Taylor Readies Release of Liberty Tree T5

Thursday June 26, 2008
By: Taylor Guitars News

The final design touches are being applied to the Liberty Tree T5, the second offering of Taylor’s elite Builder’s Reserve Series. This electric guitar represents a continuation of Taylor’s heartfelt homage to a historic tree that became an enduring symbol of the quest for American independence.

The limited edition T5 is crowned with a solid top of cream-and-chocolate-hued tulip poplar milled from the wood of the Annapolis, Maryland Liberty Tree, the last survivor of the original Liberty Trees from the Revolutionary period. The majestic Annapolis tree lived on the grounds of what became St. John’s College for over 400 years, until severe damage from Hurricane Floyd in 1999 led experts to declare it a safety hazard and order it felled.

Company president Bob Taylor, an avid history buff, subsequently purchased about 80,000 pounds of the iconic tree’s wood, and in 2002 released a limited edition run of 400 Liberty Tree Grand Concert acoustic guitars as a musical tribute to the American colonists who struggled for freedom from English rule.

The guitars sold out quickly to professional players, guitar enthusiasts and collectors who wished to own a unique, playable piece of American history. Taylor later used smaller surplus pieces of the tulip poplar to make veneer backs and sides for a batch of roughly 400 Baby Liberty ¾-size guitars. These also sold quickly.

While some additional Liberty Tree wood remnants still were left, none were of adequate length to form acoustic sides. This appeared to close the book on the Liberty Tree guitar saga, much to the disappointment of many would-be buyers, along with Bob Taylor.

“I had no idea what would become of that precious remaining wood, but I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away,” Bob said of the unusable tulip poplar. “We locked it up and moved on to other projects.”

Little did Bob know at the time that several years later, Taylor would enter the electric guitar world with the hybrid electric/acoustic hollowbody T5. Released in 2005 to much industry acclaim, the T5 is a true hybrid; it can function as a “clean-sounding” amplified acoustic guitar, or as a full-on electric guitar, suitable for high-distortion jamming. Prince, Tommy Shaw and Serj Tankian (System of a Down) are among the rockers who have adopted the T5 into their guitar arsenals.

Bob happened to be pondering the suspended fate of the remaining Liberty Tree wood one day when it occurred to him that it could be used for T5 tops. As luck would have it, there were just enough sets to make 50 Liberty Tree T5 tops, so Bob and his development team hatched a fresh design blueprint: Each guitar would be individually identified by the name of a different state and a corresponding serial number designating the order in which the state entered the Union.

“It’s an honor to be able to use the last few pieces of this important tree to make something as totally cool as this guitar,” Bob reflected during the guitar’s development.

The Liberty Tree T5 borrows some key design elements from the original Liberty Tree acoustic guitar. A stylized, hand-inlaid Revolutionary period battle banner adorns the guitar’s shoulder, and a post-Revolution American flag is inlaid on the peghead. Eleven mother-of-pearl stars decorate the fretboard, plus two more stars in the banner, for a grand total of thirteen. Maple binding with red, white and blue trim embellishes the body, neck and headstock edges.

Liberty Tree wood is used not only for the top, but also for a decorative satin-finish backstrap and a laser-cut, inlaid Liberty Tree shape on a satin-finish maple back panel, under which the word “Liberty” is laser-burnished in a stylized script. On the back of the headstock, the name of each state and its order of entry into the Union are elegantly hand-inscribed. All hardware, including the vintage-style Gotoh tuners, exhibits an antique gold finish. Each Liberty Tree T5 also will come in a special custom case with a stencil treatment that includes the word “Liberty” and 13 stars. The Liberty Tree T5 is scheduled to arrive in stores in mid-summer. 

Please visit www.taylorelectricguitars.com to view a gallery of Liberty Tree T5 images and watch a brief trailer from the award-winning DVD Taylor produced in 2002 about the Liberty Tree’s life and transformation into our Liberty Tree acoustic guitar.