This is a Frederick Review interview with Gerald Blair, owner and founder of Kerringtone Guitar Company.
Kerringtone Aluminum Guitar Company is a local Frederick custom one man guitar building company. The name is word play on the owner’s daughter’s name Kerrington. They build high end handmade aluminum guitars using aircraft spec materials.
They start with raw materials and cut, shape, fit, weld, finish, and polish to a mirror quality final finish. They machine all of their components, knobs, pickup rings, strap buttons from aluminum or carbon fiber materials. Their necks are custom made from maple to retain the familiar feel of a more traditional wooden guitar.
Head stocks are treated to an aluminum lamination that also receive a mirror finish. Using top notch components, craftsmanship and pride Kerringtone guitars are lightweight, with brilliant tones. A fresh breath of air in the music and art communities.
Kerringtone also supports local musicians in and around surrounding areas. For more info, check them out on Facebook at Kerringtone Guitar Co.
Hey, everybody. I’m here today with Gerald Blair. Gerald is the owner of the Kerringtone Aluminum Guitar Company. They’ve been in business for three years. Kerringtone Aluminum Guitar Company is a local custom one-man, guitar builder that builds high-end, handmade, aluminum guitars using aircraft spec materials.
Using top-notch components, craftsmanship and pride, Kerringtone guitars are unique and lightweight with brilliant tones. A fresh of breath air in the music and art communities Kerringtone also supports local musicians in and around the surrounding areas. There’s a lot more to it other than that, but I’m just going to give you the floor. Gerald, introduce yourself and tell us a bit more about Carrington.
Hi, I’m Gerald Blair, I own and operate Kerringtone guitar and it’s a kind of a one-man band and it’s called Kerringtone guitar because of my daughter named Kerrington, so I figured I’d name it after her. It’s what the man says, it’s an aluminum guitar. It’s something fresh, it’s something new. We use top-notch products, we use top-notch equipment. We use everything the best that you can buy. Just a breath of fresh air.
So in your write-up, you mentioned a lot of stuff about the different components you use. I’m not super versed with guitars, but it seems like you guys used a bunch of really high quality carbon materials, things like that, and you do a lot of specific things with each different part. Can you kinda go into that, I mean, what do you do for each piece of the guitar?
Gerald: Well, you know, all the knobs and everything that we can make, we do make. The pickup rings, the knobs, the strap buttons. We make everything we can because it reflects on the quality, and it goes with the aesthetics, you know, my things are hard to find.
Right, right. So, I know you started three years ago, what made you decide to get started? What inspired you to get going with this?
Gerald: Well, it kind of was just like one of the things where I was, like, hey, you know, I wonder if I can build a guitar out of aluminum. And I did and it was successful and it just got so many looks and then it inspired me to build more guitars. So next thing you know, I’m building guitar after guitar after guitar and, you know, I’m taking them around to music shops and showing the people and just everybody’s so blown away by them, so it kind of took on a life on its own.
Right. You kind of just made this cool thing and people were like, oh, wow, that’s sick, I think that’s really cool.
So I think you’ve already dabbled in this a little bit. What sets you apart? I mean, obviously, you make these special aluminum guitars, that’s different. Is there anything else that makes you just kind of a different cut?
Gerald: Yeah. Well it’s handmade and hand made is coming hard to find these days, you know, with the advances in technology and machinery, that these big companies, they spit out a thousand guitars in a week and here I’m building one out every two, three weeks. So, other than that, I mean, it’s just basically a guitar, but it’s made out of aluminum.
It just takes a lot more time and care essentially.
Gerald: Yeah. It’s very personal. There’s no two alike, you know, even if the shapes are the same, they’re still different from each other. They’re handmade.
Are there any things that you have found just from making these guitars that maybe might be different than an on-brand guitar?
Gerald: Well, the benefit is that they get lots of looks and everybody wants to touch one. You know, they have sustained and seems like it’s forever and it’s something different. It’s fresh.
Right, it’s cool that it’s a music thing too, because that’s kind of the nature of music, you know, at its core, so I feel like musicians…If you’re talking about, not just musicians, but if you’re talking about any sort of interest. So, like, people who play, let’s just for example, people who play video games, I don’t know, but a musician seems like the type of person who’s going to be really into that original kind of spirited thing, you know what I mean? That’s just the nature of what a musician wants in something, you know, I think unique things really appeal to more musicians because musicians are people who are creating things all the time. I don’t know, just something that kind of comes to my head when I think of all that.
Gerald: Yeah. Absolutely. It’s art, and it makes art.
If you could go back to three years ago, what’s something that, knowing what you know now, you would do differently? Any advice you’d give yourself?
Gerald: I don’t have any regrets in this. It’s been full-steam ahead, and I like where it’s going and I like the attention that it attracts. At this point, I don’t think there’s nothing I would change. I think that I’m in a good direction and a positive direction and it’s growing.
Right. Were there any things that you kind of learned as you were building these types of guitars that maybe it was a hurdle one point? Just like a specific piece that you couldn’t really figure out and you kind of had to tinker with for a bit? Were there any small things like that you just had to teach yourself?
Gerald: Oh, yeah. There was a lot to teach myself. I mean, I had never even played a guitar until I started building guitars. So I taught myself to play guitar enough to impress myself, you know, but as far as building, it was a big learning curve to make them structurally sound, and structurally strong. With all the right pressure and to make them aesthetically pleasing, and so on. It’s been a big learning curve and I feel like every time I build one, I learn something new about each and every one of them.
In these three years what’s been your favorite part since you started this?
Gerald: My favorite part is finishing them, but also starting them, because as I start them, you know, it’s like anything, you’re not really sure how it’s going to turn out, but when it turns out it turns out perfect every time. It’s very satisfying. It’s satisfying to see people play them, it’s satisfying to hear people play them. And, yeah, it’s a very accomplished feeling.
It’s a sense of fulfillment, that’s cool.
Gerald: Yes, it’s very fulfilling.
What would you say the hardest thing has been just these three years?
Gerald: The hardest thing was getting started. To sit down and basically reverse engineer a guitar. I have no experience in instruments at all and so it was a lot of thinking, it was a lot of sleepless nights and then details and what can I do next? And what else can I make? And so on.
Yeah, so learning to play guitar is hard enough, building it too is like a double-whammy. That’s crazy. That’s cool though.
Gerald: Yeah. I took on both animals at one time.
Right now, what’s the number one way that you bring in new customers?
Gerald: Its word of mouth. Facebook, social media, those types of platforms. They seem to get around the world, so to say.
I’m sure that since your guitars are so different and unique, that really sometimes all it takes is someone to hold it or see it and be like, wow. so it’s probably a really great thing for spreading like that.
Gerald: Yes, it’s very satisfying to see people, the eyes that light up and everybody just wants to take a picture with one, and play it because it’s, it’s so different. And people are curious about it.
So you kind of alluded to it just now. How has technology helped you in starting this business?
Gerald: Well, the thing is the technology is the 1940’s basically. I’m using old world tools, you know, I work in a machine shop. So I’m using old world tools in my practice of building the guitars because the tools feel like they almost know what they’re doing on their own. I’m using heliarc welding, just using saws and a milling machine and the basic basics.
So, it seems like you have something really cool going on. If you were to give advice to someone else who is looking to make their own guitars, or anything really, what’s something you’d tell that person?
Gerald: Well, do your research, be good at math and take your time. If you’re driven enough and I believe that if you apply yourself enough that anything is possible, you know, don’t give up your dreams If that’s your dream, it’s fulfilling to satisfy yourself with that type of thing.
You said be good at math. How does that kind of come into it? What do you need for that?
Gerald: There’s specific measurements of tune, it’s just not a thing by the ear. It’s also a specific measurement.
Right, mm-hm. It has to be precise to get that right sound.
Gerald: Yes, to be in-tune, so to say.
So those are the questions I have and I kind of want to open it up to you. Is there anything that my questions didn’t cover or anything you’d like to add? I mean, you talked that you named the company after your daughter, things like that. Is there anything you kind of want to dive into?
Gerald: Yeah, yeah, like I said, I named the company after my daughter Kerrington, I decided to call it Kerringtone.
I like that.
Gerald: I struggled with finding a name for this guitar and one morning when I was driving I said, you know what, I feel like using my daughter’s last name, we’ll call it Karringtone guitar, and I figure that either this is something that I could pass down, and you know, build into our tradition, because I feel my guitars will outlast the test of time and that they’ll be around forever, almost an heirloom that you can pass down from generation to generation, as people do now.
Right, yeah, that’s really cool. I mean, that whole concept is really fascinating. That’s awesome.
Gerald: Thank you.
So, this has been good. One thing I’d like to say before I stop recording, it’d be really cool…Why don’t you send us a picture of one of the guitars, so that way when we put all this stuff up at once.
Gerald: Yeah. Absolutely.
That’d be really sweet. Other than that, this was great. This is a super unique product.
Gerald: Thank you.
I know I’ve done a lot of these and every product or business that we do is always unique. I mean, I’ve learned a lot just from different things. This is the first musical person I talked to I’m pretty sure. So it’s super cool. Really.
Gerald: Cool, man. Yeah, I’m very thankful for this platform.