Mike Madriaga 12:34 p.m., Dec. 18
Taylor Guitars: The Inside Story
San Diego’s own Taylor Guitars started in 1974 as the dream of Bob Taylor (age 19) and Kurt Listug (age 21) on a loan of $10,000. In its short 37-year history, the company has gone on to be the leading maker and seller of acoustic guitars in the United States.
As cofounder and President of the world’s premier manufacturer of high-end acoustic, acoustic-electric and electric guitars, Bob Taylor knew from the moment he made his first guitar during his junior year of high school this was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. He experienced that “aha!” moment that so many dream of, but few achieve.
It wasn’t easy for the young entrepreneur to turn his passion into a profitable business. For the past 37 years, Taylor and business partner Kurt Listug have weathered economic storms, seen the rise, decline, and reemergence of the acoustic guitar industry, and have gone on to build the top-selling acoustic guitar brand in the United States. For two inexperienced “kids” with a dream of having their own guitar shop, the odds of success were stacked against them, and yet each obstacle was overcome.
In his new book, Guitar Lessons: A Life’s Journey Turning Passion Into Business, Taylor recounts the hard knock lessons that helped make Taylor Guitars an industry leader. From his earliest lessons in dismantling household appliances and bikes, to what he calls “Sweat Equity” in business, Taylor imparts his experience as a tradesman with consideration for building a business on the values of quality products and passion for perfection - values that often seem counterintuitive in today’s mass production culture.
In the case of one of his earliest lessons, Taylor recounts how from a young age, his curious mindset yearned to understand the function of products. He would dismantle a clock just figure out how to put it back together. By learning how others made products, Taylor believed it would help him to create his own. “I’ve experienced as much as thirty-year gaps between learning something and applying it. Taylor imparts to the reader, “It’s not always immediate.”
Guitar Lessons relates stories of Taylor’s first exposure with mainstream artists. For example, Taylor recounts at age 24 watching Neil Young in the film “Rust Never Sleeps” playing one of his very first guitars, the Taylor 855 12 string; a guitar Taylor had built with his own hands.
To many, a turning point in the company’s history was the birth of Prince’s purple guitar in the video “Raspberry Beret,” as the dyed acoustic guitar put Taylor on the map for its unique creations.
However, “I realized then that the night before hadn’t changed my life all that much and I that had a lot of work ahead of me if this was ever going to pan out. I strapped on my apron and started cutting wood.”
Founded in 1974, Taylor Guitars has evolved into one of the world's leading manufacturers of premium acoustic and electric guitars. Renowned for blending an innovative use of modern technology with a master craftsman's attention to detail, Taylor guitars are widely considered the best sounding and easiest to play in the world. Many of today's leading musicians make Taylor their guitar of choice, including Dave Matthews, Prince, Jason Mraz, Steven Curtis Chapman, Zac Brown and Taylor Swift.
Swift, in fact, has her own signature Taylor Swift Baby Taylor guitar (TSBT), featuring Swift's own design touches.
Based on the best-selling Baby Taylor guitar, the TSBT is ideal for both promising players and accomplished pickers, at three-quarters the size of a standard dreadnought, with a slim 1 11/16-inch neck and a comfortably compact shape.
"I wanted to share my passion for playing guitar with my fans," said Swift in a press release announcing the model. "For a beginner, finding the right guitar can be intimidating, but this guitar, it's the perfect size. Even if you've been playing for years, it's a great size to travel with."
The TSBT is crafted from a resilient sapele laminate body with a solid Sitka spruce top. Swift's design, which encircles the guitar's soundhole, features her well-known expression "Love, Love, Love" among delicate vines. The design also commemorates the songwriting spirit and success of her album Fearless, whose title is inscribed above the bridge along with her signature.
Swift, who shares a close relationship with Taylor Guitars and regularly uses a variety of Taylor guitars when both performing and recording, fondly remembers her own Baby Taylor as a go-to guitar during her early days of touring.
"I used to sit in the back seat of the rental car while I was on my radio tour at 16, writing songs on my Baby Taylor guitar," she reflects. "I love the sound, and I love those memories."
Introduced in 1996, the Baby Taylor was designed to be the ultimate musical travel companion and set the standard for how good a small guitar could sound. Delivering impressive volume and tone for its compact dimensions, the Baby Taylor quickly became the favorite "road guitar" for many professional musicians, including Bono, Joe Elliott, Katy Perry, Clint Black and, Tim McGraw.
To view more pictures of the Taylor Swift Baby Taylor, visit http://www.taylorguitars.com/guitars/limiteds/signature/TaylorSwift