If you’ve spent any time shopping for guitars — especially if you live in a place with a drier-than-average climate such as this writer’s home in Denver, Colorado, where guitar shops essentially use giant humidors to house their acoustic inventory — chances are you’ve at least heard about the importance of keeping your guitar properly humidified and protected from warping or cracking. The solid woods used in acoustic guitars are highly dynamic, forming an almost “living” system that constantly responds to environmental conditions. That’s why many guitar shops keep their acoustics in a separate, climate-controlled room, and why an in-tune guitar can seemingly fall out of tune just going from a cool room to a warm, brightly lit stage, or in the course of being transported from one house to another. It’s also why our factory climate in El Cajon is carefully controlled to maintain optimal temperatures and humidity levels. For guitar players, keeping your guitar properly humidified might be the most important part of guitar maintenance, especially if you travel with your acoustics and regularly play in new locales.
Enter TaylorSense, the new and improved guitar care system for Taylor acoustic players.
In short, TaylorSense is a smart battery box that replaces the standard 9-volt battery box of a Taylor guitar. Inside, sensors monitor the relative humidity and temperature around the guitar, transmitting that information to a smartphone linked by low-energy Bluetooth. Using the TaylorSense app, players can check climate info in real time.
The climate “sweet spot” for most acoustic guitars lies between 40 and 60 percent relative humidity, and spikes or major drops in temperature (say, a freezing winter day or a particularly hot day in summer) can potentially cause damage as well. If the numbers around your guitar should rise or fall outside recommended levels and remain there for long enough to damage your guitar, TaylorSense lets you know with alerts on your phone. The sensor box also detects impact damage, so you’ll know if your case takes a hit that you need to check on. Lastly, TaylorSense keeps track of your guitar’s battery level so you’ll never have to worry about starting a show with a dying pickup.
Longtime Taylor fans might be thinking, “Didn’t Taylor release this a few years ago?” You’re not wrong—the idea for a comprehensive guitar health monitoring device has been bouncing around the Taylor braintrust for a decade. We offered previous iterations of the system in past years paired with an iPhone-exclusive app that also featured a digital tuner and a four-track digital recording interface. We were excited about the possibility of being able to give players an easy way to make sure their guitars last a lifetime and avoid pricey repairs for cracks or neck issues, and many players, especially those with several Taylors in their collection, shared their appreciation for a one-stop system to help keep their instruments in good playing shape.
But TaylorSense is a digital technology integrated into a quintessentially analog system — the acoustic guitar—and as is common with new music tech, some users reported issues with the first version of the device. Scott Reinhardt, our Director of Digital and Retail Marketing, who helped guide the project since its inception, was at the center of conversations with players and customers who wanted more from TaylorSense. Scott points out that while the original iOS TaylorSense system was met with high praise by reviewers and was even featured in USA Today, it later became clear that there was room for improvement.
“We realized that we hadn’t set ourselves up to effectively service the technology,” Scott says. “We also had a large owner base clamoring for an Android-based TaylorSense experience.”
Complacency isn’t part of how Taylor does business — we don’t abandon good ideas if they don’t work perfectly on the first try. So we got to work, bringing in new app developers alongside our factory service and repair team to streamline the app and build a more accurate and consistent sensor array for the battery box. Concentrating on improving the experience and focusing the app’s functionality, we sought to provide excellent results without overloading the software — or its users. It was also important to the team that the system be available to as many players as possible, so extending the app to Android users was at the top of our list of priorities for the upgraded version of TaylorSense. It was also critical to make the system accessible to a broader range of guitar players, not just those who prefer Android devices to Apple but also guitarists around the globe. Accomplishing that required finding ways to scale up the technology and make it serviceable no matter where the player is located.
After months of redevelopment, extensive testing and endless app iterations, we released the new TaylorSense system in January of 2020. The partner app for the device is available for both Apple and Android smartphone users, and we’re excited that players in the United States, Canada, the EU and the United Kingdom are reporting great experiences with the new tech.
Of course, we couldn’t have made this happen without the help of actual Taylor players. Rebuilding the sensor box and smartphone app the right way involved getting the devices out to Taylor artists and owners who tested it rigorously and helped us refine the system. Among them was Gabriel O’Brien, Taylor player, audio engineer and moderator of the unofficial Taylor owners’ group on Facebook. Gabriel shared his thoughts after installing TaylorSense into two of his acoustic guitars and using the system for several months.
“Many of the most commonly asked questions about guitar care are really signs of humidity issues,” he says. “Being able to track humidity levels via Bluetooth really gives you peace of mind, since it alerts you when your guitar is outside the optimal humidity range. It also records physical impact, which is important for people who travel with their guitars, or even people like me who have children at home. Plus, it’s easy to install; a player with no guitar tech experience can do it in minutes.”
Now, the redesigned TaylorSense system is making its way into the guitar world, and we’re pleased that guitarists are enjoying its refined user experience and real-time updates. You can order your own TaylorSense unit from TaylorSense.com or find it at your local Taylor dealer.