When it comes to celebrating success, Mike Miltimore knows all the right chords.
Pride was front and centre Thursday as the Riversong Guitars founder marked a couple of major milestones — obtaining an international patent on their design innovations and garnering two nominations for guitar awards from Music Merchandise Review (MMR).
“We’re patented,” Miltimore declared at the company’s Lorne Street factory. “We’re very excited about that because now … as we expand to new markets, there are lots of opportunities and we’re going to have that kind of protection we need, to confidently go in and know that our innovation is secure.”
The protection is particularly important given that Riversong, already sold in 40 countries, has its sites set on China for its next overseas market push.
Riversong’s key innovation is a neck that runs through the inside of the instrument, a unique design. The structure of the guitar is across the back rather than across the front, allowing more resonant area for a bigger, broader sound. The neck is solid down to the 24th fret, so it eliminates issues common with most acoustic guitars.
“But that’s not the big, exciting news,” Miltimore continued.
MMR Magazine annually issues dealer’s choice awards, in which music dealers worldwide vote on their favourite products of the past year.
In 2015, Riversong was nominated for guitar of the year.
“This year, we’ve been nominated twice for acoustic guitar of the year, shortlisted among the Top 6, and nominated for product of the year. This is a global award and we’re very proud to make these guitars right here in Kamloops.”
The guitar up for the awards in both categories is the Tradition II Grand Auditorium Performer.
“This guitar is very, very special,” he added before handing one over to the acoustic guitar group Bare Bones to perform on.
Like other Riversong guitars, this one looks like eye candy to guitar fans, but it’s the design that’s extra sweet.
“It’s all our latest innovations put into a guitar.”
The instrument’s walnut back and sides come from B.C. with “flame sugar maple that smells like brown sugar, but doesn’t taste anything like it.” The guitar’s top uses a special “Lutz spruce” from the Skeena valley, where the Sitka and Engelmann spruce forests merge.
“It’s got the power and warmth of Sitka, and the bottom end and punch of Engelmann, so this guitar is a sweetheart of an instrument.”
They incorporate as many B.C. products as they can, including the sound hole, the bridge pin and nuts, as well as the unique tuners.
Riversong employs seven staff, including luthiers who build about 60-70 instruments a month.