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Vintage Guitar Magazine interviews Kevin Moore

The Unique Sound of KSM

Kevin Moore’s patented guitar bridges are making their way around the world

Sitting in front of a desk in a small office at the back of KSM Music, Kevin S. Moore suddenly can’t contain himself when asked to describe some of his successes as a guitar maker and an inventor. The 55-year-old suddenly lunges towards a laptop sitting near the back of the desk, almost simultaneously apologizing for his poor typing and spelling skills as he declares, “One of the big successes I had that gave me a thrill was through Leo, and a custom bass he built for Michael McKean.”

Leo is Leonardo Lospennato, an Argentinian of Italian descent who is a renowned luthier in Germany. Lospennato is also the author of “Electric Guitar & Bass Design,” a book that features the innovative bass guitar bridge designed by Moore on its cover.

Prior to a tour of the United Kingdom in 2009 by the fictional — but legendary — rock band Spinal Tap, Lospennato built a bass specifically meant for McKean, aka David St. Hubbins. As Tap’s lead singer, McKean normally only plays rhythm guitar, except for the hit song “Big Bottom,” in which everyone in the band but the drummer picks up a bass.

“So, here he is in 2009 at Glastonbury,” Moore says as he hits play on a YouTube video from the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts in England. “Just look at all those people.”

If you didn’t know what Moore’s patented bass bridge looked like, you probably wouldn’t even notice anything out of the ordinary. But as McKean, also known as Lenny on “Laverne & Shirley,” plucks away on a pale yellow bass while wearing a long, blonde wig, it’s quite clear that there’s a Foundation bass bridge on that guitar.

“They played Glastonbury, Wembley, all those places in front of thousands and thousands of people,” Moore says with a grin. “You’ve got Michael McKean playing a bass that Leo built for him with a KSM bridge on it that came out of a tiny little music store in Logan, Utah.”

“Isn’t that cool?” Moore asks.


Kevin Moore’s career in music got off to a rocky start. A native of Logan, he grew up below Old Main Hill being “force fed” piano by his mother.

“I was probably around 10, and I rejected it,” Moore recalls. “I couldn’t play a note today.

“I wanted to play guitar, so kept on saying that I was going to quit piano and take guitar. But my mom said I needed to learn piano because that was the basis for everything else.”

But Moore’s parents, Sheldon and Sharmeen, did provide him with the occasional musical Christmas gift like Neil Diamond and Three Dog Night cassettes, and eventually he picked up some 45 records like the Cowgills’ “Hair” and Tommy Roe’s “Dizzy” that ended up being the gateway drugs for a serious appreciation of rock ‘n’ roll.

“I loved music,” he says, “and I lamented the fact that growing up in Cache Valley, there wasn’t any real rock ‘n’ roll around.”

Moore says his life really changed when he caught a performance by Kiss on NBC’s “Midnight Special” program in the mid-’70s. But while the band was breaking across the nation, he was unable to find Kiss’ debut album in Cache Valley, so he had to special order it from Somers Music.

“I think I bought the first Kiss music in the valley,” Moore proclaims. “I was really interested in Alice Cooper, as well, but with Kiss, it was about the music. Kiss made me really want to play.”

At the time, Moore did have some experience playing the guitar. He started out with an acoustic and even took a class from future USU guitar legend Mike Christiansen while in junior high. In 1972, he went to the House of Sound, a long-gone stereo store on Main Street, and purchased a Kimberly electric guitar with money he earned by mowing lawns.

“I bought a guitar amp head at a garage sale, and my dad helped me build a speaker box for it,” Moore says while gesturing towards the old Kimberly that still hangs above the service area at KSM Music. “It would just launch you into space.”

But despite his love of the guitar, Moore admits “I never really developed into much of a player,” and says his biggest regret is that he was never in a band growing up.

“Looking back I think, Why the hell didn’t you do that?” Moore declares. “I wish I had done it when I had the chance.”

Real life soon took over Moore’s life. He started working as a printer for the Moore Corporation (now RR Donnelly) in 1977, but after “messing around” with both woodworking and guitars in the ’80s, Moore eventually decided to combine both of those passions together and started trying to repair and then build his own guitars with the aid of Tom Wheeler books.

While becoming a luthier usually comes with an apprenticeship, Moore says he did it all on his own “because I go the road of hard knocks with everything I do.”


Nearly 37 years later, Moore still works at RR Donnelly, which makes KSM Music and KSM Guitars his side ventures.
“I’m still in here every day, but it depends on the day how much time I spend,” he says of the music store. “I’d like to focus on guitars only, but it just doesn’t pay the bills.”

The first KSM retail store opened in 1996 on Main Street, then spent some time in the Cache Valley Mall before moving to its current location at 50 W. 400 North about a decade ago. What started out as a guitar store now sells, rents and services all types of instruments, and the KSM SoundFactory provides instructors for budding musicians.

KSM Guitars itself is based in Moore’s woodshed, where he might take up to a year to create a new six-string masterpiece. He estimates he’s built about 30 guitars through the years, including the standard KSM Model 358 and custom-built guitars currently being played by local guitar heroes like Corey Christiansen, Kris Krompel and Austin Weyand.

Those electric guitars come with Foundation bridges that Moore started to develop around 10 years ago after growing frustrated with guitar bridges that hadn’t changed much since Leo Fender used a door hinge while building guitars in the early 1950s. The screws holding guitar strings in place were always coming loose, causing unnecessary vibration and noise.

Moore says he finally hit the wall when he saw his repairman son Super Gluing down the screws on an expensive new Fender.

“I said, ‘What the hell are you doing? You paid a thousand dollars for this guitar, and you’re screwing it up.’ And he said, ‘Well, they keep moving on me.’”

“That’s when I really started to wonder why we’re still using 1950s technology,” Moore says. “I mean, it works, but it’s not the best. I thought there’s got be a better bridge, so that’s when I started to develop the Foundation bridge.”

Patented in 2009, Moore’s Foundation bridge comes in both bass and six-string varieties, but while the bass bridges are sold separately, the six-string bridges comes only with KSM guitars.

“That’s one of the things that sets my guitars apart,” Moore says.

Country music star Lorrie Morgan has a pink KSM guitar, as does her guitar player Roger Eaton, who has also played with Tanya Tucker, Barbara Mandrell and is a part of the backup band at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

“Sometimes I just can’t win because when (Eaton) travels, he never takes his KSM guitar because he refuses to fly with it. He says he’s seen too many guitars busted up,” Moore explains. “But he also said he doesn’t fly with it because he told his kids that’s going to be their heirloom that they inherit, so the only place you’ll see him playing that guitar is on the Opry stage.”

Moore then adds, “What I like, though, is that the sound engineer at the Opry says that’s one of the quietest guitars he’s ever seen as an engineer.”

That’s the whole point of Moore’s Foundation bridges is to provide more stability by having far fewer moving parts. He admits, however, that he hasn’t “sold a whole lot” of the bridges, and is clearly frustrated over how to market them.

“Everybody that uses one just loves it, but I haven’t figured out the marketing,” Moore says. “The conception, prototype, licensing, patenting, manufacturing and packaging was harder than hell, but it was a piece of cake compared to the marketing.”

That’s clearly why seeing someone like Michael McKean playing an instrument with his bass bridge on it is so satisfying for Moore, who says he’ll keep making guitars “until I die.”

“I can’t play guitar that well, so I get a real kick out of watching somebody who knows how to play, play a guitar that I built,” Moore notes with a big smile. “I had a chance to watch Corey Christiansen, the USU guitar professor, play at Summerfest this year, and he did some sonic acrobatics that were just amazing. It was so cool.

“I still get chills just thinking about how he just made that thing stand up and talk.”

Read the scanned PDF article here

USU team overall winner in NASA rocket contest

KSM Guitars is proud to be associated with Utah State University's winning participation in the 2012 NASA Student Launch Initiative. NASA awarded USU's mechanical and aerospace engineering students the top prize of First Place. KSM Guitars lent painting equipment to engineering student Aaron Larson who was the painting specialist. Aaron applied the outside coating expertly, (drag coefficient is very important). Because KSM lent painting equipment and a few painting tips, Aaron painted KSM on the side of that 2012 champion rocket. The competition was very strong, with 56 schools such as MIT and Virgina Tech participating. USU's engineering students came out on top and KSM guitars went along for the ride.

KSM Guitars is proud to be associated with Utah State University's winning participation in the 2012 NASA Student Launch Initiative
USU team overall winner in NASA rocket contest by Kevin Opsahl, Staff Writer at Herald Journal

It may have taken a while to find out the results, but two months after rockets shot up into the sky in Toney, Ala. NASA has named Utah State University’s team the overall winner of its 11th Annual Student Launch Initiative.

This is the fourth time in the past five years that the team from USU has won the $5,000 top prize from corporate sponsor ATK Aerospace Systems, according to Angela Storey, a NASA spokeswoman. The original launch event was April 22 at Bragg Farms in Toney, Ala., outside of Huntsville, home to the Marshall Space Flight Center. USU student Jeff Taylor, who participated in the launch called USLI, with his fellow USU students felt good about the announcement. “It's very, very exciting for us," he said. “At Utah State, every year that we enter is a completely different team that is building on the heritage of the other team. So this year it was fun to gather together as a new team and to keep up that Utah State legacy.” Taylor credits the win to the education the team received at USU, as well as their mentor, Stephen Whitmore who previously worked for NASA. In April, it was announced that USU also won the Best Vehicle Design award for the most creative, innovative and safety conscious rocket.

KSM Guitars is proud to be associated with Utah State University's winning participation in the 2012 NASA Student Launch Initiative

The final winners are announced each year after the teams undergo a post-launch review of the data collected by their rockets’ payloads. The NASA Student Launch Projects task student teams to design, build and test-fly sophisticated reusable rockets capable of carrying working science payloads to an altitude of one mile and return them safely to Earth. Teams also must design and operate the science payloads, maintain websites to document the experience and devise local educational engagement campaigns to share their enthusiasm for rocketry. The challenge also seeks to inspire younger students to pursue technical learning fields, including science, technology„ engineering and mathematics. “You get to finally apply all of the things you learn in school," Taylor said. “You get that hands-on experience that you just get in the classroom."

The project is sponsored by NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, Science Mission Director at and the Office of Education, all at NASA Headquarters in Washington. ATK provides corporate sponsorship. The National Association of Rocketry provides technical review and launch support. According to Storey, NASA had a total 51 launches, but 56 teams were originally accepted into the NASA Student Launch Projects. Of the 56 teams, 41 were university/college and 15 were middle/high school. USLI is a challenge for all teams, but not necessarily a competition for all teams, according to NASA officials. "Every year that we enter is a completely different team. So this year it was fun to gather together as a new team and to keep up that Utah State legacy." - Jeff Taylor, USU Student

Utah State University's Chimaera Rocket Team Website
Utah State University's Chimaera Rocket Team Facebook Page
View the NASA video here

Interview with Kevin Moore of KSM Guitars by Ward Meeker from Vintage Guitar Magazine

Interview with Kevin Moore of KSM Guitars by Ward Meeker from Vintage Guitar Magazine

KSM Guitars Founder Kevin Moore was earning a living as a press operator when he started building and repairing guitars in his small garage workshop in the mid 1980s, experience left him jonesing to build a guitar of his own design.

“I love music, and the music that a guitar makes is a wonderful thing," he said. But beyond his love of music and woodworking, one circumstance, in particular, thrust Moore into the realm of guitar builder.

“I found a very nice slab of alder at a local garage sale - in the form of a very old dining room table! The seller was very' proud of the fact she had moved it from California to Utah with out a single scratch... I didn`t tell her it was going to end up as guitar bodies!”

Citing ‘the acquistion of the table top - and the guitars that came from it as “a very good Iearning experience," Moore soon after began offering up his services as builder.

Vintage Guitar: How did you first get into guitar repair?

Kevin Moore: I found that there was a need for a repair person in our valley, so I bought every book I could that had anything to do with repairing or building. Along the way, I tried various ideas to build one ofthe most solid of solid bodies. In 1996, I opened a retail store. KSM Music, thinking it would be a good way to sell my guitars as well as other brands. I was also able to do repairs on a larger scale.

Did you build specifìc models or a line?

For years. I built just custom guitars. People would bring me drawings and specs for outrageous things like 100-frets or long metal spikes protruding from the guitar’s body. Besides these ideas being non-functional - and dangerous - one person can never fully create what another person envisions. So, in 2004, I decided that I wanted to design a guitar with features that would create a great guitar, with versatile sound. Of course, I also wanted it to play with ease, look beautiful, and still be different from anything else out there. The model 358 is the result.

What makes the 358 different?

The two major differences are the angled neck-through design and the Foundation guitar bridge, which I developed and patented, and for now is available only on the 358. It eliminates all gaps under the strings. Other bridges leave the strings floating in the air above the body, with just two bolts or Allen screws serving as the only contact points between the string and instrument. The Foundation bridge creates one solid connection between the vibrating side ofthe string and the top and body of the instrument. It has no moving parts to vibrate or kill sustain because it's one rigid unit. It’s just like having one solid piece of material machined for your guitar, yet you still have the ability to adjust for string height and intonation. When I started to think of the ultimate guitar, I remembered an idea I’d read about in The Guitar Book by Tom Wheeler, where it said that sustain was prolonged by mass and rigidity. Guitars referred to as “super-sustaining experimental guitars" had actually been built using marble and granite. Well. my goal was to duplicate the result of that experiment. but with ai practical instrument. A neck-through guitar sustains in greater amounts. especially when the bridge is actually attached to the neck. But to build an angled-neck design around that goal took a while to accomplish.

What are your thoughts on the future of the industry?

My hope is that quality and intrinsic value of musical instruments make a comeback. As a retail store owner I witness the race to the bottom everyday. I want guitars to be valued enough to be passed from generation to generation.

What are your thoughts on the future of KSM Guitars?

I’m glad I'm in an industry that makes magic. When I watch someone take one of my guitars and create music, it's a fantastic feeling. Hopefully, l’ll be helping people make magic for a long, long time.