by Karla Locke
B&G Guitars, with their “Little Sister,” are carving out their place in history for guitars and musical instruments and Lonnie Good wants to be a part of it.
It’s how it Sounds…
The Beautiful Wood
“Every little aspect of the build is why it plays like it does,” Lonnie said.
Handmade in Tel Aviv, Israel, the Little Sister is crafted from a passion to recreate the sound of the timeless classic “parlor guitar” of the 20’s to the mid 50’s. Little Sister offers guitar aficionados a unique, lightweight, superior designed guitar, which oozes with tone and is such a joy to play.
Expert luthiers in vintage guitars, Eliran Barashi and Yotam “Kiki” Goldstein were set to the task by a customer to replicate the sounds of a vintage guitar, they not only accepted the task, but exceeded the expectations and proceeded to produce an amazing looking, great sounding instrument.
Using rare, reclaimed aged woods and hand-poured brass hardware designed by jewelry artist, David Weizman, along with hand-wound P90 and humbucker pickups, this work of art is lovingly produced and crafted by the hands of skilled artisans.
The passion of the luthiers and the sound of their guitar caught the attention of artist and entrepreneur, Avi Goldfiner, now CEO of B&G Guitar. With his experience B&G’s growth has doubled in a short time to thirty guitars a month, each made by hand, with a waiting period of up to a year.
The passion for Little Sister and its expanding family of musical instruments, which now includes the Big Sister bass guitar, has spread. Anyone who plays it is caught by the passion.
Which leads us to the story of Lonnie Good and how a man in the small town of Okanogan, WA, caught the B&G passion bug.
Like so many guitarist, Lonnie was always searching for the guitar. The one that comes to life in your hands when played, whose tone reverberates in your soul, and allows you to create beautiful music. He knew there was one out there; he just needed to find it.
Years ago, an old friend let Lonnie borrow his Gibson ES335. Lonnie thought this was it, but before he could decide if he should purchase it his friend passed away and the family took the guitar back and sold it. This put him back on the journey to find the perfect guitar.
Then in his Facebook newsfeed an ad popped up about this guitar called, Little Sister, from B&G Guitars. Fascinated, Lonnie clicked on it and watched the video. Mesmerized by the sound and the video Lonnie knew he just had to have one.
Lonnie contacted B&G Guitars immediately. As soon as Lonnie picked it up (complete with an “unpacking” video) and played it, he knew this was it. He found the guitar that excited his passion for playing.
After a few months of conversing, B&G realized that Lonnie had the same passion for the instrument as they did. Coming to an agreement they decided to allow him to market the guitar in the U.S. Lonnie became what they refer to in marketing terms, an Evangelist—someone whose passion and belief in a product is shared with others…and is contagious.
Lonnie talked to his long-time friend of fifty years, Mark Coulter, and asked if he would like to go into business selling Little Sister guitars in the U.S. When Mark, who can be somewhat conservative, saw the video he immediately said yes. They formed GoodMark Guitars and quickly started ordering one or two B&G Guitars at a time.
When it comes to selling the Little Sister, “As soon as they hold it and play it, they buy it,” Lonnie said.
Sales grew quickly, selling thirty B&G Guitars in their first year, making them the top seller of B&G Guitars in the U.S.
Lonnie and Mark’s plans include adding more products to the GoodMark line, such as a 10w tube guitar amplifier, designed and built in-house. They now stock the full line of guitars offered by B&G Guitars. Mark’s role is CEO and Lonnie is the front man (sales)…the man with the passion.
As part of their business plan Lonnie has been doing comparison videos of B&G guitars against other guitars, reaching out to musicians, while also attending conferences and tradeshows. They are also in the process of revamping their website to spread the word even further.
As part of their growing business they had to learn about importing. Because the guitars are made with exotic woods, they were required to get a permit with the government to bring in exotic woods. B&G filed paperwork to certify the wood as reclaimed old growth. And, since the U.S has a free trade agreement with Israel, once they found their way through the system, importing became simpler. After a year, everything is in place and business continues to boom.
Music has been in Lonnie’s blood all his life. Lonnie Good grew up in Sedro Woolley, WA. His father died in a plane crash when he was young, leaving his mom to raise three children on her own. Poor, they couldn’t afford much but when the family had gatherings it all revolved around music.
At age thirteen or fourteen, Lonnie was able to scrap enough money together to buy his first guitar. When he reached adulthood, like so many adults, his dream of music became secondary because he needed a career that paid the bills. Lonnie went into the aviation industry, after getting an A&P license, he first specialized as a mechanic, then started designing, repairing and building wings for Cessna planes.
After a harsh winter of constant rain in Western Washington Lonnie had enough and moved to the “other side” of the mountains, Eastern Washington. He became a consultant and opened his own wing shop but then his aviation business trickled down. He dappled in real estate until the real estate boom busted, and then he lucked out and found a nice quiet piece of property in Okanogan, cleaned it up and converted it to Good Farms, raising Shetland sheep and doing music events at the farm on his homemade stage.
“Music is something that I had to do,” Lonnie said.
Lonnie and his wife started, GOODSTOCK, a weekend of music at their farm. He also converted part of his wing shop into a recording studio, recording albums for local bands.
Coming full circle, he returned to his passion—music.
“This all fits with what I love, which is music,” Lonnie said.
Almost all guitar players feel the lure for the tone of vintage guitars. B&G Guitars has joined the league of high-end boutique guitar makers making history with the best guitars ever. And GoodMark is a passionate part of it.
“These guys are making history,” Lonnie said, “And we want to be part of it.”
When sharing a passion or sharing a vision there are no boundaries, it brings people together to share a common goal, to build a dream, to further a vision. B&G found someone in the U.S. that shares their vision and Lonnie found that guitar which inspires him, creates great playability and tone, and feeds his music soul.
A magazine review with Guitar Magazine
Based in a side street in the south of Tel Aviv, B&G Guitars combined the essence of a small-bodied ‘catalogue’ acoustic from the 1930s with 1950s Gibson-inspired aesthetics and contemporary production methods to develop the Little Sister guitar and Big Sister bass.
Admittedly, the sumptuously produced production video, combined with a fantastic Little Sister-driven soundtrack pressed all of our buttons here at G&B, and when we finally got our hands on the guitar last autumn, we weren’t disappointed. It seems we’re not alone, and things have been moving very quickly for B&G.
by Karla Locke - Author of The Blood Stone Queen and other ebooks, Freelance Writer and Photographer for Stories from the Front Porch and other publications. Karla shares her passion of the arts and artists, photography, writing, small businesses, and people who live, work, and play with passion.
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