Editor’s Note: With the exception of one question specifically for Andy Powers, this edition’s questions were answered by both Bob Taylor and Andy.
I have five Taylor guitars and one Martin. Having read Wood&Steel over many years and paid regular visits to my local guitar shop, I think I understand many nuances of guitar design, such as material selection, torrefaction, the design of bracing and adhesives, and other influences such as the use or non-use of pickguards. It seems that different brands have their own identifiable sound even after taking account of the acoustic differences with each individual guitar. My question: Do you make different prototypes when you are leading up to the launch of a new model to establish whether or not a guitar is likely to turn out with a sound that is better, or worse, by incorporating variables in the prototypes such as torrefying or not torrefying the top, using or not using a pickguard, or placing the back or side bracing in the same fixed position? Read Answer
Bob and Andy, I can’t overstate how much admiration I’ve had for your products and company philosophy over the years. Your guitars are well-crafted and beautifully finished, and your design innovations have moved the industry forward. Just as important, I think, your heart for leaving the forests better than you found them is hopefully inspiring the industry to be better stewards of our natural resources.
Two things I have meant to comment on for some time, however, are the only issues I have ever had with Taylor guitars. Those are “neck dive” [when the weight of the headstock pulls the neck down in relation to the body] and loose-fitting string pegs. I have owned six Taylor guitars over time and currently have four. I have sold my 2006 612ce and a more recent T5z. The four Taylors I currently have are a 2000 514ce, a 2009 T3/B, a Builder’s Edition 517e, and a 150e 12-string.
The T3/B is balanced and doesn’t suffer from neck dive, and it doesn’t have string pegs, so it is exempt from my constructive criticism. With twice as many tuners and a wider neck, the 150e 12-string would be a difficult guitar to balance, so I can understand how neck dive would be difficult (impossible?) to avoid. The neck dive of the 514ce and the 517e, though, is a distraction compared to the perfect balance of my Martin D-18, which will sit at a level playing angle, no strap or holding up required.
I change my own strings on all of my guitars, and I always have some trouble with the 514ce and 517e string pegs. Those fit so loosely into the bridge holes that it can be frustrating to try to get the connection secure enough to start winding the string up to proper tension. This is most noticeable on the unwrapped (B and E) strings. This was also an issue on the 612ce and T5z guitars I no longer own. I hate to compare you to Martin, but the string pegs on my D-18 fit snugly into the bridge holes and restringing is an easier chore.
These seem like issues that could be improved upon. They are also issues that I’ve heard other guitar players comment on frequently regarding Taylor guitars compared to other brands.
I don’t want to sound like a complainer. These are obviously minor issues for me — I continue to own more Taylor guitars than any other make. So good job and thank you for an incredible contribution to the industry that I love the most! Read Answer
I have a 2017 714ce with a Western red cedar top. It is a stunningly sweet-sounding instrument. Everyone who hears or plays it gushes over the tone. It seems like cedar tops used to be an option in a couple of [series], but it looks like the only option is now the Jason Mraz nylon-string. True? I’m curious why there isn’t more cedar on offer…is it just lack of consumer demand, the tone not really fitting the brand, or some other consideration? Read Answer
I have an old piece of the more common yellow limba wood that I used in high school to make a shelf out of. In grain structure, it appears to be very similar to mahogany. Recently, I noticed that one electric guitar manufacturer is making guitars out of black limba, which is beautifully variegated in color. Does Taylor have any experience with either yellow or black limba as a tonewood, and can I [get a custom guitar] made from it?
P.S. I love my granadillo/cedar/cocobolo GA custom that you folks made with the beautiful red striped binding back in 2013. Read Answer
Got a question for Bob Taylor or Andy Powers? Shoot them an email: firstname.lastname@example.org