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Nut lubrication, V-Class magic, wood figuring explained, and scarf joint strength.

I recently acquired an amazing new addition to complement my already amazing XXXV-GS-C. I came across a custom 12-fret Grand Concert from last year with V-Class bracing, slotted headstock, sinker redwood top, and “Queen’s” walnut back/sides, and I just could not resist! Thank you for these two incredible instruments, which I will cherish for years to come.

The story of the Queen’s walnut tree is fun and fascinating in itself, but I have never had a walnut guitar before, nor one with such figuring, and I noticed something that got me thinking. On the outer lower bout, there is small area where I can actually feel very subtle ridges that correlated to the figuring, almost like waves. To the naked eye, there is nothing to be felt and is smooth as can be with a satin finish. Then I noticed that for the most part the figuring occurs at 90 degrees to the grain. My thought is that at this location, with the side wood being shaped around the curve of the bout, I can feel the figuring because of different densities in the walnut. Is my hunch correct?

Also, I am sure you have addressed a similar question in the past, but can you dumb down the biology and physics of figuring in layman’s terms? How much is dependent on wood species and tree development? Or is it just how the wood is cut? Read Answer

I have never owned a nice guitar before. I just bought my first Taylor guitar, the Builder’s Edition 324ce, and I’m thrilled with it. Now I’m learning how to take care of it and make sure it’s playing its best. Do I need to lubricate the nut? I see that a lot of people use a lead pencil. However, I’m not really keen on drawing on my nice new guitar. Do I need to do this? And is there any circumstance where it would be necessary? My guitar does seem to fall out of tune throughout the week. However, I’m not sure if lubricating the nut would even help. Read Answer

Recently, a group of friends and I were jamming. Our lead guy had a 14-year-old 910ce, I had an eight-year-old 814ce, the third player had a four-year-old 714ce, and the fourth guy had a brand-new 814ce. As we played, each time the new 814ce guy came in for his part, his guitar roared past the other three. The volume was so much higher. All the players noticed it. All the guitars sounded great together, but the new one really boomed. We were all using Elixir strings, and the newer guitar had the strings that came with it. Any idea why the big volume difference? Read Answer

I love my 814ce. It just gets better and better! My two daughters love their Taylors as well. I was wondering, considering all of the innovations Taylor has introduced, is there any new feature or modification your team has considered that seemed to be the next “Taylor Neck” or V-Class bracing-esque innovation but never made it into production? Read Answer

I recently purchased a Taylor K24ce with V-Class bracing without having a chance to play it in person. In my experience, that is always a risk, but particularly with an all-koa guitar. I have owned and played multiple koa guitars in the past and found the tone to be inconsistent; when you get good koa tone, it is glorious, but when you get a bad one, it sounds harsh and thin. I expressed this concern to the salesperson at Wildwood Guitars when I told him of my interest in the K24ce, and he told me that the koa wood used by Taylor Guitars more recently is extremely consistent and sounds good right out of the case as opposed to needing much time to open up. I was a bit skeptical but decided to give it a shot, and when the guitar arrived, I was amazed at the tone. I had all kinds of preconceived notions about koa as a tonewood, and all of them were proven false when I played it for the first time and for the subsequent hours of time I have spent with it. For example, I bought this for use solely as a fingerstyle instrument, as I find koa guitars to be a bit too bright when strummed, but when I strum this guitar, it sounds as good as any dreadnought I have that is used primarily as a strumming instrument. Also, I expected to hear tone potential, but with the notion that it would take years of playing to bring out that koa tone I was hoping for. Yet when I played it out of the case, it already had the tone I was hoping for. So, this guitar has exceeded all of my expectations of a koa guitar, and is surprisingly the most versatile instrument I own. So, my question is, what is Taylor doing with its koa lines that seems to have addressed a lot of my concerns? I suspect the V-Class bracing has something to do with this, but is there anything else Taylor has done recently to indeed produce a consistent and opened-up tone? Read Answer

We know how excellent pre-war, X-braced guitars sound. How do you think V-Class Taylors will sound decades from now? Read Answer

I was delighted to read about Taylor’s ongoing efforts to utilize urban trees from around the world. I purchased my Taylor 610 in the late ’80s when the guitar was still being made with German maple, which I believe is hard to find now in high quality. On a trip to Scotland about 15 years ago, we met a family from Germany that had just built and installed a new church organ in Glasgow. They told us [the project] had been in the works for over 10 years and used wood purchased by the family more than 30 years earlier. They have been building organs for over 400 years and were headed to Asia to purchase wood for orders they expected to deliver in 30 years. They were not optimistic that they could find woods of the quality for which their family was known and felt the wood quality challenge might soon become the end of the business.

I now live in Florida and have a few small pieces of land that I would like to plant trees on that might someday be used to create great musical instruments. Do you have any suggestions on what to plant or how best to start and space trees so small landowners like us might improve the future musical instrument-grade wood stock? Read Answer

Your company’s programs and efforts in the area of sustainability are truly impressive. The introduction of the Urban Ash model is a great part of that story, and it makes me wonder if you have thought about making a “hundred-mile guitar,” where absolutely all of the parts and materials are sourced from within 100 miles of the factory. I’m sure it would force some limitations. But it would be a grand experiment in efficient and sustainable manufacturing, and I think it might be interesting to some of your customers. Read Answer

Bob, a friend of mine who is a retired guitar tech happened to mention that Taylor’s use of what he called “glued-on headstocks” results in a loss of low-frequency (bass) response. In addition, he said the joint (I believe it’s a scarf joint) creates a point at which the neck could break in the event of an accident.

He also believes that the string load on smaller-bodied 12-strings can cause the need for repairs down the road. This concerns me since I’m considering getting a 352ce or 362ce. Could you shed some light on these contentions? Read Answer