Graphic Guitar Guys
Scott Friedeck was on the road touring in Texas with an artist when a light bulb went off in his brain. Immediately, he put that idea to work, creating custom graphics for guitars that artists can sell on tour. He’s been creating thousands of guitars, for the biggest names in country music, ever since.
My father-in-law owns a recording studio in Texas, and my wife runs two wedding venues, and I got tired of sitting home on the weekends,” Scott says, “so I started going out with musicians on the weekends.” He hit the road, touring with Robert Earl Keen and Ryan Beaver. “One weekend, Ryan was asked to sign a guitar, and you couldn’t tell if it was Merle Haggard or Ryan Beaver,” he recalls. “I had an idea: what if we branded a guitar?”
They put it into action immediately. “I went home, bought three guitars, logo-ed ‘em up with Ryan Beaver graphics, and brought ‘em out the next weekend,” he says. “I was like, there’s something here.”
He started to create more graphic-covered guitars – he compares the process to wrapping a car – for small festivals and artists in Texas, and the idea continued to grow.
“Seven years ago, Ryan decided that he was going to move to Nashville to be a songwriter more than just an artist,” Scott says. They drove up together in a U-Haul, and Scott immediately thought it a cool town. “After being here a couple months, he’s like, ‘You should come here more, I really think you would meet some people here that would be beneficial to your business,’” he recalls.
His first connection led to creating a guitar for Gary Allan, who bought, and immediately sold out of, four guitars. They decided to order 36 more. “It just kind of grew,” Scott says. The Texas market got on board – he put together an order of 400 guitars for George Strait – and Nashville caught on as well. Now, his designs have covered guitars for artists from Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton to Reba and Brooks & Dunn.
“You don’t know where the next phone call’s gonna come from,” he shares, something that’s both exciting and challenging when planning business. Last month, for instance, the Grammy’s called to place an order. His designs for Merle Haggard came almost by accident, when Merle’s manager called to ask why he had a charge from them on his credit card. When Scott explained it was for the George Strait guitars, he remembered and ordered some for Merle as well.
Scott creates the guitars in his converted barn in Texas. “We’ve got about 2,000 square feet that’s our manufacturing distribution facility in Texas, and this year we’ll probably do between five and six thousand guitars out of the 2,000 square foot little warehouse,” he says.
Aside from guitars, they’ve branded a variety of products. “We’ve put stickers on snowboards and Yeti coolers and drum heads and cymbals,” he says. “I’ve had people want me to do ‘em on harmonicas. It’s just cool to see what the idea has turned into and what ideas it inspires other people to have and the challenges they can bring back to us.”
From an idea to make something cool and set the artist apart while making money, Scott has gleaned some incredible experiences. “It just blows my mind,” he says. “I’ve been side stage at Willie and Merle concerts or seen George Strait in Green Hall that is about the size of this studio. Last year on my birthday I came and worked with Robert Earl Keen because I wanted to be at the Ryman and have all access on my birthday. It’s been able to allow me to have a lot of fun and make a living.”