Skip to main content

The Tacoma Road King Acoustic Guitar

Wesman Todd Shaw started playing the guitar when he was 12 years old. He loves nothing more than to pick one up and pluck some strings.

The Tacoma Road King.

The Tacoma Road King.

The Tacoma Road King - A Wonderful but Discontinued Guitar

I am absolutely the sort of person who mourns guitars which are no more. Tacoma guitars are no longer produced at all, and to me this is a very sad thing. Now I'd only ever got to play one Tacoma guitar, and it was a Tacoma Road King.

The dreadnought style body guitar was always my go to style for a steel string acoustic, and the Road King was that, and oh so much more. The Road King was an all mahogany body and with a spruce top. It was an all solid wood construction guitar, and it came with these newfangled offset sound holes we were beginning to see, and besides that, it sported a nice Venetian cutaway.

What is the point of that strange offset sound-hole? Well, the idea is having the sound-hole closer to the person playing the guitar allows the player to hear the sound more directly, and thoroughly, while at the same time, nothing is lost for anyone in audience.

The neck of the Road King was mahogany, the fingerboard and bridge were of rosewood. These are standard construction materials for those parts on an all solid wood guitar, and when we're talking about all solid wood construction steel string guitars, we're talking about very fine things.

A Tacoma Road King with black finish.

A Tacoma Road King with black finish.

The Tacoma Road King - Excellent for Flatpicking Style Play

I no longer remember much about the store I went in. I worked in Dallas, Texas, and around Dallas, Texas for a lot of years. The store could have been in Dallas, or it could have been in one of the many smaller cities just outside of Dallas which make up the Dallas and Fort Worth Metroplex.

I think the store was a dedicated guitar store, and not a music store which also had guitars for sale. It was a small place, and I think it was located in what we would call a strip mall. I went in, and as soon as I saw that Tacoma Road King, I just had to play it. I'd seen advertising for those, probably in guitar magazines, of which I have stacks and stacks.

I'd never before been to this store. I've never been there again. I just don't recall much about it, but I can't forget the Tacoma Road King I played inside there.

The very traditional style dreadnought guitars are something I have more respect for than I could probably express. I love the looks of traditional guitars, and in fact, the older I get, the more respect I have for all things traditional. The looks of the Road King don't put me off, however, and after all, guitars are some of my favorite things in this world.

So I pick up the Tacoma Road King, and there is forever a plectrum in my wallet. I sit down in one of the chairs provided, and I make a run through Norman Blake's Whiskey Before Breakfast, I then nod at the late Doc Watson, and go at some June Apple. Nearby is a much more expensive and well known Taylor 410 guitar. I pickup it up and play the exact two same tunes, and the verdict is clear to me, for just over seven hundred dollars, the Tacoma Road King is the winner.

Final Thoughts on the Tacoma Road King - Could be an Outstanding Bargain as a Used Guitar

Now to clarify some things here, the days of the Tacoma Road King were short, and they've come, and they've gone. Fender guitars bought out the Tacoma guitar company, and not out of malevolence, but due to the great recession, and some other events, they would wind up just killing the brand. Tacoma guitars were discontinued.

Scroll to Continue

I'm here to tell you the Tacoma Road King, if you find one for sale, could well be one of the best bargains of your life. These guitars were just over seven hundred dollars new, and nowadays a good one sells for five hundred bucks on the used market. If I'm a young guy, or even an old guy, and I need a professional level dreadnought on the cheap, a well kept Road King could be fantastic for the purpose.

Further I'd like to say I've played a LOT of Taylor 410s, and every last one of them was a fantastic guitar. I only got to play the one Road King, and I played Bluegrass fiddle tune melodies on it, and the Taylor, and I felt that day the Road King was better. If you're not a guy playing ancient fiddle tune melodies in the Bluegrass style, then maybe my notion of the Road King being better than the Taylor should be discarded. Or maybe not. Truly you would have to play them both for yourself.

The Road King was quite a lot louder than the Taylor. You snap off a G run with the Road King, and it really snaps.

Another thing is that off-set soundhole, that could have truly had an effect on my impression of the guitar. This was what the off-set soundhole's purpose was to begin with, to bring more sound to the person who is playing the guitar. Do I think it had that big of an affect on me? No. I think the Tacoma Road King was just fantastic, and as a discontinued model of guitar from a brand which is no more, It is definitely a legend in my mind. Thanks for reading.

© 2019 Wesman Todd Shaw


Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on December 28, 2019:

Congrats Ben. That mahogany D18 sound at prices which seem illegal are sure to be a gift that keeps giving for years and years!

Ben on December 28, 2019:

Hi just bought a Roadking in Ann online auction for 400.00 can’t wait to play it. Was introduced to Tacoma guitars 10 years ago when I bought a used DM9 that just sings. When I saw the RoadKinG I had to have it and for the price you can’t beat for a solid wood guitar.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on July 09, 2019:

Could be. I don't think it will become extremely valuable, but there are likely some major fans.

I couldn't have been the only guy who was very impressed, but I'm not finding much on the web. Hopefully I can learn more and fill this page out a bit more.

Liz Westwood from UK on July 09, 2019:

Do you think this will become a collector's item in time?

Related Articles