Book Review: Guitar Lessons by Bob Taylor
Bob Taylor is a geek. There’s no denying it. Geek is written all the way through this book as if it were a stick of rock. I think the odd thing—for a person in his position anyway—is that Bob Taylor isn’t really a guitar geek. At least that’s what comes through here.
Instead, what seems evident from reading Taylor’s book, Guitar Lessons, is that Bob is an engineering geek. All through, it seems like his biggest passion is figuring things out. How does a guitar work? How can I make one? How can I improve on that last one? How can I make them more quickly and more accurately? Personally, I love this attitude but I admit to being surprised at learning this. I came away thinking that Bob Taylor could be finding clever ways to improve shoe-laces and he’d be happy.
This isn’t a bad thing, of course, and few could argue with the impact Taylor Guitars has had on the world.
In Guitar Lessons, we get to learn about the early days. How Bob and two partners began making guitars and the many, many problems they faced along the way. Part biography, part business-guide, part self-improvement advice, Guitar Lessons is a slightly strange read. Taylor comes across as a very genuine and pleasant guy and he seems honest throughout about mistakes he made and how he’s worked to better himself, his company, and his product.
Guitar Lessons is a pretty quick read and it’s interesting and entertaining throughout. Taylor sometimes strays into providing sales figures and similar information that’s a little dry but this is only when necessary and it’s never overdone or tedious.
As a guitar-maker myself, I admit to finding Guitar Lessons almost equally depressing and uplifting. Depressing in that nobody likes to have the many challenges to growing their business spelled out for them and uplifting in that Taylor battled his way through every one of those challenges and emerged triumphant. My feelings on this are probably a personal view as someone with a vested interest—I suspect if ‘normal’ people read this book, they’ll mostly just come away with the positive bits.
And you should read it. I know there are some Taylor-bashers out there and, quite genuinely, I think they should read it too. It’s an insight into why Taylor Guitars do things the way they do. Seriously, it’s interesting and enlightening. It might even change your mind. And, to those with no axe to grind about Taylor, it’s a shoo-in.
I think you’ll like it. Let me know what you think.