Music Makers: 15 Colo. Mfrs. Behind the Sounds

By Eric Peterson | Jul 15, 2018

Consumer & Lifestyle Colorado

Colorado is known for venues like Red Rocks and artists from John Denver to The Lumineers, but it's also home to many talented craftspeople who make the music possible. From amplifiers to vinyl masters, here are some of the state's most notable manufacturers of instruments and other sonic products.

Aardvark Record Mastering

Paul Brekus is nationally known for cutting vinyl masters on rare vintage lathes. He's made the masters more than 10,000 records in his Denver studio.


Bashkin Guitars

Photo courtesy Bashkin Guitars

In Fort Collins, Michael Bashkin utilizes his experience as a scientist and an artist to craft stunning guitars. His background in forestry gives him an understanding of the mechanics of wood and how it impacts the sound of a guitar.


Curt Mangan Guitar Strings

Photo by Lapita Arviso

The namesake founder's Cortez manufacturer takes a craft approach to guitar strings, with a vast catalog and machines and designs developed in-house.


Freenotes Harmony Park

Photo by Lapita Arviso

Based in Durango, Freenotes specializes in oversized, interactive instruments for parks and other public places. The company has installations on five continents and in all 50 states.


Henriksen Amplifiers

Photo courtesy Henriksen Amplifiers

Henriksen debuted the JazzAmp in 2005 to fill a void in the market for the genre's guitarists. The company's Arvada-made amps are now industry standards for jazzmen.


Kent A. Bailey Guitars

Photo courtesy Kent A. Bailey

Master woodworker and classical guitarist Kent A. Bailey makes playable works of art at his Florissant shop. When he's not making acoustic instruments, he carves a wide range of projects for residential and commercial clients.


McClostone Amplifiers

Aaron McCloskey's tube amps ooze vintage style, but they are built for sound. He crafts them to spec to match the style of his customer, whether their forte is blues, rock, or country.


Miles Phillips Custom Guitars

The eponymous Carbondale-based maker has crafted acoustic and electric instruments for touring artists like Thievery Corporation and other high-profile musicians.


Mullen Guitars

Photo courtesy Mullen Guitars

Del Mullen started making pedal steel guitars on Colorado's Eastern Plains in the 1970s. He's made thousands of guitars for high-profile clients that make up a who's who of pedal steel players in country music.


O'Brien Guitars

Photo courtesy O'Brien Guitars

Robbie O'Brien is both a luthier and an educator. He started making guitars in the 1990s in Brazil and has since taught hundreds of students the skills of the trade.


OME Banjos

Founder Chuck Ogsbury started making banjos during the folk explosion of the 1960s. His team at OME has handcrafted thousands of high-end banjos for performers all over the world in the decades since.



Photo courtesy Taikos.com

Founded by the husband-and-wife team of Jesse and Carla Maddux, the Palmer Lake-based manufacturer uses ash, oak, or exotic wood, steel, and rawhide to handcraft Japanese-style taiko drums. The end results can be massive: Some drums measure more than four feet in diameter.


Todd Perkins Guitars

Photo courtesy Todd Perkins

Denver's Todd Perkins takes blank guitar bodies and transforms them into works of visual art. His instruments have featured everything from Scrabble tiles to license plates to a Star Wars Millennium Falcon toy.


Victor Guitar

Photo courtesy Victor Guitar

Edward Victor Dick has built thousands of instruments since the 1970s, namely guitars and his own guitar-banjo hybrids, Victor Banjolas. He sells his instruments along pre-owned consignments at his shop on South Broadway in Denver, home to the Colorado School of Lutherie.


William Nesse Guitars

Photo courtesy William Nesse Guitars

A retired University of Northern Colorado professor, Greeley-based Bill Nesse makes ornate acoustic guitars with time-tested traditions and tools. He studied under a luthier in Spain, and is known for his attention to detail. The rosette on his guitars alone -- inlaid around the hole on the body -- features more than 6,000 pieces of wood.


Photos by Jonathan Castner except where otherwise noted.