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PCBD-Feb2016

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58 The PCB Design Magazine • February 2016 tronics in each company's products. And we were not disappointed. We focused on guitars and amplifiers for this article, but we could just as easily have focused on a host of other prod- ucts: electric pianos, drums, synthesizers, soft- ware—you name it. They were all unique and interesting in their own right. Our first visit was with Pat Quilter, president of Quilter Labs and the founder of QSC Audio located in Costa Mesa, California. Quilter Labs, formed in 2011, currently designs and manu- factures solid state guitar amplifiers, but soon plans to introduce a new bass amplifier. Their guitar amplifiers are recognized as outstanding amplifiers that deliver "tube-like sensitivity." As founder and chief visionary, Pat Quilter is a flamboyant, enthusiastic advocate for his product, and he remains fully immersed in all facets of its development. In fact, Quilter de- signs his own circuit boards using an old version of P-CAD, a PCB design tool that he is evangeli- cal about. QSC Audio purchases the bare circuit boards and assembles the product using what those of us involved with printed circuit assem- blies would view as simple double-sided SMT circuit boards. QSC Audio uses a more sophisti- cated multilayer product. Shaughnessy played guitar through a Quil- ter amplifier, and Quilter demonstrated a lap steel rendition of "All of Me." Quilter is quite an entertainer. Our next stop was the Taylor Guitars suite. Arguably the largest manufacturer of acoustic- electric guitars in the U.S. Taylor is located near San Diego, in El Cajon. (Next year's IPC APEX EXPO show will be in San Diego, only a few miles from the Taylor factory. Factory tours are free and start at 1 pm. I have done it twice and will do it again.) Taylor manufactures an array of top-of-the- line guitars using the finest wood and tools available. Taylor is a strong advocate for sustain- able protection of wood and is very selective about how they procure their wood and ebony fretboards. Taylor also co-owns and operates an ebony mill in Yaoundé, Cameroon and is com- mitted, as they say, to providing "ebony parts used on a guitar (that) has been acquired legally and ethically, with a commitment to long-term sustainability." That being said, Taylor manufactures over 300 guitars per day in the El Cajon facility, and nearly the same number from their Mexico fa- cility a few miles to the south. While Taylor staffers sometimes joke that the company is re- ally still a "wood shop," Taylor uses sophisticat- ed tooling and equipment to deliver consistent quality, guitar after guitar. So what does this have to do with electron- ics? A good question. Taylors are relatively ex- pensive guitars, and like any guitar made from solid wood, they can last many years if they're properly cared for. Humidity and shock often affect the playability and sound of the instru- ment. Good guitars get better with age, and the sound improves, becoming richer and fuller. But only if the guitar is cared for properly. Many of us guitar players think only about special section: naMM 2016 review Dick Crowe checking out the merchandise in the Taylor suite. From left: Andy Shaughnessy, Taylor Master Luthier Andy Powers, Dick Crowe, and Dan Feinberg.

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