Me and my Taylor ("Minnie")
Blame it on Miss Dietrich, my fifth grade teacher, for getting me started on guitar. Actually, she started me thinking about playing the guitar. Miss Dietrich was a young teacher who was into the folk scene that was happening then (the so-called 60's folk revolution). She played a lot of Peter, Paul and Mary (PPM) tunes as part of our music appreciation/singing lessons. The guitars on PPM caught my ear and I daydreamed of playing the guitar and getting the admiration of all the girls. Well, getting one out of the two to finally happen isn't too bad. ;-)
The true impetus that got me to finally take up the guitar occurred in high school. During one of my sophomore classes, a classmate by the name of Ray DeVito brought in his electric guitar for a "show and tell" and proceeded to play some Creedence Clearwater Revival riffs. I was hooked line, bait and sinker! I wanted to play those cool sounding Creedence songs too, and get all the girls as well. I persuaded my parents to get me an electric guitar for Christmas, and as they say, the rest is history....
Guitar is my first love. There is something about the guitar that goes deep into my soul, tapping into a primal urge of self-expression. (Did I just make up that text!?!) The shimmering ring of an acoustic, the searing tones of an electric...nothing seems to connect to the soul more directly than the guitar!
Influences: Mel Frommer (my "this is a tuning peg" guitar teacher), PPM, Gordon Lightfoot, Merle Travis, The Ventures, John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival), Michael Allsup (Three Dog Night), Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple), Tom Scholz (Boston).
The Taylor Guitars factory in El Cajon, CA, is about 35 minutes away from where I live...what joy. They're pretty open about factory visits. From Mon-Fri (excluding holidays) just show up at 1 p.m. sharp and they'll take you on a tour. That's exactly what I (as well as ten other people) did one day in early August 1999. The Taylor factory has recently expanded. The new 44,517 sq. ft. building adds to the 25,000 sq. ft. main building which makes for one very impressive facility.
Our group's first tour stop was the milling department. Amid the cacophony of CNC machinery cutting into wood, necks were being shaped with computer-guided accuracy. Later on, I saw a computer-controlled laser cutter cutting out guitar tops in about 30 seconds each. Automating repetitive tasks enables Taylor to make a precision product consistently and efficiently. There are still many processes done by hand (which I was glad to see). Everyone I saw there seemed intent on their jobs to produce the best sounding, best playing, and best looking acoustic guitars in the world.
I snapped a few pictures at the Taylor factory. To view them, click on the camera.
...From the "Just the factoids, ma'am" department.
Q. How many guitars are sold in America
A. According to music industry census data published in Music Trades, customers snapped up 1,153,915 axes in the United States last year (1998), making the guitar by far the best-selling musical instrument. Of the guitars sold, 611,415 were acoustics and 542,500 were electrics....
...Acoustic Guitar magazine, Sept. 1999
...The following are guitar-related links that I think are useful/interesting.
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©1999 Jonathan Villegas/Small Fish Productions