Adapted from The Vancouver Sun
Mike Miltimore, 36, says he “was born
and made to work in the music industry”.
As a child, he took apart guitars for his father.
Miltimore’s father, Lee, was the owner of Lee’s Music in Kamloops.
As a teen, the youth worked in his father’s music store after school.
At night and on weekends, he worked on
sound and lighting for special events.
Mike says his first and only job has been as a sound engineer.
He loves this work.
He is co-owner of Lee’s Music, which is now a family business.
Lee’s Music was a store selling music instruments. Lee’s also did repairs.
Four years ago, the business
began to make guitars for customers.
They made acoustic guitars.
An acoustic guitar is not amplified.
This means that nothing is attached to this guitar to make it sound louder.
The sound is made by pulling or plucking
the strings with the fingers or a plectrum.
A plectrum or “pick” is usually made of thin plastic or other material.
Picks are held between the fingers.
They are sometimes attached to the thumb or fingers.
Musical instruments having strings are
found in many different cultures and countries.
It took Lee’s about 100 hours to make one of these guitars.
This meant they made six to eight instruments in a year.
Mike changed all this.
He was interested in making stronger, better guitars.
He wanted a louder, deeper sound.
And he wanted to make them faster.
For six years he worked on a new design for acoustic guitars.
Miltimore says after all this, “I know a lot about guitars.”
Since 1916, acoustic guitars have had the same body shape.
The old way of making guitars used a table saw or a hand saw.
Then the luthier spent hours sanding the pieces to fit together.
Now Lee’s head luthier makes a 3-D model on a computer.
Special machines cut out the shapes
shown on the computer model.
They also have a machine which bends the wood for
the side pieces of the guitar.
The luthiers can now put together
the pieces in less than an hour.
Tension or pressure
A guitar has about 200 pounds
of tension on it while someone is playing it.
This means there are usually problems
with the neck twisting and breaking.
Sometimes the top of the guitar lifts off.
Miltimore designed a guitar with no tension in the structure.
Now a player can change
the angle of the neck while the strings are tight.
Miltimore has applied for a world-wide patent on his design.
Riversong Guitars are Canadian
Lee’s Music had a contest five years ago to name their new guitar.
They chose the name Riversong.
Their new guitar was named after
the two rivers which come together near the city of Kamloops.
The North Thompson River and the
South Thompson River become one, just outside the city.
And B.C. wood is used in the guitars.
Maple and spruce come from the area.
Miltimore says, “…I look around our backyard.”
Then he thinks, “What can I make and build and
send out to the rest of the world?”
In April 2012, Miltimore applied for a young Canadian entrepreneur award.
He was the only one chosen from B.C. Miltimore came second.
He was also named Young Entrepreneur for British Columbia.
In November last year, Miltimore sent
a Riversong guitar to Paul McCartney.
McCartney was a member of the Beatles.
McCartney was performing at B.C. Place Stadium.
Riversong is soon moving into a bigger space.
They now sell every guitar they make.
And they make about 30 guitars a month.
Lee’s wants to make more instruments because they have many requests.
Where are they going?
They are moving downtown, closer to the song of the river.
Check the slideshow for photos of other plucked string instruments.