Featured American Mule Mr. October 2016
We have found the “Mule Spirit Within” from a hard-working American business owner working in Saginaw, Michigan.
This Featured American Mule is all about pure mule determination that resonates note for note when you hear the strum of one of his resonator guitars. Meet Matt Eich of Mule Resophonic Guitars.
Originally from Alama, MI, Eich builds steel and brass body resonator electric guitars for well known talent and famous musicians from all over. These guitars are unlike anything we have seen or heard before at American Mule. They amplify deep sounding weeps of astonishing character with the strike of a slide. The unique sound from Eich’s resonator guitars speak loud and clear for the hard-working American business owner. You can literally hear the talent and determination that went into creating each unique piece.
Words from Matt Eich:
“I build steel and brass body resonator and electric guitars. Resonator guitars were developed in the 1930's. This was before amplifiers and the John Dopyera and George Beauchamp came up with this design to give guitar players more volume. They eventually split into the National guitar company and Dobro guitars, and from what I understand went out of business. Because of that the resonator guitar remained unchanged since that time. Here at Mule, I'm trying to do the resonator guitar a bit differently. Instead of thinking of it as a totally different instrument, I use what I know about building normal wood body acoustic guitars to building these.”
Eich took over the Mule Resophoinic Guitar store and has built it to a flourishing and profitable success with shops all across the United States. We are thrilled to feature his story of small business growth as an inspiration to new entrepreneurs starting out in the U.S.
We asked Eich, “How long did it take for you to build a following and why do you believe people are attracted to your talents or what you have to say?”
“I went to a guitar making school in 2003. I graduated and didn't really feel like I was capable of building guitars in anything other than a hobby capacity. I wandered around a bit afterwards and ended up in Virginia at Huss and Dalton Guitars, which is where I learned just about everything I know about building quality instruments. I left there for Chicago because life happened. I was back to working in a warehouse, something I had done for about 5 years cumulatively up to that point. I lost my job during the recession. Now what? I ended up going to see Kelly Joe Phelps play and he was playing a resonator. I left wondering if I could make one, but instead of the typical chrome or powdercoat make it look like the natural steel. It wasn't a business idea. It took me a full year to build the first four, after making a ton of scrap. Ran out of money and went back to factory. Worked there for two weeks and got 12 orders, then 20, then 40 ... I've been running Mule for about four years now. I think people feel connected with my work because that sort of story is more universal than we are led to believe by most craftsmen. We are just as susceptible to hyping ourselves as anyone, even though we like to believe we aren't. I don't try to convince anyone that my guitars can do something others can't, I don't use precisely crafted sentences, or try to convey to people that I was born to do this and am part of some elite club of tradesmen that have achieved perfection. I just build them. They are what they are. I love the act of the work. It's been brutally hard and awesome.”
Matt doesn’t try to embellish or sugar coat his skills with some cliché pitch stating that he was born to do this or that he is spiritually connected to building these amazing guitars. He simply builds them and he trusts his knowledge and skills to build a guitar that is long-lasting and strong. This is the attitude that has made it easy for him to achieve successful results in his journey.
Matt believes you can climb any wall as long as you stack up enough work. We can all agree that this is elemental for success and it should inspire us to move forward and persevere.
In his Fall months of free time, Matt enjoys coaching JV football and encouraging the youth in his local community.
We asked, “What inspires you? How do you keep moving forward when the going gets tough?”
Response from Eich:
Inspiration is something I try to stay tempered about. For most when they talk about inspiration it comes from an outside source- someone else, a positive experience, a hope. I'm a professional which, for me, means I'm not driven by that kind of inspiration. If I was, how's my work going to be when it doesn't show up at 7 am? When I want to quit? When something outside my control dumps on my parade? I'm driven by the 'just keep showing up.' I've seen the real effect that has- four years ago I didn't even have a resonator guitar, and now we are finishing up our 205th guitar. When I see someone play one of these guitars and they go into their little zone of listening and hearing new things... there isn't really a word for it. Thats one of those positive moments that remind me theres a bigger picture here than employment taxes and sanding guitar necks. It's not about buying 'things', they aren't objects. It's about people, and the shared experience.”
To Matt, the definition of the American Dream is to have a life that is self-determined. The dream is about being able to do what you love and being able to avoid falling in the category of the individual that does what is “safer” to do even when that is no longer a certainty. At American Mule, we certainly agree with that, don’t you?
Matt Eich plans to continue making more Mule guitars in the future and believes that it works because it’s a very straightforward job. He is excited to see what the future brings and so are we! Cheers Matt! We hope to jam on a backyard porch one day with you while sipping a cold one from our American made copper mugs!
The best way to keep up to date on his shop happenings is on instagram @muleresonatorguitars Main site http://muleresophonic.com
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