Taylor Guitars

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Taylor Guitars
TypePrivate, employee-owned[1]
IndustryMusical instrument manufacturing
Founded1974; 49 years ago (1974)
FounderBob Taylor and Kurt Listug
Area served
Key people
Barbara Wight CFO[2] Andy Powers President and CEO[2]
ProductsAcoustic, classical & electric guitars
Number of employees
+750 worldwide

Taylor Guitars is an American guitar manufacturer based in El Cajon, California, and is one of the largest manufacturers of acoustic guitars in the United States.[3] They specialize in acoustic guitars and semi-hollow electric guitars. The company was founded in 1974 by Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug.


In 1972, at age 18, Bob Taylor began working at American Dream, a guitar-making shop owned by Sam Radding, where Kurt Listug was already an employee. When Radding decided to sell the business in 1974, Taylor,[4] Listug, and a third employee, Steve Schemmer, bought American Dream and renamed it the Westland Music Company.[5]

Needing a more compact logo suitable for the guitars' headstock, the founders decided to change the name to Taylor as it sounded more American than Listug. Kurt Listug said, "Bob was the real guitar-maker."[6] Listug became the partnership's businessman while Taylor handled design and production. In 1976, the company decided to sell their guitars through retailers. In 1981, facing financial difficulties, Taylor Guitars took out a bank loan to purchase equipment.[7][8]

As of 2012 Taylor Guitars had more than 700 employees in two factories: one in El Cajon, California, and the other in nearby Tecate, Mexico, where the company makes their lower-priced models and guitar cases. In early 2011, the company opened a Taylor distribution warehouse in the Netherlands to serve the European market.[2] In January 2014, the U.S. State Department honored Taylor Guitars with an Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE)[9] citing Taylor's commitment to responsible practices in obtaining ebony for its instruments, which notably included purchasing their own sustainable ebony mill and increasing its usable timber from 10% to 100%.

As of January 1, 2021, the company became fully employee-owned.[1] In May 2022, Andy Powers was named the new CEO, President, and Chief Guitar Designer of the company.[10]


In 1995, Bob Taylor was interested in finding out if the perception of using exotic tonewoods in quality guitars was more important than luthier techniques and good design. To that end, he recovered some oak from shipping pallets found at the factory for a dreadnought guitar's back and sides and used a nondescript 2x4 for its top, dubbing the result the Pallet Guitar. Its neck was also made from oak recovered from the pallet, and the fretboard’s Formica-and-pearl inlay depicted a fork lift. In 2000, a limited edition of 25 Grand Auditorium-bodied Pallet Guitars were reproduced with aluminum inlay included to accentuate the original nail holes in the pallet wood. These have been sold to collectors, but the original Pallet Guitar remains on display at the Taylor Guitars factory in El Cajon, California.[11]

Taylor acoustic models
Fltr: 914, 01A, Richie Sambora signature

In January 1999, Taylor began making guitars with a patented, bolt-on neck they called the NT (new technology) neck. It differs from other guitar necks by using one continuous piece of wood all the way to the 19th fret to support the fretboard.[12] More common practice in guitar neck construction is to support the fretboard up to the fourteenth fret, and glue the unsupported portion to the soundboard. The NT neck fits into a pocket on the top of the guitar body, achieving the desired angle with small shims. Guitars sometimes require a neck angle realignment (neck reset). Taylor's system achieves this by changing the shims to adjust the neck angle. Prior to 1999, Taylor Guitars had a simpler bolt-on neck design. Those necks can also be adjusted without the more complex process of ungluing the neck joint.[13][14]

Taylor factory
Fltr: interior view, machines, bodies in process, ready for delivery

Taylor uses their own pickup system, the "Expression System," which consists of a humbucking induction pickup mounted in the neck and a pair of dynamic soundboard transducers wired to an onboard preamplifier designed by Rupert Neve.[15] The entry-level 100 and 200 series use an externally similar system known as ES-T, which uses a single under-saddle pickup and no soundboard transducers. The first-generation ES system was introduced in 2004. It had two transducers: one mounted to the bridge, and one on the lower bout of the sound board, and a small single-coil neck pickup mounted in the neck joint, all wired to the onboard preamp, which had three knobs for volume, tone, and blend. This early ES system was available on the higher-end 500 series and above as well as the 30th-anniversary limited-edition series starting in the fall of 2004. It was a custom order for the 300 and 400 series, and could be retrofitted to some older Taylor guitars with the NT neck design.


Taylor's 145,000 square foot manufacturing facility is about 20 miles east of downtown San Diego in El Cajon, California. A free, guided tour of the Taylor Guitars factory is open to the public at 1:00 p.m., Monday through Friday except some holidays.[16] For those too far away to visit the factory, Premier Guitars published a four-part tour of the Taylor Factory, narrated by Bob Taylor in 2008.[17]

Notable players[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Taylor Guitars 30 Years of a New American Classic, Michael John Simmons
PPV Medien; Hardcover edition (January 10, 2005) ISBN 978-3932275449
  • Guitar Lessons: A Life's Journey Turning Passion into Business, Bob Taylor
Wiley; Hardcover 1st edition (January 25, 2011) ISBN 978-0470937877


  1. ^ a b Matt Owen (January 12, 2021). "Taylor Guitars is now 100% owned by its employees". Guitar World.
  2. ^ a b c Erin Kellaway (November 7, 2013). "International Speaker Series: Barbara Wight". University of San Diego. Archived from the original on 23 April 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Jefferson Graham (August 5, 2014). "Meet the guys who build Taylor Swift and Jason Mraz's guitars". USA Today. Archived from the original on 18 February 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2016. EL CAJON, Calif. — For almost 40 years, Bob Taylor's dream of making easier-to-play great-sounding guitars has paid off. His Taylor Guitars is now the No. 1 manufacturer of acoustic guitars in the United States, and it rode out the Great Recession with just a brief downturn in sales.
  4. ^ "Bob Taylor, Cofounder and President of Taylor Guitars Writes New Book about Life, Passion and Business". Prweb.com. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
  5. ^ "Taylor Acoustic Guitars". Play-acoustic-guitar.com. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
  6. ^ "Taylor Guitar Story – From the Beginning". Musician's Superstore. Archived from the original on January 5, 2011. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  7. ^ Simmons, Michael John (May 2004). "American Dreamers: Bob Taylor, Kurt Listug, and the rise of Taylor Guitars". Acoustic Guitar. 137.
  8. ^ "Taylor Guitars". Fundinguniverse.com. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  9. ^ George Varga. "Taylor Guitars saluted by John Kerry". The San Diego Union-Tribune.
  10. ^ Sam Roche (2022-05-31). "Andy Powers named new CEO, President and Chief Guitar Designer of Taylor Guitars". guitarworld. Retrieved 2022-06-02.
  11. ^ Josh Summers. "The True Story Behind Taylor's Pallet Guitar". Guitar Adventures. Archived from the original on 24 April 2016. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  12. ^ Ford, Frank (May 12, 1999). "Taylor's New Neck Joint". Frets.com.
  13. ^ "Machining beautiful music". American Machinist. July 30, 2005. Archived from the original on 23 April 2016. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  14. ^ "FAQs". Taylor Guitars. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  15. ^ Rudolph, Barry. "Taylor Guitar Expression System".
  16. ^ Alysia Gray Painter (November 26, 2014). "Taylor Guitar Factory: Tours and Toy Donations". NBCUniversal Media. 7 San Diego. Archived from the original on 23 April 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  17. ^ "Taylor Guitars Factory Tour - Part I" (Video). YouTube.com. Premier Guitars. May 13, 2008. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g Ross Boissoneau. "Sounds of Wood and Steel". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  19. ^ "Les Mots Bleus Christophe". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-05.
  20. ^ Mark Tran (July 23, 2009). "Singer gets his revenge on United Airlines and soars to fame | News | The Guardian". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  21. ^ "Steven Curtis Chapman Signature Model". Taylor Guitars. October 12, 2010. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
  22. ^ Rodgers, Jeffery Pepper. "Acoustic Guitar Central: Artist Gear Picks". Acoustic Guitar. String Letter Publishing. Archived from the original on 5 September 2008. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  23. ^ Dan Apczynski (December 2009). "Dave Matthews What He Plays". Acoustic Guitars. Archived from the original on December 13, 2010. Retrieved 28 April 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  24. ^ "Dolores O'Riordan Equipboard". Equipboard. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  25. ^ "Gabriella Quevedo Talks Gear, Breaking Down Stereotypes and More". Guitar World. 29 July 2016. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  26. ^ Tom Guerra. "SNUFFY WALDEN - SCORING HIS OWN SOUNDTRACK". Mambo Sons. Archived from the original on 29 April 2016. Retrieved 29 April 2016.

External links[edit]