In the mid-’90s, Taylor moved away from using traditional nitrocellulose lacquer finish and developed a polyester finish formula that offers many benefits: It’s more durable and less susceptible to “cold-checking,” the spiderweb-like microfissures that result from exposure to dramatic temperature swings; a thinner coverage can be applied, which allows the wood to resonate more freely; it’s clearer than lacquer and won’t yellow over time like lacquer will; and it’s easier to work with when doing spot repairs. It’s also much more environmentally friendly, which earned Taylor several official commendations and helped raise the environmental standards for the guitar industry as a whole.
To shorten the curing time of the finish — which had been upwards of 10 days with lacquer — Taylor’s tooling team built its own ultraviolet ovens, which drastically reduced the curing process to about 60 seconds.
Another innovation — a combined robotic/electrostatic spray system — dramatically reduced the material waste of the finish-spraying process and made it easier to achieve a beautifully even, glassy coverage on a guitar body.
Other than varnished guitars (Baby, GS Mini, Academy Series, 100 Series), all of Taylors guitars are sprayed with UV-cured polyester — at least to form the base coat over the paste-filled surface. On full-gloss models, the base coat is sanded level then sprayed again with the same material, which is finally rubbed out and robotically buffed to gloss. While their standard gloss finish has an average thickness of 6 mils (6 thousandths of an inch), several Taylor series feature an ultra-thin 3.5-mil gloss finish. (This includes the 600, 800, 800 Deluxe, and 900 Series). The thinner coverage reduces the damping effect on the woods, resulting in a livelier, more resonant sound.
The back and sides of satin-finish models (including the 100 and 200 Series), along with satin-finish necks throughout the Taylor lineup, have a base coat of polyester that is UV-cured and sanded level. The final satin finish material is UV-cured polyurethane.
Varnish is used to finish the Baby Taylor, GS Mini, Academy Series, and 100 Series. The varnish dries to a low-luster, matte finish, with no further surface preparation required. Because the varnish is often applied over unfilled wood (no paste filler is used), the resulting appearance of the finish is more open-grained than on models finished with polyester and/or polyurethane.
Introduced in 2018 as a feature in our Builder’s Edition guitars, the silent satin finish couples the gentle, matted look of a traditional satin finish with a soft feel that produces much less noise when the player moves. The new formula dramatically reduces the squeaking and sliding sounds of a player’s natural arm movements, making it a perfect choice for recording musicians. For now, the silent satin finish is available only on Builder’s Edition models.