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By eurotrash01
November 6, 2006

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Richard Dressner Richard Dressner 2 7 2006-11-06T18:45:00Z 2006-11-06T18:45:00Z 1 1052 6002 The Motley Fool 50 14 7040 11.6568 Clean Clean false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;}

There was a time when guitars were more important to me than women or financial instruments...probably because I had more of the former to my name. More hair (longer/denser) and more time to sit back and figure out a few Neil Youngs or Jormas on a Saturday afternoon. I saved up $ from a lawn cutting summer job and bought myself a decent Yamaha steel string back in the summer of '78. I ended up playing a little in coffee-houses in high school and college, perhaps hoping that the guitar was a bit more of a babe magnet that I was.

After moving to NYC after college and a few jobs into life I decided to upgrade my guitar because, well, I had always dreamed of owning a Martin and I could hear one calling my name. I discovered a small cabal of bond desk guys who were also guitar guys, and they stoked the fires further.

One Saturday late in the year ('86), Steve (colleague) and I got on the Staten Island Ferry and headed over to a noted Martin specialist, Mandolin Brothers, to scratch my itch. Very nice place and a wide assortment of high-end acoustics.

While strumming a D-28 (or perhaps a D-35) someone brought over something I had never seen - a Taylor. I was told that this was a young California company that was beginning to make a name for itself. The construction and wood choices were superior to the Martins I was trying and the sound...amazing. It played "like butter" and I was smitten. I bought it on the spot, took it home and loved it to death. I added an electric (Gibson Les Paul Custom - black) just for good measure.

But life has a way of killing guitar time, especially when you're shipped to Japan to work in banking. The women didn't help either, as far as my guitar was concerned. I did find a few colleagues who played and we jammed several times in the company conference room after everyone else had gone home for the evening. Not sure why, but that came to an end after a few of us switched companies and the free practice space dried up.

So from about 1989 until last month, my poor guitars sat pretty much in place, unloved as I moved them from apartment to apartment between Tokyo/London/NH. Every time I pulled out the Taylor it had old/gunky strings, gunky gold-plated machine heads, and the neck had done what necks do over time - bow slightly making the guitar difficult to play. I finally decided that I needed to take it down to the local music shop and have it looked at. I didn't expect very much, as I live in a smallish (14k or so) town in southeastern NH.

The guy in the store said "hello" when I walked in. I told him "I have this oldish Taylor that needs a bit of..." and he cut me off. "The guy you want to see is down the street about 50 yards, around the corner. I thanked him, headed out, proceeded to get lost and returned. "Where?"

"Down to the corner near the bridge, turn left, and while you avoid hitting your head on the fire escape, look for a door that says '81', and go downstairs. He's your guy."

I found the door marked "81" and lumbered down the narrow staircase trying not to hit anything with my guitar case. Opened another door, and found myself in a nice little guitar workshop.

I explained myself to Pat, the one-man show there, and showed him my project. "Hey, it's an old 810 from Lemon Grove. What number is it?" I handed it to him and he looked in through the sound hole to the interior near the neck. "#4185. Where did you get this?" I told him about the cold ferry trip to Staten Island and the Mandolin Brothers experience as I had remembered it.

I turns out that Taylor has grown considerably and has attracted a bit of a cult following in the guitar world. They had a few fits and starts in the 70's and early '80s, but seemed to get their operational act together by '85 or so.

Pat showed me a beautiful book detailing the company history. He showed me pictures of the old Lemon Grove "factory" and the dozen or so people who worked there. Pat had himself worked at Taylor for about 5 years in the early '90s as a repair specialist. He's one of these guys who really likes bringing back trashed guitars. Fires, clumsy roadies, floods, Pete Townshend wannabes - all are sources of great projects for Pat. He showed me some before and after pictures of his work and he's a magician. Taylor pretty much farms out all their repair work to him now and he has a steady flow of Taylors and Martins coming his way from all over the country.

"So you're the original owner. Did you have it registered at Taylor? Because if you did it has a lifetime warranty and any repair work needed is covered." I had forgotten if I had registered the thing way back when, but thought that I could have. "I'll check with the guys and get back to you. Mandolin Brothers, right?" "Yup." Pat said, "I'm going to California next week and will spend a few days at Taylor and I'll ask the boys what they can do."

A week or so later Pat called and told me that Taylor did have records showing that this one was sold by Mandolin but that the name they had on it wasn't mine. "What probably happened was that someone bought a few guitars, registered them, and returned this one to the dealer...who then sold it to you new. Why don't you call my friend at Taylor and explain things. He'll probably understand and help you out."

So I did. Very nice guy at Taylor listened to my story and agreed about what probably happened. I told him I could contact Mandolin Brothers directly and track down the sale (1986? OK - I'm an optimist) if he needed the record. "Nah - I'll just input your information in our system as the original owner. Have Pat give me a call and we'll take care of you."

A week later, I have this gorgeous guitar back in my hands. The neck was removed and reshaved to reinstate the proper angle, Parts of the "trim" had come unglued over the years and needed to be re-set. The pick-guard had bubbled up, so Pat cut me a new one. I decided to stick with the gunky original tuning heads, just because I know the chemistry of my hands will gunk up any gold-plated ones I touch. The bill for the work, new strings, everything was

So let's consider the odds of all this happening.

I decide to get the guitar fixed now. The original music store owner sends business away just because I say "Taylor." I actually found Pat's place. Said shop is about, well, 3 par-5's from my house. He's Taylor's chief repair guy...and he's in my little town. And he did great work , for which Taylor kindly took my word for being the original owner and hence they paid Pat for his handiwork.

Oh - and there is a collector's market for original Lemon Grove Taylor's, meaning that this one is somewhat valuable.

Why would I sell?


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