1987 Taylor 812 "Lemon Grove" Flattop Guitar

The vast majority of Taylor owners seem to be fascinated by the refinement, exactitude, and new features in each new generation of the company's products. From my perspective, it's a bit like the Apple crowd and their quest for better-n-better. Don't get me wrong, though -- all of our computers over here have a half-bitten apple on them (though they're not fresh apples, I'm afraid). I'm a user -- so I get it. Practicality is one thing I am super fond of in an instrument or piece of tech.

That said, my favorite Taylors have all been Lemon Grove models -- built when shop was small and located in that city. Compared to the ever-more-balanced, more-neutral, longer-sustained voices that Taylor keeps moving toward, Lemon Grove guitars tend to have a more "vintage" sound to my ears. In the case of this guitar, that means a strong bass presence, sweet and mellow mids and highs, and a tremendous amount of punch. It sounds something like a good D-28 that's been rolled into a very good Guild D-40. The notes all have superlative girth to them.

There are a lot of things on this guitar that are similar to newer Taylors (and many that are different), but the big fundamental difference to me is that the tops are almost always a bit thinner on Lemon Grove guitars and the fact that their voicing was done by hand means that they have more of the boutique vibe and sculpt to their tone that you get from a Santa Cruz, Bourgeois, or Huss & Dalton and the like.

Anyhow, I worked on this guitar for a customer who sent it in a long while back. It already had some old repairs -- cleats to cracks -- but what he wanted was a refret with Dunlop jumbo stock and a new bone saddle and nut. That got done, but he also had me nudge the radius on the board from a ~12-14" to something a bit tighter. I chose 9.5" and man does that feel good on this guitar. Because it has a fast, electric-like, thin front-to-back neck, the steeper radius and higher frets helps give the neck a more "solid" feel. At the same time, the neck is pretty wide at 1 7/8" -- so it's an interestingly-different feel.

Specs are: 25 1/2" scale, 1 7/8" nut width, 1 5/8" string spacing at the nut, 2 3/16" spacing at the bridge, 14 7/8" lower bout, 11 1/8" upper bout, and 4" side depth at the endblock. Action is set at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret with a straight neck and working truss-rod.

Woods are: solid spruce top, solid rosewood back and sides, mahogany neck, and ebony fretboard and bridge.

While making the new bone saddle, I also modified the ripped-through-the-woods-by-tension "string ramps" into round-bottom "real" ones.

That rosewood is pretty attractive stuff.