October 05, 2013

Photo Essay: Taylor Guitars Factory Tour

When I took a tour of the Deering Banjo showroom, they assumed I must be a banjo player, otherwise what interest would I have in it? But in the case of Taylor Guitars, tourists and San Diego locals come to their visitor center regardless of their own musical talent.

Of course, to visit the factory and showroom of any instrument, you have to love music, even just a little. It's not all about design.

It's about how design influences sound.

Of course, some people select their guitar (or banjo, for that matter) based on how it looks, just like some people base their decisions on friends and sexual partners on looks. It's hard to deny love at first sight.

But what's the guitar made of? What's on its inside? What does it feel like?

You find out on the tour.

The raw, imported woods that they use are stored in a shed out back, where they try to control the temperature and humidity. Although in the San Diego area, Taylor is actually relatively north and inland, where temperatures can rise and dip to extremes...

...and humidity can really do a number on lumber.

Inside the factory, there are various mechanisms for conveying and cutting...

...storing and slicing...

...stacking and vising...

...spinning, straightening, and curving.

The thinly-sliced wood layers, all stacked up and glued together, are shaped into the familiar form of the body of the acoustic guitar...

...and primed to be attached to their front and back panels.

The excess wood is cast aside in large bins...

...while the cutouts get ready for buffing...

...and the insertion of their inlays...

...a painstaking process by hand, in which abalone shell is cut and placed into the grooves.

Before the body of the guitar is fully assembled, and closed off to the human eye forever... catch a glimpse of its bare underside, its delicate innards, designed for acoustic perfection.

Soon, it starts to look like a real guitar.

Necks lie in wait...

...for the frets to be pressed in by hand, by a craftswoman with a perfect record.

Taylor makes both acoustic and electric guitars (and a hybrid electric/acoustic), which can be selected based on their shape, wood type, design style, size, number of strings and number of frets.

They're all different, and they're all good. Some wood is rarer than others. Some frets are more ornamented. Some strings are made of nylon. The baritones produce an expanded tonal palette.

None are really better than the others. It just depends on what you like, what works for you. Everyone's got their own taste.

But some of Taylor's guitars are more popular than others. Why? Perhaps their characteristics appeal to a more common, mainstream palate.

Perhaps that makes the less popular guitars all the more special.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Deering Banjo Company Factory Tour
Inside the Belly: Steinway & Sons Piano Factory Tour
Just My Type

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