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Andy Powers' Lessons in Tonewoods

“What’s the best you can do with what you’ve got,” asks the Taylor Guitars CEO, who discusses the company’s building philosophy and its quest to inspire musicians.

The new DIT episode kicks off as Rhett and Zach celebrate Zach’s close encounter with special effects mogul Adam Savage, of Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Matrix, and Tested fame. (Nerd alert: Zach and his wife have Ghostbusters uniforms—which they wore that day. There’s a photo.) Rhett talks about the first single from his latest band, Good Trouble, who now have a YouTube channel. The dynamic duo also gives a seasonal warning about guitar maintenance. And then it’s time for the main event: Andy Powers, CEO and chief guitar designer of Taylor Guitars.

Andy Powers Teaches Tonewoods

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The SoCal native—and surfer—Powers provides his backstory in guitar design and building, starting with his hobbyist-musician parents and their friends. His first build … exploded, but he’s done considerably better since! By the time he was a teenager, he was building and selling guitars on his own, as well as doing repairs for local music shops. But even before that, he’d gotten in trouble with the IRS for making too much money as a luthier. Later, van life, as a touring player, didn’t satisfy him, but after he graduated college he already had a two-to-three-year waiting list of guitar orders. From there, it was a short twist of luck—and multiple encounters with company founder Bob Taylor—that brought him to Taylor Guitars.

Powers also addresses conservatism in guitar design, and how to break the cycle while participating in the tradition. And yes, he dives into the tonewood controversy …. and tells a “basic truth” about guitars: neck woods and shapes do matter. As do personal touches, including the occasional crack in a top … and the bumper sticker covering it! Andy also comments on the difference between acoustic and electric players, and notes that “some of the best acoustic guitar sounds I’ve ever heard start with a microphone.” Powers observes: “It’s pretty easy to go down those rabbit holes.” And these guys do! Especially when they talk how to get to best live acoustic guitar tone. And the grand finale: Andy, Rhett, and Zack dip a rig … and explain duplex scaling.