August 25, 2020
CAPO Q&A WITH: MAX LINTNER, DIRECTOR OF R&D
Great guitar accessories don't happen overnight. Whether it's maintaining Kyser's legendary Kyser Quick-Change capo design, or concepting the next addition to the company's growing accessory line, every product in the Kyser family undergoes a meticulous research and development process to best meet the needs of players worldwide. What is the formula for creating the perfect product? From artist feedback to thorough quality inspection, Director of Research & Development Max Lintner lets Kyser in on a few of those secrets.
How did you become involved in the R&D process?
I started working at Kyser in 2012. Prior to that, I had been a professional musician, and also worked in sales and marketing at creative services agencies that manufactured album projects for independent music artists and record labels. Combining all aspects of those things meant I came in to Kyser with a strong knowledge of the needs and wants of working musicians and also knowing the ins and outs of manufacturing. I’ve always had a strong curiosity about how things work and how to make them work better, so we quickly started bringing new ideas to life at Kyser.
What does the testing process look like for a product before it's added to the Kyser lineup?
It begins internally. We’ll create a prototype and let employees and our friends and family test it first. Most of us at Kyser play instruments, or have family members who play instruments, or have friends that play – so we have plenty of “guinea pigs." We’ll make changes as needed, create more prototypes and expand testing to artists Kyser works with for their feedback. More changes might be made, and we’ll expand the testing to various focus groups on what they like and dislike. Make, test, update, repeat.
Where do you get ideas for new capo colors and new products in general?
Everywhere and everyone. For capo colors, it’s been based on a wish list of ideas that we think would be cool, but aren’t necessarily easy to achieve. Milton Kyser always wanted to make his capos in beautiful new colors and styles, so we try our very best to carry on his legacy. For example, since I’ve been at Kyser we’ve created the tie-dye capo, the rosewood and maple finish capos, and most recently the sunburst finish capo. We worked on creating a sunburst capo for several years before we were able to achieve a realistic-looking one. For new products in general, ideas come from internal brainstorming sessions, product submissions from employees, product submissions from the general public, or just areas we feel there’s a “need” or a “want” for something that might not even exist yet.
What are some of the challenges in bringing a product to life?
One challenge is creating high-quality products that are made in the U.S.A. (Kyser always strives for this) while also having a price point where music stores can make margin and end-users can still afford it. Another challenge is making sure the products we create are in line with current music trends and musical instrument popularity. At Kyser, we currently focus on stringed instrument accessories. While there is always a market for guitar accessories, some years acoustic guitars are more popular than electric guitars, and vice versa. Over that past few years, ukuleles have also become very popular. In response, Kyser pivoted and introduced ukulele humidifiers and bright Hawaiian-themed ukulele capos. It’s challenging to stay nimble, but as a company in the music industry, we have to.
"The next 40 years" are here. What can we expect from Kyser?
You can expect improvements to existing products and innovation from new products. We’ll be working our hardest to make new products that will ultimately lead to more enjoyment from musicians. That’s our goal. Just know that behind the scenes at Kyser there will always be a bustling of activity with numerous projects in the works and when a new product finally sees the light of day, you’re going to love it!
August 10, 2020
FROM THE FACTORY: chris patterson, packaging department supervisor
Overseeing the final step of that Kyser capo magic is a tough job, but someone's got to do it. Our packaging manager Chris Patterson gives us the lowdown on what it takes to be the last line of defense during Kyser's painstaking quality control process.
How many capos are packaged on an average day?
On average, 14,000 give or take. We have three packagers who each do around 1,200 or more per day.
What's the secret to maintaining that type of speed and consistency?
Well, you kind of get into a rhythm once you know what to look for. Speed definitely gets better over time. But anyone can be fast. The real trick is being fast and still catching any quality issues that might arise. It takes someone who can handle repetition without losing focus.
Being the last line of defense on the Kyser production team, what types of thing should packers look for?
Everything. Any defect from any stage of the process. With the quantity of parts moving through the shop every day, there are always going to be defects slip through. The most common issues are debris or scratches in the powder coat, rubber pads that need to be re-glued, and rivets that weren’t lined up correctly when they were pressed. If it’s an issue that can be fixed, we send it back to the appropriate department and it gets put back in rotation.
How does being a musician personally affect your attention to detail?
It makes me want to put out a better product. I want every capo we produce to be the kind of quality I would want to buy for myself. I know how much dedication people put into their music, and I want them to see that we put that same level of dedication into manufacturing our capos.
Where is the coolest place you've ever seen a Kyser capo being used?
A few years ago, someone put a picture on our bulletin board of Beth on ‘The Walking Dead’ playing guitar with a Kyser capo. So you know they're tough if they can survive a zombie apocalypse!
August 3, 2020
FACTORY MINUTE: WHAT IS SUBLIMATION?
While our hand-painted capos are our claim to fame, many wonder how Kyser is able to apply some of its more intricate patterns, like the KG6TD Tie-Dye Quick-Change Capo, to its products. Many people think these graphics are actually wraps, but wraps they ain't. Kyser capos are actually "sublimated," a process the factory began implementing in 2008. Director of Operations Waylon Alexander takes a moment to break down the process and talk about how the initial idea of products beyond powercoat came to be.
Kyser's first Sublimated Capos, the KG6C Camo and KG6F Freedom
When and why did Kyser start sublimating capos?
Kyser started sublimation in 2008, beginning with the KG6C Quick-Change Acoustic Camo capo, followed by the KG6F Freedom (American Flag) acoustic model. We wanted to offer something more than just solid colors to stand above the competition and due to the endless possibilities that sublimation offers.
What is involved in sublimation?
During this proprietary process, a specific image of choice is printed into our pre-coated capo parts with the use of "sublimation dyes" that turn from a solid to a gas without going through a liquid phase. In short, the pattern is digitally programmed, then "printed" onto the capo by dying the capo with molecules of gas.
The KG6RW Rosewood remains one of Kyser's most popular capos.
What is your favorite sublimated capo and why?
My favorite sublimated capo would have to be the Rosewood because it has a beautiful, rich color which goes with anything.
How do we determine our sublimated finishes?
Our finishes are determined by first, having an idea. Secondly, having samples of that idea made for us. Third, any tweaking that we feel needs to be done for placement of image on capo or stretching of image so it lays where we want on the capo. There are, of course, some "interesting" sublimations that receive no further consideration right out of the gate! Ones that we feel are worthy of market get shared with Kyser artists and general public at trade shows, and we shape our sublimation product strategy from those responses.
August 1, 2020
Kyser Musical Products’ celebrates Owner/President Meredith McClung-Attebery, next 40 years with new capo
Kyser is currently commemorating its 40th anniversary, looking back to its small-town, Texas roots of creativity and community through guitar products, most famously the guitar capo. This celebration continues in recognition of its current president and owner Meredith McClung-Attebery, also the great-niece of company founder Milton Kyser, and the introduction of the Meredith Signature Quick-Change Acoustic Capo.
An avid agriculturalist, former stock car pit crew chief, educator and music industry pioneer, McClung-Attebery left the oil and petroleum business to help her great-uncle with Kyser, and that quickly transformed into her current presidency of the company. She focuses on Kyser’s values to build a musical community. This is seen through McClung-Attebery’s push for inclusivity. Not only does her vision for Kyser serve as a model for the music industry, but it also demonstrates the success of one of Texas’ small-town entrepreneurships, putting a remote area like East Texas on the map.
That East Texas hometown upbringing prepared McClung-Attebery for success, as she embodies active involvement from phone call to plane ride. With such a friendly environment, McClung-Attebery thrives and has put her full effort into Kyser. But, there’s definitely more to her that goes unseen.
One of the biggest credits to her name rests in McClung-Attebery’s uncompromising nature. She emphasizes the fact that Kyser is 100-percent Texas made, and as long as she’s in charge, it will stay that way. While it would be easy for Kyser to take manufacturing overseas for higher profit, “easy money” is not a part of the company’s integrity. McClung-Attebery remains true to the company’s core in every decision she makes.
Because of her commitment, Kyser has created a customized capo tailored specifically to her. The limited-edition “Meredith” Signature Quick-Change Acoustic Guitar capo will be offered in an exclusive Candy Teal finish stamped with her signature, and it will feature a low-tension spring that is new and innovative to reflect Kyser’s evolution.
While being President of the company takes up a lot of her time, McClung-Attebery balances work with being a fully-Texas mom. She has two daughters that are her biggest priority in life. She spends time with them doing just about anything imaginable. She is happy that they get to grow up with an easy-paced life where they have time to genuinely develop connections and gain a strong education.
“Meredith’s strength lies in her independent thinking,” said CEO Scott Attebery, who has worked alongside McClung-Attebery since January of 2019. “She is true to herself and confident in her skills. As a result, she inspires our team with that same confidence. Meredith is a natural leader!”
McClung-Attebery’s values and leadership skills have gained her an astounding position, and they have allowed her to be identified as a woman in the music industry. She hopes to pioneer this movement to uplift emerging artists outside the quaint limits of East Texas.
“Kacey Musgraves, for example, has worked hard at her craft and taken no handouts,” McClung-Attebery said. “I want to be able to say the same thing: that my work was 100% mine, and that I didn’t do anything to compromise my integrity or the integrity of my companies.”
July 27, 2020
CAPO q&A with: kyser president/owner meredith mcclung-attebery
Grounded in quality, equality and pride, Kyser continues to celebrate its 40th anniversary by upholding the passion and perseverance of its founder, Milton Kyser. But with a great legacy comes a great future, and Kyser now looks eagerly to “the next 40 years” with enthusiasm, empowerment---and of course, a bold new leader, President/Owner Meredith McClung-Attebery. Since taking over the company in 2012, Milton’s great niece has grown Kyser above and beyond the city limits of Canton, Texas, but she still maintains those Texas roots through and through. In honor of the Meredith Signature Quick-Change Acoustic Capo, we sat down with the President herself for a spitfire round of questions on empowerment and professional growth.
How do you define "Kyser quality"?
“The standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind.” No other capo can compare to a Kyser because it’s Made in Texas by the hands of the men and women who clock in and clock out everyday and give 100%.
What does great leadership look like to you? Who do you admire?
Great leadership is servant leadership. The willingness to get in the trenches with everyone to get the job done. If that means I need to wash the dishes or clean a toilet or run the handle mill- then I do it. Milton made me learn every machine in his shop before he would let me into the office and I am eternally grateful for that experience. I admire my parents. Two of the hardest-working people that I know. Their example of servant leadership is what I strive for on a daily basis. Who can I help today? Who needs a positive word or help finishing a project? My parents have always been the ones behind the scenes- working to make other people’s lives better and rarely ever received credit or thanks. (Mom cleaned houses- took care of kids and now packages capos- my dad is a retired firefighter and can fix just about anything.) I also admire anyone who has “beaten the odds.” People who fail and get back up and try again and again and again. People in rehab, trying to get straight. Single parents who are struggling to take care of their family. ANYONE who gets out there everyday because they want to make life better for those around them- those they love.
What do you feel has been your biggest achievement of the past 40 years?
Putting together a team of great leaders
Favorite Kyser performance moment?
Wesley Pruitt Band and Kyser put together a concert to raise funds for the families in our community who lost everything in the 2016 tornados. The entire community came together and it ended up being highest grossing fundraiser for the victims in Van Zandt County. Our community is the only reason that I am not a total cynic.
How do you envision the next 40 years, for the company and the industry?
Kyser has a fantastic leadership team and everyone wants to see the company grow and expand. I see our products continuing to be made in Texas- by Texans. And I also see new products and brands coming into the Kyser family.
What advice would you give to our emerging woman leaders striving for success?
Be nice to the women around you. If you can mentor someone- then take the time to do it. We promote sisterhood all over social media but we suck at actually DOING IT. Take someone to coffee and get to know them. And listen to each other! We don’t take the time to listen to our sisters. That is half the battle!
June 18, 2020
Kyser celebrates father's day with fantastic gift ideas
Father’s Day is coming up, and there are so many things to thank Dad for---why not do it with a few Kyser goodies?
Here at Kyser, Father’s Day is such an important time because we get to remember Milton Kyser, the father of our company. We pride ourselves on family so any opportunity to celebrate, we’ll seize the opportunity. With the holiday coming up here are some the perfect gift ideas for every dad out there.
For the Home Hobbyist with a guitar collection to look a we know they are always there, ready to take care of every task necessary. What kid hasn’t said, “Hey Dad, can you help me?” These quick-to-care dads would absolutely love our Kyser Care Kit. Now, they’ll have something to do while they’re at home, and the kids are at school.
Of course, everyone loves a Classic Dad who shows his steady and unconditional affection. Nothing’s better for a Classic Dad than our classic Maple Quick-Change Capo for six-string acoustic guitars. Think he’d love another classic finish?
To the dad who loves to fix things: we would be completely lost without you. Let’s not even mention all the stuff that would be broken or the appliances that would never get fixed. Those steady hands would love a pack of our Acoustic 13’s - 6 String Heavy Bluegrass 13 Gauge guitar strings.
Music runs in the family? If Dad says so. Some dads just march to the beat of their own drum, and for that Kyser is totally on board. Treat your rock ‘n’ roll lovin’ pops to one of our Fretboard Capo shirts, made right here in East Texas just like our capos!
Let’s not forget our Hippie Dad! He is just so “right on, man” that the only gift suitable for such a perfect guy is our Tie-Dye Quick Change Capo for acoustic guitars. He’ll be making peace, not war.
Happy Father’s Day to all our dads and father figures out there!
June 3, 2020
kyser stands with the black community
We here at Kyser have been trying to find the words to express the anguish, frustration and pain we are experiencing as we see the devastating realities of violence and discrimination tear at our country.
Kyser is a company founded on family----rooted in the fundamental human principles of love, understanding and support of our fellow man regardless of skin color. We stand firm in our core beliefs, as a company and as people, that racism and bigotry have no place at this company, nor in this world. It is our responsibility to take action and support those impacted by those inequalities. We will make a concerted effort toward creating positive change, and fostering an industry and a humanity that exists only under a banner of anti-racism, understanding and respect. We have zero tolerance for hate. We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters---our family. We are committed to listening and applying our learnings as active participants, supporters and students in this critical discussion. We will try harder and we will do the work. We will recognize and create space to amplify the voices of those that need to be heard, and we will strive to continue those conversations, now and forever.
May 28, 2020
Kyser remembers memorial day by partnering with guitars for veterans
Memorial Day is a great time to reflect on what our fallen troops have given for us. We take this day to really remember those who stood on the front line for our freedom and our rights; we could not be more thankful.
There are a million facets of this holiday, but here at Kyser, we really like to focus on the inspiration of such a day, especially with our own military founder, Milton Kyser. The loss of loved ones is important and can be hard sometimes. For some veterans, this holiday brings back memories of friends that fought beside them, which can be traumatic, but the magic of music is so therapeutic.
Kyser partnered with Guitars for Veterans to celebrate this Memorial Day because we love what they do. They work with veterans to teach them how to play guitar so that our veterans ar equipped with a healthy, helpful coping mechanism. As we remember those lives lost, we use inspiration to give new life to those recovering.
May 7, 2020
Making mother's day special through musical bonds
Family is a part of everything we do here at Kyser. It’s the backbone of the company, and Milton Kyser would not want it any other way. We have several values here, but none of them could ever outdo family.
What better way to showcase that belief than a mother and daughter? Assemblers Hannah and Sam give us a little inside look at the factory, and you can tell it’s much more than a job. At Kyser, we connect with one another and communicate. The small town feel adds a special close-knit fondness for our community and how we interact with one another, making sure we are intentional in all that we do.
Hannah and Sam have an overwhelming love for this company as well as for each other. They pay close attention to all assembly, and as musicians themselves, they truly care about the handmade aspect of Kyser’s products from the drips to the eyes. Sometimes it’s even fun for Sam to show her husband all the miniscule errors because he would never be able to tell the difference. There is no denying these women’s passion for their craft.
Hannah and Sam aren’t the only family coworkers. In fact, President and owner Meredith McClung was welcomed onto the team by her great-uncle Milton Kyser. Even now, McClung works alongside her mother Nancy in the factory. With Mother’s Day right around the corner, it’s a great time to recognize some of these great, familial bonds within the company
We love family, and we love to support and uplift women - just look to our President Meredith. Take time this Mother’s Day to recognize those powerful women in your life. A great way to do this is one of our Complete Practice Bundles! Make sure to also check out some of our other “inside the factory” videos by subscribing to our YouTube channel.
April 23, 2020
kyser partners with legendary venue billy bob's in live stream ffa benefit concert
Kyser Musical Products is proud to partner with Billy Bob’s Texas and Cavender’s for an exciting virtual event. “You’re Still Farming, We’re Still Singing” will be a free-to-stream concert on Saturday April 25 at 7 p.m. on the Billy Bob's Facebook Page-----all donations from the event, including those of three special Kyser capos, will go toward supporting the Texas Future Farmer's of America (FFA). Kyser will be also hosting a Facebook watch party of the event----join us there! The line-up includes all homegrown Texas talent, including Cody Johnson, Koe Wetzel, Parker McCollum, and many more - artists that are loved here at Kyser for their consistent use of our capos.
This is a great opportunity to support something so important to Kyser that it reaches all the way to the top of our company. President Meredith McClung, was widely involved with her FFA program in high school. She believes in the idea that music connects people in the same manner that agriculture does. This is an essential way to give back.
In support and partnership, 100% of proceeds received from our Maple Quick-Change (KG6MA), Camo Quick-Change (KG6CA) and Red Bandana Quick Change (KG6RB) capos will be sent to the organization. We are so excited to celebrate “You’re Still Farming, We’re Still Singing!”
April 3, 2020
PASSING THE hat in time of covid-19: ways you can help musicians
How musicians are making ends meet despite a global pandemic–and how you can help.
With over 3 million Americans filing for unemployment in the wake of COVID-19, it seems that few professions are safe from the virus’s devastating economic impact, perhaps least of all musicians.
Money is tight; major cities are in quarantine, and most bars, restaurants, and venues are closed. What’s a musician to do? Here are just some of the ways musicians–and the world–can find relief while stuck at home.
GoFundMe is currently home to a host of artist relief funds operating at both the city and state level.
Spotted Cat Musician Relief and the New Orleans Brass Band Musicians Relief Fund pledges to lighten the load for bands booked at the Frenchman Street staple, as well as brass bands across the Crescent City, respectively.
In Austin, The Red River Cultural District has launched Banding Together ATX, dedicated to aiding the live music community and all those who depend on it night after night.
Popular music magazine Billboard has organized a state-by-state guide to available resources. Again, spotlight a couple of prominent GoFundMes?
Nashville musicians may want to check out The Grand Ole Opry Trust Fund, the Local 257 Emergency Relief Fund for members of the Nashville Musicians AFM Local 257, and Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s COVID-19 Response Fund.
Los Angelenos have the option of more than a half-dozen programs, like free health insurance through Covered California Special Enrollment, or aid from the Music Fund of Los Angeles Coronavirus Emergency Relief Fund and the LA Mayor’s Economic Relief Package.
New Yorkers can apply to Lost My Gig NYC, a list of freelance workers in need of direct donations, or New York Foundation for the Arts Rauschenberg Emergency Grants for help with mounting medical bills, and the AFM Local 802 Musicians Emergency Relief Fund for union members.
While a $2-trillion government stimulus bill for songwriters and self-employed music workers currently makes its way through the House of Representatives, MusicCares and Sweet Relief have established funds to provide basic living assistance grants to musicians and music industry workers. Stipulations apply, and applicants must submit proof of their claim according to unique criteria.
Musical experience curator Equal Sound wants to pay musicians what they would have made in canceled gigs during the outbreak. Maximum payouts are $500, but for many musicians, any amount can make a significant difference.
Music For Relief, the disaster response program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, has established the COVID-19 Response Fund, intended to provide aid to music industry workers affected by the economic impact of the virus. They are now accepting donations.
German collection society GEMA has started a two-tier, $40-million-Euro aid program for general assistance and case-by-case grants for both industry workers and performers affected.
Down under in Australia, Support Act is helping musicians back on their feet with a massive crowdsourced fundraiser to benefit all those affected by the loss of live music.
The Grammy Museum’s ongoing Museum at Home program features a packed calendar of events that includes “digital public programs” with an impressive roster of artists, like Tanya Tucker, Brandi Carlisle, and Shooter Jennings.
Festival series Luck Reunion recently held “‘Til Further Notice,” a streaming-only concert featuring artists as diverse as Willie Nelson, Nathanial Rateliff, and Kurt Vile.
Many artists, like Neil Young, are skipping social media altogether and creating privatized streams that you can watch for a nominal fee. Young’s Fireside Sessions are available on his subscription site, The Neil Young Archives.
If you’re more of a physical media type, Bandcamp is the best way to make sure your money makes it directly to the artists. While the dot com usually takes a small cut, the company is currently waiving their fees to make sure the artists get the most out of your dollar.
Music provides relief for many of us when few other things will suffice. While we all continue to adapt to this worldwide phenomenon, it’s necessary to consider those things most important to us. Keeping music alive has never been more essential than it is right now, and there are more ways to do it every day.
If you can, please consider donating to one of these many relief groups, and share this article with a musician in need so that they too might continue to help those who need it.
March 30, 2020
covid-19 news and information from the kyser production facility
We understand that these are unsettling and uncertain times for all of us. As members of the Kyser family, your well-being and the well-being of your business remain top priorities. While there are many unknowns, we remain committed to responding to the course of these events as they unfold, communicating consistently and intentionally, and providing as much real-time information to you as possible about the state of our business here at Kyser.
As of March 30, 2020, our warehouse remains operational and we will continue to accept and fulfill orders via email and phone. And as we remain committed to meeting and exceeding the needs and expectations of our customers, we also deeply value our employees and continue to act in accordance with the mandates of federal, state and local governments. It is our duty to remain proactive and precautionary in our approach, implementing and enforcing extensive preventative health measures to best ensure the health and safety of our staff.
In this unprecedented climate, we continue to turn to what remains constant: the power of playing music, and its ability to lift our spirits no matter the circumstances. We are optimistic about the future, and unified and supportive of our industry partners. Let’s continue to embrace our mission of connection and collaboration, as we remain steadfast in delivering on that promise to our customers.
Stay safe, and take care of one another.
Meredith McClung, President/Owner
Scott Attebery, CEO
March 20, 2020
an important covid-19 update from the kyser leadership team
For 40 years, Kyser Musical Products has been a proud, family-owned business serving the music industry and our community with care, concern, and a desire to maintain excellence in all areas. We are a family. And just like our families at home, and yours, we are committed to taking care of each other in these uncertain times. As we consider the recent events regarding COVID-19, Kyser is actively implementing a means of ensuring the safety and security for our employees, our customers, our distributors, and our communities.
In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, Kyser is constantly monitoring all recommendations from our local, state, and federal governments. Additionally, we are adhering to the recommendations provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As a result, we have implemented several action plans for our employees, their families, and our community.
All non-essential employees have been asked to work from home until further notice. Essential employees will continue to work their regular hours at both the distribution center and production facility. As per the recommendations from the CDC, employees are practicing social distancing through isolated breaks and separate workstations. They are also being asked to take preventative measures, such as hand washing and station sanitizing, numerous times throughout the day.
While we desire to maintain production during this time, all employees have been instructed to remain at home if they are exhibiting any symptoms, have a member of their household exhibiting symptoms, or are needed to fill the caregiver role due to school closures.
At this point, production and domestic and international distribution of our products will continue until the government recommends that we alter our course of action.
Kyser recognizes that our company would not be who we are today if it were not for the customers and communities that we serve. Our loyal workers show they are ready and willing to work as an extension of that service. They continue to set the standard with their flexibility and commitment to precautionary measures knowing that the status as it stands may change at any given moment.
We thank you for your continued support to us as well as to the financial and physical health and well-being of our country. We will continue to monitor the situation both domestically and internationally and are prepared to adapt as needed. These are the times when the resiliency, hope, and unity of humanity are tested most, and we will stand resilient, hopeful, and unified.
May peace rest in our hearts and spirits as we all navigate these uncharted waters together.
Meredith McClung, President/Owner
Scott Attebery, CEO
March 1, 2020
12 GREAT TEXAS GUITAR TUNES YOU SHOULD KNOW
Choice picks from the Lone Star State.
Texas is big in every sense, and its music is even bigger. Only Texas could siphon the bounce from the Louisiana bayou, dirt from the Mississippi delta, dust from the deserts of Mexico, and pride from the plains and combine it all into something so singular, so elemental that people relate to it across time, language, and experience. Texas music is like smoke from a fire: thick and unmistakable. It lingers, and at its center is the hot guitar of these 12 performers who help keep it burning the whole night through.
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys - “Steel Guitar Rag” (1936)
“Once you’re down in Texas, Bob Wills is still the king,” sang Texas’ own Waylon Jennings, but it’s Houston native and steel guitar pioneer Leon McAuliffe who penned and performed this instrumental, which established the steel guitar as a core instrument in country and western music.
Ernest Tubb & His Texas Troubadours - “Waltz Across Texas” (1965)
One of the most requested songs at Texas dancehalls since its release in 1965, Ernest Tubb’s “Waltz Across Texas” is a bona fide classic, especially with Steve “Blondie” Chapman and Buddy “Big E” Emmons, one of steel guitar’s most important figures, trading solos. While Chapman is certainly no slouch, Tubb’s single-string leads were made a trademark by the band’s first guitarist, original Texas Troubadour Jimmy Short.
Willie Nelson - “Texas In My Soul” (1968)
You have to go away to come back, and that’s just what Willie Nelson did when he ignited the outlaw revolution in Austin, Texas, in the early 1970s. But before he left Nashville he cut this titular track from his ode to the Lone Star state, Texas In My Soul, featuring members of the Nashville A-team, the best session musicians in country music history, including Grady Martin and Chet Atkins.
Blind Lemon Jefferson - “Dry Southern Blues” (1926)
One of the very first solo blues performers on record, Blind Lemon Jefferson is often referred to as the “Father of the Texas Blues.” Known for his original style and powerful voice, Jefferson released the first two sides he recorded under his own name in 1926. “Booster Blues” and “Dry Southern Blues” were hits, and if you listen closely, you might notice some lyrical parallels to another famous bluesman, who traveled to San Antonio to make his first recordings some ten years later: Robert Johnson.
T-Bone Walker - “Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just As Bad)” (1947)
Protege to Blind Lemon Jefferson, who taught him how to play guitar in exchange for his service as a guide, T-Bone Walker began as a Texas bluesman in much the same style. In 1940, he relocated to Los Angeles and used the amplified guitar of jazz and swing bands to create the unique sound that would influence countless musicians, like B.B. King, who credits Walker’s 1947 recording, “Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just As Bad)," with inspiring him to pick up the electric guitar.
Mance Lipscomb - “Sugar Babe” (1960)
Mance Lipscomb is synonymous with Texas blues. Discovered during the folk revival of the 1960s, Lipscomb released his first album, Texas Sharecropper and Songster, at the age of 65. This collection of 14 songs includes “Sugar Babe,” the first Lipscomb ever wrote, which showcases his colorful voice and distinctive, “dead-thumb” style of fingerpicking.
Lightnin' Hopkins - “Tim Moore’s Farm” (1949)
You can’t talk about Texas blues without talking about Lightnin’ Hopkins. Possibly the best known Texas bluesman of them all, Sam “Lightnin’” Hopkins was revered for his authenticity and masterful style, moving from country blues to boogie and back at the drop of a hat, fingerpicking lead lines, rhythm, bass, and percussion simultaneously, and cracking jokes through, what Tom Waits put it as, “an orchestra of gold teeth.” His prolific output remains unmatched, and his compositions, like “Tim Moore’s Farm,” an adaptation of a country blues written by Yank Thornton and shaped by Texas bluesman and neighbor Mance Lipscomb, recorded in Houston in 1949, are among the best of the genre.
Guy Clark - “Texas Cookin'” (1976)
A figurehead of the Americana movement in the 1970s, Guy Clark was a singer-songwriter par excellence whose finely tuned, blues-infused compositions inspired a generation of admirers such as Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, and Townes Van Zandt to search for the perfect song. A luthier as well, Clark’s clear, articulate tone and refined style set a new standard for efficiency in a genre where the performer’s whims often take precedence.
Townes Van Zandt - “T For Texas” (1971)
Troubled troubadour Townes Van Zandt left a legacy as large as the Rio Grande. Born to a prominent Fort Worth family, Van Zandt’s adult life was anything but charmed. He suffered through addiction, disease, and hardship that colored his prose in ways other writers could only barely comprehend. He penned songs that took the American folk tradition by the throat, infecting it with despair, wry humor, and the kind of understated gravitas you can only find at the bottom of a bottle. His take on the Jimmie Rodgers classic, “T For Texas,” demonstrates the singular perspective Van Zandt brought to country music.
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble - “Texas Flood” (1983)
Stevie Ray Vaughan and his band Double Trouble breathe new life into this blues standard. Originally written and performed by Larry Davis in 1958, “Texas Flood” quickly became a signature part of the late star’s repertoire after he first recorded it in 1983, and for good reason. The improvised 12-bar solos and smokehouse vocals stand up against the best Vaughn ever recorded.
Kacey Musgraves - “Slow Burn” (2018)
Nothing is surprising about Kacey Musgraves’ rise to the top. The Texas-born country star has been performing professionally since she was as young as twelve years old. Her 2018 album, Golden Hour, won four Grammys, taking home honors for Best Country Song, Best Country Solo Performance, Best Country Album, and Album of the Year. Like Musgraves herself, the album’s opening track, “Slow Burn,” takes a while to get where it’s going, but it goes to show that ending up in the right place is all that matters.
Gary Clark, Jr. - “Please Come Home” (2012)
A bold new voice in Texas music, Gary Clark, Jr. continues to win over fans and music legends alike with his fiery guitar and fearless attitude. His major-label debut, Blak and Blu, showed the world just way Gary Clark, Jr. is too big for the Lone Star State, with sultry, soulful vocals and monster solos like this one, on the Grammy-winning “Please Come Home.”
HONORABLE MENTION: Texas Tornados – “(Hey Baby) Que Paso?” (1990)
Doug Sahm is one of the most underrated artists of the 20th century, with a career punctuated by incredible achievements, including spinning together a supergroup of stars from nearly every style of popular music Texas has into an intoxicating whirlwind known simply as the Texas Tornados.
BONUS: Waylon Jennings - “Luckenbach, Texas (Back To The Basics Of Love)” (1977)
We couldn’t just leave this out. Named for the infamous patch of unincorporated territory known as Luckenback, Waylon Jennings’ classic outlaw anthem is a love letter to the simple life, as well as all the things–and people–that make Texas and its music great.
January 16, 2020
Kyser Musical Products, Inc. has released the Limited-Edition Milton Kyser Signature Acoustic Quick-Change Capo, or the “Milton” capo, in celebration of its 40th anniversary in 2020. The capo is thoughtfully designed to pay tribute to company founder Milton Kyser, who revolutionized guitar performance with his invention of the Quick-Change capo, while looking forward to a bright future of invention and expression through Kyser’s humble East Texas handcrafting facility, and its global stable of artists.
“With this special product, we’re not only paying homage to Uncle Milton’s 40-year legacy of fine craftsmanship,” said Kyser owner and President Meredith McClung. “We are also acknowledging and honoring his commitment to unity through music. This capo represents 40 years of making that vision a reality, but will also empower future artists and inspire creativity and human connection for years to come.”
Available in an exclusive run of 2,020 units and handcrafted in Texas, the “Milton” capo features a number of premium touches never before curated together on Kyser’s flagship Quick-Change design. Features include a special powder-coated chrome finish, a “Milton Kyser” original signature stamp, and blackout appointments, including a black boot, black rubber pad and black low-tension spring for seamless, in-tune performance.
“The Kyser brand is strong because the product is strong,” said Kyser CEO Scott Attebery. “Milton Kyser’s design has withstood the test of time. He set the standard for quick-change capos with a commitment to American-made, handcrafted quality. That’s why artists have trusted Kyser for 40 years now.”
The capo comes bundled in a special keepsake box complete with a hand-numbered certificate of authenticity signed by McClung herself.
July 9, 2019
Kyser Musical Products, Inc. is expanding its Quick-Change Capo collection with a 3-color Sunburst design. The Sunburst finishing process is unique to musical instrument manufacturing and has become synonymous with the most famous guitars of all time. Now that iconic Sunburst look is available on a Kyser Quick-Change capo. Stemming from the recent popularity of Kyser’s rosewood and maple finish capos, and the industry-wide demand for vintage-inspired gear, the new Sunburst capo is a welcome addition to Kyser’s woodgrain capo collection. Meredith Hamlin, Kyser CEO, says: “Right now, there isn't a capo on the market that epitomizes the iconic sunburst pattern while also delivering the American-made quality and brand recognition as the Kyser Sunburst Quick-Change Capo.” Meticulously forged by hand in Texas, USA, this capo boasts the same reliable, ergonomic design of the original Quick-Change line that’s perfect for a variety of 6-string acoustic guitar neck profiles.
March 1, 2019