Tom, yes, I can. There isn’t anything in the factory that I can’t do unless my aging eyesight gets in the way of a detail. But I don’t mind saying that I know how to make guitars, or machines, or fixtures. Becoming the president of this company didn’t take away those skills.
Ed. Note: Tom, that’s a great question, so we thought it would be cool to open it up to a few other longtime Taylor employees who’ve learned from Bob and might have their own perspectives to share. Hopefully it paints a more vivid picture not only of Bob’s guitar-making skills, but of the high standards of craftsmanship he established throughout the company.
Ed Granero (24 years), VP of Product Development
When you build a company from the ground up, you end up knowing every detail. I worked in production making guitars for many years, and it never ceased to amaze me when Bob would walk by and point out a detail I was working on that wasn’t quite right. He would always leave me thinking, “How does Bob, who has so much going on and doesn’t work day-to-day in my department, ‘see’ everything that is wrong?” It wasn’t until years later when I finally realized that I was able to do the same thing that Bob would do to me. It was because Bob knows and cares about every detail of not only the guitar itself, but of the process, the tools, the space, the layout…everything.
For those of us fortunate to have worked with Bob over the years, we understand and share the commitment to paying attention to the details. It’s that attention to detail that leads us to sustained success.
Terry Myers (31 years), R&D/Special Projects
I have a thousand stories. What we all learn quickly is Bob fully understands and obsesses over every aspect of what he does, and he has done nearly every aspect of what Taylor Guitars is. Not only can he build an amazing guitar, he can conceptualize and build the machinery behind it. His depth of awareness will catch you off-guard every time.
Rob Magargal (29 years), Service Network Manager
In 1991-92 I was learning how to fret to our standards. I was struggling with why my work looked great when I left, yet when I came back the next day, the fingerboards had changed, and I had slight lifts at the end of the fingerboards. I said, “Bob, I need help.” He looked at one guitar and said, “Rob, you’re thinking electric guitars. They are straight down to the last fret. These are acoustics, and the relief must stop at or around the body joint. That way you can add a slight drop-off over the body. The extension only follows the body.” Talk about being hit with a brick! From that point on, my sand-outs and fret jobs were as good as anything we could ever do. Four months later, I’m training everyone how to fret. That continued all the way until our patented Taylor neck — which Bob designed — came along.
Side note: I personally dreaded when Bob would come into the Final Assembly room and look at guitars. Here’s why. One day he walks by my four guitars in the bin behind me. Without missing a step, as he walks by he says, “Rob, the washer on the tuner for the B string, second guitar back, is upside-down.” I turned around and…it was upside-down. If he saw that just walking by, what does he see when he’s holding the guitar?!
David Judd (28 years), Product Development
There are dozens of times when Bob would come by and try to impart some wisdom on me. The worst was when you would proudly show him your work and he would push his glasses up and look close. One day when I was managing the Body department, I got in early, and Bob was waiting for me with a trash can. He made it quite clear that we were wasting too much sandpaper, and proceeded to pull out handfuls of half-used sandpaper to make his point. We got the point.
Chris Wellons (28 years), VP of Manufacturing
I recall a time Bob was walking through the factory, stopped dead in his tracks, turned on a dime, and walked directly to the table saw where someone was working. He had heard the sound of the blade cutting wood and knew the blade was dull. Or he would walk by a cart of guitar necks or bodies and randomly pick up the one that had an issue or blemish…it’s instinctive and always has been. I’ve spent time with Bob on weekends as well on personal projects and have learned hundreds of things from him along the way – he is very well-versed not just in guitar building but in everything he gets into, from machinery to off-roading, woodworking, cabinetmaking, you name it!