When Impatience Is a Virtue

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After five decades in the guitar business, Bob has learned that while some things are worth waiting for, responsiveness and urgency are key drivers of innovation.

As I write this, it’s the beginning of 2023. If I add in my year at the American Dream, where I worked at age 18 before Kurt and I started Taylor Guitars when I was 19, this marks almost half a century that I’ve managed to avoid getting a job! You have no idea how thankful I am about that.

This career, while it’s worked me to the bone at times, and worried me to no end at times, and put me in the poor house for the first 10 years, is the joy of my life. It’s hard to describe how at home I feel here at Taylor Guitars and how each passing year stays so interesting.

Speaking of the American Dream, we have new offerings in the line that you’ll learn about in this issue. A little history is that when Kurt and I bought the American Dream shop in 1974, there was a problem that we only discovered after the sale. It prevented us from being able to use the name. It’s one of the reasons we went with Taylor, but we loved the name American Dream Guitars. What a disappointment on our first day to learn we couldn’t use it.

But time marched on, the name later became available, and we registered it, long after Taylor was on the scene. In order to keep the registration, we had to make a couple of American Dream-branded guitars every so often, and I think that interval was about once every 10 years. So we did.

Over the years, I’ve been displeased with ourselves for being too patient with things that could improve faster.

During COVID, when supplies were scarce, and sales were uncertain, and our Tecate factory was shuttered, the perfect opportunity presented itself to dust off that name and let it live. Thus, the Taylor American Dream Series was born. It’s significant to Kurt and me. I love that we use it and that it happened organically. I love that the series has a legit design and offers a lot of quality at a good price. It’s amazing how things can just come to you if you can be patient and let them come.

But patience needs to be well placed. Over the years, I’ve been displeased with ourselves for being too patient with things that could improve faster. And I’ve been pleased when the need presented itself and we jumped on an improvement, an innovation or even an outright invention because it needed doing and we weren’t going to wait. It’s how we redesigned our necks to make them straighter and more serviceable. Or how we had to jump in and literally invent processes to make the first acoustics with UV-cured finishes that performed better, while also meeting California’s very strict emission regulations. Patience would have been the enemy then. Or how about getting trees into the ground? I’m glad we’re doing that. Impatiently plant, then patiently wait.

I’m deeply pleased with all the inventions and innovations that Andy has brought to the table. From subtle changes to inventions like V-Class bracing or the highly contoured, ergonomic Builder’s Edition models, especially those with contoured cutaways, which are very difficult to implement.

I wish you could see some of what Andy’s working on daily — the things being developed right now. It’s exciting stuff. He has great ideas, which makes me excited about the future. And he has a whole team of can-do people here to help work his designs into production. I call that “industrializing” the idea. I love taking an idea and working out the building method so it can be done effectively and in sufficient volume to allow players to access them as guitars. I have to say that watching our engineering and tooling group work with Andy to bring these designs to life is a real pleasure. And then our builders, who will learn any new skill cheerfully and quickly.

So, I’m looking forward to another year of guitar making. It’s never been dull, nor stagnant, nor easy. But it’s been deeply rewarding, and I’m super thankful for that.