Six-String Brokerage President Dave Shoudt, pictured with Kindred player Melissa Eick,
plans to expand Kindred distribution across the U.S.
Six-String BrokerageThere’s more than 40 years of history behind Kindred Guitars, though longtime guitarists might know them by another name: Sigma. Created by C.F. Martin in 1970, Sigma was the classic lower-cost guitar line that delivered an alternative to the cheap instruments then coming out of Asia. Set apart by their upscale design specs and Martin’s expert oversight, Sigmas were played by guitar students and gigging musicians for decades before being discontinued by Martin in 2007. The line didn’t end there though. Depending on who’s counting, in fact, you might say it’s now been rescued three times by guitar lovers who knew it deserved to survive. The latest is Dave Shoudt of Six-String Brokerage, the distributor that’s bringing Kindred back to U.S. dealers. “They’re wonderful guitars,” says Shoudt. “It would be a shame for this country not to have them. I’m trying to ensure that Kindred can be a strong name in the United States for a long time.”
After years of twists and turns for Kindred Guitars,
new distributor plans to take them nationwide
The modern-day Kindred story starts in 2012, when Günther Lutz of German-based AMI Musical Instruments purchased the retired Sigma brand from Martin. A longtime luthier and distributor, and a veteran of the Martin Custom Shop, Lutz engaged a factory to build guitars in the pattern of classic Sigmas while substantially tightening their quality. Across the Atlantic, however, there was a snag: the U.S. trademark for Sigma was rightfully owned by another company. Unwilling to give up, AMI rebranded the line as Kindred in the U.S. and established a strong East Coast dealer network through its then-distributor, Golden Ark, Inc. But while the guitars sold swiftly and profitably at retail, they hit another road block when Golden Ark folded earlier this year. That was where Six-String Brokerage came in, filling the void as Kindred’s exclusive U.S. distributor at the beginning of September.
Known as “working musicians’ guitars,” the Kindred line covers a range of Martin-inspired instruments in all shapes and sizes, running from around $300 up to the $1,800 range. At the lower end are highly playable guitars with solid spruce and mahogany tops, bone nuts, rosewood fingerboards, and Fishman electronics on the acoustic-electric models. At the high end are all-solid limited-edition instruments with Madagascar rosewood back and sides, ebony fingerboards, Grover tuners, and, as one retailer put it, “immaculate build quality.” “They’re pieces of art,” says Shoudt. “One of the great things about these guitars is that they’re priced so well for both the retailer and the consumer. They hold their value and they play beautifully.”
Based in the famous guitar town of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, Six-String Brokerage has so far restored Kindred to its existing dealers and added about half a dozen new retailers to the network. While the previous distributor never took Kindred beyond the East Coast, Shoudt plans to open up dealers across the country. “I want to have retailers in every corner of the U.S., but I don’t want to overpopulate it,” says Shoudt. “I want to make sure there’s loyalty to my core dealers. I’m thrilled to think we’ll be getting the Kindred name out there where it’s supposed to be, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Subscribe to The Music Trades today!