More often than not, Portland’s music scene flies under the radar. We may not have household names but that doesn’t mean there’s any shortage of artists making music in our city. But no one lays as low as those who craft the musical tools we use to make our noise. There are so many unidentified backyard and basement workshops pumping out innovative, world-renowned instruments and gear—from amps, cables and microphones to guitars, pedals and drums.
There are woodworkers and electrical engineers and lifelong tinkerers. Some fill longstanding niches with new solutions, others break ground with inventive technology, and all simply build damn fine goods with their hands. There are many single-person, boutique operations alongside corporations who employ many and manufacture much, yet both export their ideas internationally and reach global audiences on stages and LPs. Most importantly, these behind-the-scenes makers really care about their craft, going to sometimes over-the-top ends to put quality first—which provides a stamp of distinction for all Portland-made products.
The burgeoning industry advocacy group and nonprofit MusicPortland recently began cataloguing the economic drivers of our local music ecosystem and that includes the kinds of manufacturers you’ll find in our latest issue. A rough estimate has identified more than 100 such makers constructing stringed instruments like guitars, mandolins, ukuleles and violins alongside a variety of implements for percussion like drums and cymbals. We’ve got gear makers rocking amps, pedals and cables, high-end pro audio equipment like speakers, components like preamps and transformers, professional in-ear monitors, and consumer products like headphones.
But there are many who are still unaccounted for. To fully capture the fiscal and cultural impact of all sectors of our local music community, we encourage everyone to raise their hand and be counted at MUSICPORTLAND.ORG
From the cottage operations to the assembly lines, find out which musical makers live in your neighborhood.
The Portland Backline
Every night of the week, our city’s venues are filled with local musicians. But did you know we could also fill those same stages with 100 percent locally made gear and still produce the same beautiful sounds? That’s right, this whole “backline” is made right here in your own backyard—and if you live in SE Portland, you might just be at the gear manufacturing epicenter!
3 ALO Audio + Campfire AudioSE Portland
6 Divine Noise ▶▶ read moreSE Portland
7 Koll Guitar Co. ▶▶ read moreSW Portland
9 Catalinbread ▶▶ read moreSE Portland
10 HamptoneSE Portland
12 Cymbal & GongSE Portland
13 7023 DrumsNorth Portland
14 AMR DrumsticksBend
15 Kirsch DrumsNE Portland
16 Benson Amps ▶▶ read moreSE Portland
17 Ear Trumpet Labs ▶▶ read moreNE Portland
18 Audiolux Devices ▶▶ read moreSE Portland
21 Mr. BlackSE Portland
23 Visionary DrumSE Portland
Special thanks to Revival Drum Shop and every single maker who graciously lent not only gear but also ample insight. You can’t go into a single one of these workshops without overturning a new stone that’ll lead to another Portland maker.