Taylor Guitars is one of the youngest manufacturers of acoustic guitars. Find out why their guitars are some popular and demand is skyrocketing.
Taylor Guitars is one of the leading makers of acoustic guitars, specializing in the mid to high end market.
They produce more than 40,000 guitars each year and sell more than 60 models, ranging in price from $1,200 to more than $10,000.
Taylor Guitars are known for their incredible tone and ease of play and are owned by many of the world’s most famous guitarists, including Paul McCartney, Neil Young, and many more.
The company is privately-held and is run by Bob Taylor & Kurt Listua.
Taylor Guitars - Some of the Industries Top Instruments
Taylor Guitars began back in the summer of 1973. That summer two young men - Bob Taylor and Kurt Listua happened to take jobs at the same music shop, American Dream in Lemon Grove, CA. A year after both young men were hired, the owner decided to sell the shop and Bob Taylor, Kurt Listua, and a third man - Steve Schemmer - purchased the business.
By October 15, 1974 they had taken possession of the store and renamed it Westland Music Company. The three men continued repairing guitars and built some instruments that they sold in their shop.
At some point they decided to put the name Taylor on the guitars they made, as Bob Taylor was the chief luthier.
In 1976, Taylor Guitars were sold to outside dealers for the first time ever. At the same time as the three men began selling guitars the market for acoustic guitars was hitting rock bottom, making sales difficult for the remainder of the the 1970’s.
At the beginning of the 1980’s, Taylor Guitars continued to struggle, only making about 10 guitars a week.
In 1981, the company took out a loan so they could purchase manufacturing equipment that would allow them to speed up the process of building guitars.
By the following year, they had such a large backlog of instruments that Kurt Listua went on the road to market and sell guitars.
Taylor Guitars Manufacturing Floor
Now that the owners of Taylor Guitars were finally paying attention to the marketing aspect of guitar sales, they began to see a profit.
In 1983, Taylor and Listua bought out their third partner. In 1984, Taylor Guitars received an unexpected boost when the music artist Prince needed a 12-sting guitar and commissioned Bob Taylor to build it for him.
Prince wouldn’t allow the Taylor logo to be placed on the guitar, but word that Taylor was building is spread rapidly and numerous other musicians began using Taylor for their own acoustic guitars. By 1985, Taylor Guitars were selling at approximately 130 retail stores around the country.
Taylor Guitars GS-8
In 1987, the company moved to a new 5,000 square foot facility to accommodate their rapid growth.
With 35 staff members, they were producing about 50 guitars each week and in 1988, their revenues topped a million dollars for the first time.
During this period, the company decided to begin using computer-assisted manufacturing equipment to speed manufacturing and lower costs.
They also began making their guitar cases in house. By 1992, Taylor Guitars had to move again - this time to a 25,000 square foot facility in El Cajon, CA. By 1993, they saw $5 million in sales, partly because the interest in acoustic guitars had grown as well.
At the time, MTV launched the show, “Unplugged” which featured musicians like Eric Clapton playing their hits on acoustic guitars.
Advancements in technology also assisted with the increase in sales of acoustic guitars as better quality amplifiers were becoming more readily available.
Taylor Guitars - "Baby Taylor"
In 1996, Taylor Guitars introduced a scaled down version of their popular guitar and priced it under $500.
The smaller instrument was marketed to musicians who wanted portability and those who were just beginning to play. The lower-priced model was a hit, selling more than 1,000 guitars the first year.
At the same time, the Grand Auditorium model was also introduced and was dubbed by Bob Taylor as the “best we’ve ever made.”
Critics agreed and the company sold more than $20 million that year. The addition of Taylor branded clothing and accessories helped make this number a reality.
Taylor Guitars - "Taylor Big Baby"
Taylor Guitars continued to see growth in both sales and their line of products over the next decade. In 1997, a custom Taylor guitar was presented to President Bill Clinton at the Inaugural Ball in Washington D.C.
That same year, the company came out with a limited edition “Cujo” guitar in conjunction with Stephen King’s novel by the same name.
In 1998, continued growth forced the company to build 44,000 square feet next to their current facility. The addition was built to house the company’s manufacturing operations as well as the corporate offices and the older facility began to be used for assembly and finishing of the instruments.
1999 was a big year for Taylor Guitars. During this year, the company introduced the NT neck, which united the neck system of guitars allowing string tension to remain consistent. The new neck design was a hit with guitarists and was named “Product of the Year” by Music Trades Magazine.
Since then, Taylor has come out with additional limited edition guitars - such as the Liberty Tree guitar. They’ve also added to their Signature Line of instruments with guitar that are signed by famous musicians such as Clint Black, Kenny Loggins, Jewel, and others.
The company currently produces more than 40,000 guitars each year and gives away hundreds of guitars to schools each year.
It’s been more than a quarter of a century since Taylor Guitars humble beginnings and the company is now one of the best-known makers of acoustic guitars.