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June 3, 2020
Taylor Gives Birth To A New Generation: The Electric Solid Body Guitar PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 16 October 2007 19:19
tesbw.jpgBy Nick Friese -10.17.07
Last week, I had the opportunity to make a visit to the Taylor guitar headquarters in El Cajon, California to get a sneak peek at the first production models of the new Taylor Solid Body Electric guitars. My visit was right on the cusp of their first full week of solid body production at the factory. The builders inside the factory walls were busy setting up and testing Taylor's tools and machines for the production of the new electrics, making sure the settings were spot on to carve the bodies, cut the neck joints, sand the tops, sides, and necks, press the frets, buff the tops, and assemble the electronics and finish the guitars. You could feel the sense of excitement and a maybe a pinch of anxiety among the team as they were putting the finishing touches on the process to make sure the first full week would go according to plan.

Making the step into the electric guitar market was not a simple decision for Bob Taylor and his product team. The idea of Taylor building electrics was a question that Bob Taylor had been fielding for years - "so when are you going to start building solid body electrics?"

Bob Taylor is not a man who makes whimsical decisions with his stellar brand and guitar lines, or is one that would allow outside pressure to push him into a direction that he wasn't comfortable with. Bob is a builder who puts an enormous amount of company resources into product research and development, keeping the innovation cycle in motion in El Cajon. David Hosler, Bob's senior product manager said on our visit, "we are always coming up with new ideas and inventing new products around here. Some mature into game changers like the solid body electric guitars and others get shelved for a while, morphing into something new down the line."

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The Taylor solid body guitars were birthed when Bob and his team finished a proprietary design for the Taylor Humbucker pick- up. After the design team and Bob heard the sonic qualities of the pick-ups they looked at one another and knew they had a new electric guitar in the making. Shortly afterwards, a new generation of Taylor guitars went into the special prototype room a few paces from Bob Taylor's office.

Prior to the development of the Taylor humbucker pick-up, the T5 electric/acoustic hybrid was the nearest of kin to the solid body guitar. But the T5 was still closer to the past than their future with its semi-hollow body and near acoustic body size.

"Our new solid body electrics are a completely original design," Bob Taylor enthuses. "I could never justify building a guitar that was an imitation of another brand's model. That's not what we do. About a year ago, we were working on some humbuckers for a new T5. These pickups sounded so great, we looked up and said, 'Hey, we're in the electric guitar business now!' And instead of keeping them for the T5, we began designing an entirely new guitar, full of touches that are purely Taylor.

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The product development team at Taylor, lead by Hosler, along with Bob, set out to build an electric guitar that had all of the hallmarks of Taylor guitars but that felt like a new creation. Pronounced and subtle details and qualities like the stunning aluminum bridge that feels more like a Rolex watchband than an electric guitar bridge. The volume knobs also made by Taylor-for-Taylor feel like they are made of sterling sliver, with gentle grooves to lock into a player's finger allowing pinpoint volume control, to the sleek and toned body styles, with slight variations on the cutaways between the Classic, Custom, and Standard models. Plus, all of the parts on this guitar from the tuning gears on down to the input jacks are produced by Taylor - this is a builder that doesn't know the meaning of using outside suppliers. If they wanted to, Taylor could start another business supplying guitar parts to other manufacturers and after market suppliers.

"Bob is a modern day industrialist" said David Hosler "If we can't build it we won't do it."

This philosophy doesn't just simply apply to the guitars they make, it also applies to the machines and tools Taylor uses to craft all of their instruments. Many may be unaware (as I was) that Taylor has it's own tooling division charged with designing and building all of the machines in the factory that Taylor uses to cut the neck joints, shape the bodies, buff the tops, press the necks, apply the finishing coats, and build the pick-ups. Short of tuning machines, which Taylor has built to its own specs, there isn't a part of the new Electric Solid Body guitar or any of the other Taylor models that weren't built by an original Taylor tool. "This is the Taylor way," said Hosler.

The Taylor solid body electrics will be available in three models: Classic, Standard and Custom. Each guitar has the new Taylor Humbuckers (there will be a choice of two styles, full or 3/4-size). A limited number of pre-production models will be for sale on November 23rd, with the major launch in January 2008 at Winter NAMM. The pre-launch Taylor solid bodies will be available at select chain stores, independent music stores and online retailers, with a major launch planned for winter NAMM, 2008.

"Our design crew was ahead of the game on this project, which will allow us to put a limited quantity into the market before the official launch in January. It won't be a lot of guitars, but at least a few Taylor fans will be able take one home before the Holidays this year," said brand marketing director, Jonathan Forstot,

Before I stepped into the factory to see the pre production of the new line, David Hosler and media relations manager Andy Robinson took me into the studio to play the new guitars. The first thing I noticed when I saw the guitars on the stands was the unique body shape and different cutaways (Florentine on the Classic and Standard, Venetian on the Custom). The Classic is solid swamp ash; the Standard is sapele, with an inset top of flame maple, and the Custom is sapele with an inset top of burled walnut. They are stunning. Next thing that caught my eyes was the detail, shimmer and smoothness of the bridge. It is a polished and flawless piece of guitar jewelry - with matching aluminum volume knobs that are positioned well and are as slick with small, almost invisible grooves cut into them for better finger control and grip.

Two things that really struck me when I strapped the guitar on my shoulder were the lightweight comfortable body of the guitar and the fit of the neck in my hands. The guitar is lightweight, well balanced, with a neck that you can't take your hands off of. Taylor is well known for their acoustic neck designs; and the builders transferred those qualities to the new Solid Body Electrics.

Unplugged the guitar has incredible acoustic characteristics; hitting an open G chord the strings were ringing like a hollow body jazz guitar. And at that point it was clear to me that the guitar would sound good plugged in - unless the pick-ups didn't capture the acoustic qualities of the guitar. But that didn't happen. The guitar has an excellent range of tones and is quite versatile offering authentic hard driving rock tones, shimmery clean jazz pop, biting blues bursts, and an open and airy acoustic sounds.

With the feel, sound, playability, and beauty of the Electric Solid Bodies, it was very hard to put the guitar down.

The Taylor solid body guitars come with a rectangular hard shell case that is as stunning and plush as the guitars themselves. Electric Solid Body Specifications:

Body:
Custom: sapele with inset top of burled walnut, black plastic and Ivoroid purfling.
Standard: sapele with inset maple top, black and cream purfling.
Classic: Swamp ash with white pearloid pickguard.

Colors:
Custom: Tobacco shade on body and neck.
Standard: "Aged Cherry" sunburst.
Classic: Transparent White.

Neck:
Tropical mahogany on Custom and Standard,
Hard Rock maple on Classic

Fretboard:
Custom: ebony with progressive diamond inlays.
Standard: ebony with small mother-of-pearl dots.
Classic: Indian rosewood with small mother-of-pearl dots.

Strings: Elixir electric

Pickups:
New proprietary Taylor humbuckers.
The Style 1 design is a ¾ size, full output humbucker (covered).
The Style 1 comes on Classic and Custom models.
The Style 2 pickup design comes on the Standard.

Electronics:
Taylor 5-way pickup selector switch

Scale - 24 7/8"

Frets - 22

Neck Joint:
Single bolt T-lok design

Bridge:
Aluminum Taylor-designed

Case:
Rectangular Taylor hard case

Here are some of the sights from the first look at the pre-production of the Taylor Solid Body Electric Guitars:

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