Spotlight Interview: Kochel Guitars

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.

Check out Kochel Guitars at and on Facebook here

Spotlight Interview: Dirt Floor

Dirt Floor is a Green Roster Studio, and the first member to have joined our community of environmental bands, luthiers and studios. Run by Eric Lichter, Dirt Floor has really embodied the spirit of Sustain and our desire to bring the environment into the music industry. Sun-powered, in a cabin above the beautiful Connecticut River, and run by a down-to-earth team, Dirt Floor not only respects the environment, it fosters a great environment for bands to record songs and albums.

We bring you this interview with Eric Lichter to shine some light on Dirt Floor, their ethos, and their dedication to being green.

What is Dirt Floor?

Dirt Floor was at one time simply a recording studio, but has grown into so much more. It has become more of a style of production and record making, in a very classic style reminiscent of recordings from the early 1970s, the timeless sort. As a multi-instrumentalist, producer, and artist myself, I often help solo artists craft entire records from the ground up.

What are your proudest accomplishments?

Well, besides raising a small daughter, who I adore, I would say creating a record that helps an artist get to the next level in their career. There are many, so to pick just one would be impossible. Also, watching a community of artists come together through the Dirt Floor connection has been a joy to witness. Jake Klar, Jonah Tolchin, Spirit Family Reunion, Parsonsfield, Kerri Powers and Ian Fitzgerald are but a few of my very favorites, and have become family.

Sustain is all about bringing best environmental practices to the music industry. Can you tell us about what Dirt Floor has done to uphold an environmental ethic?

Considering the environment while running a business, especially a studio, has always been at the forefront for me, as one who tries to live a clean and low impact lifestyle. I also wanted to use old technology and make records using the power of the sun, utilizing solar panels to power the studio portion of the house. It all comes back around to my role as a father, and trying to teach my child how to respect mother Earth

What advice do you have for other recording studios thinking about adopting environmentally-friendly practices?

My advice for other studios looking to do their part and adopt environmentally friendly practices would be to take stock in their surroundings. Do they use plastic water bottles? Is there a lot of trash being produced from clients? There are so many little things that can be considered, and this is a great place to start. I tell clients beforehand that we have everything that they would need and to avoid those plastic bottles. Again that is a small example. Every studio is unique, and the footprint is different for all of them.


How do music and nature relate to you in your life?

For many years I have tried to live light, and to respect mother Earth. She has been an inspiration to me as an athlete, a self-professed nature boy, and of course as a songwriter, in the tradition of writers I've admired like John Denver. Nature helps me to see the wonder in things, and to still look at the world with that sense is a very wonderful thing, and so important today. Every time I step outside my front door, that childlike excitement returns, and I feel it's my responsibility to affect my own world, and hopefully influence those around me to do the same.

What would you like to see come forth from partnering with Sustain?

Partnering with Sustain was a no-brainer for me, and an incredible opportunity I wanted to jump at, knowing that this could only benefit like-minded artists and of course the environment in a positive way, and the possibility of a beautiful ripple effect was something I really wanted to be a part of....


Learn more about Dirt Floor at