In February of 2011 I was hired to be part of an expedition ship bound for Antarctica. My duties included performing my original songs for the passengers and crew in the evening, as well as helping to take the folks over to the Antarctic Peninsula for them to experience the incredible sights and sounds of one of the last truly wild and breathtakingly beautiful parts of our earth.
In preparing to go, I reasoned that I didn’t want to take my vintage Martin D35 (with no adjustable truss rod) into such a harsh environment, so I purchased a reasonably priced Taylor, thinking that if it was lost or damaged it wouldn’t be such a personal hardship for me. I found an impressive 210e at my local Long & McQuade in Toronto, and I couldn’t believe how well it played and sounded for such a modestly priced instrument. I took it home and immediately fell in love with its ease of playing and its truly warm tone, both acoustically and when plugged in. This was certainly a worthy companion for my journey to the end of the world and I packed it in its Hiscox case and headed off to the airport.
Now, sometimes things don’t go quite as expected. Over the past few decades that I have been on the road with instruments, I have had great fortune in organizing gate delivery for my guitars, and, sometimes, if I find a sympathetic flight attendant, I take it on board. Although gate delivery is second best, most of the time it works very well. Of course this time I ran into a particularly officious check-in agent who insisted that I check my new Taylor as baggage. Obviously I was disappointed about this, but I decided to put faith in my great case and watched it bounce down the conveyor belt [before being] swallowed by the dark hole at the end.
It is a long flight, or series of flights, to get to Ushuaia, Argentina. I arrived with only my backpack and went in search of my luggage and Taylor. To my shock I was informed that all of my checked baggage had been lost and that I now faced the prospect of traveling to Antarctica with no clothes, no sound equipment, and NO TAYLOR!
My adventures on board and on the ice are the stuff of another story, but suffice it to say I spent the next weeks worrying about my guitar, imagining it in the hands of some fine South American musician playing tango for some fiery dark-haired dancer. My new friends on the ship provided me with enough clothing to survive, and a wonderful geologist from Chile lent me his $40 guitar to play the gig. Not great, but I was grateful to him for giving up his instrument to me.
After numerous adventures with penguins, leopard seals, Zodiac inflatable boats, and the unforgiving Drake Passage that punishes all boats and souls that dare sail to Antarctica, we finally arrived back at port and said our goodbyes.
And coming up the gangplank was all my gear — AND my Taylor! I opened the case and there it was, unharmed but strangely more mature than when I last saw it. Of course, now I had to haul this all back to Canada, but I was very happy to have it all back.
Since then, this wonderful guitar has been my companion every time I travel or play live. I am very impressed with its sound and playability, and I am constantly in awe of this unassuming instrument. I go into music stores now and play guitars worth much more money, yet really, I can’t find any reason to buy one. I have my vintage Martin, which is understandably my oldest friend, but the Taylor is the one I pick up first.
Well done, Bob Taylor and crew, for giving us all beautiful, reliable, accurate and just plain delightful instruments. I will never again buy an instrument in case it gets lost because, apparently, that’s what will happen!