A lazy slant on Route 301 guided the mix of fallen snow and ice to the side of the road in a mangled grayscale. The trip was over. We now struggled to outrun the steady pace of the errant ice storm at our heels. It was as if the crooked hand of the Chesapeake Bay and its many tributaries were pushing us southward — a cold and malevolent finger occasionally sweeping the friction out from under our tires. The wilted scenery tipped its hat and sneered in the rear view as we passed cautiously over the Potomac.
…I thought to myself. These thirty days of too little sleep and too much nicotine had found me ten pounds lighter and three years wiser…or maybe it was the other way around. I was too tired to tell.
the trip had become much more
than I had predicted…which, ironically, is an outcome I am certain a third person could have predicted. This started out as an opportunity to travel the country with some degree of leisure while simultaneously breaking new ground for myself and for Mojotone. You see, I have the distinct privilege of working for and with a remarkable group of people who were able to appreciate my desire to mobilize my life. Not only could they respect a young man’s need to get around a bit, but they were able to see fortune in it and support me as I carried on. With their blessing, I was able to meet with a number of extraordinary people during the advancement of this program. Interviewing amp builders, pickup winders, artists and shop owners was not only highly educational but it brought about the corruption of a certain notion I had long carried with me.
at age 25, I had been in the music industry as a working professional for 8 years.
In this time, I had done just about every job imaginable at Mojotone: warehousing, cabinet packing, kit pulling, quality assurance, cabinet building, custom faceplate production, marketing, sales, CAD design, graphic design, social media management…it’s a long list I promise. Having even this much experience had bastardized my view of the industry. After dealing with hundreds of people who build amps or guitars or pickups, I had determined that the market was not only flooded, but that all of these small-time builders were drowning in a collective monotony — I likened this idea to the monochromatic piles of ice and snow that now accompanied me home. With a few huge brand names dominating the entire exchange, how would any of these faceless moms and pops ever sell more than a few finished products in the entirety of their careers? How would they ever get off the ground and start competing? And how, I mean really how, can they even begin to stand apart from one another? This, of course, was the “certain notion” of which I spoke earlier. But as the days on my trip passed, this notion began to erode.
None of these people went about their work in nearly the same way. No two people I interviewed had the same methods, the same rituals or the same philosophy. No two people built or designed at the same pace. No two workshops looked anything alike. Levels of organization varied greatly from shop to shop. Inventory, tools, test equipment and cleanliness were all unique to the builder. The things they looked for when working with a customer, the questions they asked, the obsessions afflicting them as they built — all of these things were different. It became very clear to me that these individuals were just that…individuals. The finished products showcased their own aesthetic and tonal qualities. Packaging and imagery were different with every maker. Attitudes and concerns were distinct. There were, however, certain traits these individuals had in common. A fierce passion for their craft was shared by all. An extreme attention to detail and an unparalleled level of proficiency were present throughout. These were the names and faces that make up this wonderful community — each one rare and imperative. Their contributions are not lost in the great bustle that is this industry.
as we made our way…
…I sat and pondered outwards from the passenger window, and said a silent goodbye to so many things. The tired landscape behind us slowly gave way to the lush green just ahead. Again I thought…
How appropriate that I would be emerging from this mess of gray and black, and barreling towards a vibrant new scene. How appropriate that I would be passing under such a magnificent crack in the sky just as I shed all of these foolish presumptions. There is never a reason to overlook anyone in this industry. We are all gifted and determined. We all have a vision and a goal. And we are all equally insane. But the important thing to remember is this:
this is not a hobby. it’s a lifestyle.
And while this leg of our journey has come to an end, there are many adventures ahead of us yet. I’ve got a keen eye out for stories to come, but I do need you to answer a few questions in the meantime:
Are you rare and imperative?
Do you have the makings of a tone hero?
Can you stand apart from the crowd?
Think it over. Become a part of the movement. It needs you.