Guitar Icon Bob Taylor Remembers Downtown San Diego

92101 NEWS & NOTES: Strumming through the city. New retailers at Horton. The Last Word on food, football and Sunday traditions
Before Taylor Guitars, Bob Taylor found inspiration in downtown San Diego.

Play an acoustic guitar? If so, there’s a 40% chance it’s locally made by Taylor Guitars. Bob Taylor’ nearly half-century-year-old, world-famous, El Cajon-based company employs more than 1,300 people. I recently interviewed Taylor for a feature that’ll run in the October issue of Ranch & Coast Magazine. We chatted about his downtown San Diego connections to Quality Cabinets, Frost Hardwood & Lumber and The El Cortez Hotel. Here are two strong memories that were building blocks in the young life of a guitar-industry icon:

APEX MUSIC. “I’d drive my 1969 Honda 350 to downtown, past the peep shows, where Apex Music Company was. I bought some gear from them in those years, but I saw this 12-string guitar there made by a Finnish company. It was an Eko Ranger, the first 12-string I ever played. That guitar was 175 bucks. I couldn’t afford it. So, I decided to make one. I went home, switched from auto shop to wood shop in school. I made a guitar that was easy to play, and that’s what started my love of guitar building, which eventually led to Taylor Guitars.”

SAN DIEGO HARDWARE. “During its downtown reign, San Diego Hardware was the best hardware store ever,” Taylor says. “When we first started the business, that was the place where I could find anything. I’d drive downtown on [State Route] 94 from Lemon Grove, park and go inside. It was hard getting me out of San Diego Hardware. One time on a Friday evening I needed a 13-millimeter left-handed tap to cut left-handed threads on a rod. Industrial supply houses didn’t have it. But I went down into the bowels of San Diego Hardware and there it was.”

The realization of Horton 2024 just got stronger with the recent addition of new retailers. (Courtesy photo)

HORTON RETAILERS: The Sun recently ran a two-part series on the progress of the former site of Horton Plaza Mall. On August 23, Stockdale Capital Partners announced the inaugural tenants in the new mixed-use Campus at Horton: Sprouts Farmers Market, Shake Shack, SalonRepublic, Sweetgreen and Studio Three Fitness. Read about the new layout of Horton; as well as its environmentally friendly designs. Planned opening: Summer of 2024.

DINING POLL WEEKLY WINNER: Congratulations to Keri Minnick, winner of the first week’s random drawing from people who’ve voted in The San Diego Sun’s Downtown Dining Readers’ Poll. One entry per person. All entrants are eligible to win two (2) tickets to a San Diego Cruise on the Triton Charters 75-foot catamaran.


  • Anybody who wants to do field research for making their picks in the The Downtown Dining Readers’ Poll ought to take advantage of two upcoming “Taste Of” events. The inaugural Taste of East Village is August 29-30; the 27th Taste of Gaslamp is September 9.   
  • The official after-party for the Taste of Gaslamp on September 9 is 5 to 7 p.m. at Johnny Wahoo! Golf Bar. TOG attendees get a Free Drink + Extra Bite ticket and Free Play on game simulators.
  • The first NFL Sunday of 2023 is September 7. If you’re ready for some football, The Sun has a list of the best downtown sports bars for gridiron group gazing.  
  • Eternal congrats to a special downtown institution that’s also Sunday-focused: Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church. Little Italy’s illustrious house of worship just celebrated its 100th anniversary.  SDSun


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