photo of Bob Taylor with arms crossed

Ask Bob

Scroll Down

Telegraphing explained, angled back bracing, wood-drying techniques, and relative vs. absolute humidity.

I have a 2019 814ce with a cedar top that I purchased from Wildwood Guitars in August of 2019. It’s been lovingly played nearly every day since, and otherwise stored in its hardshell case with an Oasis humidifier. I also have a small digital hygrometer in the case and check it each time I get my guitar out to play. It’s always between 40 and 45 percent RH. Lately I have begun to notice “witness lines” of the [V-Class] bracing pattern in the top. I can clearly see the “V” radiating down from the bridge to the tail of the guitar, and I can also see witness lines of those same braces between the bridge and the soundhole. Is this normal? I love my guitar, and I just want to be sure I am doing everything I can so it has a long and wonderful life. Read Answer

Are there any urban tonewoods other than ash on the horizon for Taylor? Read Answer

Bob, much has been written about Taylor’s innovations in guitar design and production, but I’m curious whether your team also has pursued advances in your methods of drying and conditioning your wood. Are there particular challenges you face now that you didn’t have to contend with in the past? Read Answer

What is the drying time for different tonewoods before they can start to be machined for tops and sides? Do some woods process sooner than others, and how is tone affected? Read Answer

Can you explain the theory behind your angled back bracing? Read Answer

Is the ebony wood [processed] in Cameroon by Crelicam exclusively Gabon ebony? Are royal ebony and Macassar ebony different species than Gabon? Are there other species of ebony besides those three that are commonly used for parts of guitars?

At a Road Show before the quarantine (at Music 6000 in Olympia, Washington), I was able to play an E14ce [featuring ebony back and sides]. I love the sound of that guitar — I felt that it presented a strong and solid fundamental. There was some gradual overtone bloom (which I do appreciate), but I found the way that the full chords initially hit me very satisfying. Is it reasonable to assume that the beautiful back and sides of that guitar came from the Crelicam mill? Are the folks in Cameroon selecting which logs become fretboards and bridges and which ones might be good choices for backs and sides? Or are those decisions made in smaller chunks than the whole log? Read Answer

I am the proud owner of a 514ce made in 2018. I am still amazed at the sweet sounds I get from my guitar’s cedar top. I can hear nice ringing tones from the B & E strings when I fingerpick. I wanted to find out more about the selection process for cedar tops. I have played spruce-top guitars for a long time, and I know that wood is ubiquitous in acoustic guitar building. How do you know which cedar logs will work for the tops you put on the 514? Read Answer

I know that humidity is a concern for guitars, and the recommendations are usually given in relative humidity terms. Isn’t specific humidity most important? I live in the Pacific Northwest, and while our relative humidity is high, the temperatures are cool, so our specific humidity is low. A tropical climate might have a relative humidity in the recommended range, yet have a high specific humidity. Which is better? Read Answer

As an amateur builder, I have made about a dozen guitars. Without the money to invest in top-quality specialized tools, I’ve always resorted to trying to figure out how to make certain cuts or make bends in different ways, or use different materials and techniques…some obviously more successful than others. My questions have to do with why other stringed instruments like violins and cellos have a sound post but guitars do not. And why not also make the back out of the soundboard material? Wouldn’t more movement produce more sound? Read Answer

As an owner of two Taylors — a 2004 W12ce and a 1984 712 (Lemon Grove) — and always looking to add to the collection, I pause because of the use of ivoroid, Italian acrylic and tortoise (fancy names for plastic) for binding and inlays and basic plastic pickguards. I am curious why Taylor would “gild the lily” with plastic, especially when Taylor does everything else so flawlessly and because many other makers (at comparable price points) are binding with flame maple or ebony or a variety of woods. And fret inlays, etc., are abalone, mother-of-pearl or wood.

As for pickguards, as a fingerpicker, for me, the pickguard adds nothing to the instrument. Can they be removed, or, better yet, can Taylor send them with the instrument and let the end user install or not? I see you use some wood pickguards, and they appeal much more than plastic. But all this plastic limits my Taylor options.

With an instrument as smartly designed and produced as yours, why “pollute” all that wood and steel with plastic? Read Answer