How Taylor Guitars is making its mark on the industry, its customers, and the planet

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Faced with changes in economies and market demands, some of the biggest guitar companies have hit hard times. Dealing with debt, staff reductions, and production of more affordable instruments has bogged down guitar manufacturers and retailers in the past decade. Many things are to blame, such as the 2009 recession, overall market saturation, and changes in musical interests among younger generations.

One thing is for certain, however –in any successful business and with any successful product, you have to think differently from your competitors. You need to focus on your customers’ experience. Today, you have to embrace corporate social responsibility and give customers the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than themselves by purchasing your product.

That’s just what Taylor Guitars is doing.

As one of the leading guitar companies in the world, Taylor has introduced business practices and products that have helped it remain competitive, relevant, and contemporary. While some guitar companies are treading water, Taylor is not only remaining afloat but commanding the ship.

This positioning results from Taylor’s focus on innovative designs, environmental sustainability, and customer interactions. Since its founding in 1974, Taylor’s ability to think outside of the box is what has made it a leader in developing guitars for yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Let’s delve into what Taylor has been up to, starting with their latest lineup of acoustic guitars. We’ll also look at the company’s sustainable Ebony Project, an effort to promote responsible wood harvesting for guitar manufacturing. We’ll get a glimpse into Taylor’s latest multi-media and online resources that connect customers with the brand, and how the experts at Taylor are bringing the show to you.

Lining Up New Models

The V-Class: Earlier this year, Taylor introduced a major development in the way guitars are designed – the V-Class bracing system. The new blueprint for acoustics changes the way the top vibrates and enhances the overall sound. V-bracing is a major shift from traditional X-bracing, which, in many ways, hindered the instrument’s flexibility, volume, and sustainability. The new V-Class design keeps strings in motion longer, which allows more volume and a clearer sound. Taylor’s new design also solves intonation issues commonly heard with higher frets. Though it may not sound like a huge deal, you’ll have to play one of the new V-Class models to hear the difference – you’ll be amazed.

The Builder’s Edition: Designed employing the new V-Class bracing design, the Builder’s Edition was crafted to the exact specifications of Andy Powers – Taylor’s master guitar designer and builder. The result: a new level of comfort and control for players. The guitar’s ergonomic design features a newly beveled cutaway into the neck heel and a finger bevel on the soundboard (for your pinky finger). With this design, your fingers can span the entire fretboard without changing your hand position. Aesthetically, the guitar features a sloped body edging that gives it a sleek look and feel, and a new satin finish that doesn’t make noise when you slide your arm across the guitar. Trying this guitar for the first time feels like wearing jeans but looks like a tuxedo.

Sourcing Wood Responsibly

If you’ve ever wondered what gives Taylor guitars such a superb sound, you’d be interested to note that it is, in part, due to the specific type of wood it uses. For hundreds of years, makers of stringed instruments have relied on wood from ebony trees to provide a durable product that simply looks beautiful.

Taylor is one such guitar maker, and in 2011, purchased a sawmill in the African country of Cameroon. Noting the precarious nature of wood sourcing and the concentrated efforts of the native people involved in providing optimal wood for its products, the company started on a path towards ensuring more sustainable ebony sourcing practices were put in place.

Early on, Taylor, along with Madinter – a Spanish wood supplier – upgraded the milling operation to introduce and uphold work standards and promote conservational efforts. Taylor also pioneered new measures of research on ebony’s ecology, which resulted in a community planting program that will plant thousands of ebony trees over the next several years and aim to help counterbalance the number of trees harvested.

Today, consumers know that the world’s resources are not infinite. Purchasers of homes, cars, and even guitars are aware that their buying habits have an impact. The market is shifting in favor of more environmentally-conscious companies. More than ever, manufacturers that find and promote sustainable ways of providing quality products to their customers – from start to finish – are coming out ahead. Taylor’s responsible wood sourcing is not just having an impact on the world, but on the company’s ability to set itself apart from other manufacturers.

The quality control team.
Ebony leafy cuttings planted in non-mist propagators can produce large numbers of trees. CBI is teaching this technique to local communities.
Stella Nouboue, Administration

Along with producing innovative designs and safeguarding the future of ebony trees, Taylor is changing the way it tells these stories. Focusing on a user-friendly multimedia experience, the company has put together a fountain of resources to keep buyers informed and get the word out about its work in Cameroon.

The Ebony Project is Taylor’s multi-part digital narrative that chronicles the company’s work promoting proper ebony sourcing in Cameroon. The experience is broken up into eight parts, taking virtual visitors on a journey to Africa, where they will learn more about Taylor’s work in responsible ebony sourcing. Featuring narration by co-founder Bob Taylor, the Ebony Project blends breathtaking footage of African jungles – where your guitar’s journey begins – through to the complete product. With storytelling, interviews, and imagery, Taylor is helping the public gain a deeper understanding of what goes into making a quality instrument, the people involved, and the company’s impact on societies across the globe.

While some companies perhaps focus their marketing efforts on a few half-hearted social media posts, Taylor has knocked it out of the park with their multi-media informational campaign. Bringing the story of the product to the customer, in an emotionally captivating and visually mesmerizing way proves why Taylor is one of the few guitar companies that can obtain and maintain such a committed client base.

Taylor Guitars | The Ebony Project

Connecting with Audiences

The Ebony Project, however, is not Taylor’s only method of virtual interaction with its fans. The “Find Your Next Guitar” online module keeps buyers informed and helps connect them with the perfect instrument. With it, customers can browse guitars by shape, woods, series, and more. They can compare guitars head-to-head using interactive videos and specs chosen from a dropdown list of options.

Beginners can also compare the entire Taylor line and obtain easy to understand overviews of the company’s acoustic line, as well as quick reference Taylor’s buying guide. With this platform, Taylor is proving that in order for customers to make an informed decision, you must help inform them. By implementing the “Find Your Next Guitar” module, Taylor makes it easy for you to research and discover the right guitar.

Hitting the Road

Taylor’s award-winning Road Show events bring the company’s crack team of guitar makers to various music stores throughout the country to answer retailer questions, meet with customers, and gain new ones. At these events, the Taylor team shares the latest news from the factory while demonstrating a variety of woods and shapes they use to give the right tone and feel to the guitars they make.

An interactive experience, fans get to play and size up the newest models (including the V-Class and Builder’s Edition) and even some exclusive custom models only available for the Road Show. The team at Taylor views the Road Show as an opportunity to put a person to the product, hear what fans have to say, and keep the public engaged and excited about Taylor’s latest projects.

Taylor’s Road Show is just one more way Taylor continues to put its clients first, engaging them in ways other guitar makers don’t. This is how a brand remains competitive, relevant, contemporary, and in your life.

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