West Bountiful, Utah
"We put an emphasis on quality and premium materials," says Loscalzo, calling Cleartone Strings "some of the most expensive guitar strings out there." According to the company's website, they're enhanced with a thinly applied chemical treatment that "won’t flake" and "will last up to 5X longer" compared with other brands' coated strings.
Notably, Loscalzo says his company's strings are "made by musicians for musicians."
Indeed, the strings come with a true historical pedigree: They were developed by Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers, the duo behind such late '50s and early '60s hits as "Bye Bye Love," "Wake Up, Little Susie," and "Cathy's Clown" led to them being among the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
"Phil Everly, himself, was always a tinkerer," says Loscalzo. "Up til his death [in 2014], he ran the company." Today, Phil's son, Jason Everly, is the company's president.
The company formed in Los Angeles in the late '90s as the Everly Music Company. But changing times led to a name change for its guitar strings -- and, later on, a move for its operations: In 2019, the company uprooted from California to Utah.
Today, at its 5,000-square-foot factory in West Bountiful, the company manufactures strings for both electric and acoustic guitars. For the thicker, top three guitar strings of a set, a metal string -- nickel-plated for use on electric guitars, phosphor bronze or copper for acoustics -- is wrapped around a hexagonal core. "We use a super high-tension winding process," says Loscalzo, which results in "more winds in the same length of strings versus some of our competitors' -- and that, for the customer, means a punchier, slightly louder string for your guitar."
Next the strings are dipped in a proprietary chemical bath that "treats" all six of the strings. (Loscalzo is loath to use the competitors' term "coated.") Loscalzo says the treatment "will increase your guitar's volume up to 36 percent and your guitar's sustain up to 48 percent." Not only will the treatment not flake off as quickly as compared to other companies' coated strings, Loscalzo adds how, "You essentially can't even feel or tell it's there."
The company also makes its Star Picks at the factory: guitar plectrums that have a ten-sided, star-shaped hole in the pick, which makes it easier to grip. The picks are punched out from spools of Delrin plastic. "It's very glossy plastic when [we] get it, and when [the pick is] finished its a fuzzy-matte texture that you get from the tumbling," says Loscalzo. "So, we do that all in house, as well. And then the printing [on the picks]." As a goodwill gesture, Loscalzo will sometimes give local businesses picks with their names printed on them as a promo for their customers.
Cleartone's strings are available through most major musical equipment dealers in the United States. The company also has distribution in Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, and across Europe. At one time, it made coated strings for guitar builder C.F. Martin & Company, and Gibson guitars used to leave the factory with Cleartone's strings already on them. Loscalzo says, "Even though we are a small company, we are distributed worldwide and we have worked with some of the largest and most respected manufacturers out there."
And while you'll find Cleartone strings on guitars belonging to the likes of Dave Mustaine of Megadeth and Jake Kiszka of Greta Van Fleet, Loscalzo says there's a direct benefit for players at all levels of experience. In other words they're for, "Anybody focused on quality [who] wants to spend more time playing and less time changing strings," says Loscalzo.
Challenges: COVID-19 has presented a lot of challenges for music shops, says Loscalzo. Whereas they would previously sell accessories like guitar strings and picks during the course of students coming in and out with their parents for lessons, those sales are down. Also, fifty percent of Cleartone's sales are international. "Half the countries we're dealing with are still shut down," says Loscalzo.
Opportunities: "Room for growth," says Loscalzo, referring to the company's move from California to Utah. "In L.A., overhead and [business expenses are] just so incredibly high." Just like, as an avid skier, Loscalzo finds the state more accommodating in terms of winter activities, he finds the business climate in Utah more supportive for his smaller company, as well.
Needs: "More support from independent dealers," says Loscalzo.