It should surprise no one that a company like Taylor Guitars, as passionate about their product as they are about conservation, would team up with an artist of equal aspiration. From his first A-10 in ‘92 to his Grammy for Best New Artist in 2010, I’d like to share with you a bit about Zac Brown, his love for Taylor Guitars and some reasons he’s one of my all time favorite musicians.
Zac Brown was born in 1978, 11th of 12 siblings raised by two hard-working parents just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. With his oldest brother being nearly 21 years his senior, from a young age Zac was exposed to just about every genre of music. His curiosities pushed him to create his own music and he began taking classic guitar lessons at just 7 years old. While he started with the easier to play nylon string guitar, he challenged himself to learn his way around a steel-stringed blue grass guitar. It was at 14 years old that Zac was gifted his first Taylor from his Mother, a model A-10, and he has had a Taylor by his side ever since.
His teenage years were where Brown got his first taste of inspiration. Zac says seeing Shawn Mullins perform in a coffee shop was all it took for him to decide to start performing himself. With his Taylor in hand every day, Brown spent the rest of his free time outside of school performing solo gigs. Even at a young age, Zac was performing not just cover song, but original music as well. With a few years of practice under his belt, Zac took his musical mind and obtained a scholarship to the University of West George where he studied classical voice. Even while following the footsteps of many of his classmates, switching his major several times from music to biology, from business to psychology, Zac never lost sight of his building passion. He lead a band called Far from Einstyne. They pushed to produce a sub-par record and perhaps ego got the best of them, and while recording the band split up. Brown and his drummer continued on, playing gigs where they could to pay his way through college. It was late in 2001 that Zac threw in the towel on his studies and decided to give music his full and undivided attention.
While touring, Zac searched for talent to turn his two man show into a professional group. He renamed his group Zac Brown Band and by 2003 was performing over 200 shows a year and decided to start his own label. Home Grown, now known as Southern Ground, released over 30,000 albums without being signed, an incredible accomplishment. With the growing popularity, Brown opened a restaurant and club where he and his band would perform every weekend with occasional solo performances.
An investor purchased the club and pushed Brown to become the performer we know today. From country bars and rock clubs to folk and jam band festivals, Brown and his band took to the road full time. In 2006 they cut their first big album, The Foundation. The album was acquired by Live Nation and re-released in 2008 and that’s when Chicken Fried became a hit across the charts. Zac expanded his label and signed new artists and by 2009 had cut 20 tracks with his fellow musicians, all in partnership with Brain Balance, a true testament to his incredible ability to give back while trying to build his own career. He purchased land and started a summer camp created to support children with autism and ADD.
Camp Southern Ground is a retreat for kids from 7 to 17 from all socioeconomic backgrounds, races and religions to to come together with the help of highly trained professionals, to participate in programs that challenge, educate and inspire the minds of children living with Autism Spectrum Disorder, learning and attention issues like ADHD, Dyslexia and social or emotional challenges. They’re strong support of the military and their families are another reason I’m such a big fan of this program. What Zac and his team have created is beyond giving back.
One year later, while simultaneously pushing his program and own music career, Zac Brown and his band were given the prestigious honor of being awarded “Best New Artist” at the Grammy's. To say this was well deserved would be an understatement. The music produced by Brown and his team of talent fits outside the mold of any existing genre while pleasing the ears of many dedicated to traditional country music and far beyond. His talent and heart have touched lives around the globe as Zac continues producing amazing music and providing for an incredible group of kids. Zac has always been a dear fan of Taylor guitars, but the tables have turned with their glowing support of his career. The list of Taylors that have slung the shoulder of Zac Brown is likely longer than most of us can imagine, but here’s a few of the models that got Zac here and keep him goin’.
Zac’s first Taylor was the Taylor Academy 10. Today, this model is offered in a variety of body sizes with the dreadnought being the most popular. The top is made of solid Sitka Spruce, with layered Sapele on the back and sides. Something you’d previously expect to only find on a higher end Taylor is the beveled Mahogany armrest. While this guitar may be aimed at pleasing those with a slightly tighter budget, many of the features you’d expect from a Taylor guitar are present in this work horse model.
Brown says he taught himself the strumming pattern behind “Goodbye In Her Eyes” on an early Taylor 910. The 900 series has since evolved into a number of model variations. Similar to Zac’s guitar is this Taylor 914ce with V-Class Bracing. The new, revolutionary bracing system is something that even Zac himself has exclaimed as an incredible new addition to an already amazing guitar.
This 914ce, from Heartbreaker Guitars, is in the Grand Auditorium body style with a beautiful, Venetian cutaway up top. The face of this guitar is a sharp Sitka Spruce with Indian Rosewood for the back and sides. Ebony makes up the fingerboard, bridge, binding and purfling. Built in ES2 electronics and Gotoh 510 tuners finish this guitar off as an incredible instrument. Knowing that Zac put a hole in his 900 series guitar teaching himself to slap a rhythm pains my heart.
Currently in the lineup for Brown’s live shows are both the 612ce and 614ce models. You can hear a sample of the 612ce here from a previous sale of Heartbreaker Guitars in Las Vegas.
In stock currently, however, is this incredible Taylor 614ce Builder’s Edition. This model again features V-Class Bracing and a torrefied Spruce top over a wild honey burst Maple back and sides. The Builder’s edition features include a beveled armrest, body edge bevel treatment, contoured cutaway and smoothed bridge for the player’s comfort. The Silent Satin finish is another addition Taylor gives as a way to lessen the unintentional sounds a glossy finish may produce. The mother of pearl inlays on both the fretboard and peghead are stunning as an elegant finish to this guitar.
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced player, the collection of guitars currently available from Heartbreaker Guitars, a proud Taylor Guitars dealer, is sure to satisfy your needs. Click here to see their entire Taylor selection or visit them in person and their beautiful Las Vegas showroom!
Heartbreaker Guitars Contributor