Taylor McGrath Playa Series Gatton Guitar

Clarence Chew

New member
So back in June, after seeing and hearing online about Taylor McGrath Guitars, I decided to have one custom build for myself. All along, I have been pretty much a Les Paul style influenced player (think humbuckers, mahogany body, set neck), and have owned a variety of guitars from PRS’s to Gretschs.

Taylor McGrath Guitars - a small company based in Sydney established in late 2012 by Taylor and Shane. Before this, I had my reservations about custom building a guitar for myself as I have heard couple of bad experience from friends of other luthiers (attitude issues, integrity, slipshot workmanship). But after reading all the reviews and comments about TMG, I decided to take a plunge with TMG.

After a couple of emails, Taylor gave me a call to firm up the specs, I can still remember clearly, the passion and love he had for what he was doing. I was instantenously blown away, and thus this marked the start of a journey towards my dream guitar.

To cut the long story short, my final specs:
• Ash body Gatton (Cabronita style) guitar
• Bone nut
• 3 Tone Sunburst
• Medium to Fat D shape neck with rolled off edge
• 22 Frets
• 10” Neck Radius
• Rod McQueen Slider P90 pickup (Neck)
• TV Jones Powertron pickup (Bridge)
• 3 Callaham Enhanced Compensated Saddles
• Callaham Bigsby
• Medium weather checking


Throughout the spec-ing process, Taylor was offering me his professional opinion and extremely patient in answering all my questions – the process felt like, I was talking to a long-time friend whom I could trust this guitar upon (that is the best way I could describe it).

Now, one thing about Taylor and Shane of TMG, is that they never compromise on their quality of work -they seek only the best parts for your dream guitar. From the wood type right down to even the internal wirings, pots, capacitors, you can be absolutely sure of a top-notch guitar you will be getting. In addition, the level of communication and customer service I observed (for myself and for others) is of top-notch. Taylor and Shane have truly build relationships with all their customers (they prefer call them family members though).


Past a few months, I just received my Gatton and really, seeing it on pictures is one thing, seeing and playing on the actual is another dimension altogether. One thing that struck me the most when I first played it, was how comfortable the neck was. The neck plays like butter, felt extremely seasoned, smooth, those fancy chord works were a breeze on it!




Next, the tone of this beauty was absolutely mind blowing! It was so “open” sounding and full but yet still retaining that vintage twang of a tele style guitar. The amount of resonance (when not even plugged in) and sustain is almost insane! Most Teles that I have tried, were either too twangy or too thin sounding, lacking a certain “punch” - but THIS was in a total league of its own. A lot of how TMG guitar sounds, comes down to the amount of attention to detail and workmanship – as quoted off Donny from TMG USA:

“Taylor does a bunch of little things that when combined make a major difference:

1. He buys center cut wood based on its weight per cubic inch and grain pattern. (His ash Teles only weigh 7-7.5 lbs. complete)

2. He CNCs the base of the neck and the neck pocket on the guitar so the straightest part of the grain is right where they meet. This allows the grain to transfer resonance from neck to body and visa versa. We say it allows them to "talk" to one another.

3. The base of the neck is CNCed oversize so that it requires fine sanding before it will squeeze into the presanded neck pocket. No air gaps!

4. Taylor starts with a flatter radius neck that is slightly wider then rolls off the top and bottom edges of the fretboard by hand, bringing it down to a standard width and giving it the feel of a standard radius as the edges taper off. The frets are then dressed to meet this radius so you feel virtually no fret edges on the inside of your hand. This design is now protected under international patents. “


The pickups that were installed was a TV Jones Powertron and a Slider P90. Rod McQueen (Slider) is a pickup maker based in Australia and I can tell you, he makes crazily good pickups. I have gone through a number of P90s and I find most of them (subjective issue let me clarify) to be too overpowering and muddy when overdriven, but not the Sliders P90. I was pleasently surprise by how clear sounding this pickup was even when overdrive! The low ends is crystal clear with pristine highs – truly it has redefined the way I think about “tone”. Lets put it this way, that’s one beautiful pickup I have ever laid my ears upon. Needless to say, it compliments the TV Jones Powertron beautiful, especially when both pickups are engaged (mid position).



Now for many of us who have used a Bigsby before, will know it can be quite a pain to change strings at times especially at gigs, whereby you are pressed for time and also has tuning issues for some. For all TMG models that is fitted with Bigsby, Taylor uses the Callaham styled Bigsby. It is still your traditional Bigsby with huge upgrades. Firstly, instead of the usual hooking the ball end of the strings to the pin of a bigsby, you now just thread it through the bigsby, and pull it out from the other side. In addition, the bigsby comes bar has grooves that lets your string sit in place firmly, thus reducing tuning stability issues if you are a heavy bigsby user. Personally for myself, I tend to be a heavy bigsby user, and so far I have absolute no issues despite what I have been dishing out, talk about excellent hardware!



When I was thinking of the cosmetic features of the guitar, I truly wanted something that has a vintage look but yet, still retains that “modern” tenacity aspect. I can’t even begin to describe how phenominal Taylor’s work is on this! There have been many jobs that I see, is made out of sanded finish coupled with some chips and knocks here and there. The feel and look of it is absolutely second to none, and personally I haven’t seen anything as good if not better than Taylor’s work!






In conclusion, Taylor McGrath Guitars is undoubtly one of the companies I would put my absolute trust in, in designing and building my guitars. Taylor and Shane are top humans, pleasure to chat with, work with. I have been following TMG since their establishment, and really as part of the TMG family, I am proud of what they have achieved this far.

It is because I have been so impressed with everything, that I decided I should take some time off to write out this review of my experiences with TMG.

Absolutely stoked with everything!

*The above review was based on my own opinion and personal experience