Thursday, February 4, 2016

Taylor made...


We did pick up some apparel, but it was Taylor made, not tailor made.

A trip to the Taylor Guitar Factory today, to take the tour.  And, do a little shopping in their Taylorware Store.

Heading out from our site, a look at the rental car...


OK, it's a Nissan Frontier, a light truck.  Comfortable riding, it handled the various roads from Chula Vista (where the RV park is) to El Cajon (Taylor Factory).

We went there early, so we'd be able to shop in the store and try out some guitars in their display area before any crowd showed up...



I generally don't go into a music store to just "play"... but, that is why they have these guitars on display here at the factory.  That's a nice koa 12-string I'm playing - you aren't going to find that in most guitar shops.  Or a custom Builder's Reserve.  Or...


Another part of getting there early: there's a decent BBQ place not too far away.  We had a relaxing lunch before heading back to the factory for the tour.  On the way into the parking lot at the factory, we passed a school bus... "Oh, I wonder if they're here for the factory tour..."

Yep.  We were back a half hour before the tour start time; 5 minutes later, the high school kids on the bus came pouring in.  Not a problem because they are kids, it just made for a heck of a crowd for the tour...


Just glad I played all the guitars I wanted to before we went to lunch - the kids descended on the guitars... it was a cacophony of sound; you couldn't hear the tone of any particular guitar at that point.  On the bright side, some of the kids could play, so I'm assuming it was more than just a field trip to get out of class.  Judging by their shirts, it was some kind of an arts-centric high school.

On with the tour...



We started with a tour of the wood stored outside (in covered tents).  The wood scraps in the photo above make for some expensive firewood.  ;-)  Jonathon, the tour guide, talked about the various woods, where they come from, and how they are harvested.  Very interesting.  Heading inside...



More wood storage and guitar tops being cut out...


Necks being glued up...


Some people knock Taylor, saying the guitars "have no 'soul' because they are all built by machine."  Of course, that is a load of crap.  Taylor does use a lot of automation, including specially designed CNC machines and laser cutters.  All to eliminate variation in size and fit.  The photo below shows necks being shaped - this will insure that they all have that "Taylor neck" that so many guitar players prefer...



Here is one factory guy doing the inlay on the neck; yes, by hand...


Moving from one area to another, and a look back overview...


Inside the guitar, the bracing that is used makes a big difference in the sound...


There are templates used on the different models, but it is still put together by hand.

Putting the labels inside...


The side bending area...


The sides are shaped with the help of machines, again allowing consistency.

The binding adds some "bling" to the guitar...




One of my favorite bits on the 814 I have is the curly maple used for binding - it has a "glow" to it.  There are different materials used for bindings and inlays.

The finish on the guitars is applied by robot - more efficient, more consistent, and no one has to be exposed to the vapors.  There is another robotic that does the initial buffing, bringing out that gorgeous finish.  Some guitars just after the buffing...




Hand buffing for the final finish...


Installing the electronic pickups...


Final assembly and inspection...



Stringing them up, more testing and inspection...



Some say these guys have the best jobs in the factory: they get to play every guitar before it is ready to be shipped.

Part way through the tour, the guy who was in charge of the high school kids asked when the tour would be done, because, "We have to get going."

Jonathon handled it well, and planned an easy exit for them before the tour was actually finished.  Made me laugh when he said, "OK - you guys won't get the free guitar at the end of the tour."  (Yeah, that's a joke.)  With 25 fewer people, the last half of the tour made it a lot easier to get around.

They didn't have an 812ce 12-fret in their display area.  If I decide to "thin the herd," that will be the one guitar that can take the place of a couple others I currently have.  Probably just as well.  We did leave with some shirts, a new fleece jacket, a leather guitar strap, and a mug... all adorned with the Taylor logo.  No, they don't give those away, either.  We did get some new "coasters" free...


Those are the cut-outs for the sound hole on the guitars.  We were told that the factory is currently making about 250 guitars per day (they do have a higher production capacity) and are running two shifts.  Those cut-outs would be waste, but they make an interesting give-away.


9 comments:

Steve said...

Hi Jim--

I ran across your post as you described it at the AGF. I took this tour a couple of years earlier. Man, you sure bring back some memories. We actually had a Bob sighting, getting into his car and leaving. I took home a few of those coasters, too.

I came away from this tour the same as you as far as it reinforced my love of Taylors due to the hand-made quality, plus the aid of robotics for consistency. People need to see this to believe it, I think.

Thanks,
Steve

Captain Jim and the Blonde said...

Hi Steve. I already had a couple Taylors the first time we took the tour. Like your experience, it was a "feel-good" situation. I think Taylor has found a great blend of state-of-the-art machinery and good people, with fine guitars as a result.

With all the guitars they make, they are well-known for the consistency. Clear to see how they make that happen with the factory tour.

See you on the AGF.

Jim

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