GuitarGrips are wall-mounted guitar holders in the form of sculpted, casted, and painted human hands.
They are quickly becoming one of the hottest accessories for musicians around the globe and these little 1-lb. bad boys are made right here at a boutique business, in Detroit Rock City, USA!
At the helm of this excellent operation is Mike Ryan. Mike works with his parents Dale and Sylvia and younger sister Kelly every day at GuitarGrip. For the Ryan Family, working together helps them bring out the best in each other and avoid counterproductive hypercritical diversions.
The proof is in the numbers. Thousands upon thousands of GuitarGrip guitar hangers have been sold since their humble beginnings in the Fall 2007.
Upon entering the GuitarGrip production facility, you are immediately flooded with the powerful smell of fiberglass resin, one of the telltale signature scents of DIY culture, of people who love building practical, functional products with their hands. Something America needs more of.
Yes, GuitarGrip has copyright, trademark and patents on there products. However, due to proprietary information concerns, we cannot divulge the complex secret sauce of the GuitarGrip operation. But we can let Mike Ryan tell you all the fascinating things he’s willing to share.
The Early Days: Big Things Have Small Beginnings
“My parents have been entrepreneurs their entire lives. Always working for themselves, always busy. As a result, they’ve encouraged us to run our own businesses. The spirit of DIY entrepreneurship is strong in our family. I remember back in junior high, I was suspended for selling Blow Pops out of my locker (laughs) I would buy them for ten cents and sell them for twenty-five cents, making a cool 15 cent profit per Blow Pop and increasing my inventory to include new flavors and more customers.”
“My parents bought a horse barn on 5.5 acres in Northville, which they spent twenty-five years remodeling. They sold the house, then I moved to beautiful Encinitas, California, just north of San Diego. During this time, my parents did RV delivery, taking Prevost RV’s all over the country. My sister moved to Plymouth, Michigan while I stayed in Encinitas for four years. One day my family came to visit me in sunny California and my Mom was flipping through one of my sketchbooks and we somehow cobbled together the idea for GuitarGrip. That’s how it started, from looking at my sketches while drinking beer in Encinitas.”
“So, I moved to Plymouth, Michigan, got an apartment. We made the first GuitarGrip here. We said wow, we gotta get something bigger going, let’s give this a shot. Plus, I couldn’t have a paint booth in my bedroom anymore, so we had to find a dedicated spot. To fund the early days, I worked at a wine bar, then Station 885 restaurant. I was able to help raise enough money to contribute to bankrolling the operation and taking GuitarGrip from conception to reality.”
“After some serious dedication and hard work, we finally created our first successful prototype. New models were sculpted shortly after and brought to market.”
“We were able to make GuitarGrip an entirely family-funded operation from the ground up. No seed capital from investors, no rounds of external funding, we were able to do this ourselves in our own city without outsourcing anything overseas and that is something that we’re all extremely proud of.”
GuitarGrip: The Ryan Family Business
Many families would slaughter each other if they attempted working daily together. However, in the Ryan Family, family roles and responsibilities are clearly delineated and everyone has specific tasks and functions.
“We’re a very hands-on family. My Dad, Dale, owned a body shop for several years. He’s a jack-of-all-trades and especially good at making things with his hands. He even built us a hand-made coffee station in here!”
“My Mom, Sylvia, is the accountant and math whiz. She also designed our Bella Rose model. My younger sister Kelly handles the shipping & receiving, accounts payable, pad n’ felt assembly. I do all the original sketches and mockups for new GuitarGrip models and function as the business manager.”
“I also hail from a very creative and musical family. I’m a guitar player. My Dad’s a drummer. My Mom’s an artist. So, the art aspect of everything is very important to us.”
GuitarGrip: Started from the Bottom Now We’re Here!
After touring the GuitarGrip production facility, we can tell you that there is a very complicated multi-step process to making every GuitarGrip. It’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
“In 2008, we put an advertisement in Guitar World Magazine. We got our first order. By the end of the first month we sold 12 GuitarGrips. Pretty soon we started getting attention from dealers, distributors and musicians all over the world. We got our first big order: 200 pieces. And things just skyrocketed from there.”
“We currently have a Male line and Female line. The Male line has 7 different colors: 4 metallic finishes and 3 antique finishes. The Female (Valkyrie) line has 6 different colors: 4 metallic finishes and 2 sparkle finishes (silver and pink). GuitarGrip also offers a very cool skeleton hand-shaped guitar hanger as well as a ghastly zombie hanger.”
“The aesthetics of each GuitarGrip guitar hanger are important. For instance, in our Antique series, we offer copper, brass or pewter patinas. Every hand also now comes with a machine-injection molded padded rubber insert in the grip, which is securely epoxied on.”
“After 8-years of heavy production, our current stats are as follows:
Our top 3 sellers:
Our top countries right now:
Our top-selling states:
GuitarGrip can also be found at online retailers such as GuitarCenter.com and MusiciansFriend.com
GuitarGrip Gets By With a Little Help From Their Friends
“Almost everything is made in-house here at our production facility in Detroit Rock City and we always try to work with as many local people as we can.”
“Sometimes we have to go to other states but we do try to keep as much work here as possible. We are very dedicated to our local friends and supporters. Our motto is: look for local first.”
Some of Our Local Michigan Helpers:
Kill Taupe is a Detroit artist who designs a lot of our graphic work and marketing material.
Tony Roko is a local artist who helped create our original logo.
Camo Creek Hydrographics in Brighton does a Hydro-Dip of skull prints for one model. Pretty cool process, Hydro Dip, is where you float film on water, then dip the product in it. It’s pretty crazy to see!
Anna Brown helps bring some of our concepts to reality through 3D printing processes.
Josh Bono is our full-time painter and finisher.
How to Mount Your GuitarGrip
“Standard Mounting is the most popular option.”
“Get a quarter-twenty hanger bolt. Find a stud. Get a drill bit. Make a starter hole. Then take the GuitarGrip guitar hanger, it has a double-threaded screw in the back of it, and hand-screw it into the hole. What’s cool about this too is you can pivot it. Each guitar model is different and needs to be displayed at just the right angle for maximum effect. This allows an excellent display of your killer axe. We also have another Drywall Mount option.”
“People also use GuitarGrip for swords, hockey sticks, TV sets (wouldn’t really recommend this one since the pitch has to be just right but yes, it has been done), jewelry holders, remote control holders, coat hangers, etc, the list goes on and on.”
“Several guitar players have asked us if GuitarGrips are safe for the nitrocellulose finish on some older guitars. The answer is yes, yes they are. All guitars have a unique shine or finish on them. Nitrocellulose is a lacquer-finish from back in the day and can be quite sensitive but GuitarGrips are fully compatible with helping to preserve it.”
GuitarGrips Many Musical Fans
“Some of our more well-known fans include: Flea, Kenny Olson (Kid Rock’s Twisted Brown Trucker Band), John 5 (Rob Zombie, well-known shredder), Dan Jacobs (Atreyu), Peter Keys (Lynyrd Skynyrd), Asking Alexandria, Black Stone Cherry, and several others.”
“Also, Kerry King from Slayer. We took his hand prototype, displaying his signature KFK with emblem, made a cool hand, very gnarly, distressed-looking. Still in talks, more on that to come.”
“We’re working on clear transparent hands with an interior LED system.”
“We will be expanding into a new facility later this year.”
“We have a new line of Ukulele hangers for ukuleles, banjos, violins coming out soon.”
“We’re currently working with Detroit tattoo legend Bob Tyrrell on some new models.”
“I attended the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program recently. Great program, it’s designed to help small business owners flourish. This is their 7th class in Detroit. It’s an intense process, includes a live interview in front of a panel. The experience was very helpful for GuitarGrip.”
Catch GuitarGrip at their favorite annual shows:
NAMM Show in Anaheim = “This is the National Association of Music Merchants show. We get huge orders here and big distributors.”
NAMM Show in Nashville = “Very fun show.”
Louder Than Life in Louisville
Motor City Nightmares
Plymouth’s Art in the Park
DIY in Ferndale (very fun)
Wyandotte Street Art Fair
The JobbieCrew is honored to highlight GuitarGrip. This is a hard-working and resilient Mom-and-Pop boutique style USA family operation. We’ve purchased some of their products before and can say from experience that GuitarGrip is great for musicians, gifts, and more.
If you own a guitar (or know someone who does) and are looking for an exciting way to display it properly on the wall, we rate GuitarGrip as an essential piece of functional art for your axe or your friend’s axe.