The world of yowhatsshakin

 
 

Tacoma Guitars is offspring of a saw mill. Being in the Pacific Northwest, the mill saw a lot of high quality hardwood lumber come through the yard. In 1991, its then owner, South Korean piano manufacturer Young Chang, started an acoustic instruments factory nearby the mill. And acoustic guitar builders are an interesting bunch. Not only do they all seem to know each other but also nobody seems to be unwilling to help others in providing tips, methods, and techniques to reach the nirvana of the marriage of woods, glue, and maybe some bolts here and there. Around 1995, some folks from Martin and Taylor, the 2 major players in the acoustic guitar market, teamed up with the crew at Tacoma to manufacture a batch of about 200 acoustic guitars for G&L, better known as a builder of electric guitars. The acoustics had already been shipped to dealers before G&L recalled them all and had them returned to the factory. There, they were subsequently rebranded to Washburn guitars. However, about 10-12 guitars were not returned and were kept behind mostly by G&L employees. Of this dozen or so, I have seen evidence for 3 in all, each slightly different. G&L’s Executive Vice-President Dave McLaren has a Dreadnought prototype looking very much like what later became the Tacoma “18 Series” DM18: solid Sitka spruce top, solid mahogany back and sides, and tortoise body binding. It is played by Guitars by Leo (GbL) webmaster Craig Dewey in a picture in this post. The other 2 could either have been the inspiration for the Tacoma “21 Series” or even “28 Series”, one a Jumbo (“JF”) and this Dreadnought (“DF”). Both have a solid Sitka spruce top, abalone rosette, ebony bridge, highly figured maple back with beautiful bookmatched chevron flame seemingly flowing over the edge into the sides, white/black/white binding on front and back of the body, bolt-on mahogany neck, (unbound) ebony fingerboard with abalone dot inlays, headstock with rosewood veneer, gold plated unbranded, closed (Schaller?) machines, and all finished in Natural Gloss. Beyond the body shape, the only difference between the 2 seems to be the bridge pins which are white for the Jumbo and ebony for the Dreadnought. Except for some hints from the “Blue Book of Guitar Values” and the provided links to GbL posts above, I have not been able to gather a lot more info. Be on the lookout for the “equivalent” Tacoma models in the different marketplaces if you want to know more.

 

G&L Dreadnought (“DF”) prototype

The story behind this guitar

Year:                  1995

Serial number:    1272

Neck date:          N/A

Body date:          none, marked ‘TG’ in blue ink stamp

Strings:               D’Addario EJ16 Phosphor Bronze Light (12-53)

Another birthday present from my wife, for 2017 this time. It happened to be listed in the GbL Marketplace a week before my birthday and arrived about 5 days after. The beautiful original hardshell case was made by Kris Datt and his company in Vancouver, BC and feels and looks as good as any other I have for my high-end acoustics. It was great to find something on the heel looking like a Serial Number. And undoubtedly the blue-ink “TG” is for Tacoma Guitars. The seller mentioned beforehand the neck did not have the right angle for him. In the end, the truss rod just needed to get loosened a tad using a 5mm Allen wrench to have it play perfect with the Light gauge strings. Bright sound, powerful and lovely. A great strummer as well as fingerstyle guitar. Which is a good thing because the one thing later Tacoma guitars had and is missing on this prototype is the transparent pickguard sticker.