By Kinsee Morlan / Photos by Rob Hammer
Andy Powers talks about different types of wood the way a sommelier raves about fine wines. An acoustic guitar player, he uses his expertise to match musicians with their ideal instruments.
Powers is the head luthier (stringed-instrument builder) at Taylor Guitars, an El Cajon-based manufacturer with a second factory located across the border in Tecate, Mexico. Jason Mraz and Jewel are just two of the well known musicians whose loyalty lies with the local brand, which began with two guys - Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug - making a few guitars, and evolved into a big-time player on the international music scene, with 700 employees churning out approximately 600 guitars a day.
"I'm just happy there are that many musicians out there who enjoy playing the guitars," says Powers, a modest, down-to-earth guy who takes time to sit down and play every guitar he makes.
Powers crafted his first guitar when he was 8. The son of an Oceanside musician/carpenter dad and a mom who played music, he began selling guitars in his teens. At UCSD, where he studied music, many of his professors and classmates became his customers. By the time he graduated, he had a waiting list, and Andy Powers Instruments Co. was born.
Over the years, Powers crossed paths with Taylor Guitars, which eventually convinced him to join the growing company in El Cajon. He has been handcrafting guitars for Taylor ever since.
"Even today, the company is still driven by the guitar maker standing at a workbench with a bunch of hand tools and a big chunk of a tree," Powers says. "And he knows where the guitar lives inside of that tree... and how to get it out."