You had an incredible education in the
guitar world as the son of Tut Taylor, and
you’ve been producing high-end guitars
with Crafters of Tennessee since 1976.
What is it about the resophonic guitar that
has inspired you for all of these years?
I just simply love the sound of the Dobro. I
like the old pre-war style sounds from people
like Oswald and Josh Graves, and of course
all of the stuff that dad had done throughout
the years. I was really intrigued when dad
started doing a lot of the stuff with John
Hartford, Norman Blake and Vassar Clements
with the Aereo-Plain band. I fell in love with
those sounds, and it kind of steered my
building towards a lot of the old, original
stuff. I had an engineering background and
wanted to gain as much knowledge of what
was actually producing these types of sound.
So, ultimately in those days, we designed and
built our own coverplates, our own cones,
our own spiders. And I still do that today.
So would you consider your designs
to be more traditional?
We’re still of the old school; we still do the
old parallelogram soundwells. You know, the
resophonic world has gotten a lot of great
builders involved, and there are a lot of ideas
around the acoustic side, about what makes
those instruments sound and do what they
do. They’ve come up with the baffle system
and the soundpost, and all these different
variations throughout the years, but it’s kind
of funny, because we did the baffle systems
back in the seventies, 15 years before a lot
of these builders even thought of building
instruments. We did soundposts, we did
soundwells, we did no soundwells, we did
parallelogram soundwells—we’ve experimented throughout the years. I love the old
parallelogram soundwells and their tonal
qualities. We’ve experimented, and we offer
different depths and waist dimensions and all
of that, but a lot of those types of things are
built on custom orders.
Can you tell me a little bit about your oper-
ations in Tennessee?
We have a 3000 square foot shop located
on Lebanon Pike in Nashville, and we just
have three people. I like the little, small
atmosphere—I’ve had as many as 25 people
working for me, and that drove me into five
bypasses. [laughs] Plus, we build for a lot of
high-end musicians, and they like that one-on-one type of service.
Are you still doing a lot of the
Yeah, I do a lot of the building, and my son
Travis works for me now, and I taught him
all of the CNC stuff. Also Jerry Laliberte,
who has worked for me for about 15 years.
We do everything in house. We have the
big, square boards and huge logs of lumber, and we go from that, machining it
all the way down. We do every bit of the
woodworking, the pearl inlay, all of it.
Tell us about the tonewoods you’re
using on your resophonics.
I’ve been pretty fortunate to have acquired
over 35 years a large stock of old-growth
Brazilian rosewood, so I do quite a few
of them out of Brazilian. I also do a lot of
the matched crotch walnut and burl walnut, but my standards are curly maple and
mahogany. We also do some out of Indian
rosewood, so we have a pretty rounded
availability of wood types.
How does a walnut guitar differ in sound
from a rosewood or mahogany model?
Well, walnut is kind of in-between. It has a
little more softness to it, tonally, but it has a
great response as far as the projection. The
tonal qualities are very balanced, and walnut
is an excellent choice for resophonics. A lot
of people don’t end up getting walnut resos,
but I think it’s a very underrated wood in the
guitar market. We have a lot of resources for
getting walnut in this country, and it makes
for an absolute cannon of a guitar.
I also saw you offer some guitars with
24k-gold plating; do you like adding that
kind of ornamentation to your instruments?
I do. I don’t like it when it gets too wild,
even though I’ve done some extremely wild
ones [laughs]. Just to give you an example,
we did a metal body back in the nineties,
and it was all engraved, and then we came
back and set 6000 rhinestones into the
engraving. So, it gets pretty intricate, but
there’s a huge difference between being
fancy and being gaudy. What we do is
themes—we develop the artwork, the pearl
and the engraving so it all flows together.
If there’s a resophonic player looking
at your guitars and comparing them
to other high-end builders, why should
they buy a Crafters?
Well, I think there are two or three reasons
that I would relate to, and one of them is the
longetivity of what we’re doing. We’re here
40 years later. We’re still building, and a lot
of instrument companies and independent
builders have not been out there that long.
Who knows if they’re going to be around
two years, five years, ten years from now?
I think being able to stand behind what
you’ve done for 30 or 40 years is a big part
of ordering something, because you know
the people are still there, still doing it and
have been for years.
I think the quality of what we’re doing
rates right up there with anybody that’s out
there, on the high-end side. I don’t think the
competition has the knowledge of doing
what we’re doing and what we’ve accomplished. We’ve built for many, many artists:
480 artists have bought instruments from
us throughout all these years, from John
Fogerty to Garth Brooks.