At a Glance:
Company Name: Taylor Guitars
Web site: www.taylorguitars.com
Headquarters: El Cajon, California
Manufactures Instruments In: USA, Mexico (cheaper instruments and cases)
Taylor guitars are made in El Cajon, California and Tecate, Mexico where lower priced models and Taylor cases are made.
A Quick History of Taylor Guitars
In 1972, an 18-year old Bob Taylor began working at American Dream, a guitar making shop in Lemon Grove, California owned by Sam Radding, where Bob learned the craft of building fine guitars. Two years later, Radding sold the company to Taylor and two others, who changed the name to Westland Music Company. The name was later changed to Taylor (partly to have a name small enough to fit the headstock) and in 1976, the company began selling guitars to retailers.
Taylor's patented bolt-on neck; called the NT (new technology) appeared in 1999 and was a bit revolutionary at the time and they still use it today. This design allows for easier, more accurate neck alignment using neck spacers to achieve the desired angle as opposed to dissembling the guitar from its neck and then performing a neck reset. Watch this great video of Taylor necks being made.
Taylor has been a leader in building eco-friendly guitars, and are involved in the protection of exotic woods and the promotion of the long-term availability of tone woods. Their Responsible Timber Purchasing Policy assures sustainability. They have also announced a partnership with GreenWood in Honduras allowing local villages to properly harvest the mahogany used in a number of Taylor models.
After struggling in the early 1980s (often making only 10 guitars a week), the reputation and stature of Taylor guitars began growing, partially due to Prince's use of a purple 12-string Taylor guitar for a video. By 1992, the company had relocated to a large 25,000 square foot factory in El Cajon, California, and were producing more than 10,000 guitars per year.
In 2012, Taylor Guitars had more than 700 employees and their guitars were sold in over 60 countries around the world. The reputation of Taylor Guitars remains strong, and the company has secured a large market share alongside other quality guitar makers like Martin, Gibson and Guild.
After years of targeting only professional guitarists who wanted a high-quality, upscale instrument crafted using the best tone woods, Taylor has released several more modest guitars aimed at entry-level and novice guitarists.
The "Baby Taylor", released in 1996, was a smaller 3/4 sized guitar built with laminate back and sides with a solid spruce or mahogany top. This guitar continues to be a top-seller, and can often be found for only a few hundred dollars. In response to the popularity of this guitar, in 2000 Taylor built the "Big Baby" - a full-size guitar with specs similar to the Baby. This guitar is also still popular, and generally costs less than $500. Both of these models are built in the Taylor factory in Tecate, Mexico.
Taylor also makes nine different series of guitars (100, 200, 300, etc) that generally increase accordingly in price and quality. The cheaper guitar models tend to be built in the Taylor factory in Mexico, whereas the more expensive models are built in California.
Taylor's high end PS (Presentation Series) acoustic models are marked with fine engraving and special adornments. These guitars employ Cocobolo wood and a Venetian cutaway and are highly-prized instruments.
Although Taylor does produce other types of instruments - for example a baritone 8-string guitar, several electric guitars, and some nylon string guitars and 12-string models, the steel-string acoustic guitar is what the company is best noted for.
Guitarists who play instruments made by Taylor
Working directly with the artist, Taylor has developed a number of Signature models including designs for Dave Matthews, Steven Curtis Chapman. Doyle Dukes, Leo Kottke and Taylor Swift. Swift also plays a T5, a 615ce, a GS-6, and a GS-8 while , Kottke almost exclusively uses Taylor 6 and 12-string models. You’ll find Jason Mraz playing his JMSM which employs Indian Rosewood as part of the nylon-string Grand Concert Cutaway with cedar top. Add to that such artists as Jewell, The Fray, Goo Goo Dolls, Lisa Loeb...
Even though Taylor guitars are a somewhat recent addition to the market, most collectors of fine guitars usually have a Taylor or two sitting side by side with some of the best vintage acoustic guitars found today.