Kochel Guitars


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Kochel Guitars are created with reclaimed materials from Montana, combining history and tradition. The body of the guitars are crafted from antique wood salvaged from local buildings, originally erected from old growth timber. The neck of the Kochel Guitars are made from various native woods. The fingerboards are reclaimed and shaped by such things as scrub oak pallets and other American hardwoods. Each fret board has spent ammo cartridges as fret markers. The nut is fabricated from the bones of native Montana bison and elk. The saddles are constructed from salvaged barn wood incorporating an antique nail or an old skeleton key. In this day and age when most things are discarded and forgotten, Kochel Guitars takes great pride in reusing our resources and preserving the past. These treasured guitars are steeped in history along with an American folk tradition.

Green Roster Luthier

Joined: August 2015

Green Highlights:

  • Uses reclaimed materials- especially wood from old barns
  • Uses locally sourced elk/bison bone for the nuts
  • Uses spent ammo cartridges for fret markers

Check out this interview we did with Sean Kochel!

Sean Kochel, of Kochel Guitars, is a Green Roster Luthier, and the first luthier to have joined our community of environmental bands, luthiers and studios. We sought out Kochel at Red Ants Pants Festival in Montana after reading the festival program blurb about his guitars made from reclaimed wood. As soon as we saw the instruments, we knew that Kochel was making something special. Harrison fell in love with the Kochel Guitar sound, and ended up getting one of the Sawmill models made of wood from an 1865 homesteader's barn. We've been showing it off at Sustain events ever since.

We bring you this interview with Sean Kochel to shine some light on Kochel Guitars, his ethos, and his dedication to being green.

What type of instruments do you make at Kochel Guitars?

At Kochel Guitars, I build pretty much any stringed instrument.  I mainly build resonator guitars lately. I feel like I am getting a reputation for them. I do solid body electrics guitars to acoustic guitars. I also get a fair amount of ukulele and box guitar orders. Recently I have started building and selling hollow body resonators.  They sound great and are a lot of fun to play. 

Sustain is all about highlighting best environmental practices in the music industry. Can you tell us what Kochel Guitars has done to uphold an environmental ethic?

What I do to be as environmentally ethical in my business is to use locally harvested and sustainable materials. I also do a large portion of my instrument building with reclaimed and recycled materials.  Most of those come from 100 year old plus barns, homesteader houses and any other building I can get my hands on. While at the same time, I use things like elk bone for nuts and saddles of the instruments. I get the bones from hunters and meat processors, all from the area I live.

What advice do you have for other luthiers who are thinking about adopting more environmental practices in their art?

I would say, don't worry about only using traditional materials for instrument building.  Try new materials or uncommon or found materials.  You would be surprised how well a lot of these different materials sound and work. Finds whats local or commonly discarded and work with it.

How does music and nature play a role in your life?

Music does pretty much everything in my life.  It is what motivates me, and helps sustain a certain feeling or mood. It helps me creatively.  I mean it pretty much touches ever aspect of my life, it is life!

Nature, like music, does a lot of the same things, but in a different way. I feel like I am inspired by nature. I feel it comes out in what I create.