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Q&A with Danny and Kristine Songhurst
Danny and Kristine Songhurst own and run The Rock Slide, manufacturing boutique-level pro guitar slides, taking their products well beyond traditional bottles and pipes.
Q: How did you get into the business of making guitar slides?
A: (Danny) I was building guitars, some Les Paul styles, and I’m a big vintage guitar guy and Gibson fan. In late 2010, we bought The Rock Slide which my uncle had launched and run for years. He’s the guy who originally invented and patented it, and we consider this the first guitar slide, since everything else before it was bottles and pipes.
Q: What changes did you make to the business, after taking it over?
A: When we did buy it, all the manufacturing was done in Taiwan and we felt strongly about being a US manufacturer, so we brought everything back to the U.S. It costs more of course, but in the long run it is a great thing.
All of our products are hand-inspected by at least two people before shipping; three when we are using craftsmen. When it comes to our labels, packaging, and printing, everything we do is done in the U.S.
(Kristine) We are proud that we are a family owned and operated company that produces everything here. And working at this business provides us with plenty of quality family time.
In a world full of gimmicks and production we do it the old way. We like the control and we like having our resources locally. Our slides are top quality, all the time.
Q; What goes into building boutique-level slides?
A: The quality control makes our product quite different than the other products out there. The guy who makes our glass products is a true craftsman, a board-certified glass blower … and they inspect it twice even before we inspect the products.
Gearheads spend so much time and money in dialing in their rigs, yet they run with a $3.99 slide. Why not give your slide the same boutique level of attention as you do everything else?
Q; Who came-up with your patented features?
A: Our product is extremely thoughtful. A lot of this goes back before we were around, our uncle took the time to think about why slide playing was so awkward and uncomfortable. He uncle had owned a guitar store and he recognized the problem, and the need to create a more comfortable slide.
One customer recently told us that our slide has changed his playing more in three days of using it, than in 20 years of playing.
Kristine has a history working in body mechanics, and cares about good ergonomics in her life. Our slides address the ergonomics of guitar players. Bad ergonomics would be like people playing slide with tissue paper stuck in the end of their slide; its funny but we’ve seen this plenty of times!
Q: You’ve experienced some nice growth in your business. What’s next for you?
A: We’ve already designed what we think is the best slide, and we will keep doing what we’re doing. But one area that we’d like to expand into is signature models. We plan on working with a handful of slide players, and we can adopt our basic product to suit their needs.
We also look forward to more growth, as we reach the end-user more and build our fan base.
(Kristine) I’d personally like to see a slide guitar revolution … get more artists playing slide!
Q: Do you play? Who are your guitar influences?
A: (Danny) I play like crazy … acoustic, electric and lead vocals … I fronted some bands. I started off with power chords and pentatonic scales, Zeppelin, and Van Halen. I have many influences, including Barney Kessel, Pete Anderson, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Joey Landreth from the Bros. Landreth. My guitar influences growing up were mainly in classic rock. Nowadays I like Brad Paisley because he’s a hell of a guitar player, Tyrone Wells … the Allman Brothers (I’ve worn out at least a couple of their “Beginnings” albums), and some singers. Joe Cocker. Ray Charles is one of my all time favorites.
Q: When not working, what do you enjoy doing?
A: Right now, we’re knee deep into NFL football and the Seahawks playoff run. In general, we are parenting our 6 and 8 year-old girls, so a lot of soccer and birthday parties. We love movies and restaurants. (Danny) I like to drive around … would like to hike more, but everything is about the two kids right now. But we love our jobs and consider our work to be more like a hobby.