06.19.11

Tales from the Artisan Economy

Posted in Made in China, Permanent Fail, Rock 'n' Roll at 2:05 pm by George Smith

Taylors are high end acoustic and electric guitars. The company was always artisan. Now it’s a perfect fit for the new economy, high end instruments — like the Fender and Gibson custom shops — for old classic rockers, Nashville artists and the servants of the upper class who acquire them to fiddle about with in their spare time.

A story on Taylor, from the Los Angeles Times, pretty much describes the artisan economy standard and its high button clientele:

At Taylor’s 200,000-square-foot El Cajon factory, which is open for public tours, the company’s mixture of delicate hand craftsmanship and cutting edge technology is on display. One example of the latter is a robotic painting machine, built by Pinnacle Technologies Inc. of Italy for $250,000, which uses an electrical charge to increase the amount of spray paint that adheres to the instrument …

A roster of Taylor guitar owners reads like a guest list from the Grammys: Katy Perry, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Dave Matthews, Taylor Swift, Prince, John Mayer, Jackson Browne, Sting, Paul Simon, Stanley Clarke, Bryan Adams and many others …

Scientist Joyce Jones, administrator at the Vaccine Research Institute of San Diego, owns two Taylors and is contemplating a third. She recently strummed an eight-string baritone at the company’s factory store that she said was “divinely inspired. I am basking in its glory.”

Taylor’s least expensive guitars those costing around $300 to $1,300 are made in a 300-worker factory in Tecate, Mexico. But the bulk of the company’s revenue comes from guitars that range from $1,900 to $10,000, and to as much as $20,000 for specialty jobs. Those are made by the 400 employees in El Cajon.

“Divinely inspired,” said the weekend ham & egger near the beach front Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course.


If Taylor rings a bell it’s because it’s currently featured in a commercial for the wonderfulness of GE Capital corporate financing.

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