Richard loves the sound of small steel-string guitars with cedar tops, so he ordered this Grand Concert as an example of how "less is more" when you start with really high quality woods. The old maple used for the back and sides (see story below) has so much figure that any more decoration might be too much. This doesn't sound like a Grand Concert model, it delivers a big warm tone with a lot of sparkle and sustain and thanks to the cedar top it responds to the lightest touch.
The Story of Gryphon's Old Maple
Back in the early 1970s a lot of Gryphon's business was building banjo necks. Virtually all the necks we made were to convert tenor and plectrum banjos by Gibson and Vega into five-string models. Gibson wasn't offering very impressive banjos during those years, the Vega Banjo Co. was defunct, and Ome, Deering, and Bart Reiter were not yet offering banjos in the vintage style (Steve Huber, btw, was still in grade school). We soon got tired of chasing after highly figured maple boards with the right dimensions for building a one-piece banjo neck and so decided to search for a good supply and buy a lot of it. To our surprise highly figured maple of the right dimensions was available but it wasn't being cut for banjo necks, instead it was intended for builders of early American rifle stocks. Monteath Hardwood of New Jersey (in business since the 1860s) had excellent maple with lots of curly figure but they didn't want to ship just a few boards, they wanted a big wholesale order. We borrowed enough money from relatives and jumped in. Of course gunstock makers wanted to get more than one rifle stock out of a board, and preferable several, so some of the boards in such a shipment were quite wide. Our order came on a freight car, and after being blown away by the figure in the wood we huffed and puffed to find room for it in a nice dry place. But by then Gryphon Stringed Instruments was becoming better known for repair work, which paid a lot better than building banjo necks, and in a few short years all those heavy maple boards were stashed in a corner of the attic at 211 Lambert, We used some of it to make a display banjo for the 1984 Guild of American Luthiers Convention in San Francisco but for the most part our stash of curly maple just sat up there, getting more and more seasoned. The Taylor woods guys have done an excellent job of turning this almost-forgotten stash of maple into wonderful-sounding guitars.