The Detroit company that’s turning old buildings into guitars

By August 14, 2017

As the classic saying goes “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. While the idea of sifting through piles of junk to find some hidden gems might seem like a laborious and dirty task, one company is doing the hard work for you. Although, in this case, the treasure is a guitar worth at least $2,600.

Detroit Wallace Guitars opened three years ago with a focus on making professional grade, vintage style guitars out of reclaimed wood from dilapidated, historically significant buildings from the city.

The company has recently released a line of guitars made from the remains of Detroit’s Brewster Wheeler Recreation centre, where boxer Joe Lewis once trained along with Diana Ross accompanied by other members of The Supremes as children.

This history adds to the uniqueness of each guitar, which has found a popular and surprising market among local bankers and art collectors, along with serious musicians. Due to the price and design of these guitars, they are not your standard model for beginners.

“I’ve got a guy who’s played with Bruce Springsteen named Stewart Francke,” says Mark Wallace who founded the business. “He has a ’58 Rickenbacker, a Telecaster. He says he only wants to play on our guitar.”

Due to his previous work in the real estate industry, Wallace was aware of the potential in Detroit’s crumbling buildings. However, it was a non profit organization that inspired him to make something out of them. The charity worked with homeless people and showed them how to properly salvage materials from old disused buildings that have been abandoned since the city’s tragic decline.

As a guitarist that was part of local punk and bluegrass bands, he had the ingenious idea to make guitars from the unused building parts. This not only represented Detroit’s world famous history of making goods but also tapped into its rich music history.

Guitars are not the only products that are being produced from old materials; a number of other startups across the USA are making use of the things we throw away, such as Evrnu. This Seattle based startup takes old clothes and creates completely new yarn for clothing.

Many big brands such as H&M and Eileen Fisher receive unwanted clothes in their stores, however, according to the company’s co founder, Stacy Flynn, they don’t necessarily know how to provide a sufficient second use for it. “It’s piling up and they don’t really know what to do with it. We have places for clothing to go, like rags, insulation, rugs, and those kinds of things. But regeneration has not been commercialized yet”, Flynn says.

As our resources become ever more scarce, it may take innovative startups like these to help use reduce waste, creating a greener world for us to live in. As our technology improves, our ability to reduce, so does our ability to reuse and recycle, allowing creative minds to make valuable treasure from our worthless trash.