Weekend at Bobbies
They say never meet your heros, that it can only disappoint. Whoever said that, hasn’t met Bob Taylor of Taylor Guitars, my personal hero in this business. A select group of us spent 12 (yes, TWELVE) hours with Bob and many of his key people at Taylor and I think my admiration blossomed into full on man crush.
Before we get started with that, a little back ground. I own a Taylor 710ce. When I was 16 I wanted to buy a Martin, I knew I wanted a Martin and no one could convince me differently. I just hadn’t found one that I liked (or could afford). One day my Dad and I were guitar shopping and he said “try this Taylor, I’ve never heard of them”. I played a cedar topped 710ce and that was it. I worked all summer for that guitar (better than the summer I worked for a cordless drill! That was working cheap!) and bought it and to this day it’s still the only “expensive” guitar I own.
It also opened my eyes to a couple things: The amazing company that Taylor was, is and will continue to be and that it planted a nugget in my brain that other people besides the big G, F and Martin can build guitars too. While it wouldn’t be another almost 11 years after this before I’d build my first guitar, my 710 has always been the benchmark of what a great guitar should be. Well built, excellent sounding and excellent playing.
On the other side of the coin, as someone who grew up around mechanical devices and manufacturing I’ve always followed Taylor’s growth, use of machinery and environmentally conscious attitude. It hasn’t been hard to follow, I’ve been getting their magazine Wood and Steel for 15 years now! I’ve always been a believer that this is a company doing things right. So when the chance to spend the day with Bob I jumped at the chance.
Organized by Bob and our friend Daniel Tyack of Salvage Custom this all day ‘builders summit’ was attended by an invite only cross section of the boutique industry representing guitars, amps, pedals, strings and more. We arrived at Taylor at 9am and was met directly Bob and went right too it. We spent the first hour or so getting to know each other (or more, Bob to know us). Then we started on our all day tour thru everything there was to see… and boy there was a lot. We covered the warehouse, the milling department, saw robots in action, side bending, lasers, LOTS of CNC’s, finishing and more. We went thru Taylors on site tool machine shop where they make all their own speciality tools, tool repair department that maintains and rebuilds all the heavy equipment, R&D labs for electronics and guitars and more. I mean it when I say we went everywhere.
Two things immediately jumped out at me: There’s something like 1000 employees there and Bob knew EVERYONE by name. It was staggering, I was having a hard time remembering the two or three people in our group I hadn’t met before. Not only did Bob know everyone, every single person we met was beyond passionate about what they did there. Every department, every step of the way they all shared the same zeal for the craft and their job that the three of us here at Kauer do. Probably more so. I could go on for hours about what we saw, and size and scope of the operation but if you only take one thing away from this, make it this: Taylor is probably the most passionate factory I have ever seen.
There is so much we could talk about but outside of those of us in the business, it’s probably quite boring. As we walked thru the factory I kept oscillating between being excited and depressed at the scope of it all but Bob is the first person to remind you that they just do this overnight, he started exactly the same as the rest of us. They built Taylor one piece at a time, one ad at a time, one person at a time but mostly one guitar at a time. What did I take away from this? I could write volumes about it. For me, personally, it was a reaffirmation that I love what I do and that we build a great product here at Kauer.
What’s in our future? I don’t know but I certainly know now, I’m looking forward to finding out. All I know is if I approach it with 1/10th the success and thought as Bob and and the crew, we'd be doing A-Ok.
Thank you Bob and the crew at Taylor, you made this fan-boy into a full blown fanatic.
PS: Sorry for the lack of photos, I just didn't want to miss anything! Look for a full photo spread and article by our friends at 60 Cycle Hum