to develop
sustainable ways to go “primitive” and work with indigenous groups
in regions of Central and South America, where mahogany trees
grow. But such communities don’t have the sophisticated resources
or experience required to cut and mill the wood to a guitar maker’s
specifications, which have to take into account the changing grain
orientation within different parts of a tree.
Knowing that he needed to maximize the amount of useable
guitar wood from every tree that was cut, Bob rethought his
cutting specifications. Instead of having the wood cut to traditional,
rectangular 3x4-inch neck blank dimensions, Bob specified 4x4s.
This would ensure the proper grain orientation no matter which
part of the tree was being cut. In other words, the square
dimensions meant that the wood couldn’t possibly be cut wrong:
If the grain orientation was wrong on one side, it could be flipped
to another side since the dimensions were square. The modified
cutting specs have allowed Taylor to get appreciably more wood
from a tree than ever before. For example, a four-foot diameter
tree with 25 feet of trunk will yield about 3,000 necks; cut in the
traditional 3x4 size, the yield would be about half of that because
nearly half the wood would have the wrong grain orientation.
Although it took several years to lay the groundwork with the
first community, located in Copen, Honduras, the results have
been great all around.
“Now we work in partnership with a coordinating organization
that helps communities like Copen and makes contracts with them
and their government,” Bob says.
The community has legal dominion over a small amount of
acreage of tropical rainforest, and their government allows them
to take out about five or six trees every year in compliance with
harvesting regulations. They select those mahogany trees and cut
them into lumber for Taylor.
“It’s really sustainable because they cut so few trees per year
and don’t impact the forest that much,” Bob says. “And they’re
able to cut so few because they get more money per tree from
us than if a logging company came in and cleared it all out. So, a
little goes a long way for them economically. The business they do
with Taylor is about 40 percent of their income for the year. Going
directly to the source ends up being a more sustainable type of
routing. That’s one of the ways we’re able to procure wood when
it’s getting harder to get.”
considerable guitar damage. Dry
conditions can cause a guitar top
to shrink by as much as much as an
eighth of an inch across its width,
causing it to sink (or eventually
crack). Wet conditions have the
opposite effect — the top will swell
and rise, pushing the bridge upward
relative to the fretboard surface.
While monitoring and controlling
the relative humidity that one’s guitar
is exposed to is still the best way to
care for it, Bob Taylor and his design
team also confronted the issue at a
deeper, more fundamental level —
one that would increase stability and
From Bolt-on to NT
When it came to neck design,
Bob didn’t waste much time breaking
with tradition. Back in the mid-’70s,
just a few guitars into his career,
he adopted a bolt-on approach to
attaching the neck heel to the body.
He managed to weather an ensuing
storm of derision (guitar heresy!) from
skeptical traditionalists who believed
the dovetail joint was superior and that
the bolt-on neck was a cheap cornercutting tactic that would compromise
the integrity of the guitar. But the
bolt-on approach not only proved to
be legitimate; it also made it easier to
service the guitar if the neck needed
to be removed and reset.
Still, both the bolt-on necks
and the traditional dovetail design
continued to share a structural
vulnerability: The cantilevered
fretboard extension continued
forward unsupported. In both cases,
when the neck was attached to the
body, the fretboard extension would
be glued to the guitar top to secure
it. This creates a potential hinging
effect at the edge of the body as the
top of the guitar swells or shrinks
and carries the fretboard with it.
The result is a hump at the 14th
fret, compromising playability and
intonation, not to mention causing
potential damage to the guitar.
The NT design increased the
The neck pocket is routed in a computer-controlled mill
stability of the neck in that fretboard
extension area by supporting the
fretboard nearly the entire way and
by changing the way in which the
neck met the body. The NT neck
joint’s “paddle” — a half-inch-thick
extension of the neck beyond
the heel — continues to support
the underside of the fretboard
from the 14th to the 19th fret. To
accommodate the joint, Bob and
his team took advantage of the
precision capability of computer
mills. Pockets are routed into the
body to receive the heel, neck joint
and fingerboard, so in effect, the
neck is actually inlaid into the body.
The beauty is that the fretboard isn’t
a traditional neck joint. Resetting it is
considerably more complicated and
labor-intensive than the NT neck, as
Bob Taylor explains.
“With a traditional guitar neck,
you have to take some sort of
steaming device, chisels, etc. to
loosen the glue and maybe pull the
dovetail joint out to get the neck off,”
Bob says. “Then you would reset
the angle by removing wood with
a chisel, make some filler pieces,
and put it back on. But when you
change the angle, it also moves
the neck forward or backward. So,
when you’re done with that, you also
have to fill the saddle slot and try
to put the saddle in a new location.
The NT neck is responsible for
people’s ongoing love affairs with
their Taylors, whether they realize
it or not.
actually affixed to the guitar’s top,
so it won’t be adversely affected
by swelling or contraction caused
by humidity change. A pair of lasercut spacers, tapered in varying
increments of two-thousandths of
an inch, are placed into the pockets
in the body, allowing for microadjustment of the neck angle to an
accuracy of one-thousandth of an
inch. Our ability to set every single
Taylor NT neck with that degree of
accuracy means that everything is
optimized for incredible intonation
and playability. The way the neck
joint meets the body — a solid
connection of wood surfaces without
glue — also helps transfer the tone
between the body and the neck and
increase the guitar’s sustain.
The reality for many people who
buy a guitar is that right out of the
gate, the intonation and playability
are often compromised. A guitar
may have high action past the fifth
fret or may not stay in tune up the
neck. It may have certain “dead”
spots where fretted notes don’t ring
out, or it may have to be retuned
frequently. These kinds of issues
may seem to be a minor trade-off for
a good deal, but a price is paid in
other respects — it can be hard on
one’s hands and ears and quickly
amount to a real inspiration-killer.
And an imprecisely set neck will only
get worse over time, especially with
With the NT, the neck angle can be
changed in minutes, there’s no glue
to deal with, and the adjustment
never changes the intonation
because the neck never moves
forward or backward.”
Pat DiBurro has repaired both
traditional and NT necks and knows
firsthand the skill level required for a
traditional reset.
“It requires years of practice to
master,” he says. “The intricacies of
neck angle, joint tightness, and sideto-side string spacing require several
hours of labor and, frequently,
touchup work on the finish, as well.”
Because resetting a dovetail
neck involves the removal of the
wood from the neck, DiBurro says,
an important consideration is that
if too much wood is removed,
it can’t be easily replaced. As a
result, the neck angle or sideto-side string alignment may be
compromised. With the NT neck,
there’s never any wood removed
from the neck; an angle adjustment
simply involves switching out the
“The purpose of a neck reset
is to return the guitar to proper
action with the correct amount of
saddle protruding above the bridge,”
DiBurro says. “Imagine the guitar as
a ’70s muscle car engine with the
body as the piston and cylinders
pushing and pulling air. On top of
the engine is the carburetor, which
distributes the energy, gas, in an
exact amount for the engine to run
at peak power. The saddle height
is the carburetor of the guitar.
Vibrating strings are the energy
which the saddle distributes to the
body. Saddle height that’s too high
or low decreases efficiency. Bob
Taylor determined what height the
saddle should be on his guitars
for optimum energy transfer. It’s
common for any guitar to have a
change in string height, and the
typical procedure would be to raise
or lower the saddle. The NT neck
design allows for quick removal of
the neck to change the string height
without altering the saddle.”
Mark Tate, a luthier, authorized
Taylor repair technician and owner
of the Luthier Shoppe, a Taylor
dealer in Springfield, Illinois, echoes
the benefits of the NT design.
“The NT neck solves the previous
100 years of the worst problems
that you could ever encounter on a
guitar,” Tate says. “If that had been
the only thing Bob ever did for the
guitar, it would’ve been enough.
Compared to pulling a traditional
neck off for a reset and shaving the
sides down, trying to make it fit, [the
NT] is just so simple.
“With the CNC [computer-numeric-controlled milling], the joint is
tight,” he elaborates. “In terms of the
transmission of vibration and tone,
it doesn’t get any better. With other
necks, people sometimes use gaskets and glue in there, and by putting an insulator in, you’re no longer
wood-to-wood, which is what you
really want. What amazes me is that
many [guitar makers] have spent so
much time on really elaborate inlays
and purflings around bodies, and
yet one of the most important parts
of the whole guitar, where the neck
and body join, is the least understood or the least looked at.”
The bottom line benefit for players, Tate says, is that with the NT
they get structural stability, playability and peace of mind.
“If someone comes in with an issue, it’s great to be able to tell them,
‘We can fix this. Your dream guitar is
not done. We can bring it back and
make it better than new,’” he says.
And if you happen to be there
while he’s doing it, don’t forget to
make a funny face when he passes
you your guitar neck.
Why a three-piece neck?
At the same time the NT neck design was introduced, Taylor
also integrated another design modification: a three-piece neck,
which replaced the single-piece neck previously used. Although
sometimes associated with the NT design due to the coupling of
their introduction, the three-piece approach was actually a separate
development. The three components (headstock, neck shaft and
heel) are cut from the same neck blank to ensure matching color and
grain, after which the headstock piece is glued to the neck shaft at
the appropriate angle, using a scarf joint. Making a neck without a
heel yet attached to the back offers major manufacturing advantages,
including more accurate computer-controlled milling.
“It allows us to work on a neck like never before, like an electric
guitar maker would,” Bob Taylor explains. “It gives you a long,
uninterrupted run of flat wood to be able to mill. This way we can use
sophisticated machinery to make the fretboard surface and the back
of the neck super straight. Then we add the heel.”
The jointed headstock also strengthens the traditionally vulnerable
area where the angled headstock meets the neck shaft. It’s common
knowledge in the guitar-building world that a jointed headstock is
substantially stronger than a continuous piece of wood (classical
guitar makers have been using scarf joints for many years, and our
own in-house stress-testing confirms the boost in strength). The scarf
joint currently used on our three-piece necks has evolved from our
original finger joint and provides a more aesthetically pleasing look to
the neck.
A classic whammy bar design gets the
Taylor treatment, bringing a new and
improved version to the SolidBody.
Pitch benders, take note: The
Taylor SolidBody is now officially
armed and dangerous. As of late
summer, all SolidBody models will
be available with an optional tremolo
bridge that harvests all the classic
appeal of rock and roll’s expressive
pitch-warping wand and adds a fresh
splash of Taylor engineering.
The Taylor tremolo system is a
knife-edge, fulcrum bridge design
that honors the heritage of other
companies, from Fender to Floyd
Rose to Wilkinson. Of course,
in classic Taylor fashion, we
brought some of our own ideas
and refinements to the table and
added what we feel are nuanced
improvements to the traditional design.
The basic idea with a knife-edge
fulcrum tremolo is that the bridge
rests on a blade-style pivot point with
counter tension provided by springs
beneath the bridge that return the unit
to pitch. Ours is a two-point system,
and one of our design tweaks was to
lower the fulcrum points (in relation
to the strings and the springs), which
normally stick up fairly high, and to
integrate the fulcrum design with our
sleek, high-performance SolidBody
“We worked to optimize the
fulcrum point, spring tension, and
the feel of a fulcrum-style bridge,”
says Taylor developer David Hosler.
“We took advantage of what we had
already used on the SolidBody bridge
with the break angle and the string
length and incorporated it into the
tremolo design. But the fulcrum point
was really the main thing.
The goal, Hosler says, was to get
the trem to re-center better.
“With traditional tremolos, it’s very
close to the strings, which is OK,” he
says, “but we like the feel of lowering
the fulcrum point so you have a more
balanced, natural feel. It also tends to
bring the trem back to a more natural
resting position.”
The lower fulcrum point also
addresses some of the little issues
that players have grappled with for
years, like balance problems and
string slippage. Among the tremolo
system’s cool features are the ability
to set it up to be floating — allowing
the pitch to be manipulated both
sharp and flat — or to have it bottom
out, which means if it’s fully up to
pitch it can only go flat, not sharp.
Tremolo vs. Vibrato
Although the term “tremolo” is
frequently used with whammy
bars, the more accurate term
for pitch-bending is vibrato.
Back in 1954, Leo Fender
dubbed his vibrato bar
design for the Stratocaster
a “synchronized tremolo,”
offering it as a synonym for
vibrato, and the misnomer
would famously go on to
take root in the lexicon of the
electric guitar world.
An adjustable set screw also lets a
player fine-tune the degree of floating
or bottoming out. And all SolidBody
guitars equipped with the trem will
feature locking tuning machines, which
greatly reduce the possibility of string
slippage and help keep the guitar in
“We’re not claiming to have
reinvented the wheel here, Hosler
says, “but at the end of the day, our
tremolo blends a familiar feel with a
new functionality we think is unique.
These are small improvements that for
us make a huge difference. Players
familiar with a really well set-up trem
will totally get it, and for those who’ve
struggled with vintage-style trems, this
will be a breath of fresh air because it
does what they’ve always wanted their
vibratos to do.”
Two new rosewood laminate nylons —
including our first non-cutaway — make
the classical sound an affordable option
You don’t have to be a classical
player to love the Taylor Nylon Series.
Designed with today’s steel-string
players in mind, our NS models offer
all the distinctive flavors of the nylon
sound, yet with the familiar feel of a
Taylor steel-string. With a cutaway,
electronics and an ultra-playable
1 7/8-inch neck, they’ll give you a
comfortable, performance-ready
alternative to a traditional wide-neck
classical guitar. And with lighter
string tension than steel-string
guitars, they also make a great choice
for beginners and others looking to
ease up on their fingers.
This summer, our nylons broaden
their appeal with a pair of beautiful
rosewood laminate models that
bring the price within the reach of
more players. What’s more, we’ve
designed one of them as our first
non-cutaway nylon, giving players
who prefer the more traditional body
aesthetic an elegant option.
The NS24ce and non-cutaway
NS24e both feature our Grand
Auditorium body shape, a satin-finish
Indian rosewood laminate back and
sides with a solid Sitka spruce top, a
slotted headstock with a rosewood
overlay, classical chrome tuners with
cream buttons, and our ES-T® undersaddle pickup.
If you’ve ever thought of adding
some nylon flavors to your acoustic
arsenal, these two beauties are sure
to please your palate — and your
Both models are scheduled to
start shipping in late July. Visit your
local Taylor dealer to sample one.
Pin-ups, Pickups and
a Purpose As the Minnesota-based rock band
Catchpenny geared up for their third
Armed Forces Entertainment (AFE)
tour in the Middle East, lead singer
and guitar player Christian Schauf
(T5-C2, SolidBody Classic, SolidBody
Standard, GS5e) reached out to our
artist relations honcho Bob Borbonus
with a unique request: to send him
the body of a plain white SolidBody.
We did, and a few weeks later, we
were messaged through Twitter with
a picture of the SolidBody, newly
adorned with a painting of a flagwaving blonde bombshell, in a style
reminiscent of the pin-up girls of the
Schauf had connected with
Minneapolis-based visual artist
Valerie Carpender to help him
achieve his vision for a custom guitar
“I wanted to do some sort of
patriotic theme, but also wanted to
keep it classic and simple,” Schauf
says. “After studying the old World
War II warplanes, I just fell in love
with the idea.”
It was Carpender’s first time
using a guitar as a canvas, which she
later displayed as the “Pin-Up with a
Purpose” at an art exhibition.
“I wanted to make Christian’s
guitar special to him and the troops,”
she explains. “The hand-painted
technique I used makes this guitar
one of its kind, which was an
important element. This project was
redeeming to everyone involved.”
Catchpenny is no stranger to
the AFE circuit, Schauf explained in
an e-mail from Kuwait as the band
awaited a transfer back to the U.S.
“Armed Forces Entertainment
approached us a few years back at
South by Southwest about doing a
tour. We figured if we’re playing for
troops, we may as well go where it’s
really needed and play in the real war
zones. After our first tour, they asked
us to come back as much as we
could, and this year, we’ll do nearly
150 shows in Iraq. The cool thing
is, we’re traveling by Blackhawk and
focusing on small bases that have
never had any form of entertainment.
We’ve had some scary moments,
but the appreciation from the troops
makes it all worth it.”
They’ve also had a lot of fun, as he
points out.
“These soldiers are pretty
hardened at times, but we get them
stage-diving and playing cowbell, and
even let them jam along with us or
on their own. In our minds, it’s their
show, and we do whatever it takes to
make sure they enjoy themselves, at
least for a few hours.”
The band’s dedication was
acknowledged by the military this
past March, when AFE honored the
band with its “Entertainer of the Year”
award at SXSW. first album and is currently working
on her second. She and her band
also performed on the Taylor stage at
Winter NAMM earlier this year. Here’s Johnny
For a 23-year old aspiring country
music star, what could top being
compared to the likes of Vince Gill,
Garth Brooks and James Taylor, all
rolled into one? How about being
named the “Best New Act in Country
Music” at the 2009 Colgate Country
Showdown, the nation’s longest
running country music talent search.
Rounding the Bases
Another Taylor artist, Cincinnatibased country songstress Jonalee
White (814ce, T5C, SolidBody
Classic) and her band also recently
returned from an AFE tour of U.S.
military bases in Italy, Turkey, Egypt,
Germany, the Netherlands and the
UK. The trip marked White’s first AFE
tour and her first time out of the U.S.,
and she was enthusiastic before she
even set foot on the plane.
“Many of us in the band had ties
to troops either currently serving
or who had served, so their
encouragement was our initial
motivation,” White says. “Once
we arrived in Sicily, we were
overwhelmed by gratitude. The
soldiers and sailors we met were
sacrificing so much, yet were so
appreciative of us, as though we had
made the sacrifice. We talked for
hours with them. The performances
came second. We knew from that first
day of the tour our role was not only
to entertain, but to listen and offer
support and friendship.”
White and her band, who
headlined the tour, have attracted
a growing fan base while sharing
the stage with such artists as Clay
Walker, Taylor Swift and Dierks
Bentley all over the U.S. Her debut
album, Wake Me, produced three hit
singles: “Sunday Paper,” “I Break,”
and “Wake Me,” all of which broke
into the Top 40 country charts. White
wrote nine of the 13 songs on her
Artist Valerie Carpender’s
patriotic pin-up girl
Singer-songwriter Johnny
Bulford (410ce, 810ce) started
playing guitar as a teenager in
central Florida “to meet girls” and
before he knew it was on his way
to winning just about every major
Florida music competition. Soon he
was opening for some of country’s
biggest names. With two albums
already to his credit, Bulford just
released his third, Livin It Up,
which features tracks that he either
wrote or co-wrote. Among his
collaborators were the Grammynominated tunesmith Charlie Craig
(Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Dolly
Parton) and Robert Arthur (Brad
Paisley, Mark Chesnutt). When he
spoke with us, he was gearing up
for a headlining summer tour through
most of Florida, as well as a string of
dates as an opener for other country
acts. Despite his accomplishments
so far, Bulford remains humble.
“I feel like this whole thing
snuck up on me,” he says. “It’s as if
I started the [Colgate] competition,
and the next thing I knew I had a
big check and a new Taylor guitar.
On top of that, we’re doing so many
shows now! I just can’t wait to see
where things go from here.” Singer-songwriter and guitarist
John Bohlinger, the bandleader
for the USA Network TV show
“Nashville Star,” checked in recently
to let us know about his latest Taylor
exploits. Bohlinger appears on a pair
of episodes for the new PBS series
“Legends & Lyrics” (legendsandlyrics.
com), an “in-the-round” style music
performance program that features
famous recording artists of all genres
who write many of their own hit
songs, along with professional songwriters who pen tunes for stars.
Bohlinger played an NS64ce with
Motown legend Lamont Dozier one
night and with singer-songwriter/
guitarist Justin Hayward (The Moody
Blues) on another episode. He also
lent his GS (“a killer guitar and my
workhorse”) to Mark Farner of Grand
Funk Railroad for his appearance on
the show.
The first season of “Legends &
Lyrics” began airing in April 2009
on PBS, and the second season’s
performances are scheduled to air
this fall. Check your local listings for
air dates.
Eventually the late nights of the
club scene took their toll, and Reed
returned to India to embrace a quasinomadic lifestyle, staying with Tibetan
monks in the Himalayas and studying
throat singing. Even there, he found
an unlikely exchange of musical ideas
between a monk friend and instructor,
who had a fascination with Western
“I would be trying to focus on
learning how to resonate the low tone
of the Tibetan throat singing, while at
the same time teaching [him] lyrics to
Queen songs!” Reed says.
While there, he met many Israeli
artists and musicians, prompting him
to relocate his recording studio from
his Portland home to Jerusalem — a
city, he says, that is full of stories
of tragedy, hope and inspiration.
He worked with Palestinian, Israeli,
Swedish, and U.S. musicians on the
record, Coming Up for Air, which was
due for a summer release. He’s also
been performing solo acoustic shows
in Europe, with more scheduled
in the U.S. this summer. Reed has
owned several Taylors over the years,
including a 414ce and 714ce, and
lately has been performing with an
814ce, which he loves.
“I have never heard so many
comments on the sound of a guitar
before this tour with the 814,” he
says. “Incredible!”
Border Crossing
Singer-songwriter Dan Reed’s
artistic pursuits have always found
ways to dissolve borders, leading
him all over the world during his
25-plus-year music career. Reed
got his break back in the late ’80s
with his genre-meshing, Portlandbased funk-rock outfit the Dan Reed
Network, which scored them a choice
gig as the support act for the Rolling
Stones in the early ’90s. After a trip
to India to interview the Dali Lama
for Spin magazine and the eventual
dissolution of his band in the wake
of the Northwest’s grunge explosion,
Reed focused his creative energies in
other ways, starting an independent
record label, acting in theater, TV and
film, and writing screenplays. In the
late ’90s he opened a music nightclub
in Portland, turning it into a place that
fused performances from cutting edge
bands with DJ-driven electronic music.
He also formed a live performance
electronic group.
Actress Isabelle Fuhrman, 12,
who stars in this summer’s horror
thriller Orphan, recently bought a
K22ce and played it at a school
concert. Fuhrman plays Esther, a
young orphan whose sweet demeanor
wins over a couple, prompting them
to adopt her. Then bad things start
happening… Newest “American Idol”
winner, 23-year-old Kris Allen from
Conway, Arkansas, played his 614ce
on several of the show’s episodes.
“I’ve been playing, singing, writing
music since I was 13, and I don’t ever
sing without my guitar,” Allen said…
Knoxville, Tennessee rockers 10
Years ( recently
played a few dates with Shinedown.
Founding member, drummer/guitarist/
songwriter Brian Vodinh usually gets
out from behind the drum kit during
the show to play a couple of acoustic
tunes on his 614ce. He says all the
band’s songs have their origin with
him writing on his acoustic.
Legends & Lyrics
Clockwise from top left: Jonalee White rocks out; Catchpenny’s
Christian Schauf (white shirt) with the troops in Iraq; actress Isabelle
Fuhrman and her Orphan film character Esther; Fuhrman performing
with her new K22ce; rising country star Johnny Bulford; singer-songwriter
Dan Reed (photo by Sofia Lundberg); Brian Vodinh from 10 Years
(photo by Harry Reese)
Mixed Media
creature with which we’d like more
than a few hours of playtime.” The
GW crew wasn’t shy about naming
it “One of 2009’s Hottest Products.”
“Whether you’re a pro, weekend warrior or a casual player,” they wrote,
“there’s plenty here to give you chills
and thrills.”
Je T’aime, 812ce
Perfect as Can Be
Guitar Player
June 2009
The T3/B continues its streak of
strong accolades among gear reviewers. Guitar Player associate editor
Barry Cleveland lavished praise on
the T3/B every step of the way, from
the guitar’s “deeply quilted maple top
816ce Earns Readers’
Choice Award
Guitar Player
May 2009
Once a year, the Guitar Player
reader community heeds the call
to vote for their favorite products,
artists and the best — or worst —
Guitar Player articles and covers in
the Readers’ Choice Awards. With
Guitarist & Bass (France)
April 2009
The U.S. media aren’t the only
ones who adore Taylor guitars. In
the 20th anniversary edition of the
French music publication Guitarist &
Bass, France, writer Olivier Rouquier
opines about his 812ce, calling it an
“exceptional” guitar in the two-page
votes tallied and readers’ comments
read, the players voted the Taylor
816ce (GS) the Best Acoustic or
Acoustic-Electric Guitar. Be sure to
check out the full lineup of categories in the publication’s May 2009
Taylor Tweets
T for 3
Guitarist UK
May 2009
Like any proper English host,
chief gear guru Dave Burrluck invites
readers to an afternoon of quality “T,”
as in T3 and T3/B, in the May issue
of Guitarist magazine. The six-page
feature spread offers a detailed tour
of the guitar’s ins and outs, from its
design and construction to its performance versatility. Burrluck has plenty
of good things to say along the way.
“Both T3s deliver exactly what
you’d expect from a large semi,” he
writes. “Yet the T3 has its own character…. The tone control is a revelation, especially in its down position
where, in mid-travel, it rounds the
highs subtly but almost changes
the character to an older Gretsch,
Rickenbacker or even Tele-like style.
In the upper position you can easily
evoke older-style jazz sounds and, to
be honest, whenever we came back
to the guitar and/or changed amps
and tones we heard new things.
“Above all,” Burrluck concludes,
“it’s another bold move for a brand
that has its eye on the electric market
and is a guitar we’d suggest you
audition as soon as you can.”
Hot Chills
Guitar World
June 2009
Editorial staffers at Guitar World
are a little wild for the T3 and T3/B,
confessing that “terms like ‘elegant’
and ‘sexy’ make us think of Megan
Fox. Add in ‘semihollow’ and our
thoughts immediately turn to Taylor’s
new T3 model, yet another gorgeous
“The 812ce, here in its sunburst
version, is a real jewel. It’s a model
that reclaims a certain softness of
playing for maximum expression.”
Rouquier notes the pure, acoustic
Taylor tone that so many players
have come to love, citing the “perfect
relationship between the bass and
While Rouquier flatters the slim
neck with its “nice, easy action,” the
robust electronics that “work like
a charm,” and its craftsmanship of
the “highest quality,” he closes his
glowing review with a present. “The
return of quality/price doesn’t get
more excellent than this, for a guitar
fabricated entirely in California with
materials of grand quality. The perfect
guitar gift for a 20th anniversary.”
and the gorgeous honey hues” to its
“chameleon-like pickups and switching system.” Cleveland delved deep
into the pickup switching, calling the
T3/B’s humbuckers “full and rich,
with lots of clarity and definition.”
The bridge pickup, he elaborates,
“had just enough brightness and
edge to cut cleanly without harshness, the neck pickup provided tight,
woody mids and robust lows, and
when combined they produced a
well-balanced sound that would be
equally at home in rock, R&B, and
jazz settings.”
On the guitar’s coil-splitting
capability, Cleveland notes,
“Switching to split-coil mode
changed the guitar’s character completely, dishing up a wonderful range
of delectable tones, not surprisingly
more reminiscent of a semi-hollow
Rickenbacker than a solidbody
Fender. With the Tone control fully
clockwise, the bridge pickup produced gloriously sparkling sounds
with just a touch of compression,
the neck pickup yielded Gretsch-like
clang, and together they produced a
very satisfying combination of those
two tones.”
Completely satisfied with its performance, Cleveland ends by calling
the T3/B “about as perfect as a
guitar can be.” The review scored
the T3/B Guitar Player’s coveted
Editors’ Pick Award.
If you’ve been living under a rock
or just busy rocking out on your
Taylor, then you may not know what
Twitter is. The micro-blogging and
social networking site is one of the
latest Web-based communication
vehicles through which one can
follow the text updates — issued
in 140 characters or less — of just
about anyone, including Taylor
Guitars. If you need a steady fix of
Taylor news, be sure to become a
Taylor follower and check out our
posts, which are often several per
day and feature the latest reviews
and other Taylor sightings out in the
world. Head to
Taylor Notes
Legendary Piedmont Blues Guitarist John Cephas Dies at 78
John Cephas, from the 1997 Taylor Guitars catalog
We’re saddened to note the
passing on March 4 of blues guitarist John Cephas, a longtime member of the extended Taylor family.
Cephas was a preeminent exponent
of Piedmont-style blues guitar, characterized by an alternating thumband-finger picking style in which the
thumb plays the bass line while the
fingers pluck the melody. The country
blues form would go on to be hugely
influential in the development of
American music, informing the playing styles of such artists as Merle
Travis and Chet Atkins.
More than just a great player,
Cephas was a blues preservationist
who traveled the world as a cultural
historian and musical ambassador.
As a performer, guitar instructor and
educator, he shed much light on the
African-American context of the blues
form and the connection between
the West African fingerpicking techniques brought to America by slaves
and the Piedmont style that developed from them.
The Piedmont region, in south-
western Virginia, had seen a concentration of slaves for nearly 200 years
as a result of the slave ships that
would arrive on Virginia’s Eastern
Shore. The slaves preserved their
cultural heritage through music
played on a harp-like kora, plucking
complex melodies on the 21 strings
with an alternating thumb-andfingers style, which evolved into the
Piedmont style of blues as players
adapted to western instruments.
Born in Washington D.C.,
Cephas spent much of his youth with
relatives in Bowling Green, Virginia,
where he would hear his grandfather’s stories of slave-era ancestors
and listen to music at family gatherings.
“Folks didn’t have money or automobiles or the means to travel, so
they’d have house parties right in the
homes, in the community,” Cephas
said in a Wood&Steel profile from
the summer of 1997. “As a little kid, I
saw these folks come together after
a hard week’s work. They’d have
plenty of good food, corn liquor, and
home brew, and they’d pitch these
big parties that would last Friday
to Saturday. They’d bring whatever
instruments they had — guitars, fiddles, banjos, washboards, tub basses, and such — and play this wonderful music, and dance and sing.”
At age 9, Cephas learned the
Piedmont and the Delta blues picking techniques from a cousin, David
Taleofero, who showed him the differences between the two.
“In the Delta style, you spell out
the melody on a single string, while
the other strings are strummed to
keep up,” he explained. “In Piedmont,
it’s all melted together; the alternating-thumb-and-fingerpicking makes it
sound like two or three guitars going
at one time. Then, with that going
on, there are little seventh and sixth
notes added to the major progression. Now, in order to get that full,
rich sound, you’ve got to be able to
depress more than one string at a
time. By mashing two strings with
one finger, or four strings with two
fingers, you leave other fingers free
to add other notes to the progression.”
Cephas talked about the impact
of Blind Boy Fuller in propagating
the Piedmont style.
“He probably was the bestknown Piedmont-style player, and he
inspired many others in the Piedmont
area to play that way — Reverend
Gary Davis, Blind Blake, Pete
Anderson, Tampa Red. And they, in
turn, influenced other players, including me.”
Cephas was best known for his
work with harmonica player Phil
Wiggins, whom he met in 1977 at
the Smithsonian Folklife Festival
in Washington, D.C. They teamed
up as a duo in 1984, and in 1987
they were honored as the “Blues
Entertainers of the Year” at the W.C.
Handy Awards, where they also won
“Best Traditional Blues Album of the
Year” for their debut record, Dog
Days of August. Two years later,
Cephas was presented with the
National Heritage Fellowship Award
by the National Endowment for the
Their musical partnership
included residencies at universities
and international tours sponsored by
the State Department, Smithsonian
Institution, National Council for the
Traditional Arts, and other organizations, which took them to Africa,
South America, Russia, China, Italy,
Australia, and New Zealand.
Cephas was a longtime Taylor
player who loved his many Taylor
models, including several each in
the 700, 800 and 900 Series, along
with a Brazilian rosewood 710, 510,
LKSM and PS-10. Over the years,
he and Wiggins performed on the
Taylor stage at numerous trade
shows, where they always captivated
listeners. Cephas appeared on the
cover of our 1997 catalog (posing
with his 915ce), and in 2000, he collaborated with us on the design of a
signature model (JCSM), based on
our 914 but featuring pared-down
appointments. The fretboard inlay
was the outline of a bluesman walking along a road with his guitar.
Always a pleasure to listen to as
a player and a storyteller, Cephas
was reminiscent of a West African
griot, a vital musical historian who
would use traditional song forms to
capture a community’s important life
stories to preserve its heritage for
future generations.
“In my long career, I’ve had an
opportunity to study a lot of history,”
he reflected in his Wood&Steel
profile. “I’ve looked into the lives of
the people who were the foundation
of the blues, and music in the black
community in general. Remember,
when I was young, I got to meet so
many of the old blues guys, who
related their true-life stories to me.
And through reading and talking to
educators, and through the Library of
Congress, I’ve gained some knowledge about this art form.”
Thanks to Cephas, many others
around the world now have a deeper
appreciation for that art form, too.
12-Month, No-interest
Financing Extended
through July 31 Due to popular demand, we’re
extending our program with GE
Money and our dealers to offer 12
months of no-interest financing with
the purchase of qualifying new Taylor
models. Now you can take advantage of this killer deal through July
31, 2009. The program covers:
All 300 Series/Acoustic 3 Series and higher
All Taylor electrics, including the SolidBody, T5 and T3
All limited edition models,
including our new Spring LTDs
All Build to Order models
All you need to do is visit your
local authorized Taylor dealer and ask
if they’re participating.
Modify a Model
Last issue’s cover story on our
Build to Order program included a
sidebar item (“Modify an Existing
Model”) about the options available
to customers who want to order a
standard Taylor production model
but with minor alterations. Since
then, we’ve received inquiries from
owners about switching out the
appointments on a guitar they already
own. A few folks even asked about
swapping out inlays or binding. Just
to clarify, the modify-a-model options
we offer apply to a guitar that hasn’t
been ordered yet.
Teching through Europe
From May 7-21, six of Taylor’s top
guitar technicians from our factory
headquarters traveled to Europe
for a two-week barnstorming trip to
authorized Taylor retailers. Split into
three two-man teams plus a sales
representative from Fender, our
European distributor, our techs visited
and serviced 32 stores throughout
the UK, Germany, Holland, Belgium,
Brussels and Germany.
The trip was the latest of our
ongoing efforts to expand Taylor’s
service presence in Europe with the
goal of offering customers abroad
the same Taylor brand experience
that they enjoy in the U.S. Part of that
experience means ensuring that the
quality of our guitars is maintained at
the retail level; another part involves
growing our service infrastructure in
Europe to support the needs of Taylor
owners after they purchase guitars.
As our guitar techs visited stores,
they spent time checking and “tuning
up” each store’s existing inventory,
talking about guitar humidification,
running through informal product
demonstrations, and showing store
staffers the advantages of a Taylor in
terms of easy serviceability.
Taylor currently has three fully
functioning factory service centers
set up in Europe, and a fourth one will
be set up in Paris in September.
“These aren’t just repair shops;
they’re full-blown service centers,”
says David Hosler, Taylor’s VP of
quality assurance, customer service
and repair, who was part of the
service contingent on the trip. “The
service centers can do everything
we can do here at the factory. We
want to reinforce to the stores and
customers that we’ll continue to take
care of them.”
In addition to our service visits,
this past spring we also launched
our popular Road Show events in
Europe, led by UK-based Taylor
product specialist Dan Boreham.
More events are planned for this
summer (see our calendar listings for
more details). You can see photos of
recent European Taylor Road shows
on Taylor Europe’s Facebook page.
Facebook members can also watch
several videos that Hosler posted
during his trip on the site’s Taylor fan
Left: Rob Magargal with
sales person Katharina
Geistmann at Guitar-Place
in Aschaffenburg, Germany
Below: Outside MusikProduktiv in Ibbenbüren,
Germany. L-R: Taylor’s Rob
Magargal, guitar department
manager Dennis Schock,
and Fender district sales
manager Martin Heybeck
For the latest event listings, including
Road Shows, Doyle Dykes workshops,
festivals and other Taylor events, visit the
Taylor online calendar at taylorguitars.
We’ll be resuming our U.S. Road
Shows in September. Be sure to
check for
the latest dates. If we haven’t scheduled a Road Show for your area, you
can “demand” a Road Show for your
town and encourage your friends and
fellow Taylor owners to do the same
Kees Dee
Tuesday, September 22
Leusderweg 40-42
3817 KB Amersfoort, Netherlands
Tel: 033 465 53 55
Venue: De IJsbreker
Bavoortseweg 25
3833 BM Leusden
Showtime: 20:00
Sticks ´n Strings Musical
Wednesday, September 23
Jodenstraat 11
5911 HJ Venlo, Netherlands
Tel: 077 352 30 49
Venue: Café Central
Market 22
5911 HD Venlo
Showtime: 20:00
Tonika Music
Thursday, September 24
Regattaweg 5
9731 AJ Groningen, Netherlands
+31 50 312 04 37
Muziekhandel Jacky Claes
Friday, September 25
Hasseltweg 54
3600 Genk, Belgium
+32 8 935 77 36
Showtime: 20:00
Piens MusicPlanet
Saturday, September 26
Guido Gezellelaan 40
9800 Deinze, Belgium
+32 9 381 82 00
Showtime: 20:00
Hawaiian Slack Key Festival
“Oahu Style”
Honolulu, Hawaii
August 16, 2009
Toronto, Canada
August 23-24, 2009
Walnut Valley Festival
Winfield, Kansas
September 16-20, 2009
Music China
Shanghai, China
October 17-20, 2009
Musical Instruments Fair Japan
Yokohama, Japan
November 5-8, 2009
Doyle Dykes Workshops
Ellisville, Missouri
Fazio’s Frets & Friends
Monday, July 13, 7 p.m.
(636) 227-3573
Champaign, Illinois
C.V. Lloyde Music Center
Tuesday, July 14, 7 p.m.
(217) 352-7031
Brookfield, Wisconsin
Cream City Music
Wednesday, July 15, 7:30 p.m.
(262) 860-1800
Cedar Falls, Iowa
Bob’s Guitars
Thursday, July 16, 7 p.m.
(319) 277-8863
Alexandria, Minnesota
Carlson Music Center
Friday, July 17, 7:30 p.m.
(320) 763-4011
Westminster, Maryland
Coffey Music
Tuesday, July 28, 7 p.m.
(410) 876-1045
Summer ’09
Summer strumming always feels
better with cold lemonade and
some fresh-picked TaylorWare.
Outline Guitar T.
Colorfully overlapping lines render the shape of our SolidBody Classic.
100% ringspun cotton with double stitching on the neck and hem.
A small Quality Guitars logo appears on the back below the collar.
(Short Sleeve; Smoke #1448, M-XL $20.00; XXL $22.00)
Taylor Pub Glasses
Hoist your favorite beverage for a toast with a touch of Taylor style. Four different designs, in black and gold, put a unique stamp on each 20-oz
glass in this set of four. (#70011; $25.00)
The children’s Let’s Play T celebrates the little groovers and shakers of
the world with a Taylor-strumming boy on baby blue and a girl on pink.
100% cotton jersey knit with ribbed neck, double stitching on the hem
and sleeves. Available in Infant and Toddler sizes.
(Infant Pink #1404, Infant Blue #1406; Sizes: 6, 12, 18 months;
Toddler Pink #1407, Toddler Blue #1408; Sizes: 2T, 3T, 4T; $15.00)
Tess, daughter of our director of brand marketing, Jonathan Forstot,
loves her tunes. Her favorite song is “Love Story,” by Taylor Swift.
She also likes “You Are My Sunshine” and “C is for Cookie.”
Our men’s Soundhole T hones in on the source of great Taylor tone
and shows off our distinctive bridge and pickguard shapes, plus an 800
Series inlay. Traditional fit, with heavyweight, preshrunk 100% cotton
and double stitching on the neck and hem. (Short Sleeve; Sand #1445,
M-XL $20.00; XXL $22.00)
Suede Taylor Guitar Straps
(Black Suede #62001, Honey Suede #62000, Chocolate
Suede #62003, $35.00)
Order online: | Order by phone: 800.494.9600
The Black Flex Fit Cap features a red Quality Guitars logo on
comfortable six-panel brushed twill with a matching red guitar
embroidered on the back. One size fits all. (#00370, $20.00)
Our Navy Garment Washed
Flex Fit Cap features the Taylor
logo in silver. One size fits all.
(#00380, $24.00)
Our Weathered Peghead T has a lived-in look and feel that you’ll
love. Distressed treatment of the iconic Taylor peghead and lettering
applies a vintage touch to the soft, pigment dyed, ringspun cotton.
100% preshrunk, generously cut for comfort, with double needle
stitching for extra durability. (Mocha #1440, M-XL $20; XXL, $22.00)
Our Vintage Electric T rocks out with a winged SolidBody
design in gray on lightly marbled black. 100% cotton, mineral
washed and distressed for a soft, worn-in feel. (Vintage Black
#1453, M-XL $25.00; XXL $27.00)
New Colors
Antique Logo T-shirt
Pre-washed, super-soft 100% cotton, featuring our distressed logo and cut as
a Slim Fit. Sizes S-XXL. (Short Sleeve; Green/Tan #1438, White/Blue #1436,
Navy/Gold #1437, S-XL $20.00; XXL $22.00)
Our Taylor Bar Stool fully supports you and your music. The classic
design features a comfy, padded swivel seat in a black matte, vinyl finish
with a gray Taylor logo. A foot ring adds to your playing comfort. 30”
high. Easy assembly. You’ll be ready for a house concert, even if it’s just
an audience of one. (#70200, $99.00. Additional $5.00 shipping
charge for each bar stool ordered.)
Our SolidBody Trucker Cap
sports the Taylor SolidBody logo
patch on orange, featuring side
and back panels of tan trucker
mesh to keep your head well
vented, with Taylor Guitars ’74
screen printed on the left side.
An adjustable polysnap closure
ensures a comfortable fit.
(#00160, $20.00)
Our Taylor Surf Club T, inspired by Southern California beach culture,
crosses two different types of ’boards that each make for major fun in the
sun. Distressed graphic treatment on soft-washed, pigment-dyed fabric.
Preshrunk 100% ringspun cotton with a generous fit. Ribbed collar with
double needle stitching on the neckline, sleeves and bottom hem. Includes
the Taylor logo on the sleeve. (Brick #1446, Denim #1447, M-XL, $20.00;
XXL, $22.00)
Eric from our sales team is a sun-loving guy who takes full advantage
of the outdoor pleasures that come with living in San Diego.
Order online: | Order by phone: 800.494.9600
Taylor Logo T
Sizes: S-XXXL. (Short Sleeve; White #1435, Blue Dusk #1434;
S-XL $15.00, XXL-XXXL $17.00)
The Ladies Script T features a fun graphical flourish over a Taylor
guitar, with the company name inscribed across the design. Slim fit
with a tapered waist. 100% combed, ringspun cotton.
(Pale Blue/Gray; #4470, S-XL $20.00)
Our K4 Preamp and Equalizer lets you control the tone of your
Taylor acoustic/electric guitar whenever you’re recording or plugged
into a PA system. Designed for the specific frequencies of the acoustic
guitar, the K4 EQ uses pure analog tone shaping for isolating and
adjusting individual notes and tones. It features transformer-coupled
input and output, and can even run on two C batteries, in case you
forget your power supply. (#80845, $498.00)
Taylor Loaded Pickguards let you swap
out the pickup/pickguard unit for your
SolidBody Classic in minutes, without the need
for soldering. Choose from seven different pickup configurations,
including HD and HG mini and full-size humbuckers, single coils, or a
mix of both. Available in four different pickguard colors. Each loaded
pickguard gives you a unique pickup personality, allowing you to dialin your preferred tone with incredible ease. For a complete list of
ordering options, go to
Special introductory price: $195* (reg. $248)
*Single HG Humbucker: $148 (reg. $198)
Our Universal A/B/Both Box lets you run your Taylor T5,®
Taylor acoustic, or any brand of electric guitar, acoustic guitar,
or bass to two separate outputs. It’s perfect for running a T5 into
an electric amp and an acoustic amp. And, the A or B indicator
stays lit when BOTH is activated, which means you’ll always know
where your signal is. Want to connect a tuner between you and
the PA and maintain your Expression System’s® balanced signal?
Plug into the Balanced Breakout , connect your tuner, and you’ll
stay balanced into the rig. Thanks to its high-quality transformer,
your signal always stays pure. (Universal A/B/Both Box, #80820,
$89.00; ES Balanced Breakout,™ #80821, $89.00)
Visit our website for more information
about the TaylorWare Gift Card.
Guitar Parts. Choose from an assortment of replacement parts like
chrome or gold tuners, nuts and saddles, guitar cables, pickguards
and bridge pins­­— with or without abalone dots.
Visit to see the full line.
The Taylor Carry All Bag was designed to hold your gear plus your laptop. Measuring 16” high x 18” wide x 12” deep, the Carry All features a
padded, removable nylon laptop sleeve, 6 external pockets, rear access
to an interior compartment, adjustable/removable section dividers, and
3 easy-access interior pockets for storage of a cell phone, iPod, tuner
or other small devices. Includes a padded, adjustable shoulder strap.
(#61180, $89.00)
SolidBody Pickups
Our HG (high-gain) humbucker gives SolidBody players a simple-toinstall pickup option. Slightly darker-sounding than our original HD
(high-definition) humbucker, the HG unleashes more front-end
drive for a crunchier tone with extra rawness. The modular design
allows anyone to swap them out at home with ease. The pickups are
connected with a Molex (pin-and-socket) connector, so all you’ll need
are a Phillips head screwdriver and a few minutes for a simple “plug
and play” experience. Available as Style 1 (Classic, Custom) and Style
2 (Standard), and offered in two versions, neck and bridge, with each
voiced and output-balanced for their respective string positions.
Available exclusively through TaylorWare. (Chrome, $79.00)
Special introductory price: $59 (for a limited time)
#83706 Style 1 HD Neck
#83707 Style 1 HD Bridge
#83726 Style 1 HG Neck
#83727 Style 1 HG Bridge
#83708 Style 2 HD Neck
#83709 Style 2 HD Bridge
#83728 Style 2 HG Neck
#83729 Style 2 HG Bridge
A Publication of Taylor Guitars
Volume 60 / Summer 2009
Taylor Guitars | 1980 Gillespie Way | El Cajon, CA 92020-1096 |
The paper we used is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The FSC is a
non-profit organization that supports environmentally friendly, socially responsible
and economically viable management of the world’s forests.
Fine Feathered Friend
This magnificent SolidBody electric is one
of an ultra-limited series crafted to celebrate
Taylor’s 35th anniversary this year. It features
a top of stunning feathered Hawaiian koa that
came from a crotch area of the tree, where a
large branch converged with the trunk and
added weight. As a result, the wood is more
compressed. The koa was flatsawn to produce
the beautiful feathered appearance.
U.S. Postage
Phoenix, AZ
Permit No. 1225
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