Tools and Materials
You Need for this
• Strobe tuner
• String action gauge
• Fretboard radius gauges
• Truss rod wrench
• Small screwdriver for
truss rod cover
• Bone saddle blank
• 14" radius block
• Self-adhesive 80-, 400-,
and 600-grit sandpaper
• Ultra-fine #0000
• Miniature carbide files
• Gauged nut slotting
• Mechanical pencil
• Low-tack painter’s
• String winder and cutter
• Fresh strings
• Small towel or
• Lemon oil or commercial
Recently, a storied late-’90s Taylor 914
showed up at my shop. The first time I
worked on this guitar was back in the ’90s after I
moved my repair operation to Nashville’s Music
Row. At the time it was built, this was one of
Taylor’s premium Grand Auditorium models.
This particular 914 has a fascinating history.
It belongs to one of my first customers, Nathan
Paul Chapman, who is a two-time Grammy-winning
producer and guitarist. Chapman has
produced records for many top artists, including
Taylor Swift, Lionel Richie, Shania Twain, Sara
Evans, The Band Perry, and the Invite. This was
Nathan’s first “real” acoustic guitar, and he used
it as his workhorse for Taylor Swift’s 2006 multi-platinum,
self-titled debut. Not on a few songs,
but throughout the entire album.
Over the years, this 914 has logged many miles
and been featured on countless sessions, and generally
has had the living daylights played out of it.
When Chapman noticed the guitar wasn’t performing
as well as it once did, he brought it in to see if
we could coax it back into tip-top shape. To have
the guitar return to my bench after over a decade
was cool, but I knew it would need some work.
Getting the Lay of the Land
Before I do anything, I ask my clients several
important questions to help me dial in the guitar
to the player. Since technique differs from one
guitarist to another, this background information
is crucial for properly setting up a guitar after I’ve
completed any repairs or modifications.
These are the questions I ask: What tuning do
you use? Do you use a flatpick? If so, what size and
thickness? How hard do you pick and strum the guitar,
and do you play with a light, medium, or heavy
fretting-hand touch? If you play fingerstyle, do you
attack the strings with your nails, fingerpicks, or
fingertips? What styles of music do you play? What
gauge strings do you use? Do you use a capo?
Though I was familiar with Chapman’s playing,
I ran these questions by him to be sure I
understood how he planned to use this 914.
Armed with the information he gave me, I was
ready to start work on the guitar.
Watch John and Andy take the 914 through the entire process on video below, or click to the next page for detailed step-by-step instructions and photos.