Kyser Capo Takes Global Sales Up a Key
“Thirty percent of our sales are international.”
– Nick Palmer
Singer Patty Griffin using a Kyser Capo in concert. Photo courtesy of Ron Baker
You’ll find a capo in most every guitarist’s gig bag. And there’s a pretty good chance that it will be a Kyser Capo, manufactured in and distributed from the Texas towns of Kaufman and Canton.
With a capo – a small device that clamps down across all six strings of the guitar – a performer can easily change the key of a song. It eliminates the need to tune differently or to master the ability to play in various fingering positions all over the fret board.
But enough music theory. Because this is really a business success story, about how a Texas company that began in the proverbial garage workshop is now selling industry-leading products to musicians all over the world.
In 1981, Milton Kyser was a retired machinist with a guitar-playing friend who often complained about the elastic band capo that was the standard at the time. Kyser figured he could create one that would be easier to use and more precise. His innovative design, which features a spring-tensioned clamp, became known as the “Quick-Change” capo.
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Nick Palmer, Kyser’s grandson and operation manager at Kyser Musical Products, says that today the company’s 30 full-time employees produce about 100,000 capos annually, shipping them to distributors throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia and Canada. “Thirty percent of our sales are international,” Palmer notes. The standard Quick-Change capo, still popular nearly three decades after its debut, retails for between $15 and $20. “We call ourselves ‘America’s Capo,’ Palmer adds, “and the world’s favorite.”
In March 2010, Kyser looked to increase its international presence by exhibiting at Germany’s Musikmesse, which brings together manufacturers from around the globe to present a vast array of music-making products and instruments. While Kyser’s most popular international seller is the basic black Quick-Change capo, the company sells capos in various colors and types, including partial capos that facilitate alternate tunings and capos for banjos and mandolins.
Kyser is also shipping two unique products overseas these days. The goal, however, is to increase morale, not market share.
The company is providing both camouflage and patriotic red, white and blue capos to Operation: Music Aid, a nonprofit organization that distributes musical instruments to our wounded troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as to military medical facilities in the U.S. FN
For more information on Kyser Capos, visit Kyser Musical Products.
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