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JohnMarr's blog

Should Kevin O'Leary Endorse a MacKenzie & Marr Guitar?

Kevin O'Leary playing Tofino on Dragon's Den
On January 13, 2010 the CBC hit show, Dragons Den aired an episode with Kevin O'Leary playing two guitars - one a $5000 model from a very limited high end maker and the other, our new Tofino, priced at $900. Kevin's challenge was, while blindfolded, to identify the high priced guitar. To our delight he picked Tofino as the better sounding and better playing of the two. Still blindfolded, he held up our guitar and said emphatically to an audience of a few million viewers "This is the $5000 guitar". He created an instant stampede of orders and signed on as one of our business partners. We still produce that guitar. In fact its consistently one of our best selling models. Visit the Tofino page of our site for more information.
Now, six years later we'd like to introduce a special "Kevin O'Leary" edition of Tofino. The problem with doing so is that Kevin is very shy. We sense a reluctance on his part to be honoured with his own guitar. What do you think?

Trump to Ban MacKenzie & Marr (humour)

A reliable source has reported that, Donald Trump if elected President, will to move to ban MacKenzie and Marr as well as their highly affordable guitars from entering the United States.

“Musical instruments lead to music which leads to harmony, understanding and good will toward men. That's not what we're about” Trump is quoted as saying. “We need to remain decisive about remaining divisive. Besides, both MacKenzie and Marr are Canadians. If we open our doors to them and their guitars what's going to follow.....a flood of flutes or French (Canadian) horns? Making music should be reserved for the rich. Affordable guitars are not in the county's interest.

Reached at his office in Montreal, John (Mr. Guitar) Marr reacted with surprise. He speculated that the proposed ban may have more to do with Mr. Trump's youthful and painful attempt to carve out a career as a Gypsy Jazz guitarist before being pulled into the family real estate business by his father (who is generally referred to as the “successful” Trump).

Dr. Jonathan (The Resonator) MacKenzie was busy saving lives and unavailable for comment.

All the Sound You Cannot See

MacKenzie & Marr Guitars - gluing in the kerfing

Every year since we began crafting guitars we've made incrimental improvements to each production run. For 2015 the changes go far beyond "incrimental". 

From milling and drying our own raw wood to adding a new side bending system, we've revamped almost every step of our guitar making. Here's a link to some of the things we've changed.

All the sound you cannot see

The First Annual Guitar Generosity Index

Guitar generosity index

We've started tracking how many guitars we send out each year as gifts -who buys them and who receives them. The results may surprise you.

We used a scale from 0 to 100 to represent the number (not the dollar value) of guitars we could clearly identify as gifts. We went back to the start of 2014 so this graph takes into account birthdays, graduation, anniversaries Christmas etc. There's a couple of days left in this Holiday season's buying binge but based on our findings so far and our experiece in past years here's what we think is solid (semi or non -scientific) evidence of who is giving and getting and who is not.

When it comes to guitars as gifts wives are astoundingly generous. Husbands not so much. There isn't a month that goes by that we don't get requests from wives to help them pick out a guitar for a special occasion. There's a  lot of very lucky husbands in this country.

Wives may be great givers but when it comes to guitars they they're not so lucky. Either there are very few married female guitarists or husbands are spending way too much time in Victoria Secrets. If you're a husband looking for a guitar for your wife we'd suggest takng a very good look (and listen) to our new Opeongo.

Parents giving guitars to their kids tend to break down into two groups -by far the most common is the father getting a Dreadnought for a son to stop the boy from taking his own MacKenzie & Marr guitar. The other (very surprising) parent buyer  is one who call us in November or December to buy a guitar for each of their children. That sort of call is not an everyday occurance but we never say no to supplying family with matching MacKenzie & Marr guitars.

Kids - almost always adults - picking a guitar as a gift for a parent is usually accompanied by a touching story of love and respect. We treasure those stories - perhaps because we're at the age where our own children are grown - learning to make their way in the world and developing new and wonderful ways of relating to us.

Finally there's one group of guitar givers not represented by this graph. Regardless of who is the end recipient of each MacKenzie & Marr guitar we remain grateful for the purchaser's faith in our company and our instruments. To us that's a gift we treasure. We want to thank you and to wish you and your's the best of the Holiday Season.

Where the Deals Hide

Occasionally we get a bit goofy and offer a one hour or one day sale on one of our guitar models.
The only way to catch theses deals is to "like" MacKenzie & Marr on Facebook because that's where we announce them so why not click here, hit the "Like" button and be prepared to save some loot?

With an iPhone and $40 You Too Can Be A Guitar God

Fair warning to Keith Richards (Mr. Clapton pay attention too). I hooked my iPhone to my MacKenzie & Marr Ian Tyson Limited Edition with a gizmo called an iRig, fired up "Satisfaction" in the associated program and played along. In all humility I was astoundingly good - better (again with humility) than Keith himself. In fact Keith was doing such a fine job on rhythm I added my own embellishments to the tune. Later Willie Nelson backed me up on "Pancho and Lefty". I outdid myself. You'll have to take my word for it since no one else was around to judge. The electric sound was also delivered to my earbuds so only I could hear it.

Jonathan Mackenzie, the other founding partner in MacKenzie & Marr Guitars prefers acoustic folk with a bit of Celtic flavour. He has little love for electric guitars. I, on the other hand gravitate towards acoustic blues with built-in raunch. Truth be told I am a secret rock n' roller at heart. Hanging my head is shame, I'll also admit to being a bit of an Apple fanboy so when I saw the iRig I couldn't resist. It's not much more than a cylinder that connects an electric guitar to an iPhone or iPad and headphones or powered speakers. Coupled with a free app the iRig allows multiple guitar effects and an infinite number of settings for tweaking the sound. I had my Ian Tyson Ltd fuzzing and buzzing, reverbing and wah-wahing. At one point I hit the "Heavy Metal" setting and - no word of a lie - the guitar sounded like a Kirk Hammett rehearsal. Cranking out full-on rock 'n roll from a solid wood acoustic guitar with a built in pickup blew me away. Doing it through headphones will no doubt make my wife ecstatic. She already labours under the misapprehension that I lack any real guitar playing skill.

In addition to all the cool effects the app offers the ability to load and play along with a tune from the device's iTunes library. The song can be slowed down without changing the pitch - a great way to learn. If you're intrigued by the idea of your amplified acoustic guitar doing double (or triple etc.) duty as a full electric axe and you own an iPhone, iPod or iPad here are some links you may want to check out:

The iRig -available at most Apple Stores for $40.

Amplitube iPhone App - the free app from the same people as the iRig. There are multiple add-ons that can be purchased

iShred App - another free app that works with the iRig. I found the pre-sets to be a bit more interesting than those supplied with Amplitube

Taylor EQ App - If you're just looking for acoustic amplification through the iPhone and headphones this does the trick. The maker claims the various EQ presets duplicte the unique sound of different Taylor guitars but to me they all sounded the same. No effects

Have fun....oh and if you see Mr. Richards, don't tell him how good I think I am. He's already got one high maintenance ego to worry about. He doesn't need another.

The Canadian Tenors

Arianna Huffington, the Canadian Tenors and the MacKenzie & Marr Tofino
Remigio Pereira a member (now ex-member) of the Canadian Tenors had a chance to play the MacKenzie & Marr Tofino at a recent Toronto concert. He wrote to say "It feels and sounds fantastic. I haven't played anything like it and it virtually plays itself!" He went on to tell us the group had performed at Koerner Hall for Arianna Huffington and sent along this photo. Thanks to Remi and the other Canadian Tenors. Catch their upcoming PBS special. Visit their Web Site for details on the group, their new CD and their performance schedule.

One Crazy Week

Back in December, no sooner had we booked tickets to the annual NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Show than CBC notified us that our Dragon's Den episode would air the night before we left for California. We knew it would be a bit hairy handling the trip and interest sparked by the show at the same time. We had no idea how hairy!!

I spent Wednesday shipping guitars, getting US cash, setting up a video link in Skype for a Dragon's Den watching party and (for the first time in decades) locking my keys in the car. Rushed and stressed!

Within hours of the show airing on Wednesday night our web server was under strain and we were seeing a flurry of orders. By Thursday morning as Jonathan and I boarded the plane for California half of the first 48 MacKenzie & Marr Tofino guitars were sold and orders continued to stream in. Air Canada had a bit of a problem establishing the in-air Wi-Fi link but when they did I found I had almost 100 unanswered e-mails. If yours was one of them I apologize for not responding immediatly. The backlog is now dealt with. One of the benefits of the threehour time difference is a few hours of early morning work time.

There are a number of questions that pop up from multiple users. I'll post answers to them in our FAQ next week. If you ordered a guitar in the last couple of days it will be shipped Monday Jan 18th. If you're thinking of ordering a Tofino we still have about 1/2 dozen available. After that the next delivery date will likely be late May 2010.

Thanks for all of the wonderful comments about MacKenzie & Marr Goitars and our appearance on Dragon's Den.

Best to all,
John Marr

Good Things Come in Great Packages

Most companies will wait through at least one selling cycle before rolling out the "new improved" line. Here at MacKenzie & Marr Guitars we simply don't do things like other companies. Our cedar top acoustic guitars are distinctly our own design. Our way of distributing direct-to-musicians through the web is unusual in the music industry to say the least. Waiting until we actually had some sales to tweak our product line (if one model constitutes a "line") seemed so 20th Century.

Everyone who played Tofino had nothing but praise for the guitar but no one seemed to be blown away by its hardshell case. Why would they? We'd put all of our effort into designing Tofino. We'd spent no time at all thinking about the case. After all it was free with the guitar. Who's going to spend time and effort on "free"?

But at one of the focus group sessions where we previewed Tofino the comment was made that the case didn't do justice to the guitar. When customers speak we listen.

So with great fanfare we announce the "New Improved" MacKenzie & Marr hardshell case. With thicker sidewalls, tougher skin, stronger latches and a raised top the new ruggedized cases that hold our guitars

MacKenzie & Marr Guitars On Dragon's Den January 13 2010

Kevin O'Leary Playing the MacKenzie & Marr Tofino on Dragon's Den

Tune in CBC on January 13 at 8 PM to see Jonathan and I pitch our business to five savvy investors on Dragon's Den. We know we have a winner in both our Tofino acoustic guitar and our business model. Selling high end acoustic guitars direct from the factory to musicians over the Internet means huge savings compared to retail. Will the Dragons recognize either our cedar top guitar or our business plan as worthy of an investment or will they tell us our "valuation is nuts, we're being greedy an/or there's no business here".
We're betting they love the guitar and see the savings to consumers as a winner. Think we're wrong? Leave a comment or visit our Facebook page to add your input to the Dragons Den poll.


An Important Note Regarding Porch Pirates

When we ship a guitar we always send it with instructions to the courier that a signature MUST be obtained at the time of delivery. If no one is home to sign for the carton, it will not be left. We do this to ensure that your guitar does not fall into the hands of porch pirates (or other nefarious characters such as bass players or drummers).

UPDATE - We've learned that during the COVID-19 crisis FedEx is sometimes leaving cartons with no signature. Please follow the tracking number we provide to make sure you know when your guitar arrives.

Fall In Love In Less Than a Week

Try any of our guitars in the comfort of your own home. If you don't fall head over heels in love within a week we'll arrange to take it back and issue a full refund (including shipping).
*certain conditions apply.

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