Pladd Dot Music owner Chris Mitchell is expanding his full service music operation to include the manufacturing of guitars and amplifiers.
Moving beyond his retail and music instruction base in downtown Statesboro, Mitchell is in the final stages of completing renovation of a 7,500-square-foot manufacturing facility just off Highway 301 North.
Mitchell said he began exploring building his own equipment last summer, and found that it could be produced at a reasonable price to the consumer.
"Our guitars are $699, and our amps start at $999, which is roughly half of what is being charged for similar products offered on the market today," he said. "These are high quality products, and they are everything that I would want them to be as a musician, plus, they are built to be very, very durable. Both will be available for purchase in our downtown location, as well as in music stores across the southeast."
Mitchell said he is able to price his guitars and amps much lower than his American competition, because he is a small manufacturer without the overhead that the larger companies like Fender and Gibson have.
"Right now, we are able to hold our costs down, and put a very competitive price on our guitars and amplifiers as we introduce them to the marketplace," Mitchell said.
Mitchell recently introduced his new line of locally made amplifiers and guitars at the annual National Association of Music Merchants summer trade show in Nashville. His guitar was awarded one of the six "Best In Show" honors presented at this year's trade show.
"These guitars have nice, highly figured tops, great sounding pickups, nice fretwork, and a really simple design," said Vincent Nemeth, a member of the selection committee that chose Mitchell's guitars. "They're a small American company trying to do big things. They're all built here in the United States. I think that's really important today."
The amplifiers are being produced under the brand name Devilcat Amplifiers, and the guitars under the brand name of CMG Guitars. With the exception of the transformers in the amplifiers, both products are being produced from parts manufactured in the United States - something that makes Mitchell very proud.
"I am always looking for affordable equipment that is American made," Mitchell said. "It is usually very expensive - much more so than equipment that is imported and produced outside of this country. We are producing something that I have always sought to buy."
Mitchell's manufacturing facility has four full-time employees including Lane White, an electronics designer and manufacturer, and Sean Tanner and Russell Jones, who are certified luthiers.
A luthier is someone who makes or repairs lutes and other string instruments such as guitars. Tanner received his training and credentialing in the craft from John Marshall's Luthiers International Guitar Repair and Building School in Snellville, Ga.
"I had been building guitars for a manufacturer in Savannah, and I was laid off when they downsized," he said. "I moved back to Statesboro, which is where I am from, and asked Chris for a job. Eventually it evolved into CMG guitar manufacturing. This allows me to take my passion for playing music to another level. We are producing a beautiful product."
The first guitar model being manufactured is named the "Ashlee," in honor of Mitchell's wife.
"It is a carved top set neck single cutaway guitar that offers vintage beauty and modern improvement son playability and ease of use," Mitchell said. "Our company was awarded Premier Guitar Magazine's Editor's pick during the NAMM show last year, and is now back to deliver on the promise of affordable American guitars."
Mitchell is also very proud of his line of amplifiers.
"Our first offering is the 'Jimmy' which is an American made amplifier that costs hundreds of dollars less than traditional American amplifiers in the same class," he said. "It is like we rolled back the clock 20 years. With 50 watts of 6L6 tube power, the Jimmy retains the warmth you've come to expect from American amplifiers while delivering four unique channel combinations. From clean, to dirt, to overdrive, to dirty overdrive, this amp has it all."
White is in charge of amplifier production for the company. He attributes the final product to Mitchell's vision and desire for innovation.
"Chris told me what he wanted the amps to sound like, and how he wanted them to work," White said. "I came up with the circuit board design, and how to manufacture it in a sturdy way. It is hand wired, and built to be very, very rugged, just like the older amplifiers that were produced years ago. It sounds excellent."
White said he has been working with Mitchell on the design for over a year.
"Chris is a great guy to work with and he really knows what he wants," he said. "This is an incredible product at a phenomenal price."
Mitchell hopes to sell 100 of his amplifiers this year, and 450 guitars.
To learn more about Devilcat amplifiers, visit www.devilcatamps.com. To learn more about CMG Guitars, visit www.cmgguitars.com.