- acoustic guitars
- electric guitars
- resonator guitars
The Crafters of Tennessee was established in 1977 by Mark Taylor and was active until around 2012. The history of Crafters of Tennessee from their website (in 1999):
"Mark Taylor, the son of internationally known vintage instrument collector, craftsman and flatpicking dobro artist Tut Taylor, grew up in middle Georgia and comes from a rich musical heritage. His early introduction to music was in the 60's when his dad would take him to bluegrass shows at schoolhouses to see groups such as Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys perform. He was exposed to all of the pros.
Just as the masters had introduced Mark to bluegrass music, he was able to spend time with great craftsman as well. His father was an early force in seeking out vintage instruments. "I started doing work on musical instruments while dad was still in Georgia. Randy Wood and Bob Givens came up from time to time to work with dad. That's when I was first introduced to the art of building instruments. I watched a lot, they would let me do some sanding sometimes. I really got into instrument building in early 70's."
Mark and his dad started his first company soon afterwards building the "Tennessee" brand of mandolins, resophonic guitars, banjos, and acoustic guitars. This company continued for several years. In 1977 Tut decided to move to Pigeon Forge, TN where he started a small retail shop. Mark continued to build instruments under the "Crafters of Tennessee" name.
During the next few years Mark began working with several individual artists making custom instruments. This list of artist has grown quite extensive since that time.
Along the way, "Tennessee" instruments have made their way into places such as the "Tennessee State Museum", the "Smithsonian", and as well as the "Nixon White House".
In the early '80s Mark decided that he would continue to build mandolins but forego the large factory route. "I continued with my main instruments, the mandolins, banjos and guitars. I had developed a pretty good market, and to date I've built over a thousand of them."
In 1986, he again opened a small shop with one employee, specializing in repair work and special custom pieces. This continued until the spring of '93 when he and Greg Rich helped form the "Rich and Taylor" musical instrument company. The company continued for about three years. After the close of "Rich & Taylor", Mark opened the new company using his old name of "Crafters of Tennessee".
Greg Rich went on to work for Mac Yasuda, a worldwide known collector of very rare musical instruments, and recording artist. Mark and Greg still collaborate on building custom art pieces and Crafters of Tennessee produces the custom "Yasuda" guitars as well as the "Masterbuilt" guitars.
Today the "Rich & Taylor" and "Tennessee" products have become world-renowned. There are always several projects in the works at any one time. The list of musicians and professional artist has grown beyond imagination.
While one-of-a kind custom and art instruments will always be a special part of Mark Taylor's life, he still is very aware of the individual musician's needs.
Mark adds: "Experience, knowledge and pride are some of the keys to our success and the products we build, we have a lot of experience within these walls, our employees make up what is known as Crafters of Tennessee."
Chris Bozung brings seven years experience from an architectural millwork background and had worked with Mark Taylor prior to formation of "Rich & Taylor". He has earned the reputation of a master in the art of building musical instruments. His craftsmanship and ability supercedes any in the field for detail, perfection and knowledge of instrument construction and sound quality.
Don Hunter is the master of the spray booth. He has over 20 years experience and formerly worked for Gibson. His work is dedicated to detail and perfection. He is the master of stains, colors, and finishes.
Jerry Laliberte was brought into this field of instrument building a few years ago, and has become one of the best detailed and setup men around.
Doug Spencer is no stranger to wood working. He has become a great asset to the company with his abilities to build the resophonic guitars, along with the banjos.
Rhonda Vanatta is a versatile employee. She does everything from the scraping of binding and neck preparation to the elaborate engraving. She has 15 years experience and formerly worked for Gibson.
Mark concludes, "we have a good group of people who will always be responsive to the wants and needs of the customer as well as the artist. I'm mighty proud to be a part of what's happening. It takes a team, and we have it all together.""