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, 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 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 designed is based on a Grand Symphony style—Taylor’s first new body style in over a decade—and features 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 river ($500 extra), a 24 7/8”-scale V carve neck, Adirondack CV bracing, and figured koa binding, rosette, and back wedge.
My Custom GS arrived recently, and what a beauty it is. The woods look incredible, the finish is flawless, and all of the cosmetic attributes, including the lovely shell inlays and rich koa bindings, are perfectly rendered. The GS’s playability and sound match its stunning looks. The V-carve neck feels awesome, and the low action, polished frets, and slightly shorter scale make for super easy playability. The intonation is excellent too. Chords sound in-tune wherever you finger them, and the net result is a well balanced and articulate sound with piano-like lows, complex mids, and clear, sweet highs. The dynamic response is outstanding. The Grand Symphony body delivers impressive volume when you need it, yet also responds to a light touch with subtlety and nuance. This particular combination of woods works very well with the GS body style. The rosewood back and sides provide tightness and punch, and the redwood top sweetens the treble frequencies without losing any clarity or sparkle.
I’m extremely impressed by Taylor’s Build to Order process, which, by offering an extensive menu of items to choose from, makes it easy to create a truly one-of-a-kind guitar. I couldn’t be more pleased with how the Custom GS turned out. It’s an ideal fingerstyle guitar, and it would be great for singer-songwriters, studio players, and anyone else who has an appreciation for high-end acoustic tone and the beauty of fine woods. The best part— though not exactly for me—is that is we’re going to be giving away this amazing guitar. So if you want to take a shot at winning our $7,760 Taylor Custom Grand Symphony, see the details.
WIN THIS GUITAR!
Taylor Guitar has been kind enough to give GP readers a chance to win this Art Thompson-designed Custom Grand Symphony. This stunning guitar features Madagascar rosewood back and sides, a sinker redwood top, Adirondack CV bracing, and figured koa binding, rosette, and back wedge. To enter, send an e-mail with your full name and mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include the words “Taylor Custom Giveaway” in the subject line. Good Luck!