That First Guitar | Kochel Guitars | Under the Big Sky

Posted at 4:12 PM, Jan 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-16 00:12:35-05

Sean Kochel sees music where other people see a pile of wood or a spent shotgun shell ready to be thrown in the trash. In this Under the Big Sky bonus, Sean Kochel of Kochel Guitars shares how an impromptu purchase and an email from his brother inspired him to make his first guitar.

Kochel Guitars are created with reclaimed materials from Montana, combining history and tradition. The body of the guitars are crafted from antique wood salvaged from local buildings, originally erected from old growth timber. Some of Kochel’s guitars have been crafted from antique wood salvaged from one of the first dairies in Montana’s Glacier County. And a select number are made from the wood of a 19th century icehouse. The icehouse stood along the rail road tracks of a spur line in Conrad, Montana and was used to transport food by the Northern Pacific before refrigeration.

The neck of the Kochel guitars are made from various native woods, including Poplar, Chokecherry, and Ash. The fingerboards are reclaimed and shaped by such things as scrub oak pallets and other American hardwoods that were once used to transport goods.

Each fret board has spent ammo cartridges as fret markers. The nut is fabricated from the bones of native Montana bison and elk. The saddles are constructed from salvaged barn wood incorporating an antique nail or an old skeleton key. Each box guitar comes as acoustic/electric.

The saddles are made from antique barn wood, incorporating an original nail, once holding the structure together, now holding the strings in place. Some Kochel Guitar models include an old barrel or skeleton key in place of the nail.

In this day and age when most things are discarded and forgotten, Kochel Guitars takes great pride in reusing our resources and preserving the past. These treasured guitars are steeped in history along with an American folk tradition.

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Reporting by Shawn Newton for MTN News