Taylor Circa 74 150-watt Acoustic Guitar and Vocal Amplifier
If you know Bob Taylor, you know he likes refined woodworking and pleasing sound. So when he decided to design an acoustic amplifier from a stockpile of tonewoods not quite right for guitars, he knew just who call. Soon after, pro player Terry Myers, electronics guru Tyler Robertson and woodworking wizard David Judd were in Bob’s workshop and ideas were flying around as much as the sawdust.
Starting mid-pandemic meant Bob Taylor and team could do things their own way with no ticking clock. They could ignore the rules – foregoing today’s often “over-engineered” mentality, they went about designing an amp guided by curiosity, experimentation and their own ears.
The first problem to tackle: What if an acoustic amp could also work like a PA? Could they design an amp that a person could sing through and also sound good? With ear-pleasing analog warmth? And was portable and easy to use?
They found themselves working on this project with the type of creative passion you’d find at a startup – reminding Bob of his earlier days founding Taylor Guitars – circa 1974.
Sonically, they wanted to dial down some of the high-end harshness found in many acoustic amps and channel the classic warmth of an acoustic guitar or a vinyl record. In testing and selecting the chassis and speaker, the group relied on their ears—not the reading of an oscilloscope.
“We designed it with an appreciation for the human listening experience,” explains Terry Myers. “It was informed by the pleasure of listening to records from the ’60s and ’70s.”
Similar to the way tonewoods selected for the back and sides of an acoustic guitar add sustain and uniquely flavor the sound, the amp’s mahogany cabinet helped contribute to its warm sonic character.
Wanting to give the amp extra utility for gigging guitarists who sing or duos, they designed it as a 2-in-1 acoustic and vocal amp with two input channels.
Finally, Bob and David designed a matching amp stand featuring a slightly angled surface to optimize projection and routed footholds that secure the amp. Together, the two pieces pair beautifully, with clean lines and rich wood texture reminiscent of mid-century modern furniture design.
What began as a challenge turned out better than they’d imagined.
The result: Circa 74 is a beautiful, musical amp with notable simplicity and playability.
“I wanted the elegant aesthetic appeal of a piece of finely crafted furniture,” Bob says. “Something that looks great in a living room or at a wedding reception or wine bar. And wanting to use our wood resources in the most responsible way. I’m happy we were able to incorporate this mahogany into a product that I think musicians will really love.”