Bob Taylor on the future of ebony

Here’s a great video of Bob Taylor of Taylor Guitars talking about the future of ebony wood in the guitar industry, and Taylor’s efforts to support legal, sustainable ebony in Cameroon. When I visited Taylor in January I saw some absolutely stunning pieces of ebony with streaks of different colours in them, pieces of wood which another company might throw out but which Taylor sees the value and beauty in. Heck, my own SolidBody has a very slightly lighter section in the grain on the fretboard which I think looks beautiful.

Below are some shots I took at the Taylor factory of some of their more unique ebony supplies – the type of B-grade wood which Taylor refers to in the video. I especially love the third one, which looks like the cloud bands on Jupiter to me, complete with the huge storm! I envy everyone who has ended up with one of these pieces on their guitars.

It’s stuff like this that makes me proud to play a Taylor guitar.

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REVIEW: Taylor SolidBody Standard

Recently, Taylor Guitars and Australian distributor Audio Products Group offered me an incredible opportunity: to design my own guitar via the Solidbody Confgigurator at taylorguitars.com then have the guitar built, then use it for reviews and videos on I Heart Guitar. After thinking about it for about a millisecond I of course said yes and started designing. I’ve been in love with the Taylor Solidbody since the first time I reviewed the SolidBody Custom a few years ago, and if you dig around on YouTube you can even find a Share My Guitar video from NAMM 2010 which has about five seconds of me jamming with some random dudes in the background. So I was familiar with the general layout and qualities of the various Solidbody models, and I took this into account in designing my guitar.

My first choice was to decide between the SolidBody Classic (swamp ash body with satin-finish maple neck and Indian rosewood fretboard) or Standard (chambered mahogany body, quilted maple top, gloss-finish mahogany neck, ebony fretboard). I decided on the Standard. The next choice was cutaway: single or double? I selected the double cutaway version just because it feels more ‘me.’ The guitar’s scale length is 24 7/8″.

The Configurator gives you the option of tremolo or fixed bridge versions. I selected the tremolo version – it’s a non-locking unit with a low fulcrum point which gives it extra smooth operation, and the intonation setup work is done through the back of the guitar, keeping the playing surface smooth and screw-free. I decided to go for a pickguard rather than direct mount pickups, so I could later take advantage of Taylor’s interchangeable solderless pickguards. I selected three of Taylor’s mini humbuckers, which I fell in love with when I reviewed that first SolidBody back in the day. To my ears, these pickups are voiced somewhere between a P90 and a Gretsch FilterTron, with maybe a bit of overwound Strat thrown in. But they’re very low noise and are uniquely Taylor in construction and tone. Taylor’s tone knob is specially voiced to produce a wah-like midrange kick when it’s turned all the way down, and their guitars feature a fuse to protect you from unwanted zaps onstage.

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The Taylor Project: here she is!

The other day I dropped by the Taylor factory at El Cajon, California to again take the factory tour (which I highly recommend) and pick up the Taylor SolidBody that I designed using the SolidBody Configurator. It’s a beautiful guitar and I can’t wait to get it back to oz and try it out with my amp, make a bunch of videos, use it on recordings, etc. Full pics and review (and new factory tour article) coming soon, but first here are some pics of that exciting day:

Here’s me mere seconds after opening the case and getting my paws on this beauty:

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BOOK REVIEW: Bob Taylor – Guitar Lessons

Like Henry Ford or George Lucas before him, Bob Taylor is one of those rare innovators whose ingenuity is matched by their creativity. It takes a special kind of mind to be equally enamoured by the process and the outcome, and Taylor’s guitars are a testament to that vision. Every little piece has its place, and every process, tool, template, jig, material and measurement has been scrutinized to within an inch of its life before being permitted the reward of playing a part in making a Taylor guitar. Guitar Lessons is Taylor’s first book, and it explains how and why Taylor Guitars came to be what the company is today.

Guitar Lessons can be read in three ways: as a memoir of a legendary guitar builder for those interested in the instrument from a player’s point of view; as an insight into the design and construction processes from a luthier’s perspective; or as a ‘how to succeed in business’ manual for those who may not have a particular affinity for the guitar building industry but who might like to gather inspiration and advice in whatever form it appears.

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NEWS: Update on Dave Carroll’s broken Taylor guitar

A couple of days ago I posted about guitarist Dave Carroll’s song ‘United Breaks Guitars,’ written after his beloved Taylor acoustic suffered terminal damage while in the care of United Airlines. Dave wrote a song about it (click here to see it on YouTube if you haven’t already).

Now United and Taylor have both responded to Carroll. United have offered to compensate him for the guitar. Hear Carroll’s response in the video below:

Also, Bob Taylor of Taylor Guitars has chipped in with some advice on travelling with a guitar, and some great news for owners of any guitar (not just a Taylor) which has befallen a similar catastrophic crunch.