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Our First Customer

Kevin O'Leary playing the first Tofino acoustic guitar
A blindfolded Kevin O'Leary playing Tofino.

And hs review of the guitar he bought 13 years ago.

In December of 2009, we received a call from New Brunswick. The man on the other end of the line wanted to know if he could purchase our first (and at the time only) guitar - Tofino. That in itself may not seem strange. After all, in the intervening years, we've fielded thousands of similar calls.

What made this call different from all the subsequent phone sales was that except for the production crew of CBC Dragons Den, no one knew of our existence. In May of that year, we'd taped the now-infamous episode where a blindfolded Kevin O'Leary had picked our guitar over one costing thousands more. We'd signed a non-disclosure, agreeing not to reveal any details of our experience - so how did the guy on the phone know anything about us?

We were more than happy to sell him a guitar. He explained that his daughter was one of the CBC production assistants and had worked on our taping. Knowing her father was a guitar player, she gave him a heads up.

At MacKenzie & Marr, we have a small celebration every year on December 21st, which we refer to as "Basil Kazakos Day" in honour of our first customer. This year we were thrilled to receive an email from Basil reviewing the guitar he purchased almost 14 years ago.

Here is what he said:

On December 21st, 2009, I placed an order to purchase a Mackenzie and Marr guitar. It was a Tofino, the only guitar they were making at the time. The guitar was recommended to me by my daughter, who was working at CBC on the Dragon's Den show at the time, and this guitar (and company) caused quite a sensation with all the players who worked for CBC. Based on what they told her about the guitar, she phoned me, gave me the story and said to me that I should order one.

As a rule, I don't collect guitars. I feel I only need one of each; one acoustic steel-string guitar, one classical guitar, one solid body electric guitar, one vintage acoustic-electric guitar and one solid body electric bass. I had a Martin Guitar and, at the time, felt that it was the only one I needed for its category.

However, I was intrigued with the buzz at CBC, the Dragon's Den Show, the concept of the guitar and the company. I felt it was worth giving the Tofino a shot. It came through Canada Post in a huge well-packed box. When I brought it home, unpacked the box and opened the case, it was a joy to see for the first time. The attention to detail was remarkable; it was nice and light. It played beautifully, especially after changing the strings to D' Addario Silk and Steel. All I have added was a pickup, which wasn't an option from the company when I first bought it.

Twelve years later, almost to the day, it is still a joy to play. The Tofino is my go-to guitar when I want to learn a new song, experiment with a solo or practice for a gig.

The Martin is long gone, I traded it for a much better classical guitar.

I would rank my Tofino guitar as it is: 5 out of 5; no regrets on this purchase.

Basil Kazakos
New Brunswick, Canada

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