Taylor Guitars 40th Anniversary Factory Tour
I don’t know about you, but I'm always intrigued to discover how things are made. And when we’re talking about guitars, let’s just say I’m into it times a thousand.
It’s not just the steps it takes to create each gorgeous guitar. It’s the people who work on them, the skilled craftsmen and women who touch each and every neck and body and inlay and fret and … well, you get the idea.
My recent trip to the Taylor Guitars factory in El Cajon, California, is a case in point.
From raw wood from all over the world to the precise craftsmanship involved in each and every step in the manufacturing process, hundreds of touch points occur throughout the production process.
In addition to our factory tour, we also had the opportunity to sit down and have a chat with Founder Bob Taylor, master luthier Andy Powers and David Hosler, the mastermind behind Taylor's new Expression System 2. Look for those video interviews soon!
Below, we share a few photos from our day of guitar-building delights. Check back soon for more!
Find out more at taylorguitars.com.
Kerfing is applied and held in place with clips.
The body sides are misted with water and then bent into shape using heat and specially created machines. Each body type has its own machine to shape the wood accurately. This machine is putting in the waist of the guitar.
The factory floor from above.
Body parts are checked. Quality control is top priority.
The wonderful neck inlay for the Jason Mraz signature guitar. Super cool.
We were mesmerized by the fretting process. Done by hand, quick and meticulous.
Necks are precisely carved using CNC Fadal machines.
Peghead veneers are applied and waiting to be shaped by hand. Now it’s starting to look like a Taylor!
One of the first steps in the making of a guitar neck. If you ever realized how many different hands touch each neck, you would be blown away. It’s a true feat of engineering.
So many rosettes, so little time. Each is put in place by hand, from the most simple to the fantastically intricate.
A laser machine accurately cuts all of the small parts. Any waste is recycled.
Guitar World editor Brad Tolinski checks out a guitar top. I knew he had a big head, but really?! Take me to your leader…
Freshly cut tops, backs and sides of Hawaiian koa.
This amount of wood is awe-inspiring. Each type serves its own purpose. All are amazingly gorgeous and fragrant with their own tonal possibilities.
Throughout the factory, Taylor has machines and contraptions that were custom made to suit production functions. Here you see carousel presses where they bookmatch and glue together the backs of guitars.
A load of Hawaiian Koa wood destined for greatness. This wood is heading over to be “blocked,” meaning they trace outlines of sides, tops and backs to be cut out on the band saw and later bookmatched.
Pallets of wood for guitar necks are brought in at the beginning of the production process.
Sides, sides everywhere! Here sides wait to be glued up with their tops and backs.
Here’s a special guitar, for sure! The PS14 has a hand carved, contoured ebony arm rest. It is SO comfortable! A gorgeous guitar all around.
Here, the sides are shaped into their final body shape, a Grand Auditorium. So cool! A cutaway will be bent in later.
Neck billets ready for production.
We tried pretty much every body style in the new 800 series. All wonderful in their own way. Fun!
We got a look inside the new 800 series, literally! Here you see their innovative bracing and Expression System 2 pickup system.
Andy Powers' tools of the trade.
When you take a Taylor factor tour in El Cajon, California, you enter through this amazing visitor center. "Please try the guitars" is the motto of the day…and we did!
Behind the scenes in Taylor’s product development workshop. Here’s where Master Builder Andy Powers begins each guitar by hand.
Bob Taylor and Andy Powers hanging in the shop. This is where Powers works on and tests new designs.
Acoustic Nation editor Laura B. Whitmore interviews Bob Taylor and Andy Powers at the Taylor Guitars factory. Look for interview video coming soon!
Acoustic Nation editor Laura B. Whitmore talks Expression System 2 with designer David Hosler. Check out our interview coming soon!
Color finishes, including burst finishes are all done by hand. And let me tell you, these guys are artists!
Custom designed robot which builds the Expression System 2 pickup components.
These gorgeous necks are awaiting final assembly.
Koa guitars awaiting their gloss finish.
All the parts put together into one beautiful instrument. That final quality control job of checking out these masterpieces is a primo gig!