From The Editors: Art Thompson on Taylor's Build to Order Event

July 27, 2009

Last June, I had the honor of spending two days at Taylor Guitars in San Diego, California, as one of a small contingent of music journalists from the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Norway, and Spain, who were invited to participate in Taylor’s Build to Order program. This is a very unique aspect of Taylor Guitars, in which you can design your own guitar by choosing among 40 different categories of options—enough to allow for virtually unlimited combinations of body styles, woods, inlays, electronics, and hardware.

We spent the first day touring the factory with Bob Taylor, who showed us the entire process of how Taylor guitars are made. Bob explained in great detail how different woods affect sound, and how they can be combined with certain body styles to get exactly the response you’re looking for as a player. We got a thorough grounding in Taylor’s Expression System from David Hosler (vice president of quality assurance and customer service and repair), and learned tons about the sonic qualities of the different models and wood combinations from Brian Swerdfeger—Taylor’s vice president of marketing and sales.

On day two, we got to choose the options for the guitars that each of us were to order. It was tons of fun picking though sets of fine tone woods, and once we’d all decided what kinds of woods to use for the backs, sides, and tops, we turned our attention to selecting the best grain patterns, and choosing the inlays, bindings, cutaway styles, back stripes and end wedges, and other elements. The guitar I ordered was based on a Grand Symphony style, and will feature Madagascar rosewood back and sides (a $2,000 upgrade), a sinker redwood top (cut from a log that been submerged for 150 years in Northern California’s Petaluma with river), a 24 7/8"-scale V carve neck, Adirondack CV bracing with a new “relief” rout, and figured koa binding.

We’re expecting to have this awesome guitar in a few weeks, and we’ll be giving it away sometime this fall. So stay tuned for details on how to enter to win this one-of-a-kind Taylor guitar. On behalf of GP, I’d like to express my sincerest thanks to Bob Taylor and everyone else at Taylor guitars who made this Build to Order event so thoroughly enjoyable!

For more information on Taylor's BTO program, visit

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